Question: Genesis 6: 5-7 reads:
5. And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth.
If God is omniscient, knowing “the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46: 10), how could He have “repented” that He had created man?
Answer: The word repent means, “To change the mind, or course of conduct, on account of regret or dissatisfaction with what has occurred.” The question now becomes, Did God change His mind (Plan), or His course of conduct? Knowing the end from the beginning, God neither could, or would, have changed His mind, therefore, repent in this text must mean a change of His course of conduct. That is, God changed His course of dealing with man, because of man’s wickedness, which grieved Him. But He did not change His mind or plans, because He had from the very first recognized the corrupting and degrading tendency of sin, and had provided beforehand the remedy to the curse of sin – Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, “slain from the foundation of the world” – as the redemption price for Adam and his race (Revelation 13: 8).
We might ask: How did God change His course of dealing with man at the time of our text? We answer, He put an end to that first dispensation, or order of affairs, by means of the Flood, in which all mankind perished except for Noah and his family. He then began a new order of affairs – propagating the race from Noah and his family – which became another, and more advanced step in the eventual outworking of God’s Plan for the world’s salvation. God’s putting an end to the first dispensation was a great mercy, for many of Adam’s descendants who perished in the Flood were prevented from degrading their characters to the point where recovery during the “times of restitution” would have been difficult, if not impossible. Praise God for His infinite wisdom, power and love!