The Curse at Babel
1 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 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 be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused[a] the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
The end of Deut, we have this passage that acts as the grand invitation for all of Israel. And it is the invitation to life. Those who believe will accept the invitation. Those who do not believe will not. And the consequences of the choice are life and death.
19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”
Life means living the promised life in the promised land. If you read Deut 28 you see the blessings relate to:
protection of life, (enemies are defeated)
provision for life (food, success, family, wealth) and
purpose for life. (Be God’s people. Be His precious possession. Be a kingdom of priests)
These promises of God do not preclude suffering, they empower the individual to have life in the midst of suffering by bringing understanding, direction and purpose to suffering. And they help the individual to avoid self-destruction!
So, when we see a curse happening, we know that the behavior of the one or ones who bring that on is behavior that threatens the life of God from happening in their lives.
God has means for dealing with the curse of sin. Jesus pays the price to bring man back into fellowship with God. That is a reversal of the curse. Jesus’ work is a three part work. First, he reconciles man to God by paying the penalty for his sin. Second, He is the way to live well in this life. His teachings and example are to be followed so that people might live the life that God has for them now. Third, Jesus prepares a place in heaven for people so that when their bodies die, they live with God in paradise. Heaven is a separation from every aspect of sin.
The stories in the Bible explain the problem of sin, the salvation of God, the promise of a perfect future and the way to live best now. And the largest part of the information relates to how to live best now. We live in the now. We look to the past at the curses on sin. We look to the past at the person and work of Christ in saving us. We look to the present and decide to follow His teaching and example as our way to life, and we look to a heavenly future. That is the Bible.
If we agree with God concerning sin, if we understand that He has saved us through Christ if we trust and follow Him, then our real focus in every day life is on how to live best. And the promise of a heavenly future is meant to sustain us as we work out our salvation.
The Babel story here is the third major curse on man by God. Therefore, just like the decision to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and just like the decision to not respect the image of God in man, this is a big picture sin issue. Let’s see what this story says to us!
- The People are Unified
- Life works best when people work together
We are meant to work together. We function best in cooperative relationships. A work place where everybody does their part is a great blessing!
Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Unity of purpose and cooperative living.
- The people advance in knowledge and numbers
The bricks are a great new building advancement.
And they advance in terms of population growth. Times are good!
- New knowledge creates new possibilities
That Hideous Strength
They can build new things.
Not every new tool is used for good!
- The People Try to Displace God
- Build their way to heaven
Reaching God on your own. Establishing your own religion. Either we need God to reveal Himself or else we are good on our own.
COI, building Egyptian cities. Egyptians building pyramids, which are meant to be incorporated into their religious astrology.
- Make their name great
This is pretty straight forward. What is a successful man?
What you build and leave behind. King Tut for example
Pyramid builders. Sphinx builders.
Compare with Abraham. What did he build?
- Establish longevity of generations
This is what it means to not be scattered
These things that they seek apart from God are promised by God, but faith is necessary! It takes faith to trust God and submit to your spouse. It takes faith to work hard as unto the Lord at work. It takes faith to invest in life as a servant of all and a giver!
It takes faith in God’s ability to give you life apart from doing what it takes to grab it on your own.
III. God’s Judgement is for Man’s Good
- Submission is the goal
Exodus 19: If you will indeed obey my voice and keep my Covenant…
Eccl 12: 13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
Micah 6:8 8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
Matt 22: 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Matt 7:12 12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
- Confusion and separation are a curse
This is the natural consequence of advancements in population and technology and not following God’s Word.
- Abraham is a contrast
2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.