God Regretting

On June 3, I will be in Chicago for graduation; Matt will be preaching. He will deal with a fairly familiar passage, the story of Noah. However, there are a few verses in Genesis 6 preceding the story of Noah; they set the stage for the epic story. We often breeze past these verses to get to the good part. Yet these verses reveal the reason for the flood.

Other accounts of the flood are found in ancient Mesopotamian literature. One account is the Epic of Gilgamesh. This account portrays a man named Utnapishtim who builds an ark, loads it with animals and survives a violent storm. The pagan account describes gods who are fed up with mortals; they seek to destroy them by sending a flood. The only survivor (Utnapishtim) is tipped off; he escapes the plan of the gods and becomes immortal.

While some may find these accounts disturbing, they seem to confirm the validity of the biblical account. As we read the text on Sunday, you may be surprised by them. In some ways they sound more like Greek mythology than scripture. Yet they reveal the heart of God at this point in history. While Utnapishtim escapes the plot of the gods (he was never intended to survive), Noah is chosen by God to carry on the human race. But before we get to his story, it is appropriate to live in the tension of God’s decision. Before Noah was chosen, God considered total annihilation. Like the gods in the Epic of Gilgamesh, God considered ridding the world of mankind.

When we read these verses, we feel God’s pain. God regrets creating man. That is pretty astounding. How can God regret? Is it possible for God to show remorse for his actions? Yet we read (ESV translation),

(Genesis 6:7 ESV) for I am sorry that I have made them

Why did God feel this way? What could possibly have prompted God to say this? Join us on Sunday as we explore the reason for the flood. We will consider possible parallels to our own world today and contemplate our appropriate response to God. Perhaps these ancient verses can aid our repentance in a world that often grieves our Creator.