August 17th, 2021 – Very Early Tuesday Morning
“Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” ~Genesis 6:5-6
This passage stands out for its graphic description of the condition of man: The wickedness of man was great and every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Later in this same chapter it speaks of the violence that filled the earth and how “all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.” Wow. Every intent was only evil continually. That’s a pretty bleak picture of mankind…and a pretty sad way to start a devotional, I suppose. Yet, even in the midst of such a desperate scene, the perfect character of God is seen.
Notice that the LORD noticed the wickedness of man and that He knew the utter wickedness of the human heart. This harkens us back to the omniscience of the LORD; He knows and understands everything about everything and everyone. Next it says that the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth; the word used for “sorry” has a few different meanings throughout the Old Testament, but it properly means “to sigh”. In this particular verse, the word could carry the idea that the LORD experienced regret over the making of mankind due to man’s extreme rebellion and corruption. The second part of verse 6 states that the LORD was “grieved in His heart”. These two together reveal a side of God’s character that is not talked about much: the LORD was grieved (pained) over the wickedness and utter sinfulness of mankind.
Many are quick to say something along the lines of “If God is so good and perfect, then why is there pain, suffering, and evil in the world?”. One of the problems with that question (and there are a number of problems) is that it assumes that the LORD is somehow ok with pain, suffering, and evil. The reality is that evil is evil because God is good; evil, which is rooted in sin, pains His heart. Not only does He know and understand everything (including the sinfulness of the human heart and the sufferings that the heart endures), but He also is pained by the sin which undergirds the pain, trouble, and violence that we still see at play today.
What difference does that make for you and I? First, we can trust the LORD in the midst of whatever circumstance we find ourselves in because He knows and understands what is going on better than anyone else. Second, we can find rest in the justice and mercy of God since corruption and wickedness grieve His heart; He hasn’t vacated His place as Judge and Sovereign Ruler of everything that exists and His truth and justice will prevail, even if it seems at times that the consequences will not come until The End. Finally, let us live as Christ’s ambassadors – shining lights in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation – walking in His holiness and godliness, being careful not to grieve His Holy Spirit within us and laying ahold of the grace and mercy freely available at the Father’s throne.