There are certain things about God that are so difficult to understand. There are often portions of scripture that clearly and plainly illustrate the character of God, but sometimes those things can be so hard to digest because as human beings, we simply cannot relate. This is the case when one examines Genesis 6:5-8. In this portion of scripture, the Bible documents God proclaiming a decree to judge the earth because of the amount of sin that was in it. The decree within itself is simple and easy to understand. Yet when one examines the words the Bible uses to describe God's temperament, it becomes difficult to rationalize the Living God.
In Genesis 6:5-8 the Bible shows that God looked at His creation and saw that mankind had become exceedingly wicked. According to the Bible's timeline, approximately 1,600 years had elapsed since God created the world, and mankind was opportunistic to corrupt the world in that seemingly short time. However, when one considers that the United States is less than 250 years old, yet has come to such a position based on where this country started, one can only imagine the amount of wickedness that filled the world in 1,600 years! The Bible reveals that as God looked at His creation, He saw that the minds of His people were only thinking evil things all of the time.
It is interesting to note that God examined the minds of the people as He looked down at His creation. The Bible says that God examines the hearts of people (1 Samuel 16:7). Yet in Genesis 6:5-8 God noticed that the minds of humanity had been corrupted. This idea is reconciled in Romans chapter 1. In that portion of scripture, the apostle Paul wrote that, because people had sought to remove God from their teaching and ways of life, God had given them over to a "debased/reprobate mind." The original language shows that a reprobate mind referred to a mind that was genuinely corrupted, thinking of things that were vile and unapproved by God. The English dictionary uses the word "damnation" to define reprobate. Thus, the scriptures reveal that as mankind sought to do their own thing, they slowly but surely departed from God. Caught up in their own desires, they thought about God less, then determined to remove Him from conscience. Finally, the wickedness of their hearts, caused by the distance from God that sin had created, infected their minds so that the ideas and imagination and desires of humanity were producing thoughts that were contrary to God all of the time.
Genesis 6:5-8 is clear to show God's response to such an environment. Though the English translations slightly differ in word usage, the idea is the same. The Bible shows that God saw His own creation reject Him, rebel against Him, deny the quality of life He desired to give them, and seek to live without Him. The scriptures show that God's response to such conduct was that He "repented" that He made humanity. Some translations say that God "regretted" He made humanity. The English language struggles to find the appropriate word to explain the idea that the Hebrew language presents. God does not "regret" like mankind does. God is not "sorry" like mankind is. One cannot interpret the scriptures in such a way that suggests God felt that He made a mistake creating humanity. God knows all things from the beginning to the end. If there is something that would cause God to "regret" like we do, He wouldn't do it. God makes no mistakes.
The original Hebrew language uses a word that describes an emotional response related to pain. If one understands the true meaning of repentance, then the original King James Version is the appropriate translation. Repentance deals with the idea of recognize error, and then responding to such error by turning towards a solution. God recognized, not His own error, but the error of humanity, and thus made efforts to move towards the solution - judgment. The original Hebrew language places a heavy emphasis on comfort and compassion when the Bible states that God was sorry He created mankind. The English dictionary defines "compassion" as: sympathetic consciousness for the distress of another with a desire to alleviate the distress. This definition is similar to the concept of repentance.
Either way, the thought that becomes difficult to digest is the fact that God emotionally responded to the sin of His creation. To a certain extent, He was sorry. The scriptures plainly state that God was "grieved in His heart." It hurt God to see that His own creation rejected His provision. It hurt God to see that His own creation rebelled against Him. It hurt God to see that His own creation sought to remove Him from all facets of life in order to live in a destructive manner. It grieved God to see His creation choose death instead of life. This becomes even more difficult to digest when one considers the similarities in the environment described in Genesis 6:5-8 and the world today. Therefore, this means that God has been grieving, and is grieving still. Today, generally speaking, mankind is again, seeking to remove God from our ways of living, and is daily choosing to live in destructive ways rather than His ways that bring life. Today it is evident that God has given many people over to reprobate minds. Yet this grieves God. This hurts God. Sin makes God emotionally respond in a way that is painful for Him; yet sin continues.
It is difficult to read Genesis 6:5-8 and see that God decreed judgment upon the earth. However, when one considers the time that God provided for repentance, and then tries to extrapolate the amount of grief that God endured over 1,600 years, one must come to the conclusion that God is right and just to judge the world. The Bible clearly shows that sin hurts God. The Bible also explains that God is love (1 John 4:8). The Bible shows that love is patient (1 Corinthians 13:4). Therefore, God is patient. Yet the original language uses the word "long suffering" for the modern word "patient." This is more appropriate. God as love has suffered a very long time because of the sin of His creation. It is sad and tragic to consider that God has been suffering for as long as He has. He has remained patient with His creation though He is justified to destroy it. Even though God only saw wicked thoughts coming from the minds of His people in Genesis 6:5-8, He afforded mankind 120 whole years to make it right through repentance. Yet the scriptures say that God was repentant, not mankind.
In contrast, Genesis 6:5-8 shows that there was one man that stood out amongst the rest. Humanity was corrupt, but a man named Noah caught the attention of God as the scriptures say that Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord. God would have been justified to completely destroy mankind and remove everyone from the face of the earth forever, yet the righteousness of one man caused God to show mercy. It is true that God would demonstrate His righteousness and holiness and be a perfect Judge to purge sin from the earth in the flood. Nevertheless, the reality that there is still human life on this planet is a testimony to the loving patience and merciful nature of the God who created the heavens and the earth. Understanding these truths, it is no wonder that He desires and requires His creation to serve Him according to His Word - its only reasonable.