Genesis – First, God.
Infants begin language by intently watching the mouths of their parents. Babies will turn their heads from birth to hear the sound of the voices of those who love them and care deeply for them. It’s instinctive to communicate with those who love you.
One of our granddaughters was born a bit early under a stressful delivery. While our daughter was resting from this trauma, our tiny granddaughter was placed in NICU with caring nurses and a very watchful, protective dad, our son in law. This was a scary time for all of us, waiting and watching, praying and hoping all would be well.
I rose very early the next day to check in on this new family. I nearly ran to the NICU to see for myself if this little one was okay. Fortunately, they let me in after being dressed in a gown of protection. The first thing I saw was our, over six foot, son in law bending over his tiny infant’s bed. He was talking to her and caressing her in very careful, soothing touches. It took my breath away. I had never seen him like this before this moment.
I cautiously said, “How’s our little girl this morning?” And immediately this tiny infant, born under stress, scaring us and leaving us wondering if she would be okay, turned her head and looked in the direction of my voice. Wow. After praying through the night, this was God answering through this infant. Her eyes locked on my eyes and the sound of loving language from her grandma which assured me she was going to be just fine.
That tiny infant is now a sophomore in high school who is still doing just fine, loves the Lord and is gracious, kind and helpful to all she meets.
Language is used as an instrument of God to love Him back and to love others that way He loves us. So of course evil, working through mankind, tries to destroy what God created as evil continues to do. The following is how God deals with those who use what he has created to their own advantage and selfish ambitions.
Genesis 11, The Message
“God Turned Their Language into ‘Babble’”
11 1-2 At one time, the whole Earth spoke the same language. It so happened that as they moved out of the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled down.
3 They said to one another, “Come, let’s make bricks and fire them well.” They used brick for stone and tar for mortar.
4 Then they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower that reaches Heaven. Let’s make ourselves famous so we won’t be scattered here and there across the Earth.”
5 God came down to look over the city and the tower those people had built.
6-9 God took one look and said, “One people, one language; why, this is only a first step. No telling what they’ll come up with next—they’ll stop at nothing! Come, we’ll go down and garble their speech so they won’t understand each other.” Then God scattered them from there all over the world. And they had to quit building the city. That’s how it came to be called Babel, because there God turned their language into “babble.” From there God scattered them all over the world.
10-11 This is the story of Shem. When Shem was 100 years old, he had Arphaxad. It was two years after the flood. After he had Arphaxad, he lived 500 more years and had other sons and daughters.
12-13 When Arphaxad was thirty-five years old, he had Shelah. After Arphaxad had Shelah, he lived 403 more years and had other sons and daughters.
14-15 When Shelah was thirty years old, he had Eber. After Shelah had Eber, he lived 403 more years and had other sons and daughters.
16-17 When Eber was thirty-four years old, he had Peleg. After Eber had Peleg, he lived 430 more years and had other sons and daughters.
18-19 When Peleg was thirty years old, he had Reu. After he had Reu, he lived 209 more years and had other sons and daughters.
20-21 When Reu was thirty-two years old, he had Serug. After Reu had Serug, he lived 207 more years and had other sons and daughters.
22-23 When Serug was thirty years old, he had Nahor. After Serug had Nahor, he lived 200 more years and had other sons and daughters.
24-25 When Nahor was twenty-nine years old, he had Terah. After Nahor had Terah, he lived 119 more years and had other sons and daughters.
26 When Terah was seventy years old, he had Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
The Family Tree of Terah
27-28 This is the story of Terah. Terah had Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
Haran had Lot. Haran died before his father, Terah, in the country of his family, Ur of the Chaldees.
29 Abram and Nahor each got married. Abram’s wife was Sarai; Nahor’s wife was Milcah, the daughter of his brother Haran. Haran had two daughters, Milcah and Iscah.
30 Sarai was barren; she had no children.
31 Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot (Haran’s son), and Sarai his daughter-in-law (his son Abram’s wife) and set out with them from Ur of the Chaldees for the land of Canaan. But when they got as far as Haran, they settled down there.
