Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Christianity, Answered Honestly!

How Can Genesis 6:6 Say That God
Was Sorry For Doing Something?

-by Tony Warren

    This is one of those questions which many Theologians have a difficult time in answering. In Genesis 6:6 it says that the Lord repented or was sorry that He made man, and that He was grieved in His heart. This "seems" to indicate that God didn't know this was going to happen when He created man, or that this was an unexpected result of that creation. So the question is, how can we reconcile this verse with the concept of the All powerful omniscient God?

    Genesis 6:5-6

  • "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.

  • And it Repented the Lord that He made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart."

The fact is, God knows the end from the Beginning. It is most evident that this is why He can Prophesy and tell us of things which are to occur in the future. And so there is no question but that God knows all ahead of time.

We need to first understand that the Bible was "not" written for God it's written "for men", and therefore it's written from the perspective of men's understanding. We should even discern that from the fact that God says there that it grieved Him at His heart that He had made man. God is not a man that he should have a heart pumping blood through flesh, but this is the way mankind speaks to illustrate things were not going as we desired. So God uses this language so that the prophets (and indeed us today) would understand. God's ways are so far above our ways that if it was written from God's vantage point, we would be thoroughly confused and have little understanding, for we now see in a glass darkly (1st Corinthians 13:12).

In the Genesis 6 example, God is illustrating why He destroyed the world "from our vantage point" of sorrow and grief. The Sons of God were becoming unequally yoked with the daughters of men. In other words, the Children of God were going after unbelievers, and the result is that their children fell away from God to the ways of the reprobates. As a result of this unrighteous mingling of the righteous seed, the world grew continually more wicked until there was only wickedness (an example for us all). God is illustrating that His destroying them wasn't an act without reason, it was because of their continual wickedness and evil doings. From our perspective, they were grieving the Holy Spirit! It doesn't mean God didn't know it was going to happen, it means that God takes no joy in the judgment of the unrighteous, and He writes this from the perspective in which we will understand his actions. i.e., as if we had raise up a child who grew to hate god, so that we were sorry that we had raised him up. This is a perspective man understands.

We often see these kinds of episodes in scripture. For example, when God called Adam in the Garden of Eden, and said, "where art thou?" That didn't mean God was searching for Adam and didn't know where he was, that was God writing from our perspective illustrating that Adam was attempting to hide from God. God knew perfectly well where he was! The idea that God said, "where art thou," doesn't abrogate the law that God knows all! It simply means He's writing for our benefit, not His own!

The same thing when God said let Me go down to Sodom and see if the evil things were taking place there. God knew perfectly well what was taking place there, but these things are written for "our" benefit, not God's!

Again, when there was an Ox pulling the Ark of the Covenant and the ox stumbled and a man put his hand forth to steady the cart. God struck him down dead on the spot! God doesn't "normally" judge sin on the spot, but this was done for "our" benefit, that we'll read and understand that obedience to God's Word is not subject situation ethics, or to private interpretation. i.e., it's not what that man thought under the circumstances that counted, it was what God had said not to do.

And many more examples of God writing that men will understand what, why, and how things are done. God's magnificent Salvation program is through reading (hearing) and in the wisdom of understanding His Word!

In short, the writing as if there were feelings of grief and sorrow for what is taking place is not incompatible with omniscience or omnipotence of God. It is important to realize that God is writing to us finite beings, that we'll understand His actions as an infinite being. Therefore it often seems to us to be at odds with the truth of His being all knowing and all seeing.

Another good example of God's will and accompanying sorrow is the gift of Christ. God sends His Son to die, which is sorrowful (yet it is His will). And Christ knows what will happen though He goes along "as if" it might not happen, or might be thwarted by Pilate. These things must be, yet it appears from some scriptures as if it could have been prevented or not happen. This is because the scriptures are written for man, not for God. God knows what's happening, the point is to write so we will by careful study understand the whys', hows', and the what for's.

In understanding this, we understand why God says things in the manner which He does. We are finite, God is infinite. He speaks to us on our level. i.e., kingdoms, Gold, beasts, lions, sheep, wolves, serpents, Doves, etc. These are things illustrating in our earthly language things which are of heaven. Things which we can't understand as yet, but which we will understand by and by. May the Lord who is gracious above all give us the wisdom and understanding to glean what we need from His Holy Word.


Copyright 1998 Tony Warren
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Created 8/8/98 / Last Modified 2/20/00
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