When God Repented
(Genesis 6:6) And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. Oxford English Dictionary shows that the word repent can mean, “To cause (one) to feel regret, etc.” Such is its usage in today's text. A similar usage is where God expressed regret over having made Saul king: “It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king...” (1SAM 15:11). God Who had made the earth and its elements was about to destroy the earth by its elements. It had become corrupt beyond the limits of His longsuffering, a frightful status to be avoided at all costs. When the patience of God with sinners comes to an end, His wrath arises to a sudden destruction and there is no remedy (2CH 36:16 c/w PRO 29:1). A principal reason for the Flood was “...that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (GEN 6:5). Though the Flood purged earth of the ungodly (2PE 2:5) and gave mankind a fresh start, its intense judgment in no way changed man's nature. After the Flood, God observed that “...the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth...” (GEN 8:21). His nature was still corrupt. Fallen man's nature is so inherently corrupt that when shown favor he will not learn righteousness (ISA 26:10), nor will his nature be changed by ferocious judgment. See also REV 16:9-21 where the wicked under intense judgment blaspheme God rather than repent. Man's nature must be changed by God before it can produce good fruit (MAT 7:18 c/w MAT 12:33). The fruit of the Spirit of God (e.g. faith) can only be produced by the Spirit and is therefore the proof of a new nature, not the means of a new nature (GAL 5:22-23 c/w 1CO 12:3 c/w ROM 8:14). The situation was so bad with men that God repented (regretted) that He had created man. That saints might better appreciate the redeeming work of the new creation and glorify Jesus Christ for the covenant of grace, consider Matthew Henry's insight here: “God repented that he had made man; but we never find him repenting that he redeemed man (though that was a work of much greater expense), because special and effectual grace is given to secure the great ends of redemption; so that those gifts and callings are without repentance, Rom.11:29.” God will never repent of His work of grace by which He has covenanted to save His elect. The earth would be spared from undergoing another Flood (GEN 9:11) but only reserved unto a future judgment (2PE 3:7) and then it “...shall perish...” (HEB 1:10-11). By contrast, the elect are “...preserved for ever...” (PSA 37:28), “...preserved in Jesus Christ...” (JUDE 1:1), secured unto eternal life and “...shall never perish...” (JOH 10:28), having been once and forever already judged in the person of Jesus Christ at Calvary (ROM 8:33-34).