You will turn with me to the book of Genesis, chapter number 11 this evening.
We will be looking at the record of the Tower of Babel. This is a passage that is no doubt very familiar to us all. Perhaps the truth that is hidden within its Mesopotamian context would provide us with much aid in our Christian growth and understanding of this passage, seeing it is a Christocentric passage. We live a entire life creating this facade of success around himself. Towards the end of his life the reality of his deceitful facade comes to light and his own son notices that his father never actually truly knew himself outside of this fake reality that he has constructed. You know, there are ways in which we can so truly sell ourselves on a lie that we become convinced that perhaps it was true all along. It was Austin O'Malley who said, those who think it is permissible to tell white lies soon become colorblind. And isn't that the truth with the world around us? Even within our own lives, we may find ourselves casually saying untruthful things like, sorry, I'm just now responding.
I never saw that text, or I put your check in the mail yesterday, even though we've not even put it in an envelope yet, or the Miami Hurricanes are back. There are just certain things that we begin to say that are just radically untruthful. In all sincerity though, we hold onto lies and we speak them as though they have within themselves the ability to change reality as we know it. This is not merely the case with things we might consider minor, such as trying to get out of a traffic ticket, but it concerns the greatest of things in our lives, that being our view of who God is.
And with that being true, as I studied through this text for this evening, I found myself confronted with this mountainous question for us today. It is this, how much of what we believe about God is formulated by what we wish were so, rather than what he has declared is so? Or to make it even more simple for us today, just to wrestle with and chew upon, is simply this question, have we created God in our own image? Have we constructed a desired characteristic or an own God in our minds that we wish to perpetrate back onto God himself?
Have we fallen into the guilty sin of wandering into that sinful build a God workshop? Last year, Reagan and I decided to take Ella to build a bear workshop, and at build a bear, you have the wonderful privilege of walking in and allowing your little child to choose whatever little creature he or she wants, and they can choose them and hug them, but they're only a little skin and outline of what they will want to be, and they can dress them and choose different occupations that they'll have and name them. And then right before they're going to stuff them full of fluff, you can take this little heart and you can let your child kiss it and embrace it or whatever they'd like to do, and they tuck it away in that cavity, and they fill it up all for the purpose of giving your child this new friend. And this is cute when it comes to making stuffed animals for your children, but this is not so cute when it comes to the God who stands above the heavens and looks down low. God is the essence. He is the origin of beauty and of honor and of glory. He is the climax. He is the pinnacle of all that is lovely and grand.
He is not a blemish-ridden God needing the makeup of our own ideals smeared all over his face. And as we look in Genesis 11 this evening, we will find the story of humankind who is finding themselves wandering in to this sinful build a God workshop, if you will amuse me for a moment. In Genesis chapter 11 verse 9, we read this, and we'll just refresh ourselves with the passage. Now the whole earth had one language and one speech, and it came to pass as they journeyed from the east that they found a plain in the land of Shinnok, and they dwelled there. Then they said to one another, come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly. They had brick for stone, they had asphalt for mortar, and they said, come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower whose top is in the heavens.
Now you're going to want to focus on that. Let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth. Now before we dive further into this passage this evening, I need to set a little bit of a backdrop for us. In Genesis 3, we read the horrible account of Adam and Eve sinning against the Lord. It is there that we find a gracious yet firm judgment of God as a result for the sin of man. One of the results of this is that Adam and Eve are now banished from the presence of God. And those hands of Adam and Eve, which once were able to hold the fruit of their sinful choices are now banished from the garden and have nothing to hold of their choices in their hands.
They are empty handed and they are banished from the glory of God. Yet as they are banished from that garden, while their physical hands are empty, the hands of faith within their hearts have reached forward and have grabbed this curse that is pregnant with promise in Genesis 3.15. It is this declaration that God will soon provide a serpent killer. We see Adam's faith there as immediately as God makes this declaration that from the lineage of Eve there will be a serpent killer. He does not name her beforehand, but immediately he looks at her and he says, you are Eve for you will be the mother of all the living. And we notice immediately following that in Genesis 4 that they have that child by the name of Cain, meaning I have received from God. Their faith is explosively noted within that text, yet they have been banished from the presence of God as they have previously known it.
