Questions for Littles: Who had one language and speech (v1)? Who journeyed from the east (v2)? What did they find in Shinar? What did they decide to build (v4)? Where would its top be? What did they want to use the power to make for themselves? What did they say that they did not want to happen to them (end of v4)? Who came to see the city (v5)? What did the Lord say were “one” in v6? What did He decide to do in v7? What was the city called (9a)? Why? What had happened to them by the end of v9?In this week’s Old Testament reading, we come to Babel, which we were told in last week’s passage was the beginning of Nimrod’s kingdom.
God had said, “Let us make man in our image” (1:26) and commanded him “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (1:28). Then, by chapter 6, it was not the beautiful image of God with which man had filled the earth, but rather with violence (6:11, 13).
After the flood, again, God commands, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (9:1), reminding us again that it is especially because man is in the image of God (9:6) that he is to “be fruitful and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth and multiply in it” (9:7).
But Nimrod is all about Nimrod, not about the image of God. Under his leadership, men say not, “let us glorify God as His image and obey Him,” but rather “let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (11:4).
Here is direct, defiant disobedience. Indeed, every sin has some of this in it, “I will be my own god, and do it my own way!” But here, it is the whole of humanity making it their single mission.
Sadly for the descendants of Shem and Japheth, they were part of this because they neglected one of God’s most important promises and principles: separation between the believing and unbelieving, that ‘enmity’ that God promised to bring between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman (3:15). When the family of Seth ignored this and intermarried with the family of Cain (6:1-2), it led to the flood.
And now what observation does the Lord make about the Shemites and the Japhethites under the leadership of Nimrod? “Indeed, the people are one” (11:6). How sad for believers in every age who wish to be friends with the world! Do we not yet see that friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4)?
Let us then behold the glorious grace of God! Once again, He says, “let us...” Where man had refused to fill the earth with the image of God, now God does so in one great stroke. “So Yahweh scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth […] from there Yahweh scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth” (v8, 9).
Not until Pentecost, when people from all the nations would begin to be reunited in the image of God, would this confusion of tongues begin to be undone—God maintaining by grace what men ruined by sin!
What can we do to participate in the valuing and spreading of the (renewed!) image of God on the earth?Suggested songs: ARP162 “All Ends of Earth Will Turn to Him” or HB501 “The Ends of All the Earth Shall Hear”