Patient/Measured. In Genesis 6:3 the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” In other words, the rebellion that was taking place on the earth was not infinite. It was finite. One hundred and twenty years after this pronouncement was made God would flood the earth and shut the door of the ark Himself. So while this text communicates God’s patience it also shows that His patience towards rebellion is measured. It has a limit. It should make the exhortation of Hebrews 4:7 all the more imperative to those who have yet to heed it: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”
Heart-Searcher. Genesis 6:5 says that the “LORD saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” So not only did the LORD see the wickedness that man did on the earth, that would be enough to marvel at (namely, that the eyes of the LORD go to and fro throughout the earth all at once), but this text goes farther than that; we’re told that God knew every intent (or “imagination”) of the thoughts of man’s heart. The emphasis is clearly on how thoroughly He knows the inward parts of men. We see, then, both the depths of God’s knowledge of mankind, as well as the depths of mankind’s depravity. And the former exhaustively knows the latter.
Not Indifferent. God was not indifferent to the judgment that He was going to bring on the earth in light of man’s sin (Gen 6:6-7); rather, He was incredibly moved and incredibly grieved and incredibly angry. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that God’s regret concerning making man (vs.6) means He wished He would have known what was going to happen. Remember, in a chapter of Scripture where we are told that God regretted making Saul king (1 Sam 15:11), we are likewise told in that same chapter “… the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for He is not a man, that He should have regret” (1 Sam 15:29 ESV). Thus, we are left to say that there is a sense in which God regrets and there is another sense in which God does not regret. The best way to describe the way that God does not regret is, I think, based upon 1 Samuel 15:29 – God does not regret like man regrets. God does not regret something because He wishes He had knowledge of future events that would have changed His choices. God’s regret, then, is, I think, God’s display of great sorrow [in time] as He looks back at an event that would lead to great sorrow. That doesn’t mean that God wanted to go back and change it to ‘get it right’. God is not a man that He should regret; yet, at the same time He is not indifferent to the unfolding of events, His heart is on display in the text.
A Hater of Evil. It would make sense that the God who says, “Cleave to that which is good and hate that which is evil” (Rom 12:9) would, Himself, hate evil. Over and over again in this chapter that sentiment is implied in the kind of language God used to tell Noah what He would do (vs.7, 11-13, 17). For example, after beholding the corruption that covered the entire planet, God told Noah: “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (vs.13). And later He would again say, “Everything that is on the earth shall die” (vs.17b). Such decisive and descriptive language communicates the great disdain that God had for the evil He saw.
Gracious. In the midst of hearing the pronouncements of judgment it might be easy to miss the grace that is also on display in this chapter. It shouldn’t be though; the text makes it evident for us by saying, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (vs.8). Noah didn’t find what he deserved; he found what he didn’t deserve. He found grace; and was justified by faith (Heb 11:7; Gen 6:9a). God’s graciousness is on display even further when (a) He told Noah, “I will establish My covenant with you” (vs.18a) and (b) He told Noah that his wife, his sons, their wives, and two of every living creature would enter the ark with him (vs.18b-19). Sin had abounded enough for God to promise the soon-coming destruction of the earth but grace abounded more in that God would spare Noah’s family, repopulate the earth through them, and bring forth His Messiah from Noah’s line.
Relational. The end of verse 9 says, “Noah walked with God”. And in case someone missed the startling announcement in Genesis 5 that Enoch walked with God, demonstrating that the prospect of communion with the Creator didn’t end at the fall, here was another opportunity for that precious reality to be noticed. But let’s not miss the great consolation this was to Noah. Don’t forget, he was a preacher of righteousness (2 Pet 2:5a) in a world where no one was repenting and everyone was given to corruption (vs.12) and ungodliness (2 Pet 2:5b). He had to walk a long road alone; but, in reality, he wasn’t alone because the God who is relational walked with him.
Detailed. Did you notice the instructions that God gave Noah to build the ark? God told Noah what kind of wood to use, how long and how wide it should be, how many decks there ought to be, and so on (Gen 6:14-16). This was a kind of foreshadowing of the great detail that God would give Moses concerning the construction of the Tabernacle. The God of the Bible is one who gives great attention to detail. Such an observation should prompt us to do the same.