Calvary Road Baptist Church



Genesis 38


This evening I want to speak to you about that friend of yours. You know the one I am referring to. He is that friend you have outside your church circle of acquaintances. He is that friend who never says anything bad about church, or Christianity. It is just that you can never get him to come to church. It may be that you have not even asked him to come to church. That is because you know in your heart that his answer to your invitation will always be ďNo.Ē

However, so you do not take this sermon as a personal attack on your choice of friends, turn with me to Genesis chapter 38, where we will look in on someone else who has a friend.

Mom and dad? Perhaps this eveningís message is best applied to your son or daughter. Have you ever thought about what role you play, and what role you ought to play, in the selection of your sonís friends, or your daughterís friends?

Over the years, I have noticed a pattern emerge. I have noticed that friends play a far more important role in predicting whether your youngster will ever be a Christian than will his mom or his dad. When you consider what I say I am sure you will agree with me.

What do you want for your son? Do you want him to grow up to be successful in his career, or do you want him to be successful in eternity? Are you more concerned about his schoolwork than you are about the work of the Holy Spirit in his heart?

The reason I bring this up is that your kid is no dummy. He knows he can completely and totally reject the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and still be your son. At the appointed time, he can utterly refuse to attend church, completely reject the claims of Christ, snub your religious views and convictions, and know with full assurance that he will still be welcome to your house for Thanksgiving and Christmas, or any other time he wants to come and visit.

Therefore, you see, the key to your youngsterís conversion is less you than you might think. Your greatest opportunities to influence your youngster for Christ come when he or she is very young. As your youngster ages, the important factor in his willingness to consider the claims of Christ, his personal desire to become a Christian, will not necessarily be you . . . but his or her friends.

He can reject Christ, but you will never completely reject him. He can repudiate your faith, but you will always have open arms for him. However, such is not the case with his friends, is it? There is no guarantee that a friendship will survive a final and complete rejection of Jesus Christ. Therefore, are you sure you understand the dynamics involved in your kidís non-church activities? Are you sure you have a grip on your boyís hobbies and personal goals? Have you ever thought about what bad things might happen as a direct result of you not leading your youngsterís formation of friendships, but just sitting back and letting him choose his own friends and associations?

Friends are vastly more important to their children than most parents think they are. Kids will do things out of consideration for their friends that they would never consider doing for their parents. So, whether you are still making decisions about the kinds of friends you will establish, or if you are reflecting upon the role you as a father or mother ought to have on the formation of your sonís or daughterís friends, I think our text for this evening can provide an important lifeís lesson.

Turn to Genesis chapter 38. When you find that verse, please stand read along quietly while I read aloud:


1      And it came to pass at that time, that Judah went down from his brethren, and turned in to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah.

2      And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah; and he took her, and went in unto her.

3      And she conceived, and bare a son; and he called his name Er.

4      And she conceived again, and bare a son; and she called his name Onan.

5      And she yet again conceived, and bare a son; and called his name Shelah: and he was at Chezib, when she bare him.

6      And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar.

7      And Er, Judahís firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him.

8      And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brotherís wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.

9      And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brotherís wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.

10     And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also.

11     Then said Judah to Tamar his daughter in law, Remain a widow at thy fatherís house, till Shelah my son be grown: for he said, Lest peradventure he die also, as his brethren did. And Tamar went and dwelt in her fatherís house.

12     And in process of time the daughter of Shuah Judahís wife died; and Judah was comforted, and went up unto his sheepshearers to Timnath, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite.

13     And it was told Tamar, saying, Behold thy father in law goeth up to Timnath to shear his sheep.

14     And she put her widowís garments off from her, and covered her with a vail, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife.

15     When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face.

16     And he turned unto her by the way, and said, Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee; (for he knew not that she was his daughter in law.) And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me?

17     And he said, I will send thee a kid from the flock. And she said, Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou send it?

18     And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand. And he gave it her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him.

19     And she arose, and went away, and laid by her vail from her, and put on the garments of her widowhood.

20     And Judah sent the kid by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive his pledge from the woman's hand: but he found her not.

21     Then he asked the men of that place, saying, Where is the harlot, that was openly by the way side? And they said, There was no harlot in this place.

22     And he returned to Judah, and said, I cannot find her; and also the men of the place said, that there was no harlot in this place.

23     And Judah said, Let her take it to her, lest we be shamed: behold, I sent this kid, and thou hast not found her.

24     And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Judah, saying, Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt.

