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TOWERS, TONGUES, AND REBELLION - Genesis 10:1-11:26 – Part 3
All of the divisions of the whole world are a result of sin and the righteous judgment of God.
In 11:8-9, Moses writes, “So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.” The confusion led to a scattering of the people over the “whole earth.” God did not allow human rebellion to reach the level that it had before the flood.
God forced people to do what they refused to do voluntarily, namely, scatter over the face of the earth. The fear of scattering is resistance to God’s purpose for creation. The people do not wish to spread abroad but want to stay in their own safe mode. They try to surround themselves with walls made of strong bricks and a tower for protection against the world around them. This unity attempts to establish a cultural, human oneness without God. This is a self-made unity in which humanity has a ‘fortress mentality.’
To a people who wanted to “stick together” in the comforts of their safe, self-serving existence at the expense of God’s mandate to be a blessing to all the nations, God comes and says, “My redemption, and salvation is for the nations. It’s for people of every tribe, nation and tongue (Rev. 5:9, 7:9). He’s saying: “Get out of your comfort zone! Get out beyond the walls that you’ve erected to keep yourself safe and comfortable, and start venturing out to the rest of the world to fulfill my mission for the world.”
Unfortunately, Babel plays itself out in the lives of many of our churches today! A new church is formed with excitement, energy, vision, and passion to reach the lost. But over time, the church functions less to introduce Jesus Christ to nonbelievers, and begins to pour its energy and resources to providing a safe, secure, familiar environment to those who already believe and belong.
Babel also plays itself out in individual Christians. Take a look at your relationships! Scattering isn’t just about geography. It’s also about attitude, lifestyle, and relationships.
Who are you doing life with? Who sits next to you in worship? Who’s at your birthday parties? Who stands in your wedding party? Who’s at your kid’s dedications, and baptisms? Take a look at the people who have profoundly shaped you the most. Are they just like you? Is your life one of a safe, comfortable, existence?
There may be a comfort and predictability to living in Babel. But there’s also consequences. Living in Babel is what enables nationalism, racism, and other “isms” to thrive. Living in Babel is what causes the great divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots.” Living in Babel is what leads us to believe that nothing important exists outside of our own walls. Living in Babel encourages us to label people unlike us as “others” and see them as the enemy. It’s what allows the “us vs. them” mentality to thrive.
We live in a culture that is getting more and more divided even as it gets more and more diverse. People are moving into self-segregated communities with people like themselves, and building invisible and sometimes visible barriers to keep strangers out.
And most of what drives this dynamic is what happened at Babel. Fear! When we’re afraid, we often cling to what we know, what we have experienced, and what we are comfortable with. When we’re afraid, we start building these barriers to protect our made up identities.
But essential to being a Christian is that we serve a God who calls us to live by faith and not fear. Many times, God will force us to exercise our faith by calling us to leave the familiar for the unfamiliar, leave the comfortable for that which causes discomfort. To live by faith is to go on a journey and intentionally leave behind what we have known, what we have come to put our trust in, and move out beyond our field of vision.
Just as God called Abraham to leave behind the familiar and go on an adventure into the realm of the unknown in order to be a blessing unto the nations, God calls us to do the same. God invites us to respond in faith by going to a new land, with a new identity that honors who we’ve been, but also transcends the limitations of our past and enables us to embrace God’s future.
A follower of Jesus doesn't pray, “God, what's your will for my life?” A follower of Jesus Christ says, “My answer is yes. Now where do you want me to go?” Jesus may point to India or he may point across the street. Jesus may point to Africa or that Muslim neighbor on your block. But He will point. And He promises to be with us.
So, what can we learn from the story of Babel? It shows the inclination of fallen man to rebel against God and to try to provide for our needs in his our way rather than by trusting and obeying God.
God is jealous. He wants to be worshipped. Yet, all too often, we would rather build a name for ourselves.
God is wise. He is able to thwart man’s attempts to dethrone Him and worship false gods.
We need to cast away fear, get out of our comfort zones, and “scatter.”
In the building of the tower we see man’s desire to reach God in his own way. But there is only ONE Way, ONE mediator between man and God - Jesus!!