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: