Summary: The people had their own plans about building the tower of Babel, but God is the one that determined their outcome.
Genesis 11:1-9 August 22, 1999
Man makes plans, but God directs the paths.
Man makes plans . . .
1. The people were unified – unity is a good thing. Unity comes as people speak the same language and the same speech (i.e. it’s like a lot of preachers getting together. They not only all speak English, but they also speak “church”. Husbands and wives actually begin to speak so much alike that they actually understand what the other is talking about when they refer to the “whatchamacallit”.)
2. The people were settled (comfortable). They “dwelt” on the plain. It’s a lot easier to get settled on a plain than it is to get settled on a hill. From the time that Noah and his family landed on the mountain tops up until this point, mankind had been existing as nomads. They would camp in one spot for a while, and then move on from there. Assuming that Noah was not alive by the time this event happened, the people of the earth had been wandering from place to place for over 350 years. In all that time, they had only traveled around 300 miles from the place that the ark had landed. They had been doing what God commanded as far as traveling to distant parts of the earth (even if they were doing it a very slow pace), but they were doing it all together. Finally, they got tired of moving from place to place. After all; it was tough providing for the whole human race without putting down some roots somewhere. They had tried God’s way long enough. They were tired. They were going to try their own way now.
Right at that time of their existence, they came upon a beautiful place. It was a place of flat land with the Euphrates river on one side and the Tigris river on the other side. No more struggles. No more packing up and moving every few weeks. No more mountains. They had flatland!! They could finally set down some roots, grow some crops, and rest.
Resting is not a bad thing. God rested on the 7th day. Jesus offered rest to all those who joined Him in His work. Resting is a good thing . . . unless of course God has already told you to keep moving.
Tammy and I just took a rest (talk about our vacation). When are we allowed to take a rest as parents? Only in that time period between when they leave home and when we become grandparents. That’s going to be a very short rest I’m afraid. When are we as Christians allowed to rest? When we become perfect or when we get to heaven. When are we as a church allowed to rest? When the whole world gets saved or when we get to heaven whichever comes first. The temptation as a Christian and as a church is to say, ”I’m tired. I want to just stop for a while. I’ve been working hard. I’ve accomplished a lot. I’m going to take my armor off, sit back and relax for a while.” Dangers: leaves you open to attack – got to always be on your guard; makes it awfully hard to get moving again. “Just a little sleep, a little folding of the hands . . .” Jesus has given us our marching orders, and we have to be constantly be on the move. We can never allow ourselves to get comfortable, to get settled.
3. The people were satisfied with themselves. They left God out of the process.
- in their communication. They talked about their ideas with one another without ever consulting God.
- in their building. Even in the process of building the monument, they used bricks (man-made) instead of stones (God-made). “He who builds a house without God labors in vain”
4. The people wanted to build a city.
- they wanted it to be impressive
- they wanted it to bring glory to them
- they wanted it to bring stability to them
. . . but the Lord directs the paths.
5. The Lord came down to examine what they were doing. He had given them a command to spread throughout the earth and fill it.
6. The Lord recognized that their unity would allow them to accomplish almost anything that they put their mind to. Unity will produce results; the kind of results that it produces is determined by what people are united around.
7. The Lord stirred things up (brought confusion) in order to break through the people’s settled state and get them to do what he had intended for them in the first place. Think of the results of that one act by God. Because of that action, I had to take Spanish classes on high school. Missionaries getting ready to go to other parts of the world have to spend time first learning the language of the people in that part of the world. Bibles have to be translated into other languages before they can be understood. Tammy and I got a computer program in the mail the other day. We couldn’t figure it out, so we looked at the manual that would have explained everything to us. But there was only one problem. The manual was in German! It seems like our world would be a much more productive place if God had not done this, and it would have been much easier to spread the Gospel. Why did He bring confusion? I thought that the Bible says that God is not the author of confusion. What’s going on here?