The repentance of God. That is something that had never crossed my mind. How can a God who is perfect have anything to repent?
I found myself reading those very words while doing my Bible study recently. They took me by surprise.
The words repentance and God had never been married together in my mind. They are opposites. Antonyms. Unable to mix. Oil and water.
One particular day we read that God looked and saw ungodliness throughout the world. Sin. Wickedness. Evil.
And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Genesis 6:5
I’m certain it wasn’t the first time. However, this particular time, it hit home.
Imagine with me for a moment. A creation of your hands. One that took time, energy and emotion to create. Yet, in the end, it did not turn out the way you designed. You wanted to love it, but could not because it was too far removed from what you planned.
Man is the creation of God. Broken. Sinful. Unlovely.
What God saw when He looked out into the world broke His heart. Grief entered. His own creation broke Him.
…it grieved him at his heart. Genesis 6:6b
Perhaps it is because I’ve been so acquainted with grief recently that this portion of scripture touched me so deeply. I may not have been present in this moment of God’s grief, but there is no doubt in my mind that I have done the very same. Grieved the Lord I love. Broken the heart of Him that saved me from myself.
When you grieve, something inside you alters. Life can not continue has it was before. Changes must be made.
What God saw when looking out into the world was His creation, that He loved, was far removed from His design. The creation that He had breathed life into had turned against Him.
He could not let it go on. Grief entered His heart. Thus change was necessary.
Matthew Henry reminds us that…
This language does not imply any passion or uneasiness in God (nothing can create disturbance to the Eternal Mind), but it expresses his just and holy displeasure against sin and sinners, against sin as odious to his holiness and against sinners as obnoxious to his justice.
He is pressed by the sins of his creatures, wearied, broken, grieved…as men are when they are wronged and abused by those they have been very kind to, and therefore repent of their kindness, and wish they had never fostered that snake in their bosom which now hisses in their face and stings them to the heart.
Repentance. When one is grieved over something they have done, repentance follows.
The difference between the repentance of man and the repentance of God is that one is for sin and the other is not.
When God saw the sinfulness of man and that evil was about him continually, He repented that He made man. He was sorry for creating man.
And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth… Genesis 6:6a
God can not sin, thus His repentance was one of sorrow. Unlike man, He had no need of forgiveness for his repentance.
As parents, we teach our children that to truly be repentant that you must not only be sorry for what you have done, but also change your ways. Bad choices and ungodly behavior must be left behind. Removed from our lives.
While God had neither of these things to remove from Himself. He had to remove them from His world.
Grief coupled with repentance brings about change.
And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. Genesis 6:7
God had to change the world. He had to destroy His own creation.
I’ve made many things in my life, all filled with flaws that I can pick out quickly. Though, I have never been so grieved with my errors that I tore one of my creations apart.
The depth of God’s grief surrounding the wickedness of man is unfathomable. A creator destroying its creation. How unlovely we truly are. How far removed from God desires for us.
The repentance of God inspires repentance within me.
I long to be one with the Lord. To be filled with Him. His love. To make His desires my own.
Were it not for the grace of God, t’would not be possible.
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Genesis 6:8