Now we find ourselves here in Genesis 11 this evening and mankind is still banished from God's presence. But what we will find first in this text is, and this is our first point for tonight, is a shameful pursuit of glory. It's finally Vacation Bible School time again and little Benjamin finally gets to go this year. Throughout the week they've announced that there will be a competition between the boys and the girls to see which group could give the most money. It's really to see which parent will give the most money, but nonetheless Ben was ecstatic. He would race home and search underneath his bed. He would look between the couch cushions and everywhere that he could think of and then the final day comes and Ben is seated with excitement as they pass the buckets around to see which side will give the most money. And as they go by, Ben's mom is spectating and she decides that she would like to contribute to the cause and she's got a $10 bill that is sitting within her purse that she would like to look for, but there's an issue, it's gone.
And as she makes eye contact with Ben, he realizes that he has been caught. With eyes focused on the glory waiting and sitting before him, that feeling of being able to triumphantly stick his tongue out at all the the cootie ridden little girls, the seriousness of his actions didn't seem too severe. And perhaps you and I have done something similar in our lives. Maybe you've cheated on your taxes, believing that the joy of having more of your own money around would feel far better than following the law of the land and in your mind, you've justified this action, looking for the glory that you have set before yourselves. You see, we often focus on the feeling of self exaltation without ever considering that there could be negative recompense for our behaviors. And this is what we find here in Genesis 11 and Genesis nine one, God gives a command. You be fruitful and you multiply and fill the earth. He gives up for the second time and God's desire is that all of the earth would be riddled with these little image bearers who would radiate like a beaming glass to the world, His glory that they would manifest His character upon the earth that all creation might join in praising the Lord.
Yet not much time passes at all and here we find ourselves and shine on that that would be what we could call Mesopotamia or Babylon. And instead of focusing on their God given tasks, they decide that they're going to stay in one place and not fill the earth lest they be spread. They're going to build a giant tower and they're going to be safe and they're going to become forever famous for the work that they're going to do. Now what's so shameful about this as we see this in this text that they want to build this grand name for themselves.
We've seen it here in verse number four 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. What's the shamefulness here? Having a good name is not shameful at all. However, they could have gotten a lasting name through having children.
They could have gotten a lasting name through exploring the world and doing great conquests, but instead they decide that they want to directly rebel against God's commands and they want to do things their own way just for the glory of it all. What we need to focus on here to understand this passage is this tower that they are building. This isn't just some cool office building. This is what is called a ziggurat. This is something that's well attested in Mesopotamian history and this ziggurat was this massive mound that they would build and it would build up as high as they could possibly go, which is attested in the Bible that they want its top to peak into the heavens. And the goal of this ziggurat is that its peak would peak its head into the heavens and that a passing by God would see that and be coerced to rest upon the top of this mount. These ziggurats would have a small room on top of them where the gods could rest and they could eat and it would have a staircase down where it would have food and places for them to rest and at the very bottom of this mountain there would be this temple for the god to come and rest in, to live in so that they could worship him and that they could in exchange receive blessing for what they have manipulated this god to do.
So this would be the whole point of the tower here. The tower, the food, the resting areas and so on, they wanted an appeased god who would benefit them. And we may be thinking to ourselves, what's so bad about wanting God to come and dwell upon them? They have a temple for them, they're wanting him there, isn't this what God wants all along? It's kind of the manifestation of the biblical accounts. What's so bad about that?
