God Regrets and is Sorry?
I implied a time or two in the sermon yesterday that I was going to deal with the "issue" located in our text from Sunday that you see in the title above, but I failed to address the subject within the sermon. I wanted to take a brief moment and jot down a few thoughts for those of you who may be interested in a conversation about it all (which you can feel free to call or email or pull me aside anytime about).
The text, in Genesis 6:5–8, says:
 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.  So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”  But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
My personal position is that God is what is called "impassible." This indicates that God is not subject to the ebb and flow of feeling/passions/emotions like humans. God cannot love you more or less than he does right now; it is always at maximum constancy. Humans are much different. We constantly ebb and flow in the passions we feel: anger, love, compassion, etc. Simply put, that's because we are not God!
In regard to these verses, when humans regret something it's because we made a bad move or bad choice in some regard. This, however, as we read throughout the Bible, is not the same as our God. God does all things well, and he never makes a mistake in regard to his providence and sovereignty. He is the Alpha and Omega. He has planned the end as he did the beginning. But does my personal position get blown up by these verses here in Genesis? I don't believe so, and this is why:
I think that Moses, the author of Genesis, is speaking of God in what is called "anthropopathic" language. That's a big word that means something very simple: human attributes are being attributed or ascribed to God in order to help us to understand (in our puny human minds!) God's perspective. So, my position here is that Moses is simply helping us to understand God's perspective and using human attributes to help us to understand, even though, at the end of the day, we'll simply never fully understand God's mind/will/ways. For the sake of illustration, it's kind of like when we talk like a one year old to a one year old. We do it because if we used words like...anthropopathic!...they would have no idea what we are talking about. So we dumb down our language because we want them to understand us. So it is, from my perspective, with God. He needs to dumb it down for us so that we will understand what he wants us to.
For further study, take some time to read 1 Samuel 15. In this chapter, we find this:
The word of the LORD came to Samuel: “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the LORD all night.
But then, in the very same chapter, we find this explanation:
And Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.”
So...does the Lord regret? From a human perspective, that's how he has decided to help us understand his mind/will to a small degree. But does God actually regret? The Prophet Samuel says no!
These are deep waters to swim in, and it should cause us to wonder and praise our God!
I'd love to dialogue if you have further questions.
He Must Increase!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.