25     When she was brought forth, she sent to her father in law, saying, By the man, whose these are, am I with child: and she said, Discern, I pray thee, whose are these, the signet, and bracelets, and staff.

26     And Judah acknowledged them, and said, She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son. And he knew her again no more.

27     And it came to pass in the time of her travail, that, behold, twins were in her womb.

28     And it came to pass, when she travailed, that the one put out his hand: and the midwife took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying, This came out first.

29     And it came to pass, as he drew back his hand, that, behold, his brother came out: and she said, How hast thou broken forth? this breach be upon thee: therefore his name was called Pharez.

30     And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread upon his hand: and his name was called Zarah.


This chapter of the Bible is filled with numerous illustrations of life principles to use when teaching children. There is the sin of Onan for fathers to discuss with their sons, there is the attire of Tamar that caused Judah to make a snap judgment about her morality (daughters frequently try to pretend that their appearance does not reflect in the judgments made about them by boys and men), as well as God sovereignly achieving His plan quite apart from the intentions and wicked decisions of individuals.

But the one life principle illustration that I want to lift from this chapter is the friendship that exists between Judah, the son of Jacob, and his friend, a certain Adullamite named Hirah. What astonishing parallels exist between this friendship and your life. Consider, if you will, four of the facets of friendship that I mentioned in my sermon last Sunday night, liking your friend, loving your friend, leadership in your friendship, and loyalty in your friendship. Let me zoom in on Judahís friendship with that certain Adullamite named Hirah.




What other reason would explain the association? Notice, if you will, that in verse 1, we are told ďthat Judah went down from his brethren, and turned in to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah.Ē Why did Judah do that? Why did Moses point out to his readers that Judah left his brothers in favor of Hirah? It is simple. He liked Hirah. Hirah was his friend. That is confirmed in verse 12, where he is described by Moses as Judahís friend.

Can there be any doubt that Judah liked Hirah? Their friendship appears to be more important to him than his family. As well, there friendship spans years. They were friends for a long time, from before Judah married his wife, a Canaanite wife, to some time after his sons by her were raised and then killed by God.

Oops. Do you suppose Judahís friendship with Hirah had anything to do with him marrying a Canaanite, and thereby defying his parents? As well, do you think that his friendship with Hirah had anything to do with how his sons turned out, rebellious young men who were killed by God?




If it was not love that these two men had for each other, it was as close to love as two selfish and self-centered men who had no concern about loving and serving God would have. What do you think?

They certainly seem, with the rather sparse information we are given in this chapter, to have met each otherís companionship needs, to have supplied each other with the kind of guy thing friendship that is so important to men.

When Judahís Canaanite wife died, where did he go? What did he do? Verse 12 shows us that he and his buddy, Hirah, decided to go someplace. He is mourning his wife, so he takes his very best friend with him. Not unusual. Not surprising. After all, friends who like each other can become friends who are so invested into each otherís lives that they become friends who love each other, by meeting each otherís needs as much as they know how.

When Judahís wife died, Hirah was there for him. When he wanted to go someplace, Hirah was more than willing to go with him, just to spend time with him, to talk to him, and to help him as best he knew how.




In this single chapter, we see a number of crisis situations developing in the life of this fourth son of Jacob, whose name was Judah. Of course, we see the crisis related to his adultery with Tamar. But before that, we see the crisis associated with his wifeís death. And before that, we see the crisis associated with his departure from his family and his marriage to that Canaanite woman. If you are not careful, you miss the chronic problem of his raising his children to be just as careless about the will of God for their lives as he was careless about Godís will for his life.

In the perverse society that we live in, if we are not careful, we will focus entirely on Judahís willingness to face up to siring a child by his daughter in law, Tamar, and confessing that she was more righteous than he had been. But do not mistake his demonstration of machismo for spirituality. There is nothing in this chapter that exposes any hint of spirituality or righteousness in Judahís life.

But that is not what I want you to focus on at this point. What is important to us tonight is his friend, Hirah. This guy is with him at the beginning, at the first crisis in his life, when he left his parents and married the Canaanite, and he is with him at the end when he actually sires his own son/grandson by his sonsí widow. Where in this chapter do you find Hirah functioning as a friend in this respect, exerting any kind of leadership in Judahís life to persuade him or to provoke him to do right? You not.

