God's Grief, God's Grace
A daily devotion for April 24th
1 When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal ; his days will be a hundred and twenty years."
4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.
5 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. 6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7 So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them." 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
9 This is the account of Noah.
Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. 10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.
11 Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.
The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain... But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. (Genesis 6:6, 8)
When the account says God
was grieved, it is really the word God repented. We know from other Scriptures that it is impossible for God to repent. He does not change His mind like humans do. But this is a powerful figure to express in a vivid way God's anger and determination. When society reaches this stage of dissolution and deterioration, God's anger burns. It appears that He has changed His mind completely, even though He is but acting on principles that are entirely consistent with His own being.
Yet, in the midst of this, we read that it grieved Him, and grief is always the activity of love. What we finite human beings do not understand is that God's love and wrath are exactly the same thing. They are two sides of the same coin. What entrances us and warms us about God and draws us to Him is love. He is the God of love who loves regardless of merit. This is what attracts us. But it is because we respond that He appears to us in that way. To those who reject His love, the same quality in God becomes wrath, and it seems to be a wall of fire, burning and consuming everything.
We can see this also in ourselves. It is our love that causes us to be angry at anything that injures what we love. You injure a mother's child in the mother's presence, and watch her love flame out in anger against you. Thus we have here clearly described a time when humanity, in its rejection of God, passes beyond the place of seeing God as love and begins to experience His love as wrath. But it is exactly the same thing.
But there is always the shining of grace, as in verse 8:
But Noah found favor [or, literally, grace] in the eyes of the LORD (Genesis 6:8). God was calling throughout this whole age, just as He is calling in our age today, pleading with people to turn from their ways, to resist the widespread lie of Satan. One man and his family turned and found grace in God's sight. He did not deserve it, and he could equally have turned and gone the other way, but he responded to the wooing and pleading of God and found grace in His sight.
Bring this down to this century and draw the parallel between the days of Noah and the days in which we live. We must remember that if we are delivered from the wrath to come, if we escape the judging hand of God upon society, it is not because of anything we have done; it is the manifestation of God's grace.
God wooed us and won us, sought us out and, through many influences upon us, brought us at last to see that the age in which we live is an age under the bondage of a lie. He has opened our eyes to the truth, till we have turned to the Lord Jesus and rested under the grace of God.
As our age deteriorates, and our civilization nears the point of utter collapse, we can thank God that we have been snatched away as brands from the burning, like Noah and his family, if our hearts are responsive to the appeal of God's grace.
How I thank you, Father, for Your grace, which has snatched me out of the fire and brought me into a relationship with Your dear Son.
Life Application: God's love and wrath are two sides of the same coin. Are we believing Satan's widespread lie, still striving to please God, or are we walking in His grace?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.