December 22, 2022 Pastor Luther Walker

RELENTING (נחם)

RELENTING (נחם)

This Hebrew word expresses a meaning of relenting from an action or state of mind. Repent (שׁוב), which means to turn back, is not a good translation of this Hebrew word, for the emphasis is on changing one’s attitude or actions, not returning.

When it is used of those who console others, the intent is to get them to change their attitude and behavior concerning a situation that is distressing them, such as the loss of a loved one (Genesis 24:67). It is also used for seeking relief from grief, such as Esau looking for an opportunity to kill his brother for defrauding him from his blessing (Genesis 27:42), which in his mind would relent his anger.

When God said He would bless Israel, Balak learned that God is not like a man who will relent from His actions due to pressure put on Him by other humans (Numbers 23:19). This is why Balaam could not curse Israel for Balak.

We see in Genesis 6:6-7 that God’s response to the wickedness of men at this time was to relent concerning the creation of humans. This relenting resulted in steps taken to mitigate the wickedness that vexed Him. Although God knew that creating humans with free will would result in them producing evil, that made it no less difficult to see the level of wickedness that humans would stoop to in their rejection of truth. However, even though this wickedness caused God to relent from having created humans, He still stayed true to His word and saved the one, along with his family, who sought Him and walked with Him. Evil did not come from God. God did not create it. It is a manifestation from a created being that rejects the truth. However, knowing that created beings (spirit and human) would produce evil, the Godhead made a plan to eradicate wickedness from the universe forever (2 Peter 3:13). In order for this to be fulfilled, humans had to remain on the earth. Therefore, the steps God took to alleviate the grief from the wickedness of humans was that He brought judgment upon them, giving them exactly what their works produced, total and utter destruction, while preserving the one who was righteous before Him.

Even after the flood, humans again sought to pervert their way, by building a temple to worship the stars and escape the judgment of God that they knew would come due to their actions (Genesis 11:4; Romans 1:18-32). However, this time God puts an end to it by adding languages, which not only impacts the words coming out of the mouth, but also the way we think so that the sin nature is hindered from spreading so quickly through us all, for as one they will do whatever wickedness they put their mind to do (Genesis 11:6).