God’s Broken Heart
Humanity is flourishing, but the terminal illness of sin aided by demonic forces has rotted the people’s souls until “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5). Nothing pure pours out of the hearts of humanity.
Brokenhearted, God decides to destroy all life on the earth. All people, except for Noah, have rejected the Lord and his offer of friendship. God tells Noah his plans to destroy life on earth with a flood. He gives him the building plans for an ark that will preserve his family and a remnant of animals. Faithfully, Noah follows God’s instructions.
God had given all life its life-breath; now he snuffs it out. But as the destructive flood rages, God upholds the ark and its precious cargo. Once the waters recede, Noah worships the God he loves, and God makes a beautiful rainbow promise: He will never again bring about evil’s judgment by destroying the earth with a flood.
The King’s Heart
This is a hard reality about God’s heart. But since God is good, the decision to destroy humanity must have been the best way. Since the people were so sick with sin, perhaps God knew this was the only way to work toward redemption. Regardless of what God knew that we didn’t, we do know this: The flood was no unfeeling destruction.
A God who was just interested in people behaving well would have simply been angry at their inability to live rightly. But interestingly, Scripture doesn’t speak about anger. Instead, it tells of God’s pain: “His heart was deeply troubled” (Genesis 6:6). God’s love for the people opened him up to being hurt by them. And as he watched them live in ways that were killing them, it caused him pain.
Love and justice exist inextricably and harmoniously in God. Justice—a side of the coin of true, real love—requires that what’s wrong be made right. The people’s sin had consequences. So God poured out his justice in water form.
But God promised that he would never satisfy justice that way again. And he was well aware that there would be a next time—people would sin again. Interestingly, the arc of a rainbow is remarkably similar to a pulled and poised war bow—with the receiving end of the weapon being the heavens, not the earth. “Justice will need to be met again,” God was saying, “but next time I will take the blow.”
God’s rainbow promise was personal. God’s very radiance is like a rainbow (see Ezekiel 1:28). And God keeps a reminder of his rainbow promise very near to him—it’s around his very throne (see Revelation 4:3).