PARENTS BEHAVING BADLY by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
Introduction: I don’t know how your kids are but our kids love to hear stories about Nicole and I growing up. They love hearing about how mommy loved climbing trees and walking on top of the swing set instead of swinging on it. They love hearing stories of how dad tried joining the circus at five and ended up with a broken collarbone. Last week they were up laughing until midnight as we told them those stories from our childhood. I guess the thought of their parents acting crazy or getting in trouble brings comfort and joy to them! But what if those stories were still happening? What if Nicole was still walking on top of swings and I was still breaking collarbones trying to join the circus? That would not be funny anymore but embarrassing and painful, especially for the kids. Today’s message on the family is what to do about “PARENTS BEHAVING BADLY.”
Genesis 38 12 Now in the process of time…Judah’s wife, died…and (he) went up to his sheepshearers at Timnah…13 And it was told Tamar, saying, “Look, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” 14 So she took off her widow’s garments, covered herself with a veil…and sat in an open place which was on the way to Timnah…15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, because she had covered her face. 16 Then he turned to her by the way…
Question: God has appointed parents to lead their children, to be a model for them. He has designed them to be emotionally more mature than their kids. He has called them to be the standard of morality and integrity for them. He has entrusted parents to be the spiritual guides for their children. Unfortunately, some parents are emotionally unstable, morally objectionable, and spiritually incapable. Sometimes they make decisions and do things that are embarrassing and distressing for the children. It reverses God’s hierarchy and design for the family. How are your parents? Do you look up to them or do you shake your head at them? Do you admire them or are you ashamed of them? Some of you may not need this message but others know very well what I am talking about and it is very painful for you. Do your parents know Christ as their Savior? Do you? This message will help you relate with parents behaving badly.
Context of the Message: In our series on the family of Abraham and Sarah from the Book of Genesis, we now come to the fourth generation, to Judah, one of the sons of Jacob. He did something unthinkable. He had sexual relations with his own daughter-in-law who tricked him by dressing up as a prostitute. What in the world is going on! First, why would a daughter-in-law trick her father-in-law in such a horrible way? Second, why would a grown man, coming from a family that loves God, go to a prostitute? To understand this, we have to back up to the opening verses of Genesis 38:1 “It came to pass at that time that Judah departed from his brothers…” If you’ve been keeping up with this series, we skipped over chapter 37 that gives us the account of Joseph and his brothers, how Joseph had his dreams and his brothers hated him for that and one day when they had the opportunity, they sold him into slavery. Who was the brother who suggested this? It was Judah. He probably did that to save his brother’s life. The other brothers were bent on killing Joseph. Selling him into slavery seemed to be a much better alternative. At least, Joseph would still be alive. But, can you imagine the guilt and the shame Judah had to live with? He could still hear the shrieks and the cries of Joseph as he was being dragged away by the Midianite traders. The first thought when he woke up and the last thought when he lay down to sleep was “I wonder if he’s still alive…” Every day he had to see the tear-stained face of his father Jacob and every time he was tempted to just confess to him, one of the brothers would shake his head at Judah – “You better not…” Judah was probably angry, depressed, and miserable. He did not want to see their faces anymore and instead of confessing, he packed up and moved away.
Principle: Judah moved away because he thought that a change in location was going to change everything. Out of sight, out of mind. People do that all the time and they fail to realize that they are still the common ingredients in all their problems. Unconfessed sin always brings only unending sorrow. Listen to David’s prayer of confession in Psalm 32 3 “When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer.” Secret guilt will only lead to ceaseless grief, regardless of your location. Charles Spurgeon once said, “Now, it happens with some that, though they are conscious of sin, they do not confess it; and what is the result? Why, it increases their misery. It is impossible that you should find peace while sin continues to gather in your soul. It is a festering wound…So long as a man continues silent before God, and does not own his sin, if the Lord really has begun to deal with him, he will have to suffer more and more from the pangs of conscience.”
