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Sermon 1/20/08
Genesis 11:7-9 - Confusion


Audio Sermon


"Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another's speech." So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:7-9)

The time when the “Thirteen Colonies” in the “New World” were about to become the nation we call “The United States of America," was a period of transition. The early settlers had every intention of making the new land a place where God was worshiped in simplicity and in truth. But it wasn’t happening that way. Doctrinal belief systems like Unitarianism were rivaling Christianity and the nation was drifting away from the Lord. At that time, Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), came on the scene and he was largely responsible for the Great Awakening, in which thousands returned to simple, personal faith in God. Here’s part of what he said to the people: “You have been once more warned today, while the door of the ark yet stands open. You have, as it were, once again heard the knocks of the hammer and axe in the building of the ark, to put you in mind that a flood is approaching. Take heed therefore that you do not still stop your ears, treat these warnings with a regardless heart, and still neglect the great work which you have to do, lest the flood of wrath suddenly come upon you, sweep you away, and there be no remedy.” He used the “flood” as a metaphor, but there was a point in history when ALL believed in a literal, universal Flood.

After a prayerful examination of God’s Word through the years, one thing is clear. The Bible is indeed a book of history, recording events that we need to accept in order to understand God. Many historical events in it are surprising, intensely interesting and even frightening, like today’s verses for example. Most accept parts of the Bible that they like and reject other parts they don’t like. For them, it’s like reading what is called a historical “novel,” a pretend story within a real, historical context. They might like the “Ten Commandments” or the “Sermon on the Mount,” but reject what is called the “Flood.”

In relation to today’s Scripture it is helpful to BELIEVE, and in doing that, I recommend that you pause for a moment and pray; reach out to the Lord. God is the Creator of everything, the Judge of all humanity, the Author of Scripture and you need His help to comprehend what is being said. A famous commentator on Scripture, one who had prayerfully studied what we call the “Old Testament” all his life, had this to say: “ALL Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). In that quote, the word “inspired” is a combination of two Greek words which translate into English as “God breathed.” God literally “breathed” His thoughts and intentions into and through the human writers of what we call the “Bible.”  People are - confused.

The “Flood” was mentioned earlier. At the time of our Scripture for today, the human race had no problem believing in it. Their grandparents had been killed by the Flood. The topography of the whole earth had been utterly changed by what had occurred. Countless thousands of animal species and kinds of vegetation were lost. The climate was completely different. The effects of it had even reached the edge of outer space by stripping away a protective layer over the earth. It was a time of great loss, and those willing to talk about it could speak of nothing else.  They believed in the event, but sadly didn't see their need of God.

God always keeps His Word, and He promised that an event of precisely that type and kind would not happen again in the history of mankind. He said, “Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth” (Genesis 9:11). Would there be local floods? – Yes, but not like the Genesis Flood; because God said so and He means what He says. But those people were confused and did not trust Him.

Notice their response. The intention of God is that our hearts will be utterly in concert with His. We are to look to His Spirit, be led by Him, trust in His character and His ability; to recognize and be thankful for His love. The earth had been both created and subsequently destroyed on our behalf – we were intended to be the governors of the earth, tending it and caring for it, just as our God cares for us. We rebelled as a people to the extent that destruction was the only way to get the attention of survivors. But we, that is, the human race – did not WANT to be cared for. We wanted to take care of OURSELVES, just the same as individuals and groups in humanity today. One of our greatest difficulties is to accept help from others. Oh sure, there are “takers” among us, but in general to be infirm enough, to be “needy” enough to require help is what most do not want. And it is especially difficult for the majority to receive anything from God.  People everywhere need Him, but confusion makes them not want Him.

To the extent that they could, the people of that time essentially did what we do today. They indulged themselves in fervent activity, using what resources they could to defend themselves; to create a technological civilization high enough so that God could not destroy it. “They said to one another, ‘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 earth” (Genesis 11:4). This “tower” is interesting. They wanted its “top” to be “in the heavens.” This has been explained as a “religious tower,” in which they could worship false gods, and that may have been part of it. But they also wanted a place so high that if the flood came again, people, at least the “in-crowd” would be out of its reach.

And notice that they did not want to be “scattered abroad.” They knew something of what would happen. It is very likely that the prophets of God walked the land and warned them in those days, just as they later spoke to Israel and other nations. The Bible speaks to us today, but most don’t want to hear. God now said, “’Let Usconfuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city.” Two things happened. It’s hard for us to even think about a time when everyone on earth spoke the same language, but there was such a time. Suddenly, all was confusion and no one could understand anybody else, not unlike today. And secondly, they were “scattered” over the earth. By what method did the Asians, Blacks, Caucasians and others get to the areas where they supposedly originated? They were suddenly “scattered” to those places, and you can see a reflection of that scattering in Genesis 10. Why is this important to us? Because we were Created to be a people of faith in God, and when we use technology, theology, the arts or anything else to avoid Him, there will come a time when He will abruptly get our attention and bring us back.

It’s time to trust Him. Do you want to do that? He wants you.  Let's pray:

Lord, I don’t want to be confused anymore. I place my trust in You. I am Yours. Thank You.  In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
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"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)

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