Poppa Was a Rolling Stone

Series: I’m Every Woman

Lesson 3: Week March 16 – 22, 2022

AIM:  After studying this lesson students will see that it doesn’t matter what you have done, who you are, are what other people think of you, God cares! He can and will turn a mess into a message; a test into a testimony; a trial into a triumph, a victim into a victory!


What is the old saying . . .“skeletons in the closet?”  The saying simply means “something bad or embarrassing happened in someone’s past, and it is kept a secret!”  I love the Bible because it does not try to keep “unpleasant” things hidden.  The Scriptures give us the good, the bad, and the ugly.  This we see in Jesus’ lineage.  His lineage reaches far and wide.  In His lineage we find:

  • Holy and profane people
  • Kings and paupers
  • Virgins and prostitutes
  • Jews and Gentiles
  • Rich and poor
  • Honest and dishonest
  • Black and white

One of his ancestors was a known harlot.  Another ancestor though a king – committed adultery, he had the woman’s husband killed and fathered a child by her! He had an ancestor who lied and schemed most of his way through life!  Another ancestor, a woman stood on a roadside dressed as a prostitute and seduced her father-in-law and had twins by him!  The truth is. . .people are sinful. . .my people. . .your people. . .ALL PEOPLE!

We tell you this not for gossip’s sake, but for the Gospel’s sake!  You need to know this so you will know that no matter how bad you think you are or whatever “skeletons” may be in your “closet,” He can and will reach way down and lift you up!


As we read Genesis 38, many may find it offensive.  There is much that is offensive to “good taste.”  But much of what happened is descriptive of real life!  The one truth that must be kept in mind is the mercy and grace of God.  God is merciful to man, the disciplined and the undisciplined, the controlled and the uncontrolled.  In fact, God’s mercy is needed by every human being!

A loud warning is sounded within this chapter.  A son or a daughter can go astray within a family.  A young man or woman can leave a godly home to go out into the world, spending years living a worldly life, a life away from God.  In fact, the world will always swallow up a person who does not trust and follow God.  The person will become worldly, seeking the pleasures, possessions, and comforts of this world, paying no attention to God.  BUT. . .God can and will use them when they repent!

Genesis 38:1-11 (ESV)

1 It happened at that time that Judah went down from his brothers and turned aside to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah. 2 There Judah saw the daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua. He took her and went in to her, 3 and 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 Yet again she bore a son, and she called his name Shelah. Judah was in Chezib when she bore him.

6 And 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 put him to death. 8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his. So whenever he went in to his brother’s wife he would waste the semen on the ground, so as not to give offspring to his brother. 10 And what he did was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death also. 11 Then Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow in your father’s house, till Shelah my son grows up”—for he feared that he would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went and remained in her father’s house.

The chapter opens with Judah forsaking his family.  Note, the scripture does not say that he left his father but his brothers.  The idea seems that he was leaving to get away from his brothers’ lies to his father.  Perhaps he was even running from Jacob’s constant grieving for Joseph, his favorite son!

Thought 1: When We have sinned, the answer is not to run away, not to forsake family, friends, and God.  The answer is to turn to God and to those who can help us.  God and godly families and friends are always available to help.

  1. Judah A Wayward Son
  2. Verse 1 tells us that Judah “went down from his brothers and turned aside”
  3. Leaving the presence of God is a “downward” path


Jonah 1:3 (ESV) But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.

Luke 10:30 (ESV) Jesus replied, A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.


  • The moral decay of a wayward son
  • Judah left home, forsook the influence of his godly father
  • Judah married an unbeliever
  • Judah moved only 8 miles away, but it was to a Canaanite village, a village of the world where there were no true believers.
  • Judah moved out into a worldly environment, out into a place where there would be no godly influence whatsoever.
  • He saw a Canaanite young lady and married her.