There's nothing wrong with that. The issue here is their motives. They want God present with them, but not because he's glorious and beautiful and not because he's so radiantly majestic, but no, they want God upon them with them because they're more interested in the blessings rather than the blesser. They want to have a reputation here of being the people who enticed God to come down to live with them so they could have what verse four calls a name for themselves. These people have fallen into paganism and instead of worshiping God who made them in his image, they've created a god who is the way they'd like for him to be. They've created this easily, easily manipulated idea of a God who needs food and who needs rests and who yearns for pampering and they figured that they could check all these boxes off so that God would come and dwell in their temple and if they check these boxes, God will give them the blessings that they want. They will be large and in charge. They've created a false idea of the true God in their minds and they've decided they're going to use him for the purpose of their names being great and this seems insane and easy for us to laugh at, doesn't it?
We don't build towers and temples like that in the same manner anymore, but it's still that way today. We have a world that wants a Christ with no confrontation, a world that wants a God who loves with no holiness, a savior with no judgment. We have the religious who want a sovereign God who's forbidden, who we've forbidden to display any electing love or anything that would attest to his own being in charge, but this doesn't shock us.
We're aware of this. We're all aware of this, but my question for you and I this evening is this, how much of what we believe about God is formulated by what we wish he was like rather than what he is actually like? How much of what we believe about God is formulated by what we wish he was like rather than what he is actually like? Do we have an idea of God that says God hates all sin and the church says, amen, there will be a day where Christ will pour out his wrath and he will make all wrongs right, all the heartache I've received, all the people who have betrayed me and who have harmed me, all those people will be dealt with in that last day, all wrongs will be made right and we all say, amen, that is my God.
I believe in that God. Meanwhile we think he certainly winks at our sin when we explode at our spouse after a long day simply because, hey, it's me after all. God is a righteous God who pours out wrath and judgment upon sin, yet we presume upon his own grace and this is exactly a similarity to what they have done here. They are presuming upon the kindness of God.
They are rebelling against what he has told them to do and expecting him to bless them anyway. John Walton wrote, when we think we can manipulate God by praying in Jesus's name to accomplish our own selfish purposes, our paganism is showing. When we claim promises as a means of making God do what we want him to do, our paganism is showing. When we come to think we are indispensable to God because of the money we donate, the talents we have, the ministries we engage in, the worship we offer, our paganism is showing. When we treat God as a child to be cajoled or a tyrant to be appeased, the babel syndrome is surging in our veins. We want a manageable God light. We want to be able to harness his power for our own benefit, no strings attached. Church, the question I have for us this evening is, is your paganism showing? Is this us?
Is this you? This is Simon Magus in X8 who thought he could buy off the power of God and use it to build his own name. You know, it's been rightly said that what we believe about God is the most important thing about us. We are all, you, all of you are theologians, whether you accept it or not, you're a theologian. The thing is, is you're either going to be a good one or you're going to be a bad one, you are all theologians. And our theology influences every corner of our life. Within the lives of these people, they didn't take God seriously. They rebelled against him and his command and they presumed on his grace as though they did him a favor by building this, this tower to appease these boxes, to make God fit into their own box to think he's controllable to get the expected reward. And because our theology affects all of our life, we better come to the scriptures praying for God to show us his glory and that if we have some faulty view of him that he would change it.
Do our times in the word manifest that kind of attitude or do the only times we approach the scriptures seem to be for us to find a passage to fit the God who we have built in our own mind? Well God does come down, but he does not come down to bless. In verses five through nine, we'll read it together. The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, indeed, the people are one and they all have one language and this is what they begin to do now.
Nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Let us go down and they are confused their language that they may not understand one another speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the earth and they ceased building the city.
Therefore its name is called Babel because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the earth. And in these verses we find his response and it gives us our very second point. By the way, my last two points are exponentially shorter than the first one.
It's football season, I'll be gracious and dismiss you. The first is this, we find this serious, this seriously wicked kind of approach to the glory of God. But the second thing that we find is a serious punishment. God comes down, they are united, they have built this tower, but right here what we find in this passage, this is a serious account in our Bibles. This is not just there was this cool tower, God kind of messed with their languages and we're just going to skip on and see what's happening in the New Testament.
