the god who regrets
Numerous images and depictions of God fill the Hebrew Bible.
In some texts, yhwh, the God of Israel, draws intimately near to God’s creation, in others God’s name is scarcely mentioned. At times God liberates God’s people, at others God calls them back into slavery; God will avenge those who act wrongly against Israel, yet God also will use the nations to enact divine punishment upon Israel for their disobedience.
Each of these images and depictions is rooted in the God described by the author(s) of Genesis. Ultimately, God is progressively revealed to be far more complex than the reader of Genesis could ever imagine.
In this weekly series for paid subscribers, I will examine what the book of Genesis has to say about the God who shows great mercy, feels divine emotion, and is intimately tied to creation.
Week 2: The God Who Regrets (Genesis 3-6)
Biblical scholars have long sought to reconcile God’s omnipotence and omniscience with a reading of the Old Testament in which the same all-knowing God appears to express deep, genuine emotion and possess a desire for an intimate connection with creation.
How can an unchangeable God who knows all things feel a sense of anger, regret, or disappointment? How can God genuinely lament over the decisions of creation if, in the moment of decision, he foreknows their disobedience? Can true emotion be felt in an all-knowing deity?
One notable place in the Hebrew scriptures where this complex dynamic is found is Genesis 6. Perceiving the wickedness of humankind, the author(s) of Genesis describes how “the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth” and that their actions “grieved him to his heart.” So the Lord said “I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created.” (6:7).
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