Sometimes I find that I'm so used to reading the Bible that it doesn't have the emotional impact on me that it should. I find that I don't always think of the characters in the Bible as real people-- which, of course, they are!! There is a particular story that always brings me to tears when I read it and that is the story of Judah.
Judah is one of Jacob's twelve sons (who later became the 12 tribes of Israel) and Joseph's older brother. Judah and his brothers were so jealous of Joseph that they wanted to kill him and then decided to sell him into slavery. When Joseph is taken into slavery in Egypt, his father Jacob is devastated. And for years, Judah and his brothers lie to their father and tell him that Joseph was killed by wild animals.
A few years later, Judah has moved away from his family and raised sons who were so wicked that God killed them! Judah ends up in a mess when he sleeps with his daughter in law (who was dressed as a prostitute). When she finds out she is pregnant, he wants to kill her! He is stopped in his tracks when he is told that HE is the man who did it.
Then, when Benjamin is going to be taken as a slave in Egypt (remember, Judah had no problem selling Joseph as a slave earlier), Judah begs to replace Benjamin as the slave. The reason is that he promised his father that he would care for Benjamin!
What a change! Judah is a completely different man than the one whose jealousy would leave him to sell his brother as a slave. He can't bear the thought of causing his father more pain. Reading these verses always brings me to tears. Gone is the man who would bring great pain on his father by his own selfishness.
I think the reason that Judah has to go through all this pain is that God is using it to humble Judah. Judah has been taken through the wringer, but he's come out on the other side a different man. And what great God we have, that He would choose to work with us on a personal level to change us.
As you can tell, Judah was a man who is deeply flawed. He made huge mistakes and caused much hurt in the lives of those around him. Yet he was also a man of great change. He went from a selfish man who would do anything to take care of himself to a man who would give up everything to care for his father and brothers.
There is always hope! For you, for me, for those we care about! Don't give up. If we can learn anything from Judah, it is that redemption can find anyone.
Have a wonderful weekend, friends!
P.S. If you want to read more about the story of Judah, read from Genesis 37 to Genesis 50!