Free files for fellow youth pastors:
Dubai is one of the most amazing cities ever designed on our planet. They have developed islands that are shaped like the 7 continents of the world and islands that are shaped like a palm tree. Dubai has the tallest hotel in the world, an indoor ski slope (since they are in the desert), and much more. They are also in the process of building the tallest building in the world. It is unfinished, but apparently it will be over a half-mile high when they are done.
Why does it seem throughout history that nations want to build the largest and greatest cities in existence? It is because every nation is looking to make a name for itself – greatness! In Genesis 11, mankind is on the move out of direct orders from God to spread throughout the earth. It seems they stop and decide to develop a city with a tower in order to “make a name” for themselves. It’s amazing how many people have been taught that the tower was built to somehow reach heaven and get to God. But that is not what the passage says! The passage is saying that the people built the tower because they want to stop migrating, build a city, and make a name for themselves in rebellion to God. Their tower was to be a monument to themselves and a sign of their unmovable preservation. They even coated the tower with the same substance that made Noah’s ark waterproof. They were planning to withstand another flood of judgment from God. They were saying, “God, we ain’t going nowhere!”
As tall as their tower was supposed to be…in the heavens…Moses makes a little joke by saying, “And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower” (11:5). God’s greatness is so lofty that He has to come down in order to be present for our tallest of endeavors! The text says that God shows His grace to the people by halting their wicked efforts so that they wouldn’t continue to ruin themselves with their rebellion. He also judges them by confusing their one known language and somehow spreads them throughout the earth. God judges us out of His grace so that we will not stay in our sinful lifestyles. His commands are always for our good.
It’s interesting to think a little about God confusing their languages. Their rebellious unity was motivated by making a name for themselves and resulted in a confusion of languages. In Acts 2 right after the ascension of Jesus to the right hand of the Father (when He gives Jesus the name that is above every name), the Holy Spirit indwells the apostles and enables them to speak other languages so that foreigners can be united in the Gospel of Christ. Pentecost is a reversal of the judgment at Babel! That reversal will continue for all eternity. John’s vision from God of the eternal throne of Christ is filled with images of multitudes of people from every tribe, peoples, and languages (Rev 7:9-11). God seems to glorify Himself now in the difference of languages that are all used to exalt the name of Jesus!
Moses tells us that they left the city before it was finished (11:8), but I’m afraid that we help build on to this tower daily. We add to the tower brick by brick every time we seek to make a name for ourselves rather than Christ. We all live in temptation to do this. When I was a teenager, I can remember shooting half-court shots after basketball practice. Chanting “3 – 2 – 1” and then shooting an imaginary game winning shot in order for the crowd to go wild.
Could we be guilty of building a kingdom for ourselves by not praying to God and asking Him what He would like for us to do and where He would like for us to go? Would it be possible that God could be calling us to do something different or more useful with our lives but we never ask Him? Could it be that God may even be calling some of us to spread throughout the earth for the purpose of missions and telling the world of the great name of Jesus Christ? So often we just keep thinking of a comfortable life for ourselves, what will make us happy, and whatever may give us the most money. I want to challenge us for the remainder of February to physically submit ourselves to the Kingdom of Christ by literally bowing our knee at the name of Jesus and confessing that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).