This is a big account. In Genesis 3, I'm going to nerd out, see Leslie was talking about the bus trip that we had. My favorite part of the Ocean City Bible Conference was that they were trapped in a bus for me to talk about the Old Testament for as many hours as I wanted to. It was wonderful.
I had a great time. In Genesis 1, God creates, right? In Genesis 3, we read of the fall. In Genesis 6, we read of the flood. And what happens here in Genesis 1 is not just God scrambles some language. It's not that God destroys their building, that's not it. This is man pursuing paradise with God's presence for selfish benefits, and it backfires. This is God, this is important here, this passage is essentially this, this is God fully disowning the people of earth.
He has divorced them all. This is what some Old Testament scholars call the Romans 1 of the Old Testament, where he will now fully deliver them up to their vile affections in totality. Now this should cause you and I to read our Bibles and if we are immersed in Genesis, this should cause our hearts to stop and for us to cry. No, no, not here, not now. And the reason is, is because between Genesis 3 through 11 there is this tension, this strong tension that is riding where we should have our teeth gritted as we read through these passages.
Why? Because as the Father gives that curse to the serpent that is pregnant with the promise of Messiah, Adam in faith looks at Eve and he says, you will be the mother of all living things and as they name Cain, Cain's name means I have received from God and this is fully in context pointing to the fact that they believe that Messiah was already here. They believe that God was going to deliver them that quickly and Adam stands up as our federal head and he fails. So Cain's here, this is him, and he murders his brother. Well let's look to Abel, Abel's dead.
Let's look to Seth, Genesis 6, the Sethites fall into sin. Let's look to Noah, he is the one who is held high above the waves standing long and there falls him. And there is this constant tension of could he be the one? It looks like he is, followed by no, it's not the one. And as we see mankind rapidly accelerating here, we should ask ourselves, could Messiah come from this? Could Messiah come from these people?
Look at their unity, look how they all share language, look at them and God separates them all and confuses their tongue and destroys their efforts. He's divorced them all and we should go, no, no, it's hopeless. He's divorced them all. This is a dark day in the history of our family. It's over, it's over. It seems hopeless but it isn't and this is my last point, point three, we find a sweet provision, a serious punishment and a sweet provision. Look at me please in the book of Genesis chapter 12, just the next passage, just the next chapter. We're going to meet a man by the name of Abram, you might know him as Abraham. God has disowned everybody in Mesopotamia, disowned the whole world and they're all wondering around and God in his pleasure calls forth a pagan by the name of Abram. Let's see what God says to him. Now the Lord said to Abram, get out of your country from your family and from your father's house to a land that I will show you, I will make you a great nation, I will bless you and make your name great and you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who curse you and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. He's disowned them all and God is now laying up the confines, the constructs for what we will know to be Israel and through him all the nations of the earth will be blessed. So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him and Lot went with him and Abram was 75 years old when he departed from Haran. Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother's son and all the possessions that they had gathered and the people whom they had acquired in Haran and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh and the Canaanites were then in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said to your descendants I will give this land and there he built an altar to the Lord who had appeared to him and he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel and he pinched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east and there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.
So Abram journeyed going on still toward the south. Genesis 11 we find great divorce and here we find new beginnings. It is here that we find the beginning of what we will call the Abrahamic covenant.
It is in his infantile states. There's still a few more texts that we would need to get a fuller understanding but why does this text matter? Why does this covenant matter so much? I love the summation of Galatians 3 16. Now to Abraham Paul says and to his seed, singular, were promises made. He does not say and to seeds, Paul writes, as of many but as of one and to your seed who is Christ.
