God Regretted?

Gen 6 6-7 a

Q. In Gen 6:6-7 God deeply regretted creating humans on earth. If He is all-knowing, wouldn’t He have known what humans would become? Or is it that He knew, but He still gave them choice, and just felt regret that they chose to live in sin?

A. Yes God is omniscient, and knew what man would do e.g.
Acts 15:8 And God, who knows the heart, ….
• 1 Jn 3:20 …. for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.

Then why did God regret? First, let’s examine the text:

Gen 6:5-7 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. 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.” (NASB)

Gen 6:5-6 is the first mention of heart in the bible. Notice two things:

1. Man’s heart was evil continually, and God was grieved in His heart. God is not unfeeling. He saw the wickedness of man and it affected Him. He is not like Allah, who has no compassion. God’s heart grieved in response to man’s heart.

2. The LORD was sorry. The Bible clearly states that God does not repent (feel sorry, change mind), or change:
Num 23:19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; ….
• Mal 3:6 For I, the LORD, do not change; ….

Then in what sense is the LORD sorry? I believe this is a problem caused by using our limited language to describe God in human terms. God’s purpose for man never changed. He always intended for man’s good, to have fellowship with Him. However, His plans provided for different outcomes depending on man’s response to His love and provision. Man’s intent was evil continually, therefore God sent calamity so that they will learn to repent. If they don’t, He will execute His judgment to discipline them. But if they do, He will relent and not destroy them. God’s action and attitude, but not His purpose, therefore changes in response to man’s reaction. This change we describe as God regretted, for lack of a better term.

This language was used to describe God’s choice of Saul. God’s intention was to establish Saul’s kingdom forever, but Saul did not keep God’s commandment. So God’s action changed and He chose David to replace Saul. He “regretted” He made Saul king:

1 Sam 13:13 Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, for now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.
• 1 Sam 15:11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not carried out My commands.” ….
• 1 Sam 15:35 …. And the LORD regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.

In short, your second observation is correct. Man has no one to blame but himself.

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