Babel

Our journey through Genesis brings us to chapter 11. Generations have now passed since the flood. The people of the earth have journeyed from the east into the land of Shinar. Here, they decide to build the infamous Tower of Babel: “And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves…'” This colossal structure would be the wonder of the world, serving as an eternal monument to the ingenuity and brilliance of mankind! The Tower of Babel would embody everything that stood for self-dependence and self-exaltation.

But I think there’s also something else going on here. Here are one commentator’s thoughts which I find profoundly insightful: “The dwellers of the plan of Shinar disbelieved God’s covenant that He would not again bring a flood upon the earth… their hearts, like Cain, rose up in rebellion against Him. One object before them in the erection for the tower was to secure their own safety in case of another deluge” (Patriarchs and Prophets, 119). They disbelieved God’s covenant! They did not trust that God would honor His promises. As a result of mistrusting the intentions of their Creator, the tower-builders believed that they could save themselves by their own efforts – by their own works! They pursued a course that led to misplaced dependence on human effort and, more tragically, to distorted confusion about the loving character of God!

Of course, God managed to shut the tower-building operation down pretty quickly, didn’t He? In his wisdom, God intervened before humanity reached another “point of no return.” But the legacy of Babel lived on. Over 1500 years later, we find Nebuchadnezzar, king of mighty Babylon, pacing on his palace roof, reveling in self-idolatry: “Is this not the great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my might power and for the honor of my majesty?” In Daniel 3, we see this same king erecting a golden image in his own honor and, on the pain of death, forcing his entire kingdom to worship it as God! True worship of the True God was distorted into coerced external obeisance to a demanding, vengeful deity! (Fortunately, Nebuchadnezzar had changed his mind by the time God was done with him.)

This spirit of Babel is of such deep spiritual significance, that the Bible warns us that another kind of Babylon will again arise at the end of time. Like the ancient tower-builders, this Babylon will be a system of thought which promotes dependence on self and subversively misrepresents the image of God. Revelation 17 actually calls this spiritual power, “Babylon the Great, the Mother of Whores.” We are warned to flee from Babylon. That is, run from any system – whether in the form of an end-time coercive religious structure or an idol of our own heart – that propagates false ideas about the character of God! “Babylon is fallen, is fallen… Come out of her, my people!”

You see, the image we hold in our hearts of our Heavenly Father is the most significant possession that we will ever have. Understanding who God really is at His core being spells the difference between spiritual death and spiritual life. “His divine power has given us everything we need to experience life and to reflect God’s true nature through the knowledge of the One [by knowing who God really is and living in true relationship with Him] who called us by His glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3, The Voice).

If any of these words struck a chord in your heart, I hope you will take a few minutes to watch this short video and reflect one the picture of God that you hold in your own heart:

http://www.digma.com/distorted/?video=play

The Flood and the Promise

“The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart” (Genesis 6:5-6, NLT). As we come to Genesis 6, we are confronted with a series of challenging questions. Has God completely lost control here? Does God literally regret His actions? Implying that He made a mistake? No… God hasn’t lost control. He still has a plan. But God desperately wants us to see that His heart is deeply affected in the wake of our choices. “It broke His heart…” God stood broken-hearted at the sight of mankind’s cruelty. Humanity had passed the point of no return. God’s creation had so violently rebelled against its Maker that complete destruction was the only option left.

“But Noah found grace in the sight of the LORD” (6:8). In the midst of human depravity, Noah alone remained faithful. So God instructed Noah to build a gigantic boat, with meticulously exact directions and dimensions. “So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him” (6:22). I like how we don’t read about Noah’s reaction to God’s instructions or what he was thinking as he embarked on a 150+ year construction project. We just read that he did it! His obedience and trust in his Creator were unwavering. “By faith Noah respected God’s warning regarding the flood-the likes of which no one had ever seen-and built an ark that saved his family. In this he condemned the world and inherited the righteousness that comes by faith” (Hebrews 11:7, The Voice).

For an entire year, the floodwaters covered the earth, until God’s cleansing work was complete. When Noah and his family finally stepped off of the ark, Noah’s very first act was to worship his Creator! God responded by making an everlasting promise: “I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth” (9:13). God makes big promises, friends! And the best part about it is He keeps them! Not based on how well you or I behave, but simply because He made a promise! And amazingly enough, where else do we find this rainbow in Scripture? Revelation 4:3 tells us that the rainbow is an inseparable part of God’s own throne! As one commentary put it, “It is staggering to see God, in His glory, setting so close to Himself a reminder of His promise to man… The rainbow is a reminder (in the midst of such supreme sovereignty) of God’s commitment to His covenant with man” (David Guzik, Commentary on Genesis).

In closing, I would just like to share a little of the beautiful rainbow promise in Isaiah 54:9-10 from The Voice. May you take the time this week to meditate on God’s enduring promise in your life:

[T]his is like the time when Noah lived.
        I promised that I would never again destroy the world by a flood.
    So now I am promising never again to be so angry
        and punishing as I was when I sent you away.
Even if the mountains heave up from their anchors,
        and the hills quiver and shake, I will not desert you.
    You can rely on My enduring love;
        My covenant of peace will stand forever.

 

So says the Eternal One, whose love won’t give up on you.