God confuses and scatters the proud and disobedient who reject his command
11:4 – "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." 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 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.
Unity and peace apart from Jesus Christ is first of all impossible and secondly not God's plan. Jesus says, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law -a man's enemies will be the members of his own household. 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."(Matt. 10:34-37)
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) "Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other." Man proposes but God disposes.
Chapter 10 shows the effect of the scattering in Chapter 11 and we see what is known as the Table of Nations – the 70 nations (see Deut. 32:8) that descended from Noah's three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. Though Noah spoke blessings and curses over these three sons (Gen. 9) we see here that they are all judged by God for their pride and disobedience.(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)
The Jewish nation (through Shem's line and through Abraham) received this revelation (the Torah) of God's judgment of nations and people who disobey Him as they went out from Egypt. Yet, they too rebelled against God in pride and disobedience and were 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 is actually a monument to the sin and pride of man. We see a beginning of the reversal of this at Pentecost and then a re-gathering of the Jews in the Millennial Kingdom and ultimately all peoples together in heaven. "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 2:7-8) "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) "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." (Rev. 7:9)
Two key lessons we can learn from this.
1) 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)
2) He still wants 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." (Matt. 28:18-20)
The broad scope of the first 11 chapters of Genesis clearly shows the sinfulness and inadequacy of mankind to live independent of God and 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)
Discussion Questions FOR APPLICATION OF GOD'S WORD
"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."(Matt. 10:34-37) Scripture says that God is a Jealous God and will tolerate no rivals for our affection and loyalty (see James 4:4). How does this strike you?
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) Note what man esteems and what God esteems. "And He (Jesus) said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God." (Luke 16:15) "This is the one I (God) esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word." (Isa. 66:2) (Read Humility by Andrew Murray)What are some ways we can see our pride, repent of it and grow in humility?
A city builder tries to make life work for him on earth (a temporal mindset) through resources he can control whereas a kingdom builder is a risk-taker for the Lord trusting in God (not his own abilities/resources) to expand the eternal kingdom of God through evangelism and discipleship (an eternal mindset). God still wants His people to be spiritual pioneers. How are you presently involved in building God's kingdom and reaching the nations for Christ? Discuss some additional ways you can be about your Father's business.
Scripture memory verse: "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." (Matt. 28:18-20)