This text right here is the beginning of the nation of Israel, stay with me, stay with me, who God sets aside to be that nation that would bless the whole world because it is through these people that Christ will come. There is this constant tension throughout the Old Testament where great men such as Noah and Moses and Joshua and David rise in this idea of could he be, could he be evil one rises and falls and they fall over and over again but it is through this covenant with Abraham that God begins this beautiful unfolding, this beautiful pointing forward, this beautiful arrow that is shining in the darkness to this Messiah that will come. This should be extremely encouraging to our hearts for here in Genesis 11 we find sinful man attempting to bring God down for their own sinful purposes but here in Genesis 12 a holy God comes down to bring up a sinful man named Abram for his divine purposes. In Genesis 11 we find man's sinful pursuit of engaging relationship with God and in Genesis 12 we find a holy God who pursues his people. Here in Genesis 12 a holy God comes down to bring up a sinful man by the name of Abram but that's not all, stay with me, I'm going somewhere. In Genesis 11 we find a sinful people establishing a sacred place, this tower would not be used by them, this would not be touched, this is for the gods. You don't touch the tower and they're building this for their selfish benefit but through the Abrahamic line comes the Lord who would take upon himself our sins on Calvary, he would die, he would rise again and upon his ascension mere days later he sends forth the Holy Spirit at the day of Pentecost and you're thinking to yourself you just jumped a lot of scripture, what does Pentecost have to do with the tower of Babel?
A lot. It is at Pentecost that we find God is pleased to dwell with his people for their good and for his glory. He dwells within us, we are now his temple people. Hold your place please here in Genesis chapter 11, I'll be back in turn with me to the book of Acts chapter 2, we'll read verses 1 through 13 for just a moment, I will hurry up. I was highly caffeinated at midnight when I added new notes last night and I seem to have wrote a whole another sermon on top of this one.
Reagan did not stop me so put it on her. The scripture says this, now notice I'm going to highlight some things here for you, when the day of Pentecost had fully come, notice this, they were all with one accord in one place. Do you see the similarities? They were all in one accord in one place, we just see that back at the tower of Babel and suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind and it filled the whole house where they were sitting, then there appeared with them to them divided tongues as it fired and one sat, one of them sat upon each of them and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance and there came and there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews devout men from every nation under heaven, notice this, every nation under heaven and when this sound occurred the multitude came together and were confused. We see the same word used back in Genesis, they were confounded, they were confused because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled saying to one another, look, are now all of these who speak Galileans and how is it that we hear each in our own language in which we were born, Parthians and Medes and Elamites and those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Paphilia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors of Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs, we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God so they were all amazed and perplexed saying to one another whatever could this mean. We see in this text a few things, verse one they were all together in one place, verse three we see the language divided which is used in Deuteronomy 32 and in verse six we see the word bewildered or confused or confounded just like God uses in Genesis 11.
This is it, this is the climax of what I have to say right now. So what we see here is too rich for my vocabulary, I can't communicate it with the zeal that I have in my heart to communicate it. What we see here is that in Christ tongues once boasting in vanity and separated by pride are now unified and they are lit aflame to the praise of God. In Christ we see that the hands that once built up the kingdoms of selfish pride are now put to work to build up the kingdom of God. In Christ our minds that once drew up selfish plans of selfish gain are now consumed with thoughts of how marvelously glorious he is. In Christ the sins that once divided us have now been atoned and in Christ the people divide it of the world are brought together in that glorious kingdom we know as the family of God. In Christ all that we see in Babel is being reversed.
This is a beautiful connection here. I'd like to say that the Tower of Babel is not an accident. These stories, these horrendous things that we see in the Old Testament as Pastor K and much of the Pastors of Beacon are so quick to bring forth. Whatever our God ordains is right.
