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The Tower of Babel - Genesis Part 18

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
February 15, 2022 12:00 pm

The Tower of Babel - Genesis Part 18

So What? / Lon Solomon

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You know, last week I was greeting people in the auditorium just before the 1045 service and some folks brought a visitor who was from Israel up and immediately after meeting him we began speaking a little bit of Hebrew to one another. A few minutes later some folks brought up some visitors from South America to meet me and we did not begin speaking Spanish to one another because the only Spanish I know is Hasta la vista, baby.

And I only know that because I watch Terminator. That's how I learn my Spanish. So, hey, where did all these languages come from?

You know, anthropologists estimate there are over 3,000 dialects and languages in the world today. How did this happen? Well, that's what we're going to talk about today. Because the Bible says it happened at the Tower of Babel. So we're going to go back to Genesis chapter 11. We're going to look and see what happened there. And then we're going to bring all of that forward and talk about, okay, so what impact should this have on my life today?

Are you ready to go? Alright, here we go. Genesis chapter 11, a little review. Remember after the flood, God starts over with eight people. Noah, his wife, his three sons, and his three daughters.

So we've seen that, okay? We're ready for Genesis 11, which as far as we know is about 150 years after the flood. And of course everybody's speaking the whole language, the same language because, well, they're all descendants of Noah. Verse 1, Now the whole world had the same language and a common speech. And as men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and they settled there. Shinar is the area of ancient Babylonia, the area between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, modern day Iraq. Here people found good land for cultivation.

They found lots of water. They set up what we would think of today as an urban community. Verse 3, And they said to one another, Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly. And they used brick instead of stone and tar for mortar. And they said, Come, let us build for ourselves a city and a tower whose top will reach into heaven. Now let's stop for a moment and talk about this tower that the Bible mentions.

Archaeology has discovered numerous towers in the area of Babylon. We call them ziggurats. And the construction technique in these ziggurats, we have found to be exactly as the Bible says in Genesis chapter 11. That is, they didn't use stone. They used baked mud bricks to build them. And they didn't use concrete or anything else for mortar. They used tar that came out of the tar pits that are all over in ancient Babylonia. In fact, when we dug up ancient Babylon, the city itself, we found the remains of a massive ziggurat there in the city of Babylon.

And here's an interesting factoid. The name of this ziggurat in Babylon is Esagila in Babylonian, which literally means the temple whose top is heaven. Does that sound familiar?

Well, it should. Verse four, and they said, Come let us build for ourselves a city with a tower whose top will reach into heaven. You say, all right, Lon, so are you saying that the tower they found in the city of Babylon is the tower of Babel right here in Genesis 11?

No, I can't say that. But what I can say for certain is that the tower we read about here in Genesis 11 in the Bible, this thing fits with everything we've discovered in archaeology about towers, ziggurats in ancient Babylon. And therefore, there is no doubt that this tower was the first ziggurat and that it was a literal, actual, real structure. Verse four, and they said, Let us make a name for ourselves and let us not be scattered over the face of the whole earth. The idea of building this city and building this tower was to establish a strong, centralized society. You say, okay, so what's the problem with that? If the people wanted to build a city, want to build a tower, want to have a cosmopolitan environment? So what?

What difference does that make? Well, the problem here is that God, after the flood, had specifically told Noah not to do this. Genesis 9, verse 1, And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.

Well, you don't fill the earth by coagulating all at one spot. Furthermore, to be more specific, God said to Noah, verse 7, Be fruitful and multiply, and swarm all over the earth. God wanted these people to scatter. God wanted these people to disperse. But in direct defiance of what God wanted, they decided they were going to coagulate. They said, verse 4, Let us not be scattered over the face of the whole earth. And so it's important for us to understand, my friends, that what we have here is more than just a few nice people getting together and deciding to build a city and a tower.

That's not what we have. What we have here is direct disobedience to the clearly stated plan and wishes and command of Almighty God. God said, I want you to go this way. And these people said, uh-uh, we want to go this way. Which leads us to another question, and that is, well, why was this so important to God? I mean, that these people scatter.

