I didn’t get to preach yesterday, but if I had, I might have told the story of the Tower of Babel. What a great story that was – another picture of one of man’s great failures! We fell down, but it was because we were going to be so very successful. Have you ever noticed what God said in the story? “…nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.” In other words, because of their unity of spirit and purpose, there was nothing that they could not accomplish. But because of their arrogance, God intervened. Pride went before their downfall. First, and let me be clear about this, pride is not all bad. We need to have a healthy dose of pride. Pride in our appearance is a good thing as long as we don’t get carried away. It’s what keeps most of us from going to Wal-Mart in our pajamas with unwashed hair and unshaven faces. It’s a good thing to be proud of our families – want to see a picture of my grandkids? The problem is when we have too much pride in our own abilities. That is what happened at Babel. They were good, and they knew it. And together, they could accomplish anything – at least that is what God said, and I take His word to be true.
Look at what the people said: “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” This is an amazing statement. They had unity with which to build a community, but their pride led them to the dark side. It wasn’t enough that they build a city; they wanted it to have the top in the heavens. The fact that they could do all of this on their own was grand, but they wanted to be sure that they made a name for themselves lest they be scattered abroad. Hold the phone! Something about this verse has always bothered me. If we are talking about the entire population of the Earth working together here to build this tower, then for whom would they be making themselves a name? It isn’t as if they would be getting bragging rights if there is no one else to brag to. So if they aren’t making a name for other people in the world, then this has to be a declaration to Almighty God that we can stand against You any day of the week. This was a blatant shaking of the fist in the face of God saying, “We shall not be moved!” You might have destroyed our ancestors with a flood, but you aren’t going to get rid of us that easily.
Oh, the arrogance of man. It only took 10 generations for wickedness to spread and make God sigh over His decision to create mankind. Then there were only 4 generations until Babel. But that is the story of man: we fall down, but by the grace of God, we can get up. You see, the people at Babel wanted community, security, and posterity – the very things that God wants His people to have. The very things He promised to Abram on the very next pages of my Bible. The difference is that the people at Babel said, “Let us….” And God said to Abram, “I will bless you.” Do you see the difference? It’s quite simple really. God longs to bless His people. He wants to give us good gifts — the things that we need as well as the things that we want. We simply have to be willing to wait, to trust, and to obey. Of course, I don’t know of anything that is harder for a human being than those three activities, do you?