I. Judah

Matthew 1:1 This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers...

A. What do you know about Judah?

  • They didn’t make up Broadway musicals for Judah, but they did for his brother. Joseph and the technicolor dream coat.
  • Judah was one of the 12 sons of Jacob whose name changed to Israel.

B. Judah Was not the famous son and he was not the oldest son

  • God decided that Jesus the Messiah would come from the line of Judah.

Judah’s story begins in Genesis 37. He just plays a supporting role in the story of his younger brother Joseph which sets the stage for Judah’s problems.

II. Judah’s story and character [Genesis 37:3-5]

A. Judah is jealous of his brother’s favored status with Dad.

B. Judah’s jealousy turns to hatred.

Genesis 37:23-28 - So when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing. 24 Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it. 25 Then, just as they were sitting down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of camels in the distance coming toward them. It was a group of Ishmaelite traders taking a load of gum, balm, and aromatic resin from Gilead down to Egypt. 26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother? We’d have to cover up the crime. 27 Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother—our own flesh and blood!” And his brothers agreed. 28 So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt.
  • This is Judah. Let’s not kill him let’s sell him. Let us profit by his suffering. This is our introduction to Judah.

C. He covers his sin with an elaborate lie to his father. 

  • They take his coat and rip it up and put blood on it and they break their father's heart. 

III. Judah’s secrets haunt him . . .

A. Genesis 38 tells us what happened to Judah in the interim. 

  • Judah gets married and has 3 sons. The oldest 2 get married the youngest isn’t old enough to get married and the oldest is evil and dies. Then the second one does evil and dies. 
  • Tamar his oldest sons widow is now his responsibility. She would have gone to his second son but God killed him too. So, he tells his first daughter-in-law, TAMAR, to go home and wait for his youngest son to grow up so she could marry him.

B. She waits a couple of years and sees that Judah is not going to keep his promise

  • She lays a trap. 
  • She’s home dressed in her widow’s garb. Three months later, it is reported to Judah that his daughter-in-law is pregnant
  • He does what every guilty person does: overreacts to the sins of others. He demands that she be burned alive.
  • The most self-righteous people usually have a secret.

These are the people that Matthew makes sure to mention in Jesus’ genealogy. 

IV. Judah finally comes clean when he has to.

A. But Judah still has a secret. And he plans to take it to his grave.

  • A famine hits and Judah and his brothers go to Egypt to buy food. 
  • Guess who oversees the food, Joseph.

B. Joseph recognizes them and lays a trap to see if they’ve changed. 

  • He keeps Benjamin, his brother by the same mother, and frames him for stealing. He tells the brothers they will have to return to their father without Benjamin.
  • During this, it dawns on Judah that they are reaping what they sowed. God had not forgotten. 
Genesis 44:16 - Judah answered, “Oh, my lord, what can we say to you? How can we explain this? How can we prove our innocence? God is punishing us for our sins. My lord, we have all returned to be your slaves—all of us, not just our brother who had your cup in his sack.”
He never comes clean.

C. Then Joseph sends everyone out of the room and reveals himself. 

  • Judah’s thinking what would I do if I was Joseph. 
  • Judah has missed every opportunity along the way to own his sin. All chances are lost.
  • He never confessed until he had to. He never came clean until he had no choice. He confessed once there was no other way out.
  • They fell on their faces before him but Joseph says get up, I forgive, “God put me here to save you, to save many, to save you, Judah…

And God reaches down and chooses Judah over Joseph. If you were God, you wouldn’t have done it this way. I wouldn’t have either. God had 12 choices. Why Judah? God: “There’s the man among them that needed my grace the most. That’s the man I’ll choose through whom I’ll bring grace and forgiveness to the entire world.” Why, because Judah is the picture of you and a picture of me. 


Just before Jacob dies, he gives a final blessing to his sons. This is what he says to Judah

Genesis 49:10 - The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor.

“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good tiding of great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! Hear Ye! Hear Ye! All secret-keepers . . . all people with dark chapters you don’t want anybody to know about . . . everybody who has regrets, deeply embarrassing moments… those of you who have inflicted hurt on others and you have never made it right. Good news! It’s Christmas. You are prime candidates for my grace. You are candidates to be mightily used by me. There is no need to hide from me. I already know.