Parents Behaving Badly by Pastor Abidan Shah

PARENTS BEHAVING BADLY by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Parents Behaving Badly

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 7But 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.


WHO IS IN YOUR FAMILY TREE? – 1 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

whose in your family treeWe’re in our ongoing series on the life of Christ titled, “WHAT IF GOD LIVED NEXT DOOR?” For the next few weeks I will be preaching a miniseries from Matthew chapter 1, titled, “WHO IS IN YOUR FAMILY TREE?” All of us would like to think that we have some royalty or famous personality in our family tree when what we find are just some common people and some crazy ones! Someone said – “I shook my family tree and a bunch of nuts fell out!” This morning we will see the family tree of Jesus and it had some nuts in it too. The lesson there is that God’s grace can cover you no matter who you have in your past.

Matthew 1:1-6 1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: 2   Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. 3 Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. 4 Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. 5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 6 and Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.

Overall Background: Matthew began his gospel with the genealogy of Jesus Christ. It wasn’t unusual in ancient times to begin the biography of a famous character with their genealogy. It was a matter of pride to list all the great individuals in one’s pedigree.

For e.g. Some years back I was reading the account of the life of General Robert E. Lee. His family tree could be traced all the way back to the Norman Conquest when his ancestor entered England in 1066 AD with William the Conqueror. His great-great-great-grandfather Richard Lee came to Jamestown with hardly anything and in time became one of the richest men in the Virginia colony. Later his father Henry Lee fought in the Revolutionary War and became the ninth governor of Virginia. Some of the family included William Randolph, Thomas Jefferson, and Zachary Taylor.

So also, Matthew mentioned the “illustrious” names such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – the patriarchs. He mentioned David – the greatest King of Israel and the man after God’s own heart. He mentioned Solomon – the king of Israel and the wisest man who ever lived. But, he did something that no genealogy does. He also mentioned some “not so illustrious” names. In fact, he mentioned the names of four women, which was very unusual. Not only that, but Matthew chose to mention women who were not exemplary characters like Sarah or Rebecca or Rachel. Instead, he mentioned Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba – women who had an embarrassing past. Past that we would rather leave buried in history.

Why did Matthew do that? Some of you may have been through this series before. Because he wanted his readers to know that God did not choose just the best of the best to bring His Son into this world but also the undesirables. He wanted his readers to know that Jesus was the Savior of the decent people as well as the outcast. He wanted his readers to know the grace of God in Jesus’ lineage.

Application: This morning, I’m sure there are people here who wish or have wished at some point that they had a different family or that they were born under different circumstances. Or you look at your past and wish it were different. But God in His sovereign grace has given you the life He has. Stop seeing yourself as a mistake. He allowed your family tree to grow as it did. Trust Him.

In this message we will look at the life of the first woman who is mentioned – Tamar. As we walk through her life, let God show you the same grace that she received.


Background: The first time we meet Tamar is in Genesis 38 where she is just an innocent bystander. Actually, the focus is not on Tamar but on the family of Jacob. If you remember, in Genesis 37, Jacob had sent his son Joseph to check on his older brothers. When he finally found them in Dothan, he wasn’t prepared for what was about to come. His brothers hated him and when he was far off, they conspired to kill him. But the older brother Reuben talked them out of it to just throw him into a pit. He was hoping that he could later get him out and take him back home.

Reuben probably left to check on the sheep or something and just then the brothers saw a company of Ishmaelite traders coming and one of the brothers named Judah (remember that name) said in Genesis 37:26-28 26 …“What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27 Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother and our flesh.” And his brothers listened.

Judah did not have the guts to stand up and say – “This is not right. Let’s not do this to him. He’s our brother. Our father has sent him to us.” Instead, he decided to do play on words. At least we’re not going to kill him.

Application: Be careful about doing play on words. God knows the heart. We cannot fool Him. He knows when we have sin in our hearts.

So in Genesis 37:28 “…Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.”

Now Reuben comes and looks in the pit and its empty. He is distraught. What’s their plan? They take a young goat and kill it and dip Joseph’s tunic in its blood and take it to their father Jacob. He is heart-broken and says – “I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning.”

