God is merciful to reach out to rebellious creatures and He makes significant concessions to meet us where we live. His justice makes these concession necessary and His mercy makes them possible.
Should this truth affect the way we view the Bible?
Since the Bible addresses people and times that are violent and evil, we should not be surprised to find some really horrible things in it. The entire human race exists under the merciful concession of God.
The fact of God’s concession started early in history and it set the tone for the ways of God with humanity. If we don’t pause long over this fact, we’ll likely misunderstand God and then misread the rest of the story of God’s dealings with humanity in the Bible.
Look closely at the way God’s concession is explained after God brought cataclysmic judgment against humans for evil early in human history.
“‘Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease’” (Gen. 8:21b-22, NIV).
We must hear truth this truth that, “every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood.”
This is God’s assessment of the condition of humans — it’s the second time He made it. He first lamented the condition of human hearts prior to His catastrophic judgment against the earth:
“The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth…” (Genesis 6:5-7)
Since God’s flood judgment didn’t change the pervasive depravity of the human heart, was God making a concession (in Genesis 8 ) to live with the inevitable grief and pain as things returned to pre-judgment conditions?
“Here is the paradox: God inundates the earth because of man’s sinfulness, and subsequently promises never again to destroy the earth because of man’s sinfulness” (The Book of Genesis chapters 1-17, NICOT, Victor Hamilton, p. 309).
Perhaps it would have been better to say that God “subsequently promises never again to destroy the earth in spite of man’s sinfulness.” This is a merciful concession that sets the tone for the rest of the story. You’ll likely misunderstand the story if you fail to place in under the truth of divine concession.