Man’s Agenda vs. God’s Agenda — Genesis 11:1-9

One must first understand that God’s Great Commission for the post-Noahic flood world had been clearly communicated.

Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.”  (Gen. 9:1; cf. 4:12)

Surely the world which had already been destroyed once by water should have understood that God was serious about obedience to His revealed will.

Account of Table of Nations in chap. 10 really follows sequentially the account of the Tower of Babel in chap. 11 that explains the dispersion of peoples throughout the world

What is Christ’s Great Commission to His Church for today’s program:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name

of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that

I commanded you

Takes a lot of study to understand the details of all that Christ taught; Our Master and the Head of the Church is not reducing all of His teaching to some minimalistic set of confessional truths – Instead He takes the opposite approach – communicate to the next generation of disciples the necessity of obeying all that I communicated to you

How does He want the church to organize to carry out that Great Commission?  Has He left us clueless?  Or has He revealed by precept and practice what our methodology should be?  Is God’s methodology ecumenical where Truth should be reduced to its lowest common denominator so that all believers can work together in organizational unity to accomplish common objectives?

Look at calls for unity issued by the church community in our day and time:

  • Everything should be evaluated according to the Lord’s prayer in John 17 that all believers be One even as the Father and Son are one
  • It is evident that leading neo-evangelicals believe that our main goal is to eliminate doctrinal distinctives and to emphasize unity among those claiming to be believers.
  • One of the basic ideas of today’s philosophy of ecumenical evangelism is that love is more important than doctrine. Ecumenical evangelists say that doctrine divides, whereas love unifies.

GOD WILL FRUSTRATE MAN’S PRIDEFUL AND SELFISH ATTEMPTS TO SUBSTITUTE A HUMAN AGENDA (EVEN IMPRESSIVE ATTEMPTS AT UNITY) FOR GOD’S AGENDA

I.  (:1-4) MAN’S AGENDA — UNITY SHOULD NOT BE THE BOTTOM LINE FOR MANKIND’S MISSION –

MAN’S ATTEMPT TO CONSPIRE TOGETHER TO SUBSTITUTE THEIR PRIDEFUL, SELFISH AGENDA FOR GOD’S REVEALED WILL

A.  (:1) Unity in Language and Communication

Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words.”

Look at how often in our ecumenical church culture, the argument is made that Unity must trump everything else;

Tremendous opportunity for unity in fulfilling the mission that God had charged them with

Deffinbaugh: Now there is nothing wrong with a common language. It is not evil, nor is it the cause of evil. Communication was greatly enhanced by it. It facilitated community life and was the foundation for unity. Potentially, a common language could have drawn men and women together in the worship and work of God. Practically, it was perverted to promote disobedience and unbelief. God’s gift of language, like other gifts of His grace, was misused. Sinful man cannot do anything but misappropriate God’s gifts of grace.

B.  (:2) Unity in Decision Making

The Big Mistake in Settling Down vs. Obeying God’s Commission and Expanding to New Territory = Personal Preference

And it came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.”

God has not blessed the model of majority rules when it comes to decision making;

He demands obedience to the divine agenda

Nimrod’s land; very fertile area; between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers

Deffinbaugh: Leupold observes that the word “journeyed” in Genesis 11:2 literally meant ‘to pull up stakes.’ Urban life has not been presented in a favorable light thus far in Genesis. Cain built a city and named it after his son Enoch (Genesis 4:17). God had said that he should live as a vagrant and a wanderer (4:12). Nimrod, a descendent of Ham, seemed to be an empire builder also (10:9-12). In fact, it is possible that Nimrod was the leader in the movement to settle in Shinar and build this city with its tower. Settling in the valley of Shinar was an act of disobedience. God had commanded men to spread out and fill the land, not to congregate in cities.

C.  (:3) Unity in Methodology — The Building Mentality vs. Dominion Theology

And they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and burn them

thoroughly.’  And they used brick for stone, and they used it for mortar.”

