Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jul 11 2011 - E100.5 – Genesis 11:1-9, Babel

Genesis 11 records how the development of new technologies is used in rebellion against God. People discover how to make bricks and how to stick them together with bitumen. They now have the means of building up great structures from small elements. They build a city, creating a civilisation rather than remaining nomads or subsistence farmers; they have discovered the power of working together. Now they can settle and build and have a history. So they begin to build a tower in the centre of their city, "with its top in the heavens". They want to make a name for themselves and ensure that they have a permanent future – that they may not be scattered across the face of the whole earth.

I do not think that this is an effort to climb up to God by human effort so much as it is an attempt to displace God. They want to make a name for themselves; to become masters of their own destiny. It is the story of the Fall all over again.

But so puny is their tower that would reach to the heavens that God has to come down to see it. In judgment he confuses their language with the result that they can no longer build their city; they separate from one another and wander off in every direction. The very fate they had feared has become the consequence of their own actions.

And yes, they have secured a lasting name for themselves; that name is Babel – babble, confusion.

There are those who still think that their science has displaced God – that they can make a name for themselves and become masters of their own destiny. He who sits in the heavens laughs at their folly.

In the chapters to come we will read how God gives a name to a man and to a people, and through them begins to gather a people for himself from all the scattered nations of the earth. He is the one who will build a city for them.

O Lord, you are very great. Keep me from imagining that I can make a name for myself and become master of my own destiny. Help me to see that my hope and my secure future are to be found in the one to whom you have given the name which is above every name. Help me, together with all your people, to build up the city of God.

Peter Misselbrook