Genesis 11

United We Stand

Humanity flourished once again as God blessed Noah and his family. The population increased and the human family enjoyed one language. The descendants of Noah migrated east and settled in Shinar. The reasons for settling instead of continuing to move on are not entirely clear, but they ceased their nomadic practice and sought to stay put. This vibrant community was clever, and they devised a way to make bricks. This advancement would provide them the necessary materials auto build a city and a tower. The problem was not settling or building a city with a tower. Sin always takes root in the heart first. The flood could not take away the sinful nature of people. The tower would be a monument to the truth that God's creatures sought to rob him of his rightful glory. Humanity wanted to glorify and fortify themselves. Building a tower showed a lack of faith in God's promise and an act of disobedience. 

Sin Brings Judgment

The Lord came down to see the city and the tower. He did not come down because he was unaware of what was taking place. The omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent God made a judicial visit and determined that this project would cease. The people had united in this ungodly and rebellious pursuit. God was not threatened, and we must not think that man is an equal or rival to God. God had to condescend even to view this little creation. God intervened by confusing language and scattering the people which was both protective and punitive. This part of the story is both sad and far-reaching. One would assume that the people learned their lesson after God's judgment was poured out with the flood. Surely this fresh start with Noah and his family would cause a complete transformation of humanity. However, the storyline of Scripture is not about people who try hard and do great things; it is about a rebellious and broken people that God graciously rescues. God exercises his restraining grace and everything changes. God is always just and right in his judgments. Nothing escapes God’s attention. No individual sin, no sin of a nation. That is the lesson of Babel. God did not let man’s rebellion run its full course, as He did before Noah’s Flood. He cut short their resistance in its early stages to protect his creatures. By changing one language into many, God separated nations. God intervened to prevent humankind from falling under the sway of a single, absolute tyrant over all the earth. As the creator of human speech, God rewired language so that the evil speakers could no longer speak to one another. Humanity’s rebellion came full circle and the city earned a name for itself– Babel, from a related word meaning “confusion.”

Descendants Everywhere

There is a great temptation to avoid genealogies in Scripture. It seems like an endless list of names which serve no purpose. God is always faithful, and his plan is succeeding in every generation. This list of names helps to lead us to the next Genesis. The list points to Terah who is the father of Abram. Abram would be the genesis of a people group that God would call to himself. This passage identifies the family members of the Terah clan and explains their relationships when Terah lived in Ur and Haran. This family tree serves as the introduction of the next major storyline and acts as a transition from primeval history to the patriarchal period. Every word of Sacred Scripture has purpose and meaning. 

Things To Consider: 

  • What are some ways you see the sin of the people in Babel repeated today?
  • Why do we struggle with pride?
  • How does one delineate between selfish ambition and God-exalting effort?
  • How do we explain the many cultures that exist today if we came from one people?
  • What do we learn about God by the way he responded?
  • Why do we miss his grace in judgment?
  • Imagine what it will be like when Christ gathers together God’s family from every nation and tongue (Revelation 7:9).
  • What are some ways that you can see the work of God through the generations of your family?