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.
Is there a stronger statement on human sinfulness anywhere in the Bible?
Contrast this verse with the dawn of the human race in Genesis 1:31a: "And God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good."
Genesis 6:5 tells us that sin is not just our behavior but it extends to our thoughts and plans and motives, indeed to our very nature.
We must face squarely the reality of sin. Furthermore, we must face squarely the reality of our own sin. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn famously observed:
"If only there were vile people ... committing evil deeds, and it were only necessary to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them."
But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
The verse that follows, Genesis 6:6, is touching:
"And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart."
God of course knew what humans would do but he still grieved. He grieved as a loving parent grieves over a rebellious child. God has feelings too. Stunningly, he is deeply hurt by my rebellion against him. Such is the vulnerability and the humility of God.
Despite God's pain, he is a holy God and sin must be judged. So we read of the coming flood:
"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'" (Genesis 6:7).
God is no safe God! He is no tame God! He does not deal with sin in a half-hearted, wimpy way. He is the holy God, and he is the Judge of all the earth!
But, judgment is never God's final word. The theme of the Bible is not God's judgment but God's grace. So it is only fitting that this passage depicting sin and judgment ends with a simple expression of grace.
"But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord" (Genesis 6:8).
Noah found favor, grace, with God.
With God, the final word is always a word of grace. Thank God it is!