“The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” (Genesis 6:6-7)
I don’t normally pay attention to the news. Occasionally, a story surfaces that I can’t avoid. Like a video from last Monday of a motorcycle gang harassing a family in an SUV. In the video about 30-40 motorcyclists chase a family for more than 50 blocks through New York City, eventually pulling the husband and father from his SUV and beating him. The video is not graphic, but it is deeply disturbing.
I can’t stop thinking about this video. The reality of its images haunt me. As I watch this family being chased through the streets of New York, my chest grows tense. I think about the family in the SUV, about what they must be thinking and feeling. I think about them trying to escape, about how scared and hopeless they must feel.
It hurts my heart.
The Heart of God
In Genesis chapter six we read the account of the flood. It doesn’t take long after creation before the whole world has become corrupt. In just ten generations the Bible says “every inclination of the thoughts of man was only evil all the time.” The wickedness of the human race became so great that God plans to destroy the world in a flood.
The interesting thing about the story is not the size of the ark, the sheer number of animals, or the logistics of a flood that would cover Everest. What’s interesting to me, is why God decides to destroy the world in the first place. It’s not because he’s mad, or righteous. It’s not to bring guilty men to justice. No, God decides to destroy the entire earth because the sinful heart of man causes God great pain.
The Lord saw how wicked the human race had become, that evil consumed their hearts, and He was grieved that He had made them. This was not the way it was supposed to be. This was not God’s design, and now that he realizes what his creation has become. The Bible says God’s “heart was deeply troubled.”
New York is more than 2,000 miles from my home in West Texas. I was not there when this family was harassed and beat by a gang of motorcyclists. I will not be there when it all goes to trial and everyone involved has to face the consequences of their actions. None the less, I feel the pain of a hurting family, of a scared perpetrator, and all the people impacted by this evil.
If this is true for me, then I know it is true for God.
Not Much Has Changed
In more than 2,000 years since Genesis, not much has changed. Man’s heart is still just as evil as it was then. God’s heart is still grieved and the consequences of sin are felt all the way to heaven and back.
The story of the flood doesn’t stop there, and neither does ours. God is personally invested in the redemption of his creation. Stirred by his pain, and moved by his love God works in the lives of his creation to bring about a new plan. God decides to save the earth through one man. Noah.
God is not a distant judge far removed from the lives of his creation. He is actively involved with each one of us. The way a father is involved in the lives of his children. When we hurt, he hurts with us. When we lash out, he feels the sting of our hate.
In his commentary on Genesis, Walter Brueggemann talks about the condition of God’s heart in this story. He points out that the word for “grieved” found here in Genesis 6:6 is the same word used to describe the pain in childbirth (for women), and the painful toil (for men) felt as a result of the fall. (Genesis 3:16,17). This pain is the consequence (among others) we still feel today as a result of sin entering the world. We are not the only ones to feel the pain of these consequences.
God feels the pain too and He is invested in our redemption. He hurts for our salvation. He has brought about a new plan, the death of his only son to save the earth even though every inclination of our hearts is evil.