But look in the next chapter Genesis 38:1-2 It came to pass at that time that Judah departed from his brothers, and visited a certain Adullamite whose name was Hirah. 2 And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua, and he married her and went in to her.

Judah is thinking – “Out of sight, out of mind. As long as I don’t have to see my father’s face, I don’t have to think of Joseph”

Application: People do all kinds of things to get away from sin. The only place to deal with sin is to get on your face before God and say – “Here I am. Deal with me as you see fit.” He will bring out the knife and scalpel. It will hurt but the result will be healing. If you run from it, it will only fester.

And fester it did – Genesis 38:3-7 3 So she conceived and bore a son, and he called his name Er. 4 She conceived again and bore a son, and she called his name Onan. 5 And she conceived yet again and bore a son, and called his name Shelah. He was at Chezib when she bore him. 6 Then Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD killed him.

The fruit doesn’t fall far from the root. Judah – “You killed somebody’s child. Now, you know what it means to loose your child.”

Application: How can we teach our children to do what’s right when there is deception in our own hearts.

 What is even sadder is that Tamar became the innocent bystander who got hurt in this sin.


Now Tamar’s first husband is dead and so according to the laws of the Levirate marriage, Judah told his next son Onan to marry Tamar. But Onan refused to father a child by Tamar and Genesis 38:10 And the thing which he did displeased the LORD; therefore He killed him also.

As we read this account, we feel for Tamar. One after the other she has sorrow in her life because of someone else’s sin.

How does Judah handle this? Genesis 38:11 Then Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow in your father’s house till my son Shelah is grown.” For he said, “Lest he also die like his brothers.” And Tamar went and dwelt in her father’s house.

But Judah has no intention of letting Tamar marry his third son.

What a mess! As Walter Scott wrote in his poem Marmion: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!”

How does Tamar handle this? Genesis 38:13-15   13 And it was told Tamar, saying, “Look, your father-in-law is going up to TimnahTamar to shear his sheep.” 14 So she took off her widow’s garments, covered herself with a veil and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place which was on the way to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given to him as a wife. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, because she had covered her face.

Now it’s payback time.

Application: Tit for tat never works. You can spend all your life planning on paying back someone for what they’ve done to you but revenge will not satisfy.

Now Tamar has gone from an innocent bystander to being an active sinner.


Background: Tamar makes a deal with Judah for a young goat from the flock. Of course, he doesn’t have the goat with him so as collateral she asks for his signet ring, cord, and his staff. Later when Judah sent the goat, no harlot was found obviously.

Now listen to Judah’s plan. Still the same old weasel – Genesis 38:23 Then Judah said, “Let her take them for herself, lest we be shamed; for I sent this young goat and you have not found her.” Now 3 months later, it was obvious that Tamar was pregnant.

So listen to Judah’s indignation – Genesis 38:24 “…So Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!”

Quite amazing to me how soft we are at our own sins and harsh at the sins of others.

For e.g. People blocking each other in traffic on the closed lane.

But when she confronts Judah with his signet, cord, and staff, it is obvious who the father was. Listen to Judah’s response in Genesis 38:26 “So Judah acknowledged them and said, “She has been more righteous than I, because I did not give her to Shelah my son.”

Now we could end this incident here with a few reminders on “what goes around comes around” and “what you reap is what you sow” but the incident is still not over.

Tamar was pregnant with twins. She goes into labor and one of them appears to be the first and so the midwife ties a scarlet thread on his hand but listen to what happens next. Genesis 38:29 Then it happened, as he drew back his hand, that his brother came out unexpectedly; and she said, “How did you break through? This breach be upon you!” Therefore his name was called Perez.

Perez became part of the lineage of Jesus Christ. As Matthew 19:30 says “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

It’s a message of grace.

Application: You can either blame your past for all the mess you are in or you can let God bring His grace to bear upon you and bless you in spite of what you had to go through. It doesn’t matter what skeletons you have in your past, God is able to use you if you let Him. The place to begin is by receiving Jesus as your Savior.