What's so bad about the fact that they wanted to concentrate themselves together like this? Well, why don't we let the Bible answer that? Verse 5, And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building, and the Lord said, Because they are one people and they all have the same language, this is only the beginning of what they will do.

Nothing they imagine to do will be unachievable for them so long as they speak one language. You know, when we look at the pyramids and we look at the sphinx and we look at even the ark that Noah built, we realize that ancient man was not an ape-like, pea-brained, subhuman ignoramus the way that evolution wants us to believe. Ancient man was smart. Ancient man was erudite.

Ancient man was intelligent and highly skilled. And with all these busy little beavers running around, working together like they were, setting up an imperialistic city-state like they were, dedicated to their own glorification like they were, God knew nothing but trouble lay ahead. Friends, God knew what would happen is that they would go on to pollute the world again with sin, just like they did before the flood, which would force God to have to do a global judgment on the world all over again like the flood. And so we need to understand that it was out of mercy that God commanded these people to scatter. He did that to protect them from themselves because they were their own worst enemies. He did that because if they were scattered and if they were separate, they would have far less chance of their sin getting out of hand again on a global level like it did before the flood, and there would be far less chance therefore of God needing to do another global judgment on the world. So how did God solve this looming problem?

Simple. Verse 7, God said, Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other. So the Lord scattered them from there all over the earth and they stopped building the city. This is why the place was called Babel, which means literally in Hebrew confusion, because it was here that the Lord confused the language of the whole world.

And from here the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth. You say, All right, Lord, time out. You really believe all this literally? I mean, you believe there was really this tower and God came down and God scrambled all their languages supernaturally so one day they could all understand each other and the next day was like, and nobody can, you really believe all that happened? Well, of course I do.

Don't you? The Bible says it. Of course I believe it. And you know what's interesting is that from scholarly research, we actually have two pieces of confirming evidence that the Bible is telling us the truth in Genesis 11. First, archaeology. Archaeology confirms that all of modern civilization had its beginnings in Mesopotamia, right between the Tigris and the Euphrates River, right in the land of Shinar, exactly where Genesis 11 says everything spread out from. And secondly, from the world of linguistics. Linguistics confirms that all human languages today can be traced back to one common ancestor language.

It's commonly called Proto-Indo-European, something like Sanskrit, but more ancient. And isn't that exactly what the Bible says right here in Genesis chapter 11? Of course I believe it. So let's summarize. When we look around the world today and we see all the languages that are in the world today, Genesis chapter 11 tells us God did this on purpose. The fact that we as human beings can't understand each other all over the world naturally, the fact that we as human beings can't therefore work harmoniously with each other all over the world naturally, the fact that we can't therefore see eye to eye on everything in the world naturally, this is God's way of reducing mankind's ability to devise evil and to rebel against God on a global scale. And may I remind you, what is the very first official act of the Antichrist going to be? His first official act is that he is going to unite the world with a common society and a common economy, and he's going to use this uniting of the human race to maximize mankind's sinfulness, exactly what God didn't want, exactly why God told him to scatter, and he's going to use that to turn it into mass rebellion against God. Like before the flood, where global sin forced God to enact global judgment, and folks, that's what the return of Jesus Christ to this world to deal with the Antichrist and his forces are all about.

Global rebellion against God that God has to come and globally judge. Alright, now that's as far as we're going to go in our passage, because it's time for us now to ask our most important question, and I know you lost an hour of sleep last night, and I understand that that has deep implications for our lives, at least it does for me, I'll tell you that, and I understand that therefore you might just be a tiny bit sluggish today. So are you ready? Okay now, here we go, come on now, forget that hour of sleep, you'll get it back in the fall. Here we go, ready? Here we go now, come on, one, two, three! God!

