Summary: Creation, Pt. 7 (Final)
MAN PROPOSES, GOD DISPOSES (GENESIS 11:1-9)
Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
I have a tourist magnet sticking to my refrigerator that has a colorful slogan. The first line says, “BE REASONALBE,” and the bottom line: “Do it my way.” We like to do things our way, say it with force, “My way or the highway,” and brush others out of the way. As Frank Sinatra would sing:
“Yes, there were times I wish you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all when there was doubt
I ate it up, and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it…MY WAY!”
The Tower of Babel is about man’s determination to live sufficiently, determinedly and arrogantly without God. People think they are smart in themselves, fine without God and in safe hands. Man thinks that with the advance of new industries, active collaboration and concerted effort, nothing can stop them from reaching the top, literally. However, God reminds us His counsel will stand. Relying on Him guarantees our well-being but excluding Him from our lives means failure.
The word “Come” is prominent in Genesis 11. The first and primitive “Come” (v 3) began the construction, the second and civilized “Come” (v 4) progressed with contention, and the final and sovereign “Come” (v 7) ended in confusion. Why is God opposed to man’s insistence on his own way? What kind of lives do we live without God? How does that bring ruin upon us?
The Intelligence of Man is Foolishness to God
11:1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. 3 They said to each other, "Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. (Gen 11:1-3)
Some time ago, the Los Angeles Zoo displayed an exhibit designed to inform, amuse and shock visitors. Its slogan was “The world’s most dangerous animal - the only animal capable of destroying the earth, other species, or even its own kind.”
What was this animal? Onlookers were puzzled that the cage had not one but two college students. Why two? For a long time I couldn’t figure out its meaning. Man by himself is a timid and troublesome animal, but with company he is a daring and dangerous animal. One individual is tempted to act badly, two are pressured to act. With a little knowledge, in the wrong environment, and for the lack of guidance, man is a deadly animal.
It’s been said, “Humanity without divinity degenerates into bestiality.” A haunting line from the movie “A Beautiful Mind” echoed the same thing: “Man is as capable of as much atrocity as he has imagination.”
One in every 32 adults in the United States was behind bars or on probation or parole by the end of 2001, according to a government report. (Los Angeles Times, “Adults Punished for Crimes Hits Record,” August 26, 2002)
Before the construction of the tower, primitive men first tested the extent of their knowledge, researched the possibilities of natural properties, fulfilled their potential with great success and pushed their inventions to new heights. They had the resources, the skill and the drive to succeed. Nothing was beyond them, could stop or slow them. They had discovered how to heat raw materials, give them shape, and maximized its use.
The first biblical occurrence of the word “Come” is man’s determined, united, and negative effort to flourish, succeed and prosper without God. From stone they had progressed to bricks, and from mortar they had discovered tar. From now on they were hungry for the next step, the latest discovery and the new frontier.
Sadly, the advance of secular man is his very path to destruction. People make guns, bombs, nuclear weapons, biological weapons, and weapons of mass destruction. We have seen the rise of dictators and madmen such as Hitler, Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden who love nothing but to cause religious wars, civil wars and World Wars. Radio, TV and newspapers are perfect propaganda tools in their hands.
J. Robert Oppenheimer, the world famous inventor of the Atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, fittingly expressed his regret to Harry Truman: “I have blood on my hands.” He likened the then United States and Soviet Union rivalry to “two scorpions in a bottle, capable of killing the other but only at the risk of its own life.” (US News & World Report 8/17/98 “Brotherhood of the Bomb”)
Still, God is not opposed to man’s efficiency or proficiency, but their sufficiency. He is not at odds with creativeness but our cleverness, or against the process of change but our extremity in confidence. Ultimately God will destroy the wisdom of the wise and frustrate the intelligence of the intelligent (1 Cor 1:19, Isa 29:14). Man will discover that with much wisdom comes much sorrow, and increasing knowledge amounts to increasing pain (Eccl 1:18).