The Tower of Babel. Studying Genesis 11

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth. 

-Genesis 11:1-9 

It’s amazing how alike we are from one generation to another. In Genesis 11, people attempt to build a tower to reach the heavens so that they can make a name for themselves. 

The flood has just happened, and we so quickly see that humanity has not learned its lesson in the Tower of Babel incident. 

In ancient times, Pharaoh’s built monuments to themselves in the pyramids. In modern times, if someone is wealthy enough, they’ll have a campus name a building or a scholarship after themselves. Most of us don’t have the money to pay for such monuments, but there are lots of other ways we try to make our own names great. Some do it through bragging. I’ve known people who seemed pathologically incapable of doing a good deed and not telling others what they did. Social media is perhaps the greatest tool for self-aggrandizement ever invented. We can curate a specific image of ourselves and our lives.

In our sin, humanity attempts to build our own structures to get to God. The good news of the gospel is that we have a savior who has come from heaven to us. 

This is the third major act of sin we’ve seen to this point in the Book of Genesis. Certainly, there is the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden in Genesis 3. The response to that is God’s promise of a coming offspring from the woman.

15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, 

and between your offspring and her offspring; 

he shall bruise your head, 

and you shall bruise his heel.” 

-Genesis 3:15

The second major act of sin is the sinful world which led to God’s divine judgment through bringing about the flood. God’s gracious response was saving Noah, his family, and the animals; but it was also the covenant which the Lord made with Noah. 

The Tower of Babel is humanity’s third major act of sin. Once again, we see both judgment and grace. The judgment is the destruction of the tower and the confusion of the languages. We see the grace through a man who will be introduced at the end of this chapter. 

26 When Terah had lived 70 years, he fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran. 

27 Now these are the generations of Terah. Terah fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran fathered Lot. 28 Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his kindred, in Ur of the Chaldeans. 29 And Abram and Nahor took wives. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah. 30 Now Sarai was barren; she had no child. 

31 Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there. 32 The days of Terah were 205 years, and Terah died in Haran. 

-Genesis 11:26-32

Man continued to sin, even after receiving grace, and so the Lord would call Abram and make a new covenant with Abram that would be administered through faith. 

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