Genesis 11:4. 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.”
In yesterday’s reading we said that the flood didn’t solve our sin problem. This truth is made abundantly clear in Genesis 11. After the flood, mankind is “being fruitful and multiplying” again. Growing in power and technology. And growing in self-righteousness and pride. But this is the life of dying God warned us about. The slow brick by brick building of a tower of terror meant to dethrone God. The deadly building of a name for ourselves through our own knowledge of good and evil, rather than declaring God’s name in worship.
The Tower of Babel is the picture of all grace-less religion. Man moving up and up to get to God. Building our stairway to heaven. Forming our own identity. Controlling our own destiny. Working our way to meaning and eternity. But this is all the antithesis of God’s gracious offer of life.
Skyscraper movie: the problem with tall buildings.
And so God will graciously respond. By coming down to us.
Genesis 11:5. And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built.
Just like in the garden, God comes down from heaven to see what’s going on. The way it’s written is actually comical. God had to leave heaven and come down to earth just to be able to see their “massive” tower. You can almost hear the Trinity saying “Do you see it? Get closer. Oh, now I see it…well bless their hearts.”
And then God, again from his grace, will act.
Genesis 11:7-8. 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.
God confused their languages that day and forced them to disperse across the earth. Is God anti-unity? Does he hate cooperation? He does if it’s unity for the purpose of rebellion. God, in his kindness, will put an end to our self-salvation projects because he knows they will ultimately kill us. And so in his mercy God forced them to abandon their city…for now. Babel will become an even bigger Babylon. Towers will be built and rebuilt over and over again. And humanity will still need a savior.
And so God would come down again.
Jesus came down from heaven to show us that we can never stack enough bricks to find our meaning. We can never do enough good deeds, righteous actions, or religious works to earn the justification of our existence. We will never be smart enough, advanced enough, savvy enough, or powerful enough as humanity to rescue ourselves from ourselves. We will always need a God who will come down. We will always need Jesus.
When everything inside of us is screaming “Do more!” Jesus is screaming “It is finished.” When your heart is saying, “Find your way to God,” Jesus is saying to your heart, “I found my way to you.” When your pride is reasoning, “Make a name for yourself,” Jesus is responding, “I have given you my name.” When your every inclination says, “Strive,” Jesus says, “Receive.”
“To live is Christ” has forever freed us from our tower building. Our union with Christ’s life is our tower to the life of God. His is the city we long for. His is the language of love that unites us. Not a self-love that seeks only to make a name for ourselves, but a love that sends us out into the world, to fill the earth with the praises of his great name.
What towers are you building today?
You in Christ
How does knowing that in Christ you don’t have to build your own tower of meaning, significance, or achievement actually free you to love others?
Christ in you
How can you fill the earth with Christ’s love and grace today?