1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. 4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. (Gen 11:1-4)
“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (1 Cor 14:33)
For some non-sensical reason, man has always coveted the powers of Heaven. He resents a God who is sovereign and who will exercise that sovereignty over all who sin and are disobedient to the Law of Love. We see that churches have grown up today that envy power more than they love the arbiter of power, God. They desire to appropriate that power of God to themselves and expect it to respond to their every whim and misguided prayer. These are the charismatics of our day. Many such churches teach that God has no volition to act without the utterance of their tongues preceding His action, and empowering it. They claim that the power of their fleshly tongues can make demands upon Heaven that cannot be denied. This movement has its roots in Arminianism. Arminiansim, perhaps unintentionally, places the will of man (unabated ‘free will’) on a par with that will of God that cannot be denied. Often, it attempts to place that free will above God’s power to nullify. We sometimes refer to this as the “name it, and claim it” false gospel of the gold-digger evangelists.
We might be surprised to learn that there is a precedent for this false faith found in the Book of Genesis. That subject will be the focus of today’s devotion.
After the Flood of Noah, men began to multiply upon the earth. This fact pretty much disavows any considerations of so-called “gay marriage.” The population quickly expanded to perhaps hundreds of thousands, or even millions. This can easily be calculated as a mathematical progression. See how the twelve sons of Jacob multiplied, in only 400 years, to more than six million.
The people of that day were puffed up in pride. They lived in a post-Flood world and felt themselves exempt from destruction since God had promised not to destroy the world by flood waters again. They paid no account to the fact that God surrendered no sovereignty after the flood. He still rules in the Universe of His making, and especially in the mortal lives of men. Desiring to be, as did Lucifer, on a par with God Almighty, these men and women decided to build a tower that would reach all the way to Heaven. Remember the words of the fallen angel (Lucifer): “12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14:12-14) Interestingly, Isaiah issued this polemic against the King of Babylon. Babylon is the site for the construction of that Tower of Babel to which today’s lesson makes application.
The post-Flood civilization had much to be in comfort about: they were all together, and they were all of one language. It was the first example, and a pitiful one at that, of the political desire of the ages – One World Government. Pride always precedes an act of willful sin, and the hearts of these people were filled with Pride. You may recall that the Lord hates Pride – the sin of which Satan’s heart was filled in abundance. God has given us seven abominable sins that He hates. Guess which of these is listed first? “1) A proud look, 2) a lying tongue, and 3) hands that shed innocent blood, (woe to abortionists) 4) An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, 5) feet that be swift in running to mischief, 6) A false witness that speaketh lies, and 7) he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Prov 6:17-19)
The people made plans totally separate and apart from any reliance on the counsel of God. They were too good to make such appeal. “And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” (Gen 11:4) They liked the big nest they had created, and wanted to take measures to prevent God, or anyone else, from breaking up their little gaggle. We see this demeaning nature, too, in many modern churches. They build magnificent structures and make plans for growth totally separate from what God has counseled. How many widows and orphans do such churches assist; and how many lands do their missionaries labor and languish in?
But God is not oblivious to the rebellious will of man. He knows not only the outward behavior, but the inward, sinful desires of the hearts of all men. “5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. 6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” (Gen 11:5-6) This is a manner of speaking in Old Testament times. I hope the reader will not believe that God cannot know from the distance of Heaven what sins rule in the hearts of men on earth.
The name of the Tower which that rebellious civilization began, but did not finish, is named BABEL. Since it is located on the site of ancient Babylon, the later city of Babylon which was built on the ruins of Babel, took its name from it. Scripturally, Babylon has become the symbol of that desire for ungodly One-World Government that motivated the people of Babel. It is still extant in the minds of sinful rulers today. God toppled the League of Nations. He will topple every unregenerate effort of men to construct their tall towers of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, Global Banks, and the European Union. These are all vestiges emanating from that first attempt at Babel (Babylon) to mar the works of God:
“6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. 8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” (Rev 14:6-8) “9 And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, 10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.” (Rev 18:9-10)
There was, at the beginning of the New Testament Church, a miraculous work of God that could only be accredited as a miracle. While men were gathered in Jerusalem from all of the known world, and whose language was a diverse as the countries from which they came, the Apostles (at Pentecost) spoke in a tongue that every man, regardless of his native language, understood perfectly. If that is not a convincing miracle, I do not know the definition of a miracle! “1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” (Acts 2:1-8)
Well, God is about to work another miracle to foil the failing plans of the tower-builders of Babel: “Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. 8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” (Gen 11:7-9) These men of one language became a hodge-podge of different languages and speech. They became, as some modern worship scenes suggests, Babel-ling fools. God never speaks in uncertain tones. He is direct, clear, and without equivocation in His Holy Word. When will men understand that! Utterances not understood are not of God!
Not able to understand one another, this monolithic civilization splintered into the known nations of the world. The glue of human WILL-power could not withstand the power of God to divide sinner from sinner. That miracle that God used from the beginning to make His Church One with Him (at Pentecost) is a two-edged sword to divide and scatter those who would be God. But our Church today still speaks the same language, though in different dialects, from Scripture. We repeat the same Lord’s Prayer, recite the same Apostles Creed, and worship the same Triune God Sunday after Sunday – and there will be heard no BABEL-LING! AMEN.