Summary: Today the Burj Khalifa skyscraper is the tallest building in the world in downtown Dubai. The tower of Babel was going to be a new urban masterpiece. This would make Babylon a focal point in the ancient world. What are you building?
Genesis 11 - Part 3 - EXACTLY WHAT IS IT YOU ARE TRYING TO BUILD?
Before I came to Sydney I was teaching at a Discipleship Training School in the Whitsundays for YWAM. At the beginning of each lesson two people would pray for me. I loved this. Because they came from all sorts of nations, when they prayed for me, they used their own languages. It was fascinating to be prayed over in German and then Norwegian or some other language. Sometimes it was even English.
Genesis 11:1 says "At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words." So after the worldwide flood in Noah's time everyone spoke only one language. I wonder what that language was? It must have been the language Adam and Eve spoke. I wonder if it is still spoken today? Henry Morris suggests that since it is unlikely that Shem, Noah's son, would not have had a part in the building of the tower of Babel, then it makes sense that his language would have survived. That would be Hebrew! So maybe the language of Adam and Eve has survived!
Genesis 11:3 says "They began saying to each other, "Let's make bricks and harden them with fire." (In this region bricks were used instead of stone, and tar was used for mortar.)" It is obvious that they wanted this building to last. They didn't just use sundried bricks but bricks fired in a kiln. They wanted a permanent structure. Something which would last forever.
Genesis 11:4 (NLT) says, "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.""
They used the best building materials of the day. Everybody was excited about the project. This would be the worlds tallest building. And what was so bad about making a huge skyscraper? Today the Burj Khalifa skyscraper is the tallest building in the world in downtown Dubai. The tower of Babel was going to be a new urban masterpiece. This would make Babylon a focal point in the ancient world.
Sure, they wanted to build a huge memorial piece and maybe they had an ego problem. What government doesn't have an ego problem? They just prefer to call it national pride. Notice that their intention was not only fame but to keep themselves "from being scattered all over the world." (Genesis 11:4 NLT). That deliberately contradicted God's command from the beginning to fill the earth. That's where the problem came in. The moment we start deviating from God's Word, we hit a brick wall.
Genesis 11:5 goes on to say "But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building." Why did God allow them to even start the project, since He knew their plans. Maybe it was that God always seems to give us time to repent. But since it didn't happen "the Lord came down". It reminds me of my daughter saying "Don't make me come over there!" to her kids when they are not doing what she has told them to do.
In this case it is what we call "anthropomorphic" language (ascribing to God a human body that "comes down" in order to express what happened in human terms. God doesn't really have a body to "come down" with, until Christ came.) But the thing is - when God says "don't make Me come down there" you had better stop what you are doing! It doesn't only mean He is present. It means He is present to intervene!
When we invite God's presence in worship, we are asking Him to intervene into our circumstances. In this case Nimrod's crowd isn't doing that! Believe me! If I am involved in sin, it's not a time when I want God to intervene. Just the opposite. I am pushing Him away! That's the shame of what is happening here.
Lord, help me always to want Your presence in my life to intervene in my circumstances and keep me on track with You.
Genesis 11:7 says "Come, let's go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won't be able to understand each other."
What fascinates me about this verse is that God speaks in the plural. Who is He speaking to? He seems to be having some sort of conference. Who with? The angels? Is He speaking to the other members of the Godhead? He doesn't tell us, but He's not happy with what Nimrod and his crowd are doing. He says if this goes on then nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! (Genesis 11:6)
It reminds me of the song, "All things are possible!" That's usually something God encourages, but not if it is when I am in rebellion to Him. I mean He says in Matthew 17:20 "if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Philippians 4:13 (NIV) says "I can do everything through Him (Christ) who gives me strength."