Sunday, January 20, 2013

Tower of Babel

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In the time after Noah, the people were feeling pretty good about themselves. Everything was going well -- the population was growing, knowledge was increasing and God had promised not to destroy the world by water ever again.

At this time everyone spoke one language and they lived together despite God instruction to be fruitful and multiply to fill all the earth (Genesis 9:1). Little did they know, their world was about to turn upside down.

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Genesis 11:1-2 -- “At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words. As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia and settled there.”

This plain in Babylon was in between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. It was extremely fertile and luscious land that no one wanted to leave. Instead of obeying God’s instructions, they rooted themselves in what seemed a paradise and began to grow flamboyant, indulgent and proud.

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Genesis 11:3-4 -- “They began saying to each other, “Let’s make bricks and harden them with fire.” (In this region bricks were used instead of stone, and tar was used for mortar.) Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.”

The tower they built was most likely a ziggurat. This was a common structure in Babylonia at the time, most often built as a temple or for astrological purposes (to study the stars.) It would have looked like a pyramid with steps or ramps leading up the sides. It could have reached at least 300 feet high and was probably just as wide. The tower would have been the focal point in the entire city.

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Though ziggurats were common temples the men building this monument were not focused on God, but on themselves. They wanted to show off their greatness, to build a tower that reached the sky, something for the whole world to see. The Tower of Babel would have been a great human achievement, no question a wonder of the world. However, it was a monument built to the people, not to God.

What monuments are you building in your life? In what ways are you calling attention to yourself and not to God? Do you overspend your budget to get the best clothes or house or car? Is your job only to better your name and establish a social status? Being successful is not a sin, but when we look to things to give us self-worth and identity they take over God’s place in our lives. Who are you building monument for? Yourself? Or God?
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Genesis 11:5-9 -- “But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.” In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the Lord confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world.”

God does not sit idle when we try to replace him in our lives. God wants us all of us and He wants us to willingly love and rely only on Him.

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In the case of those who built the Tower of Babel, he scrambled their language causing them to scatter and fill the world as He originally intended. God is a mighty God and his will is unfaltering and immovable. When humans foul up his plan he makes a new one.

How far does God have to go to get your attention?

Who are you building monuments for?

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