32 Terah lived 205 years. He died in Haran.
GOING DEEPER…(With the help of Warren Wiersbe)
“Man does what he can, God does what He will.” Solomon used more words but said it best: “There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel–that will stand” (Prov. 19:21 nkjv).
Few chapters in the Bible illustrate this truth better than Genesis 11. When you read the narrative about Babel and then read the genealogies that follow, your immediate impression is that God is at work in His world and is accomplishing His purposes in spite of the plans and projects of sinful people.
God’s will trumps all. God’s purposes will be completed.
Four great events are recorded in Genesis 1–11: the creation of the universe, the fall of man, the flood, and the attempted construction of the Tower of Babel. These chapters reveal that where mankind disobeys God, the Lord judges sin, and then in His grace makes a new beginning.
Adam and Eve sinned, but God clothed them and promised to send the world a Redeemer. Cain killed Abel, but God sent Seth to carry on the godly line. The Sethites intermarried with the godless Cainites, and God had to wipe the earth clean with a flood, but Noah and his family believed God’s Word and were spared. After the flood, the descendants of Noah’s three sons repopulated the earth. But the new beginning with Noah eventually led to one of the most arrogant revolts against God recorded anywhere in Scripture.
God had commanded the peoples to be fruitful and multiply and to scatter across the earth, but they decided to move to Nimrod’s city of Babylon and settle there (11:1-12). This move was blatant rebellion against God’s command that the people scatter. Apparently Nimrod wanted them in his cities and under his control.
This infamous project was an arrogant declaration of war against the Lord. To begin with, the people were resisting God’s edict to scatter and repopulate the earth. Motivated perhaps by fear as well as pride, they decided to build a city and a great tower and stay together. But even more, they wanted to make a name for themselves so that others would admire them and perhaps come and join them. Their purpose statement was the Devil’s lie in Eden: “You will be like God” (Gen. 3:5 niv).
God in heaven is never perplexed or paralyzed by what people do on earth. Babel’s conceited “Let’s go up!” was answered by heaven’s calm “Let’s go down!” “He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision” (Ps. 2:4 nkjv). Of course, God doesn’t have to investigate to know what’s going on in His universe; the language is used only to dramatize God’s intervention.
As with Adam and Eve in the garden (Gen. 3:22-24), God’s judgment at Babel not only dealt with the immediate sins but also helped to prevent future problems. The unity of mankind would only give people a false sense of power that would lead them into even greater rebellion against God. By confusing their language and scattering them over all the earth, God graciously spared their lives and gave them opportunity to return to Him. He could have destroyed the builders, their city, and their tower, but He chose to let them live.
The word “babel” sounds like the Hebrew word balal which means “confusion.” Because of God’s judgment, the “gate of the gods” became the “the door to confusion.” Instead of making a name for themselves, God gave the project a new name! In His church, “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Cor. 14:33), but in the world, God sometimes uses confusion to humble people and keep them from uniting against His will.
“Every generation builds its own towers,” writes psychotherapist Naomi H. Rosenblatt, and she is right. Whether these are actual skyscrapers (the Willis Tower [formerly Sears] and Tribune Tower in Chicago, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Trump Tower in New York City), or mega-corporations that circle the globe, the idea is the same: “We will make a name for ourselves.” God’s people can’t escape being in the world, because it’s in the world that we have our ministry, but we must avoid being of the world. We’re not here to build the arrogant towers of men; we’re here to help build the church of Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit is using the church as an agent of reconciliation to bring people together in Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:10; 2 Cor. 5:14-21). In one sense, Pentecost was a reversal of Babel, for the people present in Jerusalem at Pentecost heard the praises of God in their own languages (Acts 2:1-12). The day will come when people from every tribe and nation will worship Jesus Christ (Rev. 15:4) and the judgment of Babel will be done away (Zeph. 3:9).
Each person must make a choice.
Will we identify with Babylon or Jerusalem, the worldly prostitute or the heavenly bride?
Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior
I have made my choice. You are God alone and i am not.
What do you want from me this day? Where should I join you in your work? I know you will provide where you guide.
In Jesus Name, Amen