About Algebra and the Old Testament

May 21, 2024 | Jaci Miller

I couldn’t do it. Algebra was kicking me around like a deflated, defeated soccer ball.

Though a good student in other areas, I was pulling a “C” in this class. I needed help. Then my parents intervened and sought it from the teacher. God bless Mr. Yeoman who met with me early in the mornings for tutoring in equations and variables.

Fast forward many years. I recently finished reading the Old Testament from beginning to end. It took months.


I must say, my achievement felt like a small victory. Though perhaps not as challenging as algebra, I still celebrated.

The Old Testament reads drily in parts and dishearteningly in others. Israel, God’s people, could never seem to get it right. They consistently dabbled in idolatry and only ran back to God when He disciplined them. Then the cycle would begin again.

God’s patience and mercy ran deep, but so did the Israelites’ unfaithfulness. From the beginning of their history in Exodus to the end of the Old Testament, God’s chosen people disrespected Him again and again. While I learned a great deal about God’s faithfulness, I grew weary of watching His people flail and fail. They, too, needed help, but none seemed available.

Can I be bluntly honest? Relief sprang up in me when I turned the last page of Malachi.

My Bible reading plan put me next in John, where Jesus, named the Word, appeared in the first sentence. Immediately, the tone of Scripture changed. Where futility had once reigned, humanity drew a fresh breath and hope dawned.

The pursuit of God no longer was a chase after the wind, because that wind began to shift. Something was changing. Scripture no longer emphasized the need. The focus became the solution. Jesus.

John 1:17 says, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

What is more stifling than a law that cannot fully be obeyed? How exhausting to try and, time after time, fail. Like a struggling student who cannot make the grade, crushing her spirits.

But how refreshing, grace mixed with truth. An outstretched hand at the most desperate moment. With the arrival of the Savior came freedom from the cycle of failure. Christ became the light, the hope of all, to seek Father God and succeed! John 1:4 tells us, “In Him [Jesus] was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”

Jesus suffered and died so that the law could be kept perfectly. The law made nothing perfect (Hebrews 7:19), but through Jesus, He makes us perfect before God (Hebrews 10:14). He was, and is, the assistance mankind desperately needed then and desperately needs now.

As a student, I could not conquer algebra on my own.

Jesus understood that we needed help too. Reaching God could not be done alone. Now, through His sacrifice, we don’t have to fail and flail any longer.