2 Corinthians 6:17-18 (NLT) 17 Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. 18 And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”


  • Judah reared children in a wicked environment
  • Judah was spiritually blind: unable to see God at work
  • Judah found his oldest son a wife.  Her name was Tamar.  But Er lived such a wicked life that God cause him to die.
  • Judah then followed the law of the day: he gave Tamar to the oldest surviving son, Onan. 
  • This is the law later to become know as the Levirate custom (Deuteronomy 25:5-10; Matthew 22:24).
  • The law states this: if a man died without children, then the next oldest son was to marry his wife and bear a son.
  • By law, the son was legally the first-born son and heir of the deceased brother.  This assured two things: (1) that the family name continued, and (2) that the property holdings were kept in the family.
  • However, Onan was willing to have sex with her but not consummate the act.  He would spill “his seed” on the ground. God was displeased and killed Onan.
  • Yes, Judah was spiritually blind.  He just did not, could not, see God’s hand at work.  Nor did he open his eyes and acknowledge the terrible wickedness of his sons.  But God had seen their hearts, that they would never repent and become followers of His.


1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV) But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”


  • Judah tells Tamar to remain a widow in her father’s house until the youngest son Shelah was old enough to marry her.
  • Instead of seeing them for who they were, Judah blames Tamar for their deaths.

                                                        ii.        Because he blamed her, he outwardly played the respectable father-in-law part for society, but he inwardly and secretly deceived his daughter-in-law.

                                                       iii.         Judah doesn’t want to admit what a mess his family is.

Point to Ponder:  How many of us will readily admit that our family is a “mess?”

  • Judah’s wife dies and after some time of grieving, Judah took a trip with his friend Hirah up to where his sheep were being sheared.
  1. Tamar A Teenage Girl
  2. She’s the hero in our story and she takes a great risk.
  3. She’s probably a teenager in the story and is twice a widow.
  4. Few people serve as more vulnerable than a defenseless teenage woman in biblical times.
  5. They had little to no rights at the time and men often walked right over them.
  6. We read that God kills her husband, Er, because he was a wicked man. The Bible doesn’t tell us specifically why God killed him. But we do know that he died because God couldn’t tolerate seeing Er’s wickedness any longer. So, God took him off the earth.
  7. We know that God Himself took the life of many people in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah as well as during the days of Noah, both of which were earlier in Genesis. But this is the first recorded time that God Himself has taken the life of any one individual.
  8. No sooner than Tamar’s husband died, than his brother, Onan, was told by the father to sleep with Tamar.
  9. A wife had little rights and very little way of making a living in those days, so your husband’s brother would take you as a wife and make sure you had children in the absence of your husband.
  10. Tamar needed a child for status in her day but also for a livelihood. Please note that the Bible never actually records that Onan marries his brother’s wife, but he only takes her to “perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her and raise up offspring for [his] brother” (Genesis 38:8b).
  11. In Tamar, we see a woman who uses sexual entrapment and incest to make her way in this world.
  12. But before you pulverize her with judgmental eyes, please note she was treated as little more than a surrogate mother throughout the story.
  13. Not once do we see anyone treating her with compassion and care.
  14. After the first two husbands die, she waits while the third brother grows up to be old enough for marriage. But she waits years in her father’s home and all she gets in return for her waiting are broken promises.
  15. She’s nothing more than an oven for these men to have their heir.
  16. And she would have been easy to run over in this time. Remember, she’s probably little more than a teenager. Not once, do we read that her father stepped in to stand up for her! 
  17. Women’s status in this ancient society was to have children and run the family.
  18. She was twice a widow, and she is the most socially and economically vulnerable person in ancient biblical days.  She’s a frightened teenager.
  1. A Rolling Stone and A One Night Stand
  2. Judah’s wife died.  It was apparently some time after he had sent Tamar back to her father’s house.
  3. After some time of grief, Judah took a trip with his friend Hirah up to where his sheep were being sheared.  The occasion was a time of festivity and partying, and Judah probably felt that the joyful time would help take his mind off the death of his wife.
  4. Hearing that Judah had gone up to the sheep-shearing, Tamar finally concluded that Judah had no intention of letting Shelah ever marry her.  Thus, she worked out a scheme whereby she could perhaps lie with Judah and bear a son through him. 
  5. Tamar dressed in the clothing of a prostitute, veiled herself, and sat down out by the side of the road where the temple prostitute usually sat.
  6. When Judah saw her, he thought that she was a temple prostitute and propositioned her.  He had no idea whatsoever that it was his daughter-in-law, Tamar. 
  7. Tamar asked for a pledge until Judah could return with the young goat that he had promised to pay for sex.  The pledge was personal items from Judah – she wanted the seal of Judah and its cord and the staff that Judah was carrying.  Judah ready agreed and had sex with Tamar.  She returned to her father’s house and put her widow clothes back on.
  8. When Judah heard later that his daughter-in-law was pregnant, he was ready to put her to death until she showed him the pledge that she received from the man.  It was his!!!