Oh gosh, I love you guys, you're amazing. Okay, you say, Lon, so what? Say, okay, so maybe I believe that this tower existed, and maybe I believe God scrambled all their languages. What difference does any of this make to me? I mean when I go to work on Monday morning, or I go to school, I understand everybody. This has nothing to do with me.

Whoa, wait a minute, wait a minute, hold on. Folks, here in Genesis chapter 11 it has everything to do with us, because here in this chapter we see on display the most basic flaw in human nature, and that flaw, as Frank Sinatra sang, is that we all want to do it how? My way.

My way, that's right. You know, did you know that there's a national hobo festival every year? There is, actually. It's in Britt, Iowa, and I was reading about it, and I was struck by the comment of one of the hobos there. He said, and I quote, he said, the great part about being a hobo is not having to account to anybody, end of quote. Well, there you have it, that is the human spirit on display for everybody to see. God said the same thing. He said it a little differently, Isaiah chapter 53 verse 6. He said, all of us like sheep have gone astray. Each one of us has turned to, say it with me, his own way.

There you go. This is precisely what the people at the Tower of Babel did, right? And friends, thousands of years later, we are all still fighting this. And it's important for us to understand that this is what makes us sinners in the sight of Almighty God. The essence of sin in God's sight is not murder or stealing or cheating or embezzlement or lying. These are merely the outworkings of sin. They're really just the symptoms of sin. The essence of sin is this inbred, instinctive, unruly, rebellious desire to do it our way. This is what makes us sinners in the sight of God. And this is what exposes us to His judgment. Now, praise the Lord, when we come to Christ, the judgment aspect of all of that is dealt with. Let's finish the verse. Isaiah 53 says, all of us like sheep have gone astray. Each one of us has turned to his own way. Here we go.

Watch. But the Lord laid on him, the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, the judgment do us all. Hey, praise God for that. And I hope that if you're here today, you know the release from judgment, the freedom from judgment for sin that comes to those people who trust the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

You say, Lon, I do. Sermon over. No, wait a minute. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Sermon's not over yet because, friends, even when we trust Christ and even when the judgment aspect of our waywardness is dealt with, this doesn't mean that this wayward spirit, this rebellious spirit inside of us goes away.

Oh, no, no, no. This spirit is still alive and well inside of every single one of us. You know, the great hymn called Come Thou Fount, the line at the end that says, Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.

There's not a one of us here as followers of Christ who doesn't have to admit that we are prone to do this. We don't want to do it. We don't like doing it. We wish we weren't this way. But I am a wandering Jew and you are a wandering Gentile. It's just that simple, friends.

Just that simple. Just the way we're wired. And here's where the rub comes because the full blessing of God only comes from full obedience to God, which is 180 degrees in the opposite direction of where we naturally are inclined to go. Jeremiah chapter 7 verse 22 to the Israelites, God said, For in the day when I brought your fathers out of Egypt, I did not command them about burnt offerings and sacrifices, but I gave them this command, Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. And this is why in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said, Luke 22, Father, if it's possible, remove this cup from me, yet not my will, but thine be done. This is why Samuel said in 1 Samuel 3, Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. And why Samuel told Saul later on, Behold, to obey is better than the sacrifice. And why Mary said to Gabriel Luke Chapter one, I am the Lord's servant. Let it be done to me, as you have said. And why Jimmy Draper, president of the Southern Baptist Convention a while back, said, Lord, the answer is yes. Now, what was the question?

Doesn't matter what the question is. The answer is yes, we're doing it your way. Folks, why did all these people adopt this attitude we just heard about? Well, because they understood something. And if you don't get anything else, you get this.

They understood that going our own way and the full blessing of God are mutually exclusive. You know, I love A.W. Tozer, and I am going to share with you a quote I think I've shared in part before, but doesn't matter. We can afford to hear it again.

And it's germane to what we're talking about. He said, and I quote, Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late and how little revival has resulted? Considering the volume of prayer that is ascending these days, rivers of revival should be flowing. The fact that no such results are in evidence should not discourage us. Rather, it should stir us to find out why our prayers are not answered.