You see, Hirah is the perfect prototype unsaved friend of an unsaved child. Judah is the wicked child of Jacob, who in turn finds what seems to be a lifelong friend by the name of Hirah. But this so-called friendship may very well have been the worst choice Judah has ever made. He chose to be his friend a guy he liked, a guy who had common interests, a guy who was always there for him, and a guy who was a comfortable and reliable companion. He chose a guy who would go pay off a prostitute for him.

Is this the kind of friend you want? Is this the kind of friend you want your child to have? If so, just keep it up. Encourage your youngster to form friendships based upon likeability, and based upon common interests, and you will find that your child has Hirah for a friend.

So, when it comes time to cut loose from the family to pursue interests, his friend, Hirah, will never speak up to try to talk him out of it. When it comes time for him to marry a Canaanite woman, his friend, Hirah, will never speak up to try to talk him out of it. Never will Hirah make a comment about your sonís poor fathering. Never will he point out that those two boys would not have rebelled against God, and God would not have killed them, had they been raised to obey God, to live for God, and to serve God. And when your sonís first marriage breaks up and he starts shopping around for another wife to take the place of the wife of his youth, to confuse his children by terribly complicating their life, Hirah will never try to talk your son out of marriage that hot looking babe with the loose morals who will treat your grandchildren like the stepchildren they will be to her.

Where does the leadership come in? It does not come in with this type of friendship. You see, the Little League coaches teach toleration of sin. Explorer Clubs teach that homosexuality is merely a life choice, or something you are born with, and we certainly have no right to judge others in this respect. The great tragedy of church kids is that they could have so much influence in the lives of others, providing leadership and encouragement at various crisis stages in their friendís lives. But they usually say nothing. So, if a church friend provides no leadership to encourage you to do right, and if the friends you meet out there who have similar interests and goals provide no leadership, then good leadership will simply be missing in your childís life, no matter who his friends are.




You donít think friends are loyal to each other? You donít think so many people have friendships that last longer than their marriages, that are more important to them than their parents or their own children? Then you are quite naive.

I reminded you last Sunday night that Jonathan and Davidís friendship was based upon a love that passes the love of women, according to David in First Samuel 1.26. Remember, David eulogized Jonathan by saying, ď. . . very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.Ē

Loyalty is very important to good friendships. That is why you need to be very, very careful who you form friendships with, and why you should watch like an eagle those who your youngster is becoming friends with. In no time, that child of yours just may exhibit more loyalty to his friend than he ever will to you.

Keep in mind that your son knows he can be disloyal to you and you will still love him and let him come home, but if he is disloyal to his friend he will no longer be his friend. Therefore, he has nothing to lose by breaking with you (at least not as he presently sees it), but he loses the whole enchilada if he is disloyal to his friend.

What am I saying? I am saying you need to be extremely careful in choosing your friends, especially if you are not powerfully committed to being the spiritual leader in that friendship. As soon as that friendship deepens and some form of love is formed, then loyalty of a strength most parents do not appreciate is not very far away. When that happens, whoever is the leader will lead, and you will have little impact on the direction of that leadership in your childís life, or in your life if you are the one who has chosen a friend.


What might have happened, humanly speaking, had Judah had a spiritual friend who was interested in glorifying God? What might have happened to his marriage, with the rearing of his children, with his wicked sin committed with his own daughter in law? What might have happened to his brother, Joseph, had Judah the spiritual strength to stand up against his brothers more than he did?

Of course, we will never know because those are hypothetical questions related to events that happened some 4,000 years ago. So then, why do we have these accounts preserved for us in the Bible? So we can learn. So we can avoid the pitfalls we see others fall into. So we will have more wisdom than to make those mistakes, commit those sins, in our own lives.

In First Corinthians 15.33, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in the city of Corinth. He said, ďBe not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.Ē This is what he meant: Donít be tricked into thinking that the wrong kinds of friends wonít result in the wrong kind of behavior.

Young people, keep this in mind when you are deciding on a friend. Donít be so eager to have a friend that you will settle for the wrong kind of friend, because once that friendship progresses from merely liking someone to a kind of love for someone, then that friend will lead wherever he wants to lead and you will be powerfully tempted to loyally follow him.

Moms and dads? How important are some of these things your youngster is allowed to involve him in, if you do not exercise the greatest caution and the wisest discernment in keeping tract of which friends your children have? More important, why donít you take the lead in helping me to create the kind of environment in this church that will result in your childís friends being from among the converted kids here in our church? If you do not think that will go a long way, humanly speaking, toward determining the eventual response of your youngster to the gospel then you have not paid much attention to what happens around you.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.