Monday, December 7, 2015

The Scarlet Thread of Redemptive History

Genesis 38:28 Moreover, it took place while she was giving birth, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.”

The Scarlet Thread
In one of my Bibles I have a red piece of yarn that I call "the scarlet thread".  The reason I have this yarn in my Bible is to remind me of the redemptive plan of God that took place in bringing the Savior to the world. Preachers such as the late Dr. W.A Criswell quoted above have for years made reference to the lineage of Christ's humanity as being a scarlet thread of redemption. In several places in the Old Testament we find remarkable events and people that constituted the bloodline that God would use to bring about Christ's humanity.

Mankind is broken before God
In Genesis 38 we meet one of Jacob's sons - Judah.  Now Judah was a man who lived by his desires and by the moment.  Unlike his father Jacob, we never see Judah exhibit any major quantum leaps in the walk of faith.  In this chapter, we see hypocrisy, treachery, lies, immorality, intrigue, injustice and betrayal.  Judah's spiritual life was littered with the trash of the sin nature he inherited from his father going all the way back to Adam. (1 Peter 1:18)  Judah is a small picture of humanity in need of a Savior.  Little did he know that God was going to use his rebellion and unsavory decisions to Sovereignly work forth the bloodline of redemption.

The bloodline issuing from Judah to Christ
God's hand was upon and in history as He was preparing the way for the arrival of His Son on that first Christmas night.  When we compare the birth records of Jesus in Matthew and Luke, we discover some remarkable features:

-From Adam to Noah is ten generations
-From Shem, Noah's Son, to Abraham is ten generations
-From Judah, Abraham's great-grandson to King David of Israel is ten generations
-Judah and his wife Tamar here in Genesis 38 appear in Christ's geneaology in Matthew
-King David was of the tribe of Judah, which came from Judah the man here in Genesis 38
-The second major prophecy about Christmas was about Judah in Genesis 49:10

The Scarlet thread of redemption signals the hand of God in salvation
At the end of Genesis 38, after a series of shocking events, Tamar, Judah's daughter-in-law, has twins by Judah.  The twisted set of events in this chapter underscore the falleness of man in need of a Savior.  As the twins are being born, the first one pops its hand out and the midwife ties on its wrist a scarlet thread.  Suddenly it goes back in and the little brother forces his way ahead and becomes the first born!  Just like grandfather Jacob - who steals the blessing from his older brother Esau, and just like great-grandfather Isaac whom God chose over the older brother Ishamael, God once again is working to remind man that He is charge. 

Only One who is both God and man could fix what man had broken before God
God was not and could not be twarted in bringing about that first Christmas.  God came through a broken humanity to redeem all who by grace through faith would believe on Him. (John 1:12-13).  A man, Adam, had broken things with God - thus God's justice demanded that man is responsible to fix what was broken.  Likewise, God and God alone could provide salvation - however God is too Holy to just right out forgive sinful man.  God took upon Himself humanity in order to satisfy both conditions. 

That little scarlet thread shows us that God's plan was continuing onward.  God was going to accomplish what He set out to do - to bring the Savior into the world. 

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