Tozer says, I believe that our problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying and it simply will not work. End of quote. You know, a few years ago, my wife, Brenda, and I had to go down to Union Station in Washington, D.C. to pick something up. And so we drove down there together and I didn't want to park in the parking garage because it's too much hassle and it's too expensive. But you know how out in front of Union Station, they have a few parking spaces around the circle there.

And so when we drove up, you know, somebody was pulling out of a space and I pulled in and I was like, hot dog. You know, this is great. Make my day, Lord. This is wonderful.

And there was no no parking signs anywhere, no meters. I was like, this is awesome. This is awesome. So we went in. We did what we need to do.

We came back out. And when we did, I had a parking ticket, a 50 dollar parking ticket. I didn't even know they made 50 dollar parking tickets. That is one big parking ticket.

And I was upset because I looked around. There's no sign anywhere. Finally, I found a no parking sign. It was 30 yards away.

I know that because I pasted off myself. But you couldn't even see it from where my car was. So I got in the car, took the ticket. We're driving home and I said, I'm not paying this ticket. I am not paying this ticket. I never saw the sign there. They should have posted a sign where I could see it. I'm not paying the ticket.

And you know what? I just won't drive this car back into Washington again. They're not going to come to Virginia and boot my car. I'll leave this car home.

I'll take another car to Washington. I'm not paying this ticket. And Brenda never said a word.

She sat there. I said, Brenda, I'm not paying this ticket, Brenda. I'm not paying this ticket. Never said a word. We're about half the way home.

And I'm still going on. And Brenda said to me, she said, Hey, Lon. She said, I forget exactly where it is, she knew. She said, I forget exactly where it is in the Bible. But isn't there a verse in the Bible that says, Let every person be subject to the governing authorities?

Romans 13, 1. She knew where it was. Beautiful.

Just beautiful. Well, I paid the ticket. I didn't want to pay the ticket. I still don't think I should have paid the ticket. But you know why I paid the ticket? Only one reason, friends, trust me on this.

It's because no ticket was worth jeopardizing the full blessing of God on my life and on my family. Nothing I want to do in contrariness to what God wants me to do is worth jeopardizing that. And this wears all kinds of different faces in our lives.

But it's the same issue that we have to deal with that we have to battle every day. I shouldn't be dating that person. I know that. But I want to. I shouldn't be sleeping with my boyfriend or my girlfriend or going as far as we go on dates. But I want to. I shouldn't be harboring unforgiveness towards this person or talking nasty like I do about that person. But I want to. I shouldn't be lusting over women or fudging on my taxes or going to the bar as often as I go or go into Atlantic City or Las Vegas or online gambling and gambling God's money away. But I want to. I shouldn't be disrespecting my parents. I shouldn't be at this party with what's going on.

I shouldn't be ordering pay-per-view the stuff I order on TV or watching some of the shows I watch on Showtime or HBO. But I want to. I want to. I want to. Welcome to the human disease.

I want to do it my way. And, folks, if we want the full blessing of God on our life, we must deal with this part of our human nature. Now you say, well, I know you're right. I know you're right.

But you know what? Sometimes I feel like I'm in a fight to the death and I just feel like I can't beat down this compulsion in my life to do what I want to do. How do I do this? You know, you're no good as a preacher if you don't tell me how. OK.

I'll tell you how. Friends, how did the Lord Jesus do it in the Garden of Gethsemane? You say, well, he didn't count. Well, yes, he counts. Yes, he does.

Yes, he does. He counts because he had a human nature. And he said, Father, if there's any way you can remove this cup from me, remove it. Listen, his human nature wanted to go its own way.

It did not want to go to the cross. He had this same battle in the garden. How did he how did he defeat it? Well, what did the Lord Jesus do? All he did is present his heart to the Lord in prayer over and over and over again.

He honestly admitted to God. He had the struggle. He laid his heart at God's feet over and over again. And he refused to give up. This is important until the Holy Spirit subdued his human resistance and replaced it with full surrender to the will of God. It took him three times to do that. And he was the son of God.

