“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.”
Immediately after, you have what may be the saddest passage in all of Scripture.
“And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.”
What makes this passage so graphic and so sad? I’m deeply persuaded we will only understand the significance of this passage if we understand the original intent of God’s creation and how far this description has strayed from that original intent.
Let’s take a look:
You and I were created to love God. We were hardwired to live in an intimate relationship with the Creator that would shape every motive, every desire, every choice, every word, and every action. If at any moment you asked me what I was doing, I could say to you, “Because I love my God.”
Why do you speak to your spouse the way you do? Because I love my God.
Why do you treat your children the way you do? Because I love my God.
Why do you spend your money the way you do? Because I love my God.
Why do you schedule your life the way you do? Because I love my God.
Love of God was the plan. We were created to recognize his existence and his grandeur and his authority. In acts of deeply personal love, we would choose to serve him with all our time and energy, and it wouldn’t be a hassle. We would obey because of our personal love for God. Because we loved God the lawgiver, we would find joy in following his laws. We would find joy in serving him and staying inside his boundaries.
That was the plan.
It’s very clear that something went terribly wrong. Love of God no longer ruled the heart of man. But this is important to understand - Genesis 6:5-8 didn’t signal the end of love in the heart of man. Human beings never stop loving. Every human being is hardwired to be a lover. The question is: what love rules your heart?
At the deepest, most profound level of your existence, you love, and you will either love God or you will love yourself. 2 Corinthians 5:15 says, “And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
The thing that always replaces love of God is love of self. The thing that leads to an endless catalog of evil is always love of self. You and I will find a way to insert ourselves into the center of our world.
We’re obsessed with our will; we want to be sovereign over our own lives; we want to set the rules; we’re addicted to our own pleasure and happiness.
- What makes marriage so hard? You have two individuals that love themselves. Very quickly, that self-love will escalate to conflict.
- What makes parenting so hard? You have given birth to children that love themselves. As soon as you start to give them rules that rub against their desires, that self-love will escalate to conflict.
Every act of murder and violence is rooted in self-love. Every moment of greed is rooted in self-love. Every word of gossip and slander is rooted in self-love. Every act of adulterous desire is rooted in self-love.
By Genesis 6, the world had exploded into chaos because this self-love ruled the heart of every man, woman, and child. The same self-love still rules today; all you need to do is watch the news.
This is why the heart of the Lord was grieved. His beautiful creation, designed to live in an eternally loving relationship with their Creator, had betrayed him. When you read this passage, you should see the tears in the eyes of God. You should hear the weeping in his voice. This adulterous betrayal is deeply personal for God.
How did God respond to this ultimate betrayal? The story doesn’t hesitate to tell us. “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.”
God has seen enough. He lovingly and personally designed every element in creation to provide humanity with every good thing they ever would want and could never design for themselves, and they betrayed his love. So in an act of holy justice - not ugly vengeance - God sent the waters of the flood to wipe the earth clean. God had every right to blot out mankind.
It seems like a tragic end to the story, doesn’t it? Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. Genesis 6 has a verse eight: “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” In an act of sovereign grace, God placed his saving favor on Noah and his family. Noah wasn’t deserving; God was zealously loving.
If you read past the covenant God makes with Noah (Genesis 9:1-17) to the geneaolgies of Noah’s sons, you will find a familiar name - Abram (11:26). God changes Abram’s name and makes a covenant with him, promising to bless all the nations of the earth (22:18). In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul alerts us to the fact that the seed of Abraham is Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:16).
This is what Advent is all about. God was personally grieved by the betrayal of his creation, but motivated by an even greater personal love. Instead of sending a flood to blot out the earth, he sent his Son to be exposed to all the harsh realities of life in a fallen world. Despite daily pain and temptation, Jesus lived perfectly to provide the ultimate sacrifice that we could never provide. In so doing, he paid the penalty for sin in full, quenching the wrath of God and restoring hope to the entire universe.
This redemptive work of the Messiah is both an event and a process. By his work on the cross, the power of sin has been forever broken. He made a public spectacle of the enemy, triumphing over him; we don’t need to live under the slavery of sin any longer. But a battle still rages, because the presence of sin still remains.
It’s being eradicated by sanctifying grace, but it’s an ongoing process. So, when you reflect on Genesis 6, you need to be honest.
There are times when your thoughts are shaped by love of God...but not always.
There are times when things we desire flow from a heart that loves the Lord...but not always.
There are times when act from a pure heart that loves God...but not always.
You and I gave empirical evidence this week that the war of love still goes on in our hearts. This Advent season, you need to embrace the sad reality that your heart is still prone to betraying the Lord. You love yourself every day.
But Advent is also a glorious celebration of the hope that is ours, represented by that baby in a manger who has come on a mission of rescue and deliverance. There will be a day when every microbe of sin is destroyed and every cell in your soul will be controlled by the love of God. Look forward to that day, because when it comes, it will never expire. You will live inside God’s boundaries and live for his glory forever and ever and ever.