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016 The Tower of Babel

‘And they said, Come, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth’ Genesis 11:4

Key Verse:

“And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”

(Matt. 23:12)

(Genesis 10, 11)

In our last lesson we finished our study of God’s prophet, Noah. We saw how God purposed to wipe out the children of Adam with a flood because of their wickedness. For over a hundred years

God gave sinners time to repent

while Noah constructed the ark which would be a refuge for those who believed the word of God. Still, no one repented from his sin or believed the message of the Lord God, except Noah and his family. Thus, in the end, God, who is righteous and faithful,

did just as He had promised.

He wiped out everyone who did not pass through the door of the ark, and saved those few who did.

In this lesson we will continue in the book of Genesis and learn what happened in the period following the time of Noah. In our studies about Noah, we learned that he had three sons,

Shem, Ham and Japheth.

The Scriptures show us that it is from these three men that all the peoples of the world come. Shem was the father of the Jews and the Arabs. Most of the people of Africa and China are probably descendants of Ham. Europeans are descendants of Japheth.

If you would like to broaden your knowledge of the origin of the nations, you can study chapters ten and eleven of the first book of Genesis. However, in this lesson, we only have time to explain just one thing about the history of Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. It is this:

Shem

was the one whom God chose to be in the ancestry of the Redeemer who would come into the world.

That is why the Holy Scriptures follow more closely the story of the descendants of Shem. It is from his line that both the prophets of God and the Saviour of the world came.

So, all the peoples of the earth come from the three sons of Noah. You and I, all the people of Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, the people of Gambia, Lesotho and all of Africa, as well as all the other peoples of the world–everyone living today is a descendant of Noah. Therefore we can say that we are here today because

Noah believed God

and made an ark to save his family; for when he saved his family from the flood, he also saved you and me along with them (from extinction).

God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” (Gen. 9:1) Thus, hundreds of years after the flood, once again, there were multitudes of people living upon the earth and again,

the world began to be corrupted by sin.

We have already seen that Noah and his sons were born sinners because they were descendants of Adam.

When they entered the ark, their sinful nature, which they received from Adam, went along with them. And when they went out of the ark,

they went out with the root of sin still in their hearts.

The flood did not change man’s sinful condition. As the proverb puts it:

“A rat only has young which like itself digs in the earth.”

Therefore, all the people of the world continued to be born sinners, because they were all descendants of Noah who was a descendant of Adam.

It is sad, but true, that hundreds of years after the great flood, most of Noah’s descendants were no longer concerned about God and His will.

They did not believe the word of God

as did their ancestors Seth, Enoch and Noah. They forgot God and did not thank Him for giving them life and breath and sunshine and rain and food. As for the rainbow that God had placed in the clouds to remind them of

His faithfulness,

most no longer even knew what it meant.

Listen to what the Word of God declares concerning them: “Because, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools … who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” (Rom. 1:21,22,25)

Like Cain and his descendants, most of Noah’s descendants chose to bury the truth, and follow unrighteousness.

They had religion,

but it was a false religion because it did not line up with the way of righteousness established by God. They did not listen to the true word of God. They were listening to Satan.

There was a man by the name of Nimrod, who descended from Ham, Noah’s second son. Nimrod was a great hunter who lived about five hundred years after the flood. His name means

rebel.

Nimrod was highly intelligent, but he did not know God. He ignored the word of God and followed the way of Satan, the way of Cain, and the way of the people of Noah’s generation. Nimrod built several large cities, and planned to build a great city in which

all the people of the world could live together and be as one.

Let us now read in chapter eleven of the book of Genesis to see what the Scriptures say concerning the great city which Nimrod and those with him planned to build. The Scripture says: (Gen.11:1-4) “And

the whole earth was of one language,

and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said to one another, Come, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, Come, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and

let us make us a name,

lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth”.

Thus, we see how the sons of Adam planned to build a great city and a high tower that would reach to the heavens. Why did they want to build that high tower? Nimrod and those who went along with him were seeking

to make a name for themselves in the world.

They planned to gather the people of the world into one place, so that they would become powerful and not be scattered over the earth. However, what they planned to do did not please God. God had told the children of Noah to spread out over the surface of the earth. God, who created man, knew what was best for the people of the world.

However, most of Noah’s descendants didn’t care about the thoughts of God. They thought that

they were more intelligent than God.

