Summary: God divided the languages and scattered them all over the world. Now why did the Lord do this? Does God approve of racism? It seems God wanted racial separation, not based on skin colour but on language? Why? God is not a racist! So what is happening here
Genesis 11 – Part 1 - DOES GOD APPROVE OF RACISM?
Sydney has major shopping malls. I mean big and crowded with people. I couldn’t help thinking that as I looked down the floor of Westmead Shopping Centre in Sydney, there within a short space, were over 300 people walking towards me. And that was one level where I couldn’t see very far ahead. And I think I make a difference in the world when I have a Church of over 100 people. That’s nothing compared to the myriad of people and cultures who have no idea of who Jesus is or what He did on the Cross for them.
People from all over the world walked through the mall I was in last night. Ten people passed me and I realized that most of them were born in different countries, had a different culture to me, wore different clothes to me, spoke a different languages to me. Pauline Hanson would be appalled. I was amazed at the diversity of cultures who passed by and fascinated by our multicultural society.
At Hillsong Vision night last Tuesday night, Pastor Brian Houston asked how many people were born in Australia. As I looked around I thought that the majority of people had raised their hands, but then he asked how many were born in a different country. It seemed to me that more than half of the people in that auditorium put up their hands. It was hard to say. As I stood in the shopping mall last night, I could see that this was true. Sydney is so much more multicultural than I had thought.
Genesis 10:25 (NLT), as Noah’s descendents are named we come to Eber who had a son named Peleg (which means “division”). He was named, it says, because “…during his lifetime the people of the world were divided into different language groups. Genesis 11:1 goes on to say how this took place - “At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words. As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia and settled there.
… Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.”
We know that a man called Nimrod was probably the leader of these people because back in Genesis 10:8-10 (NLT) it speaks about “Nimrod, who was the first heroic warrior on earth. Since he was the greatest hunter in the world, his name became proverbial. People would say, “This man is like Nimrod, the greatest hunter in the world.” He built his kingdom in the land of Babylonia, with the cities of Babylon, Erech, Akkad, and Calneh.”
But then in Genesis 11:6-9 the Lord does something unusual, to say the least. It says “the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. “Look!” He said. (Who was He talking to? The angels? I guess so.) He says “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”
In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the Lord confused the people with different languages. In this way He scattered them all over the world.”
Now why did the Lord do this? Was He threatened? It sounds like it at first but then God can’t be threatened by people, surely? If He wanted people to spread over all the earth, why didn’t He just say so, rather than go to all this trouble, giving them different languages? And why did they scatter anyway? Does God approve of racism? It seems God wanted racial separation, not based on skin colour but on language? Why? God is not a racist! So what is happening here? Why didn’t they all just come to the Sydney mall shopping centres? Everything seems to work there despite the language barriers!
So what happened that made God intervene?
Let’s back up a little. After the flood, Noah and his family come out from the Ark and settle somewhere in the area of Mount Ararat. By Peleg’s time, the population had looked like Sydney’s shopping mall last night. It was getting rather full of people (Sometimes I wonder “What if the floor collapsed?” but I am getting off track.) I think it had something to do with Nimrod, but I will have to explore this further.
God bless you Church as you realize the enormous task ahead of us and the wonderful diversity of cultures around us as we seek to reach this generation for Christ.