Theology Thursday: The Gospel Reversal
Next week, we at Threads will release the second volume of Matt Carter’s and Halim Suh’s study of Genesis called Creation Restored. It’s relevant, challenging, and gospel-saturated. Trust me, you’ll want to get a copy. Here’s a quick promo video to get you going:
Matt and Halim do a great job connecting the story(ies) of Genesis with the good news of Jesus Christ. One example comes from a specific chapter in this new study, called “The Gospel Reversal,” which explores a crazy, disturbing “aside” in the story of Joseph involving Judah and Tamar.
Genesis 38 records the sordid story. Take some time to read it for yourself, but be prepared for the reaction, “Hey, I don’t remember hearing about this in Sunday School!” To summarize, a whole lot of sinning is taking place—from rejecting family responsibilities to sexual sins. It’s a sketchy scene, for sure.
The main result of Genesis 38 is that Judah and Tamar produced twins, Perez and Zerah. You might not think this is a big deal, but it is, and it’s in this scene where Moses proclaimed the gospel in advance.
Genealogies are important, even though we tend to skip over them when we’re reading the Bible. But don’t skip them, study them. Here’s why. In Matthew’s Gospel, we find this inclusion: “Judah fathered Perez and Zerah by Tamar …” (1:2). Let that sink in. The shady scenario with Judah and Tamar produced Perez, who is the ancestor of King David, who is the ancestor of King Jesus.
What we expect is Matthew to mention Joseph as a shining example of Jesus’ lineage. But what we get is Judah and Tamar. Here is the gospel on display. Here is the gospel reversal: God takes our brokenness and redeems it through Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 11 highlights this too. Here is a list of scoundrels, deceivers, prostitutes and murderers—on the surface, not “heroes of the faith,” right? But they are. All of these folks had their fair share of sins and problems, but they had faith. And their stories are redeemed by the incredible power and grace of Jesus Christ. In fact, their stories tell the story of the gospel.
Now we get to you and me.
Without a doubt we all have sordid stories, skeletons in the closet, or sins/sinful choices that plague us still. If we learn anything from Genesis 38 and Hebrews 11, it is this: God delights in redeeming your brokenness through His Son. For the sake of His name and fame, God is in the business of making all things new. And He has the ability, wisdom, and means to bring good out of our bad.
This is the greatness of grace. This is the glory of Jesus’ work on our behalf. This is the gospel reversal.
Micah Carter is the publishing team leader for LifeWay’s young adult ministry.