Like Satan himself, their hearts were full of pride and rebellion against God. But the Scriptures say: “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12) And 

“For that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15)

To exalt man or to seek a great name for yourself is sin before God, because there is only one Name worthy of praise and glory. That is the Name of

the Lord God

who made heaven and earth! As the Scripture says: 

But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.” (2 Cor. 10:17,18)

However, in the time of Nimrod, most of the children of Adam had no respect for the Lord. They thought they didn’t need God and His word; they did not need anyone to tell them anything. They were characterised by

a spirit of independence and rebellion.

To this day, that same attitude is found in the hearts of the children of Adam. We even see it in little children when they lift up their arm and say, “No, I won’t”. How much more is this same spirit of rebellion found in adults!

What is the cause of the strife

found in the homes and nations of the world? Is it not this spirit of independence which thinks: “I can take care of myself. My traditions are the best. My religion is good enough for me. My church is the best. My people are superior. My tribe is the smartest. My name is the most important. My things! My will! My works! My money! My! My!! My!!!”

How self-centred is man!

Everyone pulls for his own interests. That (self-seeking) spirit of independence is why the world is full of quarrels, fights and wars. However, God hates such a spirit, for His Name alone is worthy of glory. That is why He says in His Word: “I am the LORD; that is my name! And my glory will I not give to another!” (Isa. 42:8)

However, those who began to build the tower to reach to the heavens didn’t care about God’s glory.

They only sought their own glory.

They had no use for the Name of their Creator. Certainly, many people of that time were religious, but they ignored the word of God. They thought they could reach heaven in their own way.

Think of it!

Just five hundred years after the flood, people were, once again, going their own way and ignoring the Lord who gave them life and breath. They were like a pig that, after it has been washed, goes and rolls in the mud! (See 2 Pet. 2:22) How foolish and wicked of man to want to live his life apart from God and His Word!

So what did God do?

Did He ignore the people’s plan to live independently of their Creator? Did He accept those who rebelled against Him?

No, He did not!

Listen to what God did. The Scripture says: (Gen.11:5-9) “And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold, the people are one, and

they have all one language;

and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be withheld from them, which they have imagined to do. So the Lord scattered them abroad from the face of all the earth: and they ceased building the city. Therefore is the name of it called

Babel,

because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth; and from there did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth”.

Thus, we see how God upset the plans of Nimrod and the others who had begun to build a great city for their own glory. Until this time, everyone in the world spoke the same language. But on this day, God mixed up their language so that

they could no longer understand each other.

You will remember that God had commanded Noah’s descendants “to fill the earth”; to spread out all over the world. But Nimrod and his followers wanted to do things their own way and gather all the people of the world into one place. God defeated their intentions by

giving them new languages.

That is how God scattered them over the face of the whole earth. This is the reason we have hundreds of nations and thousands of languages in the world today.

God certainly did a thorough job of mixing up the languages of the world. Think how many languages are spoken in Africa alone. Oh how great is our God!

No one can go against God Almighty and prosper.

“An egg should not wrestle with a rock!” Man tried to “wrestle” with God and lost. Do you know the name of this city which man tried to build in rebellion against God? Yes, the name of the city is Babel. Babel means confusion. Life apart from God and His Word is only

confusion!

That is the story of the city of Babel and the people who tried to exalt their own name. Are we ever like the people of Babel? Do we ever exalt ourselves? God tells us that it is sin to do so. Friend, whose name are you seeking to exalt? Your own name? . . . the name of a man, perhaps some religious leader? Or are you seeking to exalt the Name of the Lord God and Him alone?

Whose praise are you seeking?

The praise of man? Or are you seeking the praise of God? One thing is absolutely certain. The praise that comes from men will pass away, but

the praise that comes from God will endure forever.

God’s Word says: 

“For all flesh is like grass, and all the glory of man like the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and its flower falleth away, but the word of the Lord endureth forever!” (1 Pet. 1:24,25).

Listen to this word from the LORD Himself: 

“Thus saith the Lord, let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches, but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord who exerciseth loving-kindness, justice, and righteousness, in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23,24)

God willing, in our next lesson, we will review everything that we have studied from the beginning until now.

God bless you as you remember: 

For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.” (2 Cor. 10:18)

We would invite you to answer the questions attached and send them together with any other questions that you might have