Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jan 9 2019 - Genesis 6:1-22 – Judgment and grace

A few pages separate Genesis chapters 1 and 6, but what a contrast between the two passages. When God first made the world it reflected his own character and glory. God pronounced it to be good, very good. And on the seventh day God rested in satisfied enjoyment of all that he had made.

But now everything has changed. The earth is filled with violence and wickedness: "And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart" (Genesis 6:6). His spoilt world grieves the heart of God and he determines to do away with it. The God of the Scriptures is a God of passion: passionate love and concern for his creatures and particularly for humankind made in his image, made to share his heart.

And love can hurt. The heart of God is grieved over a world gone wrong. He is not grieved simply because his creation has been spoilt – like a child upset when their sandcastle is trodden on. No, he is grieved at a world that no longer returns his love: the grief of a deserted lover. Nor is his judgment an act of spite; it is, if we could but understand it, an act of kindness in putting an end to a world that has lost its way – putting an end to violence and wickedness.

And here we come across one of the wonderful "but"s of the Bible. God determined to blot out humankind from the face of the earth, "But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord" (Genesis 6:8). My Hebrew teacher, Alec Motyer, used to say that when we read that "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (KJV), we need to understand that grace found Noah. God's judgment is not utter destruction; in grace he determines to make a new world with Noah as a second Adam.

Noah is to build a great boat that will be the means of saving him, his family and representatives of all the creatures of the earth; they too are to have a new beginning.

Through the coming flood the world will be baptised: it will face judgment and the sentence of death; but out of it the earth will know resurrection – all things are made new, cleansed and recreated.

Noah, we read, "did all that God commanded him" – it's repeated, just in case we missed it the first time (6:22; 7:5). Just imagine if he had not done all that was required – if he had left the ark, this great boat, unfinished, or if he had failed to take the necessary food on board. The world is saved from utter destruction by the grace of God, but it is also through the obedience of this one man.

The passion in the heart of God that moves him to judgment and mercy finds its ultimate focus in the passion of the Christ – his ultimate baptism. This is where grief threatens to tear apart the heart of God and judgment falls on a world gone wrong. Our salvation has been secured through the grace of God and the obedience of one man upon whom God's favour rests – a man who did all that the Father asked of him. The terrible act in which judgment falls upon rebellious humanity is also the means by which we are brought safe to glory. Through the cross of Christ, the Last Adam, the Lord has secured a people for himself, a people recreated in his own image. Here is amazing love, amazing grace.

Lord God, how can I thank you for your saving grace? I praise you for the perfect obedience of my Saviour in whom I am brought through floods and flames into the life of the new creation. Help me to follow him in living in obedience to all your commandments. Help me to reflect the image of your Son.

Peter Misselbrook