There is no accident recorded within our scriptures for us. God ordained this incident to reveal to us the seriousness of his glory and the proper means by which we have access to him. In the failure of the Tower of Babel we find confused nations who are separated from one another who are delivered up to the idols of their hearts. But in this new covenant in Christ's body and blood wherein we now more fully see the Spirit birthing a new people into a heavenly kingdom through the power of his gospel we find that we will turn to the right and to the left in this new people and they will all know the Lord in this covenant community. They will all know the Lord in this community in Christ. In Christ there is a wonderful kingdom whose people are closer than family. We are tied by the bonds of Christ. And our wonderfully eternal language will forevermore be the raising of hallelujahs to the eternal praise of the Lamb who was slain for us. It is in Christ that we may now have bold access into the presence of the Most High Lamb of God and to the Most High Lord of glory.
The story of the Tower of Babel is the story of both having a God of our own imagination as well as the shameful attempt of man to find themselves into the glorious presence of God. What is most precious about this text is that it beautifully points to Christ. It beautifully points to Christ.
If the way we preach Old Testament texts could be preached in a Jewish synagogue and no one would be offended, you are not preaching the Old Testament correctly. This text points to Christ. It points to Christ in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily. It points to Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life. It points to Christ, Immanuel, God with us. It points to Christ who has sent forth his Spirit to dwell within us and it points to Christ through whom we have bold access into the glorious presence of God. Who do you think God is this evening? Is it a depiction that is foreign to his Word?
If it is, then that isn't idle. I was speaking with a member earlier today and they were talking about sharing Pastor Caron's sermon today and if you were not here, I highly encourage you to listen to it. And we began to speak about the fact that sovereignty is a pillow that does not allow itself to be rested upon to the Christian who does not acknowledge it. And when we build a God in our own imagination, he, like every other idol, fails and falters in the time of conflict in our life. Dark days are coming.
Light days are coming. What do you have in your mind when it comes to the God of glory? Do you challenge it with the Scriptures?
Does your image of God, is it formulated merely by what you wish were so rather than what is truly so? Beloved, if you were resting in your works, how do you believe that you have access to this God? Beloved, if you were resting in your works and you're giving in your friendships, then you're sorely mistaken. Look to Christ. One writer said, God freely and genuinely tells us, I love you, but if we expect him to say, I need you, be prepared for a letdown. Here are a few lessons for tonight.
We could go for quite some time. Here are a few lessons for you tonight. First, we must be dedicated to having our understanding of God shaped by his Scriptures. Second, though there will always be conflict with sin, we should frequently check our motives in Christian service to see if they are God honoring and genuine.
Now catch that first part. Though we will always struggle with sin, we should frequently check our motives in Christian service to see if they are God honoring and genuine. Third, we must not take the grace of God for granted. And lastly, we should rejoice that the presence of God among us is not contingent upon our methods, but it rests wholly upon his matchless grace.
Christ was not God's plan B because we could not come up with a good enough tower to get him to come down in another method. Where the hands of sinful men could not achieve their way to God, God in grace has come down upon sinful men to redeem forth from sin his people, and for that we rejoice this evening. Knowing Emmanuel God with us and as he has died and resurrected for us, he has sent forth his Spirit to dwell within us. He tabernacles amongst us, and for that may we give eternal hallelujahs amongst the church of Christ. Amen.
Let's pray. Father, we thank you for your grace this evening. May we check our motives today. May we not rest in our efforts as though what we have done today in attending our services or giving or singing or dressing up, that they are what has invited you into our presence as though you must be coerced amongst us or worked for us filthy rags. It is all of grace that you have saved us and that your Spirit dwells within us. Should we ever doubt your love, may we rest in Ephesians 1, 13 through 14. Your Spirit is that dowry of our eternal redemption.
It is like a ring that constantly reminds us of our Savior's love. You tabernacle amongst us, let us rejoice in that. Father, may we ever challenge ourselves. May we anthem that old reformation anthem, semper reformanda, may we constantly be shaping our understanding of truth through the lens of the Scriptures. May we begin with you first as our doctrine of you affects everything of who we are. May we give you glory in the church this evening. It is in Christ's name we pray. Amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-03 13:38:55 / 2023-01-03 13:53:31 / 15