To be honest, I would probably have written Judah off. After selling his brother Joseph into slavery, Judah took off from his family of promise for an extended period of time to bear three children to a pagan Canaanite woman. Later, he had an incestuous relationship with his daughter-in-law whom he thought was a prostitute, bearing two more children (Genesis 38). Judah’s track record and trajectory was not promising.
But the Lord didn’t write Judah off.
More than twenty years later, we witness Judah’s transformation. As the forth-born son, Judah unexpectedly steps up as a leader and accepts responsibility for his family’s situation (Genesis 43:8-10), demonstrates genuine concern for his father, and offers to be a substitute for his brother’s “crime” (44:30-34). By God’s mercy and redeeming work, Judah wasn’t “too far gone” and the impact eternal.
When Jacob gathered his sons to bless them at the end of his life, Judah, the forth-born son of an unloved wife (Leah) received this blessing:
“Judah, your brothers shall praise you;
your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
your father’s sons shall bow down before you.
Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He stooped down, he crouched as a lion
and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples…
Genesis 49:8-10 (emphasis mine)
Judah, the one-time conniving son of Jacob, is the forerunner of King David and ultimately Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:2, 6, 16)!
It is easy to give up and write people off when they stray. I know that I have been guilty of it. Instead of quickly dismissing them when they wander from the Lord, we must remain patient and prayerful while calling them to repentance- trusting that God has a greater plan and remembering that He hasn’t given up on them, just as He didn’t give up on Judah….or us.
And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and the seven seals.”…And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood your ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom of priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
Revelation 5:5, 9-10 (emphasis mine)