You know what’s a great place to be stuck at for a while? A passage in the Bible! I’ve been stuck at Genesis 11 for a few days now because the story of the Tower of Babel has me arrested!
Allow me to paraphrase: The whole world at the time spoke one language and had a common form of speech. They acted in unity and came together desiring to build a city with a tower that will “reach to the heavens” they said. This extremely ambitious goal upset God and He decided to come down and confuse the languages of the people so that they couldn’t communicate and got scattered all over the earth.
What a strange story! At the onset, it seems like something perfectly good and smart. A people united, gather to build a city so that they can live at one place and not get scattered. They also want to build a lofty tower in the city that reaches the heavens. Very progressive, very modern and very self-sufficient, I thought to myself. How clever. They even wanted to do it meticulously. Gen 11: 3 tells us that they said to each other, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” So they used brick instead of stone, and tar instead of mortar.
What about these people’s intentions are wrong? Seemingly NOTHING! They were smart, ambitious, united, forward-thinking, thorough, organised and intentional.
All good things, right? I thought so too. But then, the more I studied and meditated on this passage; a few very alarming things stand out.
Let’s begin with looking at a few facts about the “Tower of Babel”:
- We have to remember that the Bible we read with chapters, verses and headings isn’t how the Biblical text was originally written. So while our Bibles might have the title “The Tower of Babel” over this section, the tower or city weren’t actually called that. The original text only tells us what happened and the place where the people of the earth were “scattered or confused by God” came to be known as Babel afterwards. Babel sounds like the Hebrew word for “confused”. So this was added to the text much later.
- Also, something to note here is that though we refer to the “tower” very often, like it was one singular structure the people were building; we have to remember that they were, in fact, building an entire city with a very tall tower in it.
- A little digging into history suggests it is most likely that Nimrod ordered the construction of this “failsafe” city. Nimrod was Noah’s great-grandson (Gen 10: 8) whom the Bible describes as the first of the “mighty men” to appear on the earth after the great flood.
- The fact that the people intended to use brick and tar (something that wasn’t the norm then), suggests that they intended to build a ziggurat type of structure. A ziggurat is a massive stone structure resembling pyramids and featuring terraced levels. It was primarily accessible by stairways and traditionally symbolized a link between the gods and the human kind – although it also served practically as shelter from floods. Note that this structure was being built post the massive Noahic flood and it makes sense that Nimrod wanted to commission something that would withstand another flood.
After understanding this background about the city, it is a little clearer why this unified effort upset God. The city and the tower of Babel represent:
Disobedience and rebellion: God’s command to His people was very clear – to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth (Gen 1:28, Gen 9:1). However, it seems like they chose to directly disobey and settle in one place. The attempt to build this city was an act of rebellion against God.
Self-sufficiency: The city symbolized man shaking his fist at God saying, “I don’t need you.” I can take care of and protect myself. The city was being fortified and built in a way that it would be infallible – at least they planned for it to be so. The people felt if they make a city fail-proof enough, nothing could destroy them, perhaps not even God!
Faithlessness: The tower of Babel and the city surrounding it that was being built as a ziggurat structure was meant to protect them from a devastating flood (like the one the world had recently experienced). If that was the purpose, then the people didn’t have faith in the promise of God in Gen 9:11 – “never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” They didn’t believe in the covenant God established with Noah and sealed with a rainbow. They wanted to take things into their own hands and just make sure they were okay.
Prayerlessness: The building of Babel by the people shows us something in stark contrast to the building of the Ark by Noah. Noah prayed and conversed with God and built the Ark with a blueprint given by God. The people here talked amongst themselves, didn’t pray, and decided to build something that wasn’t inspired by God. What a glaring difference!
I’ve been deeply moved in my Spirit. I feel like we — the Church — have allowed disobedience, self-sufficiency, faithlessness and prayerlessness to enter into our lives. As individuals, we’ve allowed worldly reason, popular ideologies, secular thinking and vain ambition to creep into our lives. Some of us have allowed our lack of prayer and our disinterest in the Word of God to create a rift between God and us that seems irreparable now. We feel God is far away; or is He even there, we wonder? We question His existence and debate His perfect Truth. We indulge in podcasts, videos and media content that has swayed us away from the Secret pPlace. Our fascinations lie with our choice of entertainment not with our Eternal Loving Father. We’re incapable of waiting on the Lord patiently to hear His voice — it feels tedious and unnecessary. We see the Church community as a social gathering and don’t value the true fellowship of saints. We have theories on how “church should be done” when Church is who we are! We lack godly accountability and aren’t vulnerable in His Presence anymore. We don’t need God – we seem to have all the answers.
The Word of God is clear about what such disobedience, self-sufficiency, faithlessness and prayerlessness leads to – confusion!
If you’re reading this and feel like you’re struggling in any of these areas – all hope is not lost. Let’s come before Him in humility and contriteness of spirit. Let’s come back to the basics — it’s not very complicated. It’s actually very simple – God loves you, He loves you enough to have sacrificed His Only Son for you, so that you (yes, YOU) can have eternal life. His Word is the only Truth and it is His love letter to you. You can choose to shake your fist at God and “build” your own life here on earth or you can choose to invite Him in and “build” with Him.
Are you (like the people of Gen 11) investing your gifts, your abilities, your time and your resources in building a tower that is in defiance of the direct commands of God? Or are you (like Noah) building an Ark that is going to be used by God for His Kingdom Purposes?
Are you self-sufficient or deeply reliant on God?
Do you have actual solid faith in His promises? Or do you believe them as much as you do fairy tales?
When was the last time you truly prayed to God and involved Him in your life choices? Or is the power of prayer something that you don’t trust anymore?
Faithlessness and prayerlessness, my friends, is the new pandemic.
My prayer for you today is that you cling to God, that you talk to Him daily and that you never stop reading His Word. and studying it.
Please, take a moment, look inside and ask yourself, “What are you building today?”
Juliyana LesliePosted on March 7, 2023 at 10:07 am
Wow!!! What a timely God inspired blog baby!!!!
Deidre PaulPosted on March 7, 2023 at 1:52 pm
Great study and read
Vincent GomesPosted on March 7, 2023 at 3:24 pm
Very apt message for these times. God Bless you.
Deidre PaulPosted on March 7, 2023 at 1:52 pm
Great study and read!
Vinod PaulPosted on March 7, 2023 at 3:31 pm
Thank you Becky for downloading this from heaven…my fear is soon people will come up with a vaccine for the new pandemic:-)
beckyleepearsonPosted on March 8, 2023 at 5:55 am
I’d imagine that would develop complete immunity to any conviction from the Holy Spirit. Let’s pray we don’t see the day!
Arleen PearlPosted on March 8, 2023 at 4:42 am
Bhawna ShettyPosted on March 9, 2023 at 5:13 am
Wow, Becky 👏 Praise God for His revelation!!! Praise God that you took the time to listen to what He was saying and then to share it with us.
Aroma Aishwarya BarlaPosted on March 9, 2023 at 2:46 pm
Insightful and qnswered many thoughts I carried for this passage
Yusuf GamitPosted on March 10, 2023 at 4:22 pm
Great..! deep meaning of life, that what are you building today? Is it Babel or ark of Noah-(“Kingdom of God”.)? Thank You Becky.