Summary: Dear ministers of God, IN THE NAME OF SERVING GOD ARE WE TRYING TO MAKE A NAME FOR OURSELVES? WHAT AM I REALLY BUILDING? THE KINGDOM OF GOD OR A MINI TOWER FOR MYSELF?
IN GENESIS CHPATER 11 WE FIND THIS FACSINATING STORY OF THE EARLIEST SKYSCAPPER EVER BUILT BY THE MANKIND. “TOWER OF BABEL” WAS A MASSIVE PROJECT WHICH MOBILIZED THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY OF THE ERA (BRICK AND MORTAR) INVOLVED INTENSE PLANNING, STRATEGIC THINKING, RESOURCES ETC. MOST IMPORTANTLY PEOPLE PASSIONATELY CAME TOGETHER AND WORKED TOWARDS THIS COMMON GOAL. IT WAS NOT JUST A BUILDING PROJECT BUT IT WAS THE RISING OF AN IDEOLOGY, A GRAND CIVILIZATION.
BUT WHY IN THE WORLD DOES THE LORD SCATTER THIS GREAT HUMAN PROJECT? SHOULDN’T THE LORD BE PROUD OF HIS CHILDREN’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS? IS THE LORD AGANIST TECHNOLOGY AND ADVANCEMENT? WHAT WAS WRONG WITH THIS PROJECT, THIS GREAT COMMON GOAL? LET’S DIVE INTO THE WORD OF GOD TOGETHER TO EXPLORE HOW THIS ANCIENT PROJECT IS TIED WITH THE HUMAN PROJECTS OF OUR DAY.
ISOLATED STORIES OR A UNIFIED STORY
Biblical narrative is not just a collection of isolated stories, in fact it is a beautifully woven tapestry, a storyline with golden treads of major themes connecting and running throughout. The author invites the reader to dive into the stories, explore the connections, find the design patterns and unlock the timeless principles. That’s what makes the stories so meaningful, alive, dynamic and up to date. So as a first step we are going to place the Tower of Babel in its larger context.
At a glance “THE TOWER STORY” seems completely out of place cramped between Noah and Abraham. But please be mindful that there are no mistakes, coincidences in the biblical narrative, every story is expertly crafted and strategically placed in the respective places for the readers to dig deeper and make the connections. Understanding the Babel incident in contrast to the two stories on both sides give us a much clearer and a deeper explanation for the tragic ending of the story.
GENESIS 8:20 - NOAH BUILDS AN ALTER
"Then NOAH BUILT AN ALTAR TO THE LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma…."
GENESIS 11: 4 - PEOPLE BUILD THE TOWER OF BABEL
"Then they said, “Come, LET US BUILD OURSELVES A CITY, WITH A TOWER that reaches to the heavens, so that WE MAY MAKE A NAME FOR OURSELVES; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth."
GENESIS 12:7 - ABRAHAM BUILDS AN ALTER
"The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So HE (ABRAHAM) BUILT AN ALTAR THERE TO THE LORD, who had appeared to him."
1. ALTER BUILDERS VS. TOWER BUILDERS
Now that we have placed the Babel story in it’s proper historical context in the overall storyline, it’s time to dig deeper, dissect the text and do a microscopic analysis to unearth the purposes, motives, priorities, attitudes and behaviors of the Tower builders and the Alter builders to understand why God rejected and scattered this great human project.
1.1 WORSHIP GOD OR WORSHIP SELF?
1.1.1 ALTER BUILDERS
- It is clearly evident from the text that the purpose of building alters by Noah and Abraham was an act of worship. The sole purpose was WORSHIPPING GOD to acknowledge GOD AS THE CENTER of their lifestyle.
- As soon as Noah’s family come out of the ark the first act they perform as a family is building an alter and worship God. Abraham also built the alter even before he pitched the tent for his family. This act of worship strengthens the CONTINUED RELATIONSHIP between Man and God.
1.1.2 TOWER BUILDERS
It is evident from the text that the purpose of the tower was to make a name for themselves, it was an alter or monument for WORSHIPPING SELF. They worshiped and glorified a SELF CENTERED ideology marked by their own accomplishments, technology and advancements. This self centered ideology is characterized by having NO RELATIONSHIP with God who created them.
1.1.3 REFLECTIONS ON OUR DAY
Can we detect the tower builders’ terminology even in our day?
“LET US MAKE A NAME FOR OURSELVES” or “LET US CREATE OUR OWN BRAND/ LABEL” or “LET US CLIMB THE LADDER OF SUCCESS WHICH REACHES THE HEAVENS.”
This era that we live mark the climax of BRANDING and promoting self. We have fallen in love with ourselves with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our strength. We invest our time, energy, resources and everything given to us to make a name for ourselves. Don’t we?
1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.
2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,
4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—