But he didn't stop at one because it hadn't been finished at one. It took three times. And, folks, this is how exactly you and I can do it. The secret to victory is found in presenting our hearts to God in prayer over and over and over again, just like the Lord Jesus did in the garden, and not giving up until the Holy Spirit subdues our fleshly will and supplants it with full surrender to the will of God. You say, well, Lon, how exactly does God do that?

I mean, what's the mechanism that God uses to change our hearts and pull off this change? No idea. No idea.

Can't even begin to tell you. Besides, I don't care. What difference does it make how God does it? As long as he does it. You say, well, how long is it going to take? I can't answer that as long as it takes. But we don't give up until God does it. So let's conclude. Some of us here I know are sitting out there saying, you know, Lon, God bless you up there.

God bless you, man. Good preaching. But this isn't going to work. This is not going to work in real life. And you know why? It's because you want a process that you can quantify humanly.

You want a process that you can put in a test tube or or weigh on a scale or diagram on a chalkboard. Folks, this is deep talking to deep here. This is spiritual stuff. This is the spirit of God doing a supernatural work in our hearts that we can't even define how he does it.

But he does it. And I'm telling you, it's beyond our capacity to quantify this in human terms. You can't put it on a blackboard. You can't put it in a test tube.

You can't weigh it on the scale. But that doesn't mean it isn't real and it doesn't work. It does work and work for the Lord Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

And it'll work for you and me. And I know that's true because if you remember, I've told you before about how much I hated my mother. I didn't hate my mother with a mild hatred. I hated my mother with a visceral hatred, a decades old hatred that I didn't everything could be changed.

It was like Excalibur stuck in the stone. Frankly, I didn't even want to change it for most of those years because she deserved it. But when I was a young pastor here at McLean Bible Church, God convicted me and I became a parent. God convicted me that this was going to be a scourge on my life, a scourge on my family, a scourge on my ministry.

It was going to inhibit the blessing of God. And I had to bring my will into conformity with His will and forgive my mother. So you say, what did you do? I began doing exactly what I just told you, getting on my knees and presenting my heart to God and saying, God, I don't think Excalibur can be pulled out of the stone on this one. But if it's going to happen, you're going to have to do it.

If you do it, I'll forgive her, but I can't do it. You say, how long did that take? Two years. Two years of praying like that. But God did it. And by the time my mother passed away, she and I were on a relationship plane where we hugged each other, we kissed each other, we told each other, we loved one another. I never thought I'd see that happen.

I don't think she did either. Don't tell me this doesn't work. It does. But it's a spiritual process because we have a spiritual problem that needs a spiritual solution. You follow this process, you may have an Excalibur or two in your life. I promise you, there is no sword that the Holy Spirit can't pull out the stone. It may take a while.

It's all right. But you give the Holy Spirit the chance and refuse to give up. He will subdue your human waywardness. He will. And He will supplant it with surrender to the Holy Spirit. He will if you and I give Him that chance.

I hope you will. Let's pray together. Lord Jesus, as you know, there are Excaliburs in our heart of all different kinds. Stubborn, resistant, wayward, willful attitudes and actions and habits that we on our own cannot beat. We are prone to wander, Lord.

And we are prone to go our own way and leave you. But I pray today that you would give us hope and give us a whole new approach. I pray today that you would give us a whole new insight and confidence that these things can be beat, but they have to be beat spiritually because they are spiritual problems. And they need the power of the Holy Spirit to do that. And so, Heavenly Father, change the very way we approach the tough things in our life, the very way we approach the willfulness in our life, and teach us to approach it with the weapons of the Spirit which will work, just like they did for the Lord Jesus. Father, change our lives because we were here today and because we sat under the teaching of the eternal Word of God. And we pray these things in Jesus' name. And what do God's people say? Amen. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-04 15:53:38 / 2023-06-04 16:05:39 / 12

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