Today’s question is: Does God make mistakes?
The short answer would be…ah…NO! But this is actually an honest question I had a viewer write in and ask me about Genesis chapter 6, verse 6. Now that verse says “The Lord regretted making man on the earth.” And she’s wondering “How can that be?” I mean how can God regret anything?
Just imagine God up there planning to make the universe, He’s sitting at His solid gold desk with His solid gold pen, and he’s planning to make creatures like the aye aye. That is one ugly creature. And you gotta wonder what God was thinking when He invented the naked mole rat. I mean that’s just obscene thinking about it. Or how about the blob fish? I mean I don’t know about you but if I’d invented something like that maybe I would have regretted it too
She also had a follow up question about why does it say in the Bible that God relented from the disaster that He had planned on people. How can God regret things and relent on the disaster that He’d planned on things when the Bible says in Malichi 3:6 that God does not change?
“The Lord regretted making man on the earth.”
So her honest question is how can God not change and yet relent? How can God not change and somehow regret making the entire human race?
I mean I’m a human and I’ve got a lot of things that I regret, but how could God say “Oh my gosh I totally regret making those human idiots in the first place!
Well the answer actually is found in the word “regret” itself. In Hebrew the word “regret” is “Nacham”. Now “Nacham” sounds like you’re hocking up a loogie but what it really means is “to be sorry or to feel disappointed”. Now it certainly can be translated as “regret” in certain circumstances. In other words what this scripture’s really describing is God’s feelings.
“Newsflash!” God actually has feelings. In fact this is the reason you have feelings is because you were created in the image of God. Now being created in the image of God does not mean when God created men and women He wanted em all to look just like you! No. It means that God created us with a capacity to have a freedom of will. We’re also created with an ability to be creative, at least in a limited sense.
Why is freedom of will so incredibly important? Because without freedom of will there can be no real love. What do I mean by that? Well, think about it for a second: If somebody sticks a gun to your head and says “say that you love me!” – I love you man. Really, honest I do. Truly it’s the truth – Now you know it’s not real love when you got a gun stuck to somebody’s head.
No, real love has to be a choice. This is why God does not force Himself on anybody because that’s not real relationship and that’s not real love. But because humans have a freedom of will they also have the ability to exploit and hurt and destroy one another.
So all the pain and evil and nastiness and horribleness in the world… It’s not God’s fault, it’s our fault. Now of course God knew that humans would betray Him but He took the risk because freedom of will and real love are worth the risk. He wanted us to have that freedom of will so that we could freely interact with Him. So that we experience love between one another
But when we reject Him and do things our own way and exercise that freedom of will. He can feel disappointed and that’s what this scripture is all about. God can feel sorry and He feels it when we do something that hurts us and hurts Him
Now some people think that the Bible is being inconsistent because it says that God relented in the disaster that He was planning on people. And they like to say “see, there’s another example of your God that you say doesn’t change and actually He’s changing and all that sort of thing.
No. Not even close. Not even remotely close. See God allows freedom of will, that’s for sure but part of freedom of will is you also get free to feel the consequences of your actions. So that’s not God changing His mind at all. That’s simply God following through because God says “if you do bad things, bad things are gonna result.”
It’s kinda like when I was a kid. I was about as lazy as a three toed sloth on valium. My dad said “look, if you don’t start changing your ways, I’m going to make my right foot a permanent part of your gluteus maximus.” But I didn’t get it. I was not following through. I was about like your average teenager which was using half of my brain at the time.
So one night my dad followed through all right. I was working late at McDonald’s (Yeah, I had a McJob when I got started, it’s true), but I had made a royal mess in the kitchen before I had left and in the bathroom too. So I get home after working a long, late shift at McDonald’s and I just want to jump in bed and go to sleep, but I flipped back the blankets and I have one of those “Godfather movie moments” you know?
Do you remember in the “Godfather” when he flips back the blankets and there’s that horse’s head in the bed with all the blood and the gore?
Well it was one of those kind of moments because my dad had taken the entire kitchen garbage can and poured it into my bed, and he’d let it sit there and percolate in the heat for a good six or eight hours. So we’re talking about a smell so bad it would have knocked a dog off a manure wagon at ten paces, you know what I’m saying?
I mean, my dad was disappointed in me and he needed me to feel the consequences of my actions or I was never going to change, and I’m sure he felt bad about pouring the garbage in my bed (at least I’d like to think he feels bad about that but I’m not really sure)But that’s the point.
See, God is the same way. He says “if you do these things then good things will happen… if you do bad things then bad things will happen.” That’s not God “changing” His mind, it’s God following through.
He says “change the mind” because it’s accomodative to who we are and how we think, but the bottom line: God simply has feelings.
So that about sums it up when it comes to Genesis 6:6. Don’t forget: be good, don’t do anything evil and we’ll see ya next time.