The phrase “it repented the Lord” is mentioned in the King James Version of Genesis 6:6-7, “And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.“
The New King James Version of Genesis 6:6-7 gives a clearer passage: “And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”
“It Repented the Lord”
From the above passages, we can see that the words “it repented the Lord,” may be understood as “it grieved him” to His heart. This shows that the repentance of God does not presuppose lack of foresight on His part or any change in His nature or plan. In this sense, God never repents of anything. The Bible says, “And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent” (1 Samuel 15:29).
The phrase “it repented the Lord” refers to the pain of divine love which is caused by the wickedness of man which was great at the time of the flood (Genesis 6:5). It shows the truth that God, in accordance with His immutability, assumes a new changed position in respect to the changed man. The reference to divine sorrow at the antediluvian world state is a tender indication that God did not abhor man. Human sin fills the divine heart with deep-sorrow and pity. It moves all the infinite sympathy for evil men of which infinite love is capable. When men exercises their free will to choose evil, God has no choice but to respect their decision (Deuteronomy 30:19).
The truth is that God loved man to death. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). There is no greater love than that (John 15:13). There is nothing more that God can do to save man.
Nonetheless, sorrow moves God also to judicial punishment. The Lord spoke through the prophet Jeremiah in the following manner, “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the Lord. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it” (Jeremiah 18:6–10).
Man lives in a moral universe. Nations prosper or fall according to their relationship to God’s moral law. If a nation does uprightly and obeys the law of justice and mercy, it “shall prosper” (Psalm 1:3). If, on the other hand, a nation becomes evil, gives itself wholly to wickedness, and disregards the rules of God’s kingdom, it “shall perish” (Psalm 1:6). This was the case of the antediluvian world.
In His service,
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