Thought 2: All sin will be exposed and made known. Nothing hid shall remain hid.


Numbers 32:23 (NIV) “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the Lord; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.

Ecclesiastes 12:14 (NIV) For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

Luke 12:2 (NIV) There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.


Thought 3: How many of us condemn sin in others while excusing ourselves?  How quickly we judge others and forget how short we are of the glory of God.  How quickly we jump at the sins of others and ignore the fact that we too are sinners!

Matthew 7:1, 4 (NLT) 1“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. . . 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?

Romans 2:1 (NLT) You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things.

James 4:12 (NLT) God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?

1 Corinthians 4:5 (NLT) So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.


  • Judah repents upon learning the truth and declares that Tamar was more righteous than him.
  • Tamar had wanted to obey the law of the land (the Levite law), but he had kept her from doing it.
  • She had wanted to be a part of Judah’s family and fulfill her childbearing function, but he had not allowed her.
  • She had wanted to give a son to Jacob’s family, but he had been unreasonable and prevented her.
  1. Sovereignty of God
  2. Judah repents of his wrong doings!
  3. God overruled the immorality of Judah and Tamar. 
  4. God gave Tamar two sons who were to eventually become believers, to be a part of the true family of God.
  5. Tamar was to be an ancestor of the promised seed, the Savior Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ.  She is one of the women listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:3).
  6. Pharez, Tamar’s son was to be the ancestor of David, which means that he was the direct link to the promised seed, the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Chronicles 2:4; Matthew 1:3)
  7. Zarah, was to become one of the prominent families in the tribe of Judah among God’s people (Numbers 26:20; 2 Chronicles 2:6)
  8. Shelah was also to become one of the prominent families in the tribe of Judah among God’s people (Numbers 26:20)


Matthew 1:1-3 (NLT)

1 This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham: 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac. Isaac was the father of Jacob. Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers. 3 Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (whose mother was Tamar). Perez was the father of Hezron. Hezron was the father of Ram.

Thought 4:  God demands repentance.  When we repent, truly repent, God will forgive our sins and begin to bless and use us in marvelous ways.

Isaiah 55:7 (NLT) Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.

Ezekiel 18:21 (NLT) But if wicked people turn away from all their sins and begin to obey my decrees and do what is just and right, they will surely live and not die.

PRAYER PRINCIPLE:                        Be thankful that God loves us no matter how many times we mess up and is willing to help us stay straight no matter how many times we call on him.

SOCIAL JUSTICE PRINCIPLE:           When you experience someone on a downward path, let them know that God has a better plan for their lives by sharing how God changed you.

EVANGELISM PRINCIPLE:                Share with others that God came up through a dysfunctional family to make us feel victorious.

STEWARDSHIP PRINCIPLE:               Our giving should be a reflection of how much God loves us.

DISCIPLESHIP PRINCIPLE:                    No matter how many times you fail, ask the Savior to help, strengthen and keep you because he is willing and able to bring you through.


SERIES: I’m Every Woman

NEXT WEEK’S READING: Ephesians 6:12; Mark 1:21-27; Mark 5:1-20;

Luke 13:10-17; Luke 2:25; Luke 19:9; Matthew 6:33; Luke 11:9-10; Acts 3:1-2;

John 20:19-24; Hebrews 10:25; John 5:1-8; Luke 8:43-48; 1 Peter 3:12;

Psalm 11:4; Matthew 20:30; Matthew 15:25; Luke 17:12-13; Matthew 8:3, 15;

Matthew 9:29-30a; Matthew 17:7; Psalm 34:1-3; Psalm 107:8; Mark 2:7, 16;

Luke 15:2; Luke 19:7; John 6:41; Psalm 146:8; Isaiah 61:1

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