May 20, 2020
Good morning Salties & friends,
It’s another beautiful cool morning. I hope you can get out and enjoy it.
Today we move to chapter 11. As I mentioned a few days ago, chapters 10 & 11 are not chronological so they should be considered together when studying them. Chapter 10 shows the origins of the many nations while chapter 11 shows the reason there are so many different languages and cultures even today. The first 9 verses of chapter 11 break easily into 2 sections. Verses 1 – 4 show man’s rebellion against God’s plan while verses 5 – 9 show God’s response of judgment to that rebellion and his way to restrain the rebellious sin of mankind.
Babel was a city built on the plain of Shinar, present day Iraq. It was built by Nimrod (10:10) about 100 years after Noah and his family left the ark. Settling in the plain of Shinar was in direct disobedience to God’s creation command to fill the earth in 1:28 and reiterated to Noah in 9:1. They not only disobeyed God’s command to spread out but in an effort to demonstrate their greatness they decided to build a great tower reaching “to the heavens.” There’s nothing wrong with building a tower for a city’s protection. The problem with the tower was the motivation; it was to show off man’s ingenuity and independence. They wanted to make their own name great. Compare this tower to Noah’s building an altar in 8:20 and God’s response to both. The difference is clear; the glory of man verses the glory of God. Here they were exalting themselves, “hallowing” their own name. Jesus makes it very clear that this is a problem in Luke 14:11 “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Ultimately, self-glorification is always self-defeating.
The tower itself was merely a symptom of the underlying problem – fear. Fear of the unknown if they left their familiar territory. Maybe even more it was a fear of not being known, not being recognized for their accomplishments. Fear because their security was not in the God who protected Noah and his family from the devastating flood but rather, they tried to find their security in staying together, in numbers, in bricks and mortar and in a tower. We must ask ourselves are we living in fear or in faith? Where do we find our security? I know for me, it can be in my work, or my retirement account, or my home rather than in God alone. Our own lives and these verses remind us of our depravity. Left to ourselves we will naturally oppose God and elevate ourselves. It is only because God reaches out to us by His initiative and His grace in His electing love that we can honor Him.
For His glory alone, Neil