Babel

Mankind is amazing. This is what the LORD said, recorded for us in Genesis 11.6 –“If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.”

What is the ‘this’ to which God refers? v.3 tells us that mankind had made a big step forward in building techniques using brick instead of stone and bitumen instead of mortar – pretty low tech by modern standards – but it was what this inspired them to do that was the key.

Come 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.

Their plans were based on massive hubris (excessive pride or self-confidence) causing them to consider themselves gods; causing them to ignore God’s mandate to fill the earth and subdue it and bring a return to the situation that prevailed prior to the flood; causing them effectively to dethrone God.

The old adage that ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’ surely applies here and should cause us to reflect on what would have been if God had not stepped down to put a brake on this hubristic march of mankind.

I guess that those of us who have wrestled with ‘foreign’ language learning in school or tried to make ourselves understood when visiting another country may well regret God’s action here in the Plain of Shinar but it does us good to recall that God’s ways are higher than our ways and that all that he does is for our good. It does us further good to reflect that even in this event, which at first sight has little to do with us today, is actually a highly significant action in the great unfolding plan of redemption as it places a brake on man’s move away from God, which is still the inclination of his heart, in order that the plan might move forward at God’s pace the next stage of which is ushered in with these  words the significance of whiåch we will pick up tomorrow.

This is the account of Shem

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