Term 1 – Week 6
Big Idea – The people are scattered because of wanting to make themselves great.
- To confess our own desires to make ourselves great but see how Jesus reverses the curse of Babel.
- Belief – Humans reject God by wanting to make ourselves great instead of him! Jesus came to fix the problem of our rebellion.
- Behaviour – As we trust in Jesus we aim to bring glory to God and not to ourselves
The world has fresh new start, and humanity can have another go at following the Lord’s commands. Noah’s family have the responsibility then to fulfil the first commands of God to Adam and Eve repeated in 9:1-2 – God commands them to be fruitful, to fill the earth and to subdue the living animals. God has made humans to be in his image (repeated again in 9:6), so their filling and ruling the earth is to reflect God’s ruling authority over creation.
Genesis 10 charts for us the spread of Noah’s family after the flood through his sons and their wives. 10:32 leaves us hopeful – the nations are spreading out over the earth. They are following God’s commands. They also have one common language. But it doesn’t last long. Soon enough, the people spreading east hatch a plan to find fame and glory. The people decide to build a tower – one that ‘reaches to the heavens.’ The snake in the garden said to Eve that they would ‘be like God’ should they eat the forbidden fruit. These people want to build a tower to reach to the heavens. They want to be like God.
Their motivations in this fashion are betrayed when they say that they want to ‘make a name for themselves.’ This is the first point from v1-4. The people want to make themselves great. They want to be seen, noticed and glorified. They want to be worshiped and adored for their great tower. In building this tower they are seeking to receive the glory that is due to God. There’s nothing inherently wrong about big buildings. In some places that’s the only way of getting enough space! The error is in the motivation – to make themselves great. This digs right to the heart of our problem with sin. We’ve learnt plenty about sin so far, but this is a simple reminder of what sin is. We want to shove God off and be in charge. We all want to be great in our own ways. We don’t want God to be great.
Secondly then, God comes down to see from v5-7. It is intentionally ironic here that the author describes God twice as needing to ‘come down’ to see this tower. I thought this was a great tower that the people are building? To the Lord their efforts are feeble and futile, like an ant shaking his fist. While God is spirit and is able to see the tower, he uses this language to show us how small and feeble this rebellion is. This is a great lesson to humble us – however grand or big our efforts might seem, they are tiny compared to God! He is the one who deserves the glory not our weak efforts at greatness! Remembering that God is the one who deserves the glory will prevent us from seeking to get it ourselves.
Thirdly, God scatters them, from v8-9. The Lord confuses their language and they are scattered over all the earth. The tragedy of human sin is that when we spoke the same language we united in rebellion against God. Our different languages were given to divide and confuse. Even language barriers are a result of sin. Humans are still scattered today – while we can overcome language barriers more easily these days, these original language barriers have led to distinct cultural and geographical differences between humans. The earth is by no means a united place for humans. As we consider human sin and the scattering they experienced at Babel, we must cast our minds to one of the great promises from Jesus of the new creation. Revelation 7:9 says: “after this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” How is the curse of Babel reversed? In the saving work of Jesus, people from all languages are united in praising God in heaven. The people will come together again, this time not to make their own name great but to praise the greatness of the name of Jesus. We can confess our own attempts to try and make ourselves great, and celebrate what Jesus has done to one day bring all who believe together again!
‘…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God‘
Our God is a Great Big God – YouTube
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