The Tower Of Babel

God confuses and scatters the proud and disobedient who reject his command
Genesis 10-11:1-9 

Dear Friends,   

"Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth." (Gen. 11:4) As we near the end of primeval history we see a very sad picture of mankind. God once again judges a proud and disobedient people who reject His command to multiply and fill the earth (Gen. 1:28; 9:1) and try to settle down in one place to make a name for themselves. Fallen man seeks social immortality (make a name for self versus God) and attempts to find happiness and fulfillment apart from knowing and obeying the Living God. They want to be earthly settlers (city builders) instead of spiritual pioneers (kingdom builders). We first saw this in Genesis 4 when Cain built the first city. The world says that unity and peace are the ultimate good but Scripture says it is better to have division than collective apostasy. Jesus says, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”(Luke 12:51-52; Matt. 10:37)

God says, Go fill the earth (Gen. 1:28, 9:1) and make me known; man says, No we will stay in one place and make a name for man. Note how God works against man to accomplish His purpose as seen in 11:1-9: Contrast man (vv. 1,2,3,4) with God (vv.9,8,7,5). For example, man says, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves.” God says," Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."   So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.”  Man proposes but God disposes.                                                         

Chronologically, chapter 11:1-9 (the cause) occurs before chapter 10 (the effect), the scattering of the people into  what is known as the Table of Nations – the 70 nations that descended from Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. {Shem: The Semitic peoples—Jews, Arabs, Babylonians, Assyrians, Arameans, Phoenicians. Ham: The Hamitic peoples—Ethiopians, Egyptians, Canaanites, Philistines, possibly the African and Oriental peoples, though many scholars view the Orientals as Japhetic. Japheth: The Japhetic peoples—the Medes, Greeks, Cypriots, etc. Probably the Caucasian people of Europe and of northern Asia. Many scholars would also include the Orientals here.}(Believers Bible Commentary) Though Noah spoke blessings and curses over these three sons (Gen. 9) we see here that they were all judged by God for their pride and disobedience. The Jewish nation (that later came through Shem’s line and Abraham) had the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, and knew of God’s judgment of nations and people who disobey Him (the flood, the Tower of Babel) when God delivered them out of Egypt. Yet, even they rebelled against God in pride and disobedience and were eventually scattered all over the world. Their re-gathering in the State of Israel after 1900 years is truly amazing but they are still in pride and unbelief.

The multiplicity of languages that form national barriers and separation of people is actually a monument to man’s sin and rebellion against God. The Bible tells the rest of the story as we see how God works to bring people together in Christ for His glory. We see a beginning of this reversal first of all at 1) Pentecost; and then 2) through the church; 3) a re-gathering of the Jewish nation in the Millennial Kingdom and 3) ultimately all people together in heaven:

1) "When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?”  (Acts 2:6-8)

2) “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4: 4-6)

3) "Then will I purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve him shoulder to shoulder.  From beyond the rivers of Cush my worshipers, my scattered people, will bring me offerings. On that day you will not be put to shame for all the wrongs you have done to me, because I will remove from this city those who rejoice in their pride. Never again will you be haughty on my holy hill. But I will leave within you the meek and humble, who trust in the name of the LORD.” (Zeph. 3:9-12)

4) “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:  "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:  "Amen!  Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!"” (Rev. 7:9-12)

Thus the broad scope of the first 11 chapters of Genesis clearly shows the sinfulness and inadequacy of mankind to live independent of God and therefore God’s righteous judgment of mankind. Yet He is the God of Hope (Rom 15:13) and has a plan. We see this as Scripture now moves from the major themes of creation, the Fall, God’s judgments and the scattering of man across the earth to form many nations, to God calling out one man (Abraham) to form one nation (Israel) through which comes Jesus Christ the one and only Savior of the whole world. ”The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.  "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Gen. 12:1-3)

God will humble the nations and individuals who walk in pride and disobedience. “He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.” (Isa. 40:23) “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:14) And He still calls His people to be spiritual pioneers versus earthly settlers: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

                                  Questions for reflection/application

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”(See Matt. 10:34-37) True peace and unity for mankind is only found in Christ as we love Him supremely with all of our being (Mark 12:30) and love others for His sake. (Mark 12:31)  How does this strike you?

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:14)  What are some ways we can humble ourselves and grow in humility before the Lord?

God still calls His people to be spiritual pioneers. How are you presently involved in expanding God’s kingdom and reaching the nations for Christ? Discuss some additional ways you can be about your Father’s business.   

Until He comes,
Len and Kristen

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