Summary: In the Beginning, Part 7 of 7.
MAN PROPOSES, GOD DISPOSES
11:1Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. (GEN. 11:1-2)
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 magnet sticking to my refrigerator I had bought on a trip 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, we say it forcefully: my way or the highway, and we brush others out of the way. Like 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, firmly, and arrogantly without God. We think we are smart in ourselves, strong even without God, and safe with each other. With the advance of industry, active collaboration, and concerted effort, nothing can stop us from reaching to the top.
However, God reminds us His counsel will stand. Relying on Him assures our well-being, and excluding Him from our lives only brings failure.
We build our message around three Come’s, the first and primitive Come began the construction, the second and civilized Come progressed with contention, and the final and sovereign Come ended in confusion. Then we ask ourselves, Why is God so concerned when we insist on our own way? What kind of lives do we live without God? How does that bring ruin upon us?
THE INTELLIGENCE OF MEN IS FOOLISHNESS TO GOD (GEN. 11:1-4)
3They said to each other, "Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.
Some time ago, the Los Angeles, California City Zoo displayed an exhibit designed to inform, amuse and shock visitors, with the slogan: the world’s most dangerous animal --?the only animal capable of destroying the earth, other animal species, or even its kind. What was this animal?
The puzzling thing was that the cage had not one, but two college students. Why two? For a long time I couldn’t figure out the display. Man by himself is a timid and troublesome animal, with company he is a courageous and dangerous animal. One individual is tempted to act badly, two are pressured to act. And with a little knowledge, the wrong environment, and the lack of guidance, he is a deadly animal.
Before the tower began, primitive men first tested the extent of their knowledge, researched the possibilities of natural properties, and experimented with great success. They had the resources, skill, and the drive to succeed. Nothing was baffling them, stopping them, or frightening them. By now they had discovered how to heat raw materials, bend them into various shapes, and maximized its use.
The first biblical human usage of the words “Let’s?or “let us?is a designed, disturbing and detrimental motivation to flourish. From stone they had progressed to bricks, from mortar they had discovered tar, and from now on, they were hungry for the next step, the latest discovery, and the new frontier.
Sadly, the advancement of secular man is his very path to destruction. We make guns, bombs, and nuclear weapons. We have produced Hitler, Saddam Hussein, and Osama Bin Laden. We use radio, TV and newspapers to advocate our views. And we have started religious wars, civil wars, and World Wars.
J. Robert Oppenheimer, the world famous inventor of the Atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, later fittingly expressed his regret to Harry Truman: “I have blood on my hands.?He likened the United States and Soviet Union rivalry then to “two scorpions in a bottle, capable of killing the other but only at the risk of its own life.?(US News & World Reportc8/17/98 “Brotherhood of the Bomb?
Still, God is not opposed to efficiency, proficiency, but our sufficiency. He is not at odds with creativeness but our cleverness; he is not against the process of change but our excess 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). And man will discover that with much wisdom comes much sorrow, and increasing knowledge amounts to increasing pain (Eccl. 1:18).
THE INSUBORDINATION TO GOD IS PRETENSIOUS OF MEN (GEN. 11:4)
4Then 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 and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth." 5But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 6The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.