Judah married a Canaanite girl in this new place. There is no love mentioned in this relationship. He met her, married her, had sexual relationship with her, and they had 3 children – Er, Onan, and Shelah. Just like his marriage, nothing is mentioned about his relationship with his children. In verse 6 he arranged a marriage for Er, his oldest one, with a girl named Tamar. Bottom line: Judah was living a ho-hum life…until his actions from his previous life began to catch up with his present life. Listen to verse 7 “But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD killed him.” The Bible doesn’t say what he did but it must have been serious enough for God to kill him, something he hasn’t done since the days of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Nothing is said about how Judah felt about this. All it says is that he ordered his second son Onan to marry Tamar and have a child with her according to levirate marriage, where the brother-in-law marries the widow of his brother to keep the family name going (Levir in Latin means “brother-in-law). Onan married Tamar but secretly deceived her and refused to have a child with her. Listen to verse 10 “And the thing which he did displeased the LORD; therefore He killed him also.” Wow! Why that serious? More than likely Onan didn’t want to give his brother any children. If he did, then he would lose his default inheritance. What he didn’t realize is that he was interfering with God’s plan of using the family of Abraham and Sarah to be a blessing to all the families of the earth. He was interfering with the gospel. I seriously doubt that in his guilt and shame Judah ever took the time to explain to his children the promise God had made to their family.
Question: How often do you talk to your children about the things of God? How often do you explain to them that the reason for your success is God’s hand upon you? How often do you challenge and encourage them to keep God first in their lives? Something else here – God was teaching Judah, “You took someone’s child. Now you’ll know what it means to lose a child.” Only sad part is that Tamar, the innocent bystander, was also suffering because of Judah’s sin from his previous life. Are your decisions bringing pain to some innocent person in your life?
Unfortunately, Judah did not learn his lesson. He continued his life of deception. He refused to let his third son Shelah marry Tamar for fear that he too might die. So he lied to Tamar and told her that once Shelah was older, he would marry her. Until then, she should go back to her parent’s house. He was thinking that with time she would forget or remarry someone back home and it’ll all be over. In the meantime, Judah’s wife also died. After grieving for her, he decided to go to Timnah at the sheep-shearing time. Tamar heard about it and embarked on a cruel scheme. We read this passage. She disguised herself as a prostitute, covered her face with a veil, and sat seductively at Enaim (lit. at the “opening of the eyes,” which could be the crossroads). Apparently, she knew her father-in-law very well. Sure enough he came by, saw her but didn’t recognize her. He made a proposition to her and she agreed for a young goat. As guarantee, he left his seal, cord, and staff with her. Here’s my question: What business did Judah have to go to a prostitute? He probably felt entitled to some good time. You can hear him say, “People don’t understand what I’ve been through. I just don’t care anymore. I’m not hurting anyone…”
Question: Do you use the same lines to indulge in sin? Do you feel entitled to sin because of all that you’ve been through? No matter what you’ve been through or what anyone has done to you, you are never entitled to sin.
Anyways, things are about to get complicated. Judah sent the young goat as he had promised but there was no prostitute. Judah didn’t care. “Let her keep it,” he said. But 3 months later, word got back to Judah that Tamar, his daughter-in-law, was pregnant. The cause was prostitution. Listen to his response: “Bring her out and let her be burned!”
Principle: Show me a person who is very legalistic and harsh about some sin and I’ll show you a person who is hiding a bigger similar dirty secret. The penalty for adultery later, according to the Mosaic Law, was death by stoning not burning. Reminds you of David when he stole Uriah’s wife and had him killed, doesn’t it? Don’t misunderstand, Moses, Jesus, and Paul were all hard against sin but it was always with a broken heart.
You know what happened next: Tamar sent word to her father-in-law that the man was the owner of the signet, the cord, and the staff. Judah immediately knew his guilt. He confessed. Long story short – Tamar had twins and the oldest one (Perez) became part of the genealogy of Christ. Matthew included this fact in his gospel to let people know that Mary was not the first one looked down upon in the birth of the Messiah. In other words, God worked all things together for good once again in his people’s life.
It is truly a sad sight when adults, especially parents behave badly. Here are some suggestions on what to do in those situations:
- Know that they are just fallen human beings like yourself
- Don’t put them on a pedestal nor fail to show them grace
- Obey their godly teachings without following their ungodly examples
- Remember that you are not to be blamed for your parents’ choices
- Pray for them, especially if they do not know Christ
I Corinthians 6 9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
- Trust that God will work all things together for good
Most importantly, be Christ-like and Christ-filled.