Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jan 1 2019 - Genesis 1:1-25 – God the Creator

I am told that a good story has to grab you from the opening sentence. This is surely true of the Bible with its assertion that God "created the heavens and the earth." That is to say that God made absolutely everything, and he did it all simply by the power of his word. Creation displays his sovereign power.

Ah Lord God, Thou hast made the heavens
And the earth by Thy great power
Ah Lord God, Thou hast made the heavens
And the earth by Thine outstretched arm
Nothing is too difficult for Thee…

When the Book of Genesis was written, many peoples considered the Sun and Moon to be gods and thought that the stars played a significant role in determining human fate. Many still are fascinated by astrological charts and follow their horoscopes in the newspaper. But the Sun, Moon and stars are not gods; they were created by the one living God whose glory is displayed in all that he has created; they are his creatures. This God is the one who brings order out of chaos, light out of darkness, life out of barrenness. He is the one who delights in all that he has made and pronounces it good, very good.

But we have to ask, "Why did God create the universe?" The "beginning" spoken of in Genesis 1:1 is the beginning of the universe, but it is not the beginning of God. He was there before anything was created. Why then did he make this world and the billions of other worlds that make up our universe?

It is not easy to answer this question, though the New Testament declares that all things were made through Christ and for him (see John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:15). In one sense, God made the universe as a gift for his Son who, along with the Spirit, worked with the Father in this great work of creation. But perhaps we can also say that God made the universe as an act of love. God who is love created a world on which he could lavish his love and kindness. He created the world that it might enjoy his love and that all creation might respond to his love, glorify him and give delight to him.

But God's great work of creation, described in Genesis 1:1-25, is more than a miraculous act in the distant past. Our God does not simply light the blue touch paper and retire to a safe distance; he is the one who continues to sustain all that he has made. At the beginning of creation, God calls light out of darkness and the evening and the morning are the first day. Note that order, "evening and morning… evening and morning…" In Hebrew thought, each day begins with evening, the darkness that marks the night, before giving way to morning, what we call day. Each day is a new act of creation as darkness flees before the light – 'Morning has broken like the first morning...' Each day is a brand new gift from the hands of our Creator. It's not the mechanical rolling of the spheres but the grace, faithfulness and goodness of God that brings us each new morning.

'This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.'

Creator God, whose Spirit hovered over the face of the void at the dawn of creation, by your Spirit bring light into our darkness, order into the chaos of our lives and breathe into us your life. Through your word and Spirit, make this day a good day.

Jan 1 2013 - Matthew 1:1-2:12 – The story of Jesus the Messiah

When I started secondary school (fifty years ago now), I was given a Bible. It was an Authorised (or King James) Version bound in dull red cloth. One of the features of this particular Bible was that sections of it were reduced to small print. The suggestion, I suppose, was that such passages were not as important as the rest – or at least, not such good reading. You could get the substance of the story without ploughing through the minutiae of Levitical legal code or the endless lists of names that dominate the book of Numbers and occur regularly elsewhere.

Matthew begins his account of Jesus with a genealogy – a section of “small print”. Not, we might think, the most promising way to start.

But the genealogy in Matthew is more than a human family tree. It traces the hand of God from promise to fulfilment. Matthew's account begins with Abraham. God chose Abraham from among all the inhabitants of the earth and promised to bless him. More than that, he promised that through him and his family all nations on earth would be blessed. Jesus is the fulfilment of that promise. He is the Saviour of the world; the one who brings the blessing of God to a cursed creation.

The promise to Abraham was God's answer to a world gone wrong; God's answer to Adam's disobedience. Humankind, male and female, were created that they might together bear God's image and rule over God's creation with loving care reflecting that of God himself. They were intended to be a source of blessing to God's world. Through disobedience they/we have enslaved God's world. God promised that from the descendants of Abraham he would raise up a king over his people. This king would be God's son; one who would reign in God's name and bring blessing to all those under his shepherdly dominion. David seemed for a while to be such a king. But, like Adam before him, he too fell short of all that God intended him to be. Jesus is David's greater son. Jesus is the Son of God; the fulfilment of God's promises. He is God's anointed king. He is the Messiah, the Christ.

God's promises to Abraham and to David find their fulfilment in Jesus. Through all the twists and turns of history indicated in this genealogy – through human unfaithfulness, even adultery and murder – God is bringing his plans to fulfilment. The mess of human sin does not defeat the plan and purpose of God; it is precisely the context in which he is at work to bring salvation to the world.

Matthew presents his genealogy in the form of three lists, each of fourteen generations. One spans the period from Abraham to David; the second, the period from David to the Exile to Babylon; the third, the period from the Exile to the advent of Jesus Christ. Jesus fulfils the promises of God to Abraham. Jesus is the Messiah, the King of all the earth. Jesus is the one who has come to rescue his people from captivity and bring them (and all creation) "into the glorious freedom of the children of God."

There's nothing "small print" about the purposes of God in history.

Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus, the Saviour of the world; the one in whom history has a new beginning. Help us to see more of his character and glory as we work our way through the New Testament in the year ahead. Open our eyes to see that you continue to work out your saving purposes through people like us and help us daily to worship and serve the Lord Jesus.

Peter Misselbrook