Life-Study of Matthewby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Whatever is recorded in the Old Testament is related to Christ. The whole Old Testament is a record of Christ, either directly or indirectly. If we want to understand the genealogy of Christ, we must go back to the Old Testament and read it carefully. If we do this, we shall realize that the Old Testament is a record of Christ. This proves that the entire Bible is a revelation of Christ.
We have seen from the genealogy of Christ that His generation includes all kinds of people: low, high, good, bad, fathers, kings, civilians, captives, recovered ones, and even women with a poor reputation. Nevertheless, we must realize that there are some governing principles here. From the lives of all these persons, we can discover certain principles which govern our association with Christ. The generation of Christ includes all kinds of persons, but not in a loose way. No matter what we are or where we came from, we can be included in the generation of Christ if we fulfill the principles. Although we have seen this already, we have not seen it adequately, for there are many more persons to cover.
The first one we shall consider is Tamar. Tamar conceived through committing incest with her father-in-law (Gen. 38:6-27). Morally speaking, this was deplorable and ethically speaking, it was awful. Nobody would justify this. Although I have been studying Genesis for many years, my heart still aches whenever I read chapter thirty-eight. In a sense, what Tamar did was not good at all. Nevertheless, she was righteous. The fault was not on her side, but on the side of her father-in-law, Judah, who admitted that she was more righteous than he (Gen. 38:26). You may say that there was no excuse for Tamar’s deed and that incest always involves both sides. Although Tamar may be held responsible to a certain extent, she was righteous, and she had a heart for the birthright.
Because we come from a different background and have little understanding of the birthright and of its meaning to the people in those days, I need to say a word about it. In Tamar’s time, the birthright meant a great deal (Gen. 38:6-8). As I pointed out in the last message, the birthright included a double portion of the land, the priesthood, and the kingship. The double portion of the land refers to the double enjoyment of Christ. The land is Christ, and the double portion of the land is not the ordinary, common enjoyment of Christ, but something special, something extraordinary in the enjoyment of Christ. Both the priesthood and the kingship are also related to Christ. For the generation after Abraham, the birthright was altogether a matter of inheriting Christ. In Ephesians 2:12, we are told that when we were unbelievers, we were without Christ. But by believing in the Lord Jesus, we have been brought into the birthright. We have been put into Christ, Christ has become our portion, and He will even be our double portion. Through Him, in Him, and with Him we have the priesthood and the kingship. Christ Himself is our good land, our priesthood, and our kingship.
Now we can understand why Tamar was anxious to have the birthright. She knew that if she were cut off, she would be through with God’s promise. And God’s promise was simply the promise of Himself to be the portion of His chosen people in Christ. Tamar was not willing to miss this blessing.
Tamar was the wife of the first son of Judah. This son should have inherited the birthright. But Tamar’s husband was wicked in the eyes of the Lord, and the Lord took his life (Gen. 38:7). The Lord also slew Judah’s second son (Gen. 38:8-10). According to the ancient regulations, Judah should have arranged for his next son to marry Tamar in order that a son might be brought forth to inherit the birthright. Judah, however, did not fulfill his responsibility. In a sense, Judah cheated Tamar (Gen. 38:11-14). But Tamar did not give up; rather, she even used an unseemly means to obtain the birthright. Whether the means was unseemly or not, Tamar did her best to get that birthright.
To have the birthright is simply to gain Christ. In order to gain Christ, we must be ready to take a way that does not seem to be the best way. Let me tell you a story that illustrates this, but try to understand me; do not misunderstand me. In the past, some young people in China were inspired by my preaching, believed in the Lord Jesus, and desired to be baptized. However, their parents, who were Buddhists, were very much opposed to this. When they learned that their children were planning to be baptized, they gave them no opportunity to leave home. The young people prayed about this. Eventually, they told their parents that they had to be in school for a certain half-day period. That was surely a lie, for they did not go to school; they went to the church to be baptized. Although they told a lie, it was a pure lie. Their intention in telling that lie was very pleasing to God. If you want to gain Christ, you should not care for the way. Do not be religious; do not keep the rules and regulations. Gain Christ! You need to gain Christ. By any means, get the birthright.
It was through an unseemly means that Tamar acquired the birthright. But in the divine record in the Bible, the name of Tamar is not a bad name. Ruth 4:12 indicates that this name is sacred. In this verse the elders said, “And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah.” The name of Tamar is sacred because she did not care for anything sinful; she cared only for the birthright. The significance of this for us today is that if we care for Christ and are seeking Him, any way we can truly gain Him is the right way.
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