In Genesis chapter 11 we see a group of people building a tower to heaven to ‘make a name for themselves’ – but why?
That’s always my question whenever I delve into the word of God, I’m an avid study freak and love to pull things apart when I get the chance. I thought I’d share the things I discovered.
Genesis 9:1 we see God blessing Noah and his sons, he tells them “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the Earth”. I’m not sure about you but I’d say that was an active order to Go! Move, make it happen. Then, fast forward to chapter 11 and we see something that doesn’t quite align with what they were instructed to do.
Now the whole earth had one language, and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another “Come let us make bricks and burn them thouroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 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 dispersed over the face of the the whole earth.” – Genesis 11:1-4
Do you see that word in bold in the extract above? They ‘SETTLED’there – I will come back to that bit!
They started to build, with bricks! This country was a plain, it produced neither stone nor mortar, but this didn’t discourage them in the least, they made bricks serve instead of stone and slime or tar instead of mortar. The lengths that they went to ensure that this happened was amazing, the resources they pulled together, the encouragement they gave one another, they must have felt such an amazing team by the end of the project – I think that’s what happens when you have a purpose for your efforts.
The trouble was though, the purpose they had wasn’t God’s purpose for them. The people decided that they wanted to build a city for ‘themselves’and lift up a tower to the heavens, making a name for ‘themselves’. – As always my question is “But why?”
So I started to delve into my study Bible and The New Matthew Henry commentary to find out, here’s what I found:
Skip back to Genesis Chapter 10 in verses 8-10 and we see the birth of Nimrod, it says this;
Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord. Therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.” The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.
Looking forward again to chapter 11:2
And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and settled there. The study bible suggests that this could be the beginning of Nimrod’s Kingdom.
Hold on a minute isn’t it God’s Kingdom? Who’s Nimrod and why would he have a kingdom?
From what I read in my study Bible it suggests that the descriptions used for Nimrod, Mighty Man and Mighty Hunter before the Lord are used in irony and are probably viewed as a negative description. Nimrord’s aggression as a person runs totally counter to what God had intended for creation and suggests that he was a very proud man as well as extremely ambitious in building his own kingdom.
Now I’m starting to see the whole tower building versus earth filling issue!
So now I see, these people were being led by the ‘mighty man’ Nimrod, with their eyes fixed on him a mere man! They were all so happy together, all speaking the same language, they all understood one another, no difference of opinion.
Oh, how easy it is to love one another when we are all of the same language and opinion! How easy it would be to help one another and stick together, no wonder they wanted to build upon this, and not out as God had told Noah.
Led merrily along by a mere man with a reputation for being mighty together they found a plain and ‘settled‘ there…..
Hang on a minute is that what God instructed them to do? I’m sure he said, “Go! be fruitful, multiply and fill the Earth!” What are they doing settling in one place that will be big enough for just them?!
God wanted them to EXTEND their borders, EXPAND, MULTIPLY, INCREASE, outwardly, under divine protection. BUT, what they did was to stay tightly knitted together in their group, all of the same opinion, same background, same culture, elite and powerful, a great people in a great city with a great tower reaching the heavens!
How can we reach out far and wide with restricted borders?
How can we multiply and be fruitful in a plain just big enough for us?
How can we fill the earth being stuck above others in a tower?
If we are all in one place, speaking the same language and of the same opinion how can we reflect His glorious character?
If we never differed in views or had a difference of opinion how can we radiate His beautiful Grace?
God wants us scattered, He wants us unique, He requires our differences in opinion. Despite the language we speak, the background we have, the culture we are from, the knowledge we are gifted, the experience we have gained, the gifts we are granted, the length of time we’ve known Jesus, we are all instructed to expand as ONE, joined together in unity, in love for our beautiful saviour that resides within each and every child of God.
Let us not fix our eyes on the mere men of the world, those that ironically are seen as mighty, let us “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”
Let us widen our reach, elongate our borders, stretch out our hands, touch everyone we meet with the glory of God!