Scripture Focus- Genesis 11
NBC News (October 2, 2018) “A Colossal Elevator To Space Could Be Going Up Sooner Than You Ever Imagined: Researchers Are Racing To Make This Science-Fiction Idea A Reality.”
For more than a half-century, rockets have been the only way to go to space. But in the not-too-distant future, we may have another option for sending up people and payloads: a colossal elevator extending from Earth’s surface up to an altitude of 22,000 miles, where geosynchronous satellites orbit.
NASA says the basic concept of a space elevator is sound, and researchers around the world are optimistic that one can be built. The Obayashi Corporation, a global construction firm based in Tokyo says one will be built by 2050, and China wants to build one by 2045. Now an experiment to be conducted soon aboard the International Space Station will help determine the real-world feasibility of a space elevator. Professor of Physics at City College of New York- Michio Kaku- “The space elevator is the Holy Grail of space exploration. Imagine pushing the up button of an elevator and taking a ride into the heavens. It could open up space to the average person.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.
After the worldwide flood, Noah and his family were spared and life on earth began again. Some time passed and the descendants of Noah were living in Mesopotamia in Babylon. They settled in the land of Shinar. The population on the earth was growing and everyone spoke the same language. The people decided to build a tower that would “reach the heavens” so they would be like God. God was not pleased with their arrogance, so he confused their language and scattered them.
Our focus today is rogue living and a righteous response. I am using the word “rogue” in the sense of independent living, people doing their own thing and not thinking through the outcome. The nature of sin is the idea of independence apart from God. In the Garden of Eden the Serpent told Eve, “You will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Being like God and knowing good and evil may sound like a commendable ideal, but the motive was independence.
Oswald Chambers- Sin is a fundamental relationship- it is not wrong doing, but wrong being- it is deliberate and determined independence from God. The Christian faith bases everything on the extreme, self-confident nature of sin. . .God made His own Son ‘to be sin’ that He might make the sinner into a saint.
The intention of people is to make a name for themselves.
God created all people as the account of Genesis 1- 2 records. Genesis 10 is a record of the Table of the Nations. The account is the oldest ethnological table available to us. The information helps us understand the ethnic and linguistic situation after the worldwide flood. The names in the chapter have been corroborated in the books that follow in the Old Testament, as well as in archaeological discoveries. The story in Genesis 11 explains how God dispersed the nations and why he did so. Chronologically, the story of Babel likely came before the scattering of the nations described in the genealogies in Chapter 10.
V1 The whole earth had the same language and vocabulary.
Imagine having the ability to talk to every single person in the world with a common language, as it was in those days.
V2 As people migrated from the east, they found a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there.
After sin entered the world and the fall of man took place, God drove man out of the Garden of Eden. He placed Cherubs at the east of the Garden of Eden, and the flame of a sword to guard the way to the tree of life. Also, shortly after, Cain went out from God’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden. People came from the east to the land of Shinar.
Genesis 10:8-10 Cush fathered Nimrod, who began to be powerful in the land. He was a powerful hunter in the sight of the Lord. That is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a powerful hunter in the sight of the Lord.” His kingdom started with Babylon, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.
In the land of Shinar, the people came together and decided to build themselves a city and a tower.
Vv3-4 Come, let us make oven-fired bricks. And they said, Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky (heaven).
Archaeologists have discovered 30 ziggurat towers that were built in the Mesopotamian Valley region in Babylonia, Sumer, and Assyria. Ziggurats were built in a stacked type form with mud and baked bricks. They were often square or rectangular in shape. The towers included external stairways. At the top of the towers were places for pagan, idolatrous worship. Some believe at the top of the towers were altars surrounded by the signs of the zodiac. People climbed them to get closer to the gods.
The purpose of the people building a city and a tower in the land of Shinar- v4 Let us make a name for ourselves.
They came together to build a city and a tower for the glory of man. Pride causes a person to have too high of a view of themselves. The Bible says the proud are so focused on themselves their thoughts are far from God. Through the Bible we are warned of the consequences of pride- Proverbs 16:18-19 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.
Throughout history people have sought to make a name for themselves out of selfish pride. Social media may be the modern day Tower of Babel where all of us are tempted to make a name for ourselves. Pride attempts to steal the glory that belongs to God alone and keep it for ourselves. Pride is self-worship.
The concern of the people- v4 We will be scattered throughout the earth. God gave Noah and his sons the command in Genesis 9:1 “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” Their desire to stay together was prideful disobedience to God.
Resist the temptation to pridefully make a name for yourself- Jesus Christ taught us to do the opposite in our humanity. Matthew 11:29 Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.
The intention of God is to make his glory known.
The people were already in a similar place, as the sinful condition of the world was before the worldwide flood. Genesis 6:5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The people were united in language and in purpose. God came down to evaluate the situation.
V5 Then the Lord came down to look over the city and the tower that the humans were building.
The irony is the tower was so short the Lord had to come down to inspect it.
God sees your heart, your motivation, and your actions. He knows if you are self-focused on making a name for yourself. Nothing is hidden from God who knows all things. God is not disengaged from humanity. The Lord was not pleased with what he found. V6 If they have begun to do this as one people all having the same language, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.
Psalm 2:1-4 Why do the nations rage, and the peoples plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth take a stand, and the rulers take counsel together, against Yahweh, and against his Anointed, saying, “Let’s break their bonds apart, and cast their cords from us. He who sits in the heavens will laugh. The Lord will have them in derision.
The intention of people, to make a name for themselves, is in opposition to the glory of God. The intention of God is to make his glory known. The purpose of God’s creation from the beginning was for his glory.
John Piper- “The glory of God is the beauty and excellence of his manifold perfections. It is an attempt to put into words what God is like in his magnificence and purity. It refers to his infinite and overflowing fullness of all that is good. God’s glory is the perfect harmony of all his attributes into one infinitely beautiful and personal being.”
People were created from the beginning in the image of God to display the glory of God. Anything contrary to the purpose of God’s glory is sin.
The indictment against rogue living ends in judgment.
God does not allow perpetual rebellion without bringing it to an end. He would not allow them to carry out their plans.
V7 Come, let’s go down there and confuse their language so that they will not understand one another’s speech.
The Triune God had enough, and he moved in judgment upon the people to confuse their language so they would not understand one another.
V8 So from there the Lord scattered them throughout the earth, and they stopped building the city.
Judgment results in condemnation for sin.
John 3:17-18 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.
Judgment results in separation from God. Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden.
According to 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 God will “take vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will pay the penalty of eternal destruction from the Lord’s presence and from his glorious strength.”
Final judgment by God cannot be avoided. Hebrews 9:27 It is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment. Every person has an appointment with God.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree; so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
This is only the beginning of what they will do.
We are again approaching a “Tower of Babel” era of history if it is not already upon us.
Big Think- Humai Company- “Startup Promises Immortality, Through AI, Nanotechnology, and Cloning” “Humai Wants to Download Your Consciousness and Transfer it to a New Body So You Can Live Forever”
University Observer- The God Complex- Will Humans Ever Manufacture Life? Orla Keaveney
The power that scientific advances have given us would have seemed supernatural, even god-like, only a century ago. We can talk to people on the other side of the world, translate any language into our own, access a million libraries’ worth of information in seconds, and carry the tools to do all of these things in our pockets.
Not even science fiction could imagine the sorts of abilities we take for granted every day. Despite all our progress, there are still mysteries that the greatest minds in the world are yet to figure out – a major one being the origins of life itself. Although countless theories have been debated, nobody has ever managed to create a living thing completely from scratch.