Man was very creative and inventive; came up with a pragmatic building methodology; one that worked and allowed them to build an impressive edifice\

But man should have been using his divine gift of creativity to pursue God’s program of Dominion Theology and spread throughout the world

D.  (:4) Unity in Motivation vs. Submission to the Supreme Goal of Seeking the Glory of God = Rebellion

  1. Their Prideful Hopes

a.  Hope of Impressive Accomplishment

                     1)  Magnificent City – for ourselves

and they said, ‘Come, let us build for ourselves a city,”

2)  Skyscraper Tower – object of worship?

and a tower whose top will reach into heaven’

S. Lewis Johnson: Evidently what is referred to is ziggurat, which was a stepped pyramid. You’ve seen pictures of them in books on the ancient East. It is a kind of ladder that reaches high into the sky, each floor being a little smaller than the next, so it looks like a pyramid and then on top, there would be a shrine that would be dedicated to the deity. So it was a tower that had religious or spiritual connotations. They’ve said, it’s top is in the heavens, and so they conceived that this has somehow linking earth with heaven — but on man’s terms not upon God’s terms.

  b.  Hope of Impressive Recognition – Arrogance, Rebellion, Pride

                        “and let us make for ourselves a name

  1. Their Selfish Fears

lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

II.  (:5-7) GOD’S ASSESSMENT — UNITY DOES NOT ALWAYS IMPRESS GOD

A.  (:5) God’s Awareness

And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.”  [center of chiastic structure – heart of the passage]

Irony – Lord had to come down even to see this puny city and tower

Ps. 2:4 – the Lord who sits in the heavens is laughing at their attempts at enforcing their rebellious agenda

Nobody is more observant than God – knows everything that is taking place –

Not just the actions and the words that are spoken – but also the thoughts and underlying motivations

Nothing escapes His awareness

Stedman: No, this is not a primitive concept of God at all; it is an ironic expression. It is a humorous expression, if you please, designed to indicate to us, in a very clever way, the ridiculousness of this whole situation. Here is this tower that men erect, thinking that it will take God’s breath away, it will threaten him. Men think, “Here we are, we wild Promethean creatures; we’ve dared to invade the heavens! You had better watch out, God!” But up in the real heavens this tower is so little that God can’t see it. It is so tiny that even the strongest telescope in heaven does not reveal it. So God says, “I’ll come down and investigate.” It is language designed to set in contrast the ridiculousness of the suppositions of men, and the greatness of the Being of God. He “came down” to investigate this tiny tower that men had erected.

B.  (:6) God’s Analysis – 3 Major Problems:

  1. They have Perverted the Blessing of Unity and a Common Language into Conspiratorial Allegiance

And the Lord said, ‘Behold, they are one people’

and they all have the same language

  1. They have Started Down the Path of Rebellion and will Continue that Downward Spiral

And this is what they began to do

  1. They will become Emboldened if left Unchecked

and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them

C.  (:7) God’s Action Plan = Frustrate Man’s Agenda

I have to put together Action Plans for work all of the time —

  1. Call to Action

Come”  — contrasted with man’s call to action using the same word multiple times

  1. Detailed Action Plan

a.  Triune Participation

let Us go down

b.  Primary Tactic

              “and there confuse their language

3.  Main Objective

             “that they may not understand one another’s speech

III.  (:8-9)  GOD’S AGENDA TRUMPS MAN’S AGENDA –

UNITY IS NOT THE BOTTOM LINE FOR GOD’S AGENDA

A.  (:8) Record of God’s Triumph

  1. Forcing the People to Scatter to the Ends of the Earth

So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth

in the days of Peleg the earth was divided (born about 100 years after the Flood – Noah would still have been alive)

  1. Frustrating their Plans to Build an Impressive City

and they stopped building the city

B.  (:9) Legacy of God’s Triumph

  1. Memorialized in the Name of the City = Babel

Therefore its name was called Babel

S. Lewis Johnson: The term Babel incidentally is a term that possibly comes from the word balal in Hebrew which means to confuse or many modern scholars feel that it comes or it is related to a word Babili [phonetic] , which means the gate of God. We are, it is impossible to be absolutely certain about this and so we, if it comes from the term that means the gate of God then it is a word play that is Babel sounds like “confusion,” but the derivation is not strictly from the word balal which means to confuse. On the other hand, if it is from the term confuse, then the relationship is that much closer. Perhaps, the latter is right. It is called Babel because there the Lord confused, balal, the language of the whole earth.

