July 15, 2022 Jubilee Community Church

Gospel Arithmetic

Gospel Arithmetic

Jubilee Fam,

I am struggling to wrap up an overdue paper for a class I am taking on the Pentateuch. The paper is on Genesis 35:1-15, where Jacob returns home after his 20-year exile because, in line with his name, he deceived his brother Esau and cheated him out of not only his birthright (Gen 25:29–35) but also his blessing (Gen 27:1–45). That seed planted in the ground came to fruition when Jacob found himself on the receiving end of deception from Laban (Gen 29). The deceiver had been deceived. Additionally, Jacob saw that his deceptive ways were stitched into his sons' DNA (Gen 34). I came across this quote that I plan on using in my paper. The author contends that from Genesis 1:1–Exodus 19:2, we read, by and large, about the history of the relationship between the LORD and Israel before the covenant at Sinai is made. He finds right in the center of this story the Jacob narrative (Gen 28:5–37:1), of which the passage for my paper is a part. Ok, here is the quote within that context (It is a little lengthy. Bear with it and chew on it a bit for reflection) — 

The placement of Jacob’s story at the center…is logical enough since it is here that Israel as a nation is born. On the other hand, this highlighted story is also the most embarrassing, marked by moral and ethical failure, deceit, cowardice, greed, murder, and deep family rifts. This is probably not coincidental, and it serves to reinforce another major theme found throughout the Book of the Law — that Yahweh has chosen Israel in spite of its unworthiness and weakness (Exod 31–34; Deut 4–11). Standing at the very center — a center that could have been filled with a glowing account of Israel’s ancestor Jacob and his courage and faithfulness — is the presentation of Jacob as a man of weakness and failures, who is graciously helped and protected by Yahweh despite his unworthiness. The implied message here is that it is Yahweh, not Israel’s ancestors, who deserve Israel’s admiration and gratitude as the hero of its history

This, Jubilee, is why the Gospel is such good news. The bottom line is that we are more like Jacob than Jesus in and of ourselves. We don’t bring anything to the table except our need for Yahweh to work in our lives despite our imperfections. This is why the gospel is not Jesus plus something we add. There is nothing we can add to the perfect and finished work of Christ that saves sinners by grace alone through faith alone! The gospel is Jesus + nothing = salvation. Rest in this gospel math Jubilee. Boast in it because it spotlights the worthy one. And share it near and far. The places where the Lord has sovereignly placed you are filled with folks who need to learn this Gospel arithmetic. 

Thanks for helping me think through my paper!

Pastor Lew