Confusion on the Twentieth Floor

Colin Smith
Colin Smith

Men were migrating eastward, and as they did, an idea was born for a magnificent project.  They had developed a marvelous new technology, bricks, and this had opened up a wonderful new world of possibilities: “Now we will be able to build higher than we ever thought possible before, so let’s build a tower right up into the heavens.”

The problem with this building was not its height, but its purpose—to proclaim man’s greatness.  Man wanted to make a name for himself and to provide for his own security. Once again, man was grasping at the throne of God.  Instead of worshiping God and believing in Him, man wants to worship and believe in himself.

God reduces Babylon to babbling

“Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” Genesis 11:6

God came down to take a look at what they were doing (11:5).  God watched the building of man’s city, and He allowed it to proceed to a certain point, and then He cut it back.

It’s not difficult to imagine what this must have been like.  You have been working with the same colleague on the twentieth floor of the Tower of Babel.  One morning you arrive at work and ask your co-worker if he saw the big game last night, and he responds to you with these incomprehensible sounds.  You ask him if he needs an aspirin, and you get more meaningless sounds.  What is wrong with this guy?

You discover that the rest of the crew working on the twentieth floor are talking the same kind of nonsense.  You wonder if this is some kind of joke.  Eventually, to your great relief, you find someone else on the building site who speaks just like you, and then a few others.  So, you agree to pack your tools and move off to create a new community somewhere else where everyone speaks the same language.

God’s love brings down our empires

The Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.  Genesis 11:9

Notice the pattern: God allows man’s pursuit of his own greatness to get to a certain point and then He acts.  He did it with Sodom and Gomorrah.  He did it with Babylon.  He did it with Greece.  He did it with Rome, and He has done it with every empire in human history.

This is not just true of nations; it’s true of individuals.  Do you have a secret sin that you have cherished, and that no one else knows about?  God will allow you to get to a certain point and then He will cut you back.  He must do that, because those He loves, He disciplines (see Hebrews 12:6), and the only alternative is to give you up to the weed of sin until it chokes you.

This week's Scripture: Let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth. Genesis 11:4

This LifeKey is based on the message “Judgment,” by Pastor Colin S. Smith on January 23, 2000, from the series “unlocking the bible.”  Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ

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Originally published November 15, 2013.

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