Is. 13:19  “And Babylon, the beauty of kingdoms; the glory of the Chaldeans’ pride, will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah

  1. Memorialized in the Miracle of God’s Tactic

because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth

  1. Memorialized in the Success of God’s Strategy

and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

Origin of races as well –

Parker quoted by Constable: “Evolutionists assume that all life started from one or a few chemically evolved life forms with an extremely small gene pool. For evolutionists, enlargement of the gene pool by selection of random mutations is a slow, tedious process that burdens each type with a “genetic load” of harmful mutations and evolutionary leftovers. Creationists assume each created kind began with a large gene pool, designed to multiply and fill the earth with all its tremendous ecologic and geographic variety.”

Deffinbaugh: The irony of this event is that what men most desired would have destroyed them, and what they most dreaded would prove to be a part of their deliverance.

Victor Knowles: In Ephes. 4:13 Paul writes, “Until we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.” We are not there yet. Paul himself would later say, “Not that I have already attained.” I haven’t either. But it’s my goal, my aim, to come to the unity of the faith. Note that this unity we are to strive for is called a unity of faith. Our spiritual forefathers had a slogan: In matters of faith, unity; in matters of opinion, liberty; in all things, charity. Our Achilles heel has been that we have not been able to distinguish between a matter of faith and a matter of opinion. A matter of faith must be of greater importance than a matter of opinion. Paul told the church in Corinth that what he received (by revelation) he passed on to them as matters “of first importance” – things like Christ dying for our sins according to the Scriptures, His burial, and His being raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3,4). Matters of faith are matters of fact. In these we should – we must – have unity http://poeministries.org/pages/Lectures/unity_&_evangelism.pdf

Look at the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the miracle of speaking in tongues so that the gospel message was heard and understood by people of all languages.  God reverses the curse of the Tower of Babel so that there can be a united people in the body of Christ who worship and serve the true God in true unity.

CONCLUSION:

Dr. John Whitcomb: “Diversity and division is infinitely more precious than a satanic unity. The problem God’s people are facing today: Satan wants unity in what? — in error. God would infinitely prefer division because of truth. Do you know what Jesus said in Matthew 10? He said, ‘I have come not to bring peace, not to bring unity, but to bring division, to set a son against his father, a daughter against her mother, so that people within their own households will be enemies of each other.’ That is what Jesus said he came to do … God’s smashing of satanic ecumenical unity was an incredible blessing [Genesis 11: the Tower of Babel] … The potential for satanic depravity is infinite, as long as what continues? — a unity in error — organized blasphemy. Measure this friends. Grasp it. Satan will, in his brief hour, at the end of this world, be given his opportunity to demonstrate what total unity is like in the human race, when every person will have a mark on the forehead or right hand, and will walk lockstep under incredible blasphemy … “You say, ‘We want unity.’ Oh, really? What kind of unity? ‘We want all the churches to get together.’ Oh, really? You mean in error, in confusion, in heresy? That is, dear friends, the ecumenical movement of our hour, in which all the great denominations and all the great church leaders are becoming more and more unified. In what? — in compromise and theological error; and this is the ultimate horror” (from Human Races, a message delivered at Indian Hills Community Church, Lincoln, Nebraska, Fall of 1984).

Steven Cole: The Bible declares, “There is no wisdom and no understanding and no counsel against the Lord” (Prov. 21:30). Concerning world rulers, a later king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, was humbled by God until he learned that “the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whom He wishes” (Dan. 4:17, 25). As the psalmist expressed God’s response to proud kings who challenge His rule, “He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them” (Ps. 2:4). Concerning the plans of proud man, the Bible declares, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the Lord, it will stand” (Prov. 19:21).


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