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Genesis 6:1-8 – God of Judgment, God of Grace – Part 2
Perceive God’s ways (6:5-8). How does God respond to mankind’s sinfulness? These verses show us 4 ways:
First, God notices sin: 6:5, “The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” Genesis 6:5 may be the most strongly worded verse in the entire Bible! The first half of the verse reveals how extensively human evil had spread around the world: “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth.” The last half emphasizes that sin had permeated intensively, deep into the heart of every single human: “...and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
This passage states that sin pervades every pore of the human being. There is a huge emphasis on mankind’s wickedness. The words “every,” “only,” and “continually” point to the all-consuming depravity of man.
Later, in Gen. 8:21, Moses quotes a portion of 6:5 and observes that the phrase “only evil continually” or “all the time” means “from childhood” on. Original sin among human beings began with Adam and Eve, but each of us participates in original sin in another sense as we begin to exhibit sinful traits after we are born.
David confessed that fact after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Ps 51:5).
Can you imagine a world where every member of a family would fight over which movie to watch?
Where no one would allow anyone else to merge into a line of traffic?
Where abortion would be as accepted as a tooth extraction?
Where the killing of the elderly and the infirm would be honored as an act of mercy?
Where lawsuits would be as common as traffic tickets?
Oh, of course, we can imagine such a world...we’re living in it! Our world has excluded God and is focused on self.
Second, God grieves over sin. In 6:6, Moses writes, “The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” Note the contrast between the heart of the wicked and the heart of God. This is no heartless regret, but the reaction of someone who loves deeply. This terminology is love language; it in no way suggests that God is not immutable.
The word translated “grieved” means “indignant rage.” The word is used to express the most intense form of human emotion, a mixture of rage and bitter anguish.
This word is used in other examples in Scripture with God and other people, but it is only here that the added phrase “in His heart,” is used, underlying the strength of God’s reaction to human sinfulness.
Many are legitimately startled when they read that the Lord “was grieved” or “repented” that He had ever made man and woman upon the earth. How can both the immutability and the changeableness of God be taught in the same canon of Scripture?
Scriptures frequently use the phrase “God repented.” The Hebrew root (nacham) is behind all the words variously translated as “relent,” “repent,” “be sorry,” and “grieve,” and, in its origins, reflected the idea of breathing or sighing deeply. A physical display of one’s feelings of sorrow, compassion, or comfort.
All of this is to say: Ultimately, God’s sorrow means action must be taken, not that a great cosmic mistake has been made. God is a living person and, as such, He can and does change when the occasion demands it. He does not change in His character, person, or plan. But He can and does respond to our changes. Our heavenly Father’s heart breaks when we disobey Him. To cause Him such grief in light of all that He has done for us in Christ is pure ingratitude.
Third, God judges sin. In 6:7, Moses writes, “The LORD said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.’” The destruction of everything from man to animals has to do with man’s given sovereignty over the earth, for the creatures were created for Him and therefore were involved in the fall. There would be no half-measures in dealing with sin.
Depravity requires God’s judgment. God’s pain over sin, especially idolatrous activities, prompts Him to blot out the wicked. The Bible tells us God watches our world with patience “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9b).
But we can never mistake His patience for toleration; or His love for acceptance; or His grief for weakness. There is a limit to God’s patience with the world, but He never sneaks up and delivers His judgment by surprise.
Finally, God grants grace. The narrative concludes in 6:8 with this powerful statement: “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.” As we have seen in so many of the passages, we have covered in Genesis already, usually the last word is one of hope. Such is the case here.
The word translated “favor” (chen) is also the word translated “grace.” It is interesting to note that the Hebrew word comes from a root meaning “to bend or stoop”; thus, the condescending or unmerited favor of a superior person to an inferior one is implied.
So, grace means, “God’s unmerited favor.” Grace gives us what we don’t deserve and sustains us through all of life. This is the first mention of one of the most beautiful words in the Bible—grace, though we have seen many examples of God’s grace thus far.
Maybe this word is first used here because Moses wants us to understand that Noah’s righteousness is not his own but a gift of God’s grace. It was God’s grace that saved him. In the same way, it is only by God’s grace that we can escape His judgment on the wicked.
Why are we saved? Paul tells us in Titus 3:5: “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” Man still deteriorates. Society still runs down unless God intervenes. There will be an end to our world as there was to Noah’s world.
A savior was chosen then; a Savior is available now: Jesus Christ. Jesus has provided a way of salvation, as Noah provided an ark. Men and women are invited to go in. Jesus died on the cross, and paid a price for our sins. They had to trust Noah’s ark. We have to trust in Jesus’ cross. They had to get inside the ark. We have to get inside Jesus’ cross. Jesus will be to us what Noah was to those in the ancient world.
When we go in to Jesus He will keep us safe 1 Pet 3:18-22 - “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit, in which He went and proclaimed to the Spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight personas, were brought safely through the water.”
If you’re looking for safety from the consequences of your sins, ask Jesus to rescue you today. When you trust Jesus as your Deliverer, you will be saved from the penalty of your sin.