Tamar: Redemption for Injustice
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.
Tamar was a woman who experienced terrible loss and injustice. Her first husband died because of his wickedness, and she remained a childless widow because her husband's brother would not fulfill his duty, as was outlined in the law, to take care of widows and continue the deceased’s family name. When her second husband died as well, she was promised that Judah, her father-in-law, would give her his youngest son in marriage when he was old enough. However, after years of waiting, Tamar was still left with nothing. She eventually decided to take matters into her own hands and go to great lengths in order to get what she needed. Tamar made choices that we would nowadays frown upon, and eventually tricked Judah into becoming the father of her sons. It’s a complicated story with many twists and turns, and it requires an in-depth understanding of the cultural context to be able to grasp the injustice Tamar experienced. However, her story ends in redemption, as she eventually bore two sons, and became one of the five women listed in Jesus’ genealogy.
THE PAIN OF INJUSTICE
Even though Tamar’s story probably seems far from your own, you might be just as familiar with injustice as she was. Some of you have been deeply hurt by someone recently, maybe even by a fellow believer. Perhaps you’ve been taken advantage of, used, lied to, or stolen from. Perhaps someone broke their word or didn’t follow through with their commitment. Perhaps you were promised the moon and left empty-handed after having poured your heart and soul into your part of the deal. Perhaps you’ve had to endure false accusations or someone spreading lies and gossip that tainted your reputation. Perhaps you’ve been manipulated, forced to do something you never wanted to do. Perhaps you’ve even been physically or sexually abused.
Whatever it may be, this was an injustice done to you. Lies will try to convince you that you are somehow at fault, that you’ve done something to deserve this. The truth is that the injustice done to you was never God’s intention. He never meant for you to get hurt like this. He was with you in every traumatic moment, crying in agony with you and over you.
This injustice you’ve experienced is crying out for a resolution. Like Tamar, you may feel the urge to take matters into your own hands. Especially when you’ve been deeply hurt, betrayed, taken advantage of, used, or abused by someone, every human cell inside of you wants that person to suffer as much as you have. You want that person to experience the consequences of their actions. Although we can’t know this for sure, the actions of Tamar to seduce and deceive her father-in-law may not just have been a noble attempt to protect the promise that the Messiah would come from Judah’s descent. A desire for vindication or revenge could have also played a role. After years of being denied what was rightfully hers, she may have wanted to create her own version of justice.
The desire for justice, especially in the form of vengeance, is a part of your journey out of trauma. It’s a journey God wants to be intimately involved in. You don’t have to hide these thoughts and emotions from Him because they’re not the “right things to feel”. He can’t help you deal with anything that you are denying the existence of. When you acknowledge that you’re angry about the injustice done to you, that you’re angry with the person who hurt you, that you desire justice and vindication, God can take your hand and help you process it. From this place of closeness with Him, the outworking of healing and forgiveness can start.
Forgiveness is usually not a one-time event; it often takes time. God is very patient with your heart; He understands how hard it is to do. He is there every step of the way, revealing His heart for you and for the person you’re forgiving. He is there to provide the grace and strength to forgive every time you ask for it.
When you forgive, you step away from the role of the punisher and surrender that responsibility to Jesus. It’s incredibly difficult to do this if you don’t know that God is the God of justice. We often hear about the God of Love, but it’s the justice-driven part of God that provides the safety you need to leave vengeance up to Him. It’s hard to stop fighting for justice when you don’t know that Someone Else will continue the fight for you. It’s hard to deny yourself revenge, if you don’t know that Someone will deal with the consequences of the injustice done to you. It’s hard to not wish the worst on someone if you don’t know the punishment that Jesus underwent so you don’t have to be punish or be punished.
A REDEMPTION BETTER THAN REVENGE
We recently received a testimony of a woman who bravely went on this journey of forgiveness. She wrote, “I believed that forgiving the man who raped me meant letting go justice, and that it meant that he got away with it. But God showed me that true justice is redeeming what the enemy meant for evil into redemption and freedom.”
Releasing forgiveness to someone will free you. It will free you from the role as the author of the story, and will surrender the pen to God. He will then start weaving His justice into your story in a way that you could have never done on your own.
Tamar’s story ends with promises fulfilled, redemption brought to her, and a legacy established that would prove to go all the way through the lineage of Jesus. She found redemption for injustice. The same will be true for your story. Whatever the injustice is that you’ve experienced, you will find redemption that goes far beyond revenge.
BECOMING A JUSTICE-WARRIOR
Not only will God bring justice to you, but He also wants to bring justice through you. Justice is incredibly important to Him. Social justice advocate Jennifer Toledo defined justice as “the fight against anything that hinders Love.” This fight especially needs to be fought on behalf of the people who can’t do it for themselves.
If you take your Bible and remove every phrase that speaks of God’s heart for the widow, the orphan, the refugee, the hungry, and the needy, you’d have very few pages left. Despite how much emphasis He places on these in His word, the individualized Western culture has affected the church in such a way that these topics have become an often overlooked topic of discussion and an even rarer cause of action. However, God’s desire to bring justice to those who are desperate for it has never changed. He is searching for those who are willing to speak up for the voiceless. He is looking for those who dare to fight for the defenseless. He is longing to collaborate with those who will help the hungry without ever expecting a return.
This fight for justice on behalf of someone else goes beyond a missionary tithe. It is a lifestyle. It’s having open eyes to notice the injustice happening around you, a courageous tongue to address important issues and an open heart that dares to be moved by compassion.
“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” - Benjamin Franklin
The bitter anger that you may have fostered against the source of injustice in your own life can be replaced by a righteous indignation on behalf of those who can’t defend themselves. It’s an anger that fights for the justice for someone else.
Remember the testimony of the woman who forgave the man who raped her? She now has a passion to spend her life ministering to survivors of sex trafficking. She took the greatest injustice done to her, and allowed God to use it in a fight for justice for other women.
PARTNERING WITH YOUR PURPOSE
The most asked question amongst believers is this: “What is my purpose in life and how do I get there?” You can spend countless hours reading books and listening to sermons about the best formula to obtain your destiny, but the quickest way to ever grow in your faith, gifting, favor, and anointing in the Lord is to partner with His heart for the vulnerable, the overlooked, the pulled-down, and trampled upon. Whether it’s whole people groups across the globe or the person just around the corner, you have an invitation to partner with God and share what you’ve been given.
When you engage with their outcry and fight alongside them, even when it’s an issue that doesn’t directly affect you personally, you have become an advocate for God’s justice. All of heaven will rush to back you up. He will make the justice of your cause shine like the noonday sun.
No, it probably won’t be easy, as many stories of martyrdom and other great sacrifices for the sake of the justice-fight will show you. But it will give you fire in your bones, new air in your lungs, and a fierce beat to your heart that will bring out the strongest, boldest, and most relentless version of you. You will barely recognize yourself as you arise as a justice warrior.
You’re called to be this, and the world needs you to stand up in your call. There are thousands of widows, orphans, refugees, modern-day slaves, outcasts, and hungry and hurting people that are waiting for someone like you. They are waiting for you to use what you’ve been given to fight for their justice. They are waiting for your story of redemption that now fights for theirs.
Like Tamar, God will bring justice to you. And with your permission, He will bring about justice through you, too.