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Sermon 5/15/05 – The Scattering
Genesis 11:8

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The Scattering

So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city” (Genesis 11:8)

Those who don’t believe in the Great Flood as it is presented in the Bible, often are looking it from a merely naturalistic viewpoint.  If the Flood occurred and it was worldwide, some have wondered, how did the surviving animals and plants reach their present locations?  What about the marsupials in Australia?  How did they get there?  How did the cacti and other desert plants arrive in their present locations?  Here’s what happened: God brought the Flood, kept the waters over the highest points on the earth for several months (Genesis 7:20, 24) and then continued His intervention until this planet was once again capable of sustaining life as we know it.  Note that God is ALWAYS involved in our lives, and He is reaching out right now to flood your life with His love.

There are quite a number of Scriptures about the Flood and what came after, but Genesis 11:1-9 is especially interesting.  For instance, language then was not like it is now.  If you’ve been here on earth for awhile, you’ve noticed that words and phrases change over time, even reversing in meaning.  “Hot” was about temperature in 1900, but in the 1920’s, the same word described appearance and energy.  “Cool” took a similar turn in the 1950’s.  “Bad” was negative, but it recently became something like “cool.”  In the 1890’s, “Gay” meant “happy,” but 100-years or so later, it was something quite different.

Language wasn’t always like that.  Just because word meanings shift now, it doesn’t mean they always did.  From Creation to a point after the Flood, every word had a precise meaning that could not, would not change.  When people considered an object or an idea, a word or phrase immediately came to mind that was ALWAYS associated with it.  When you saw an apple on a supermarket shelf, everybody on earth had the same word for it.  “Hidden” innuendoes just did not exist.  There was no French, or Mandarin, or English or Hebrew; there was just – language! and everybody understood what was said!

There is an assumption, by the way, that those who existed before the Flood were primitive at best, involved as they were in a life-or-death struggle for survival.  But please note the Scriptural record: Adam and Eve (the first man and woman) had a grandson who “built a city” (Genesis 4:17).  What kind of city, we don’t know, but it was more than a rude hut or life in a cave.  Marriage existed from the beginning, created and instituted by God, but polygamy came soon after (4:19), invented by man, and so did tent-making and the keeping of livestock (4:20).  Sophisticated musical instruments were devised (4:21), and early-on, “bronze” and “iron” were manipulated into complicated forms (4:22).  It should be noted that one of our first inventions was “vengeance” (4:23-24), still popular to this day.

We do not know how close our earliest ancestors came toward “civilization” but they may have gone very far.  AFTER the Flood, they attempted to re-create a remembered, but ruined technology, using “bricks” & “asphalt” to build a “city” and a “tower whose top is in the heavens” (Genesis 11:3-4).  If OUR civilization suddenly collapsed, survivors would likely NOT be able to re-create TV sets or computers, but we would certainly do our best with what we could.

Note the PURPOSE in building the “city and a tower” was to “make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered aboard over the face of the earth” (Genesis 11:4).  The city was a good idea, offering shelter from the elements, for it was much colder after the Flood.  The tower was something else, for they wanted to DO something to prevent another flood.  They did not want to be “scattered abroad” again.  God had promised that the whole earth would NOT be ruined again by “the waters of the flood” (Genesis 9:11).  Local floods, yes, a universal flood, no.  As is so often the case today, they did not believe God and were attempting to build a structure high enough so that, if God “scattered” everything by a flood, they could simply enter the tower and be safe!  Just like today, they were frightened by their own unbelief and really did not WANT God.  They made “a name for our (them) selves,” becoming the world’s first recorded humanists.  As Paul would later say about such persons: they were serving “the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).

These were men and women who had no excuse for unbelief.  Noah, his wife, his sons and daughters-in-law, were still alive, or at least SOME of them were.  All they had to do was go knock on his door, and ASK about the pre-Flood world and the promises of God.  Just like them, you and I have no excuse for unbelief, either.  Here’s how God responded to them, judging them in TWO separate, but related ways: 1) He “confuse(d) their language” so they did “not understand one another’s speech,” and 2) He gave them what they feared and “scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:7), though it was different than they feared.  Suddenly, one of them began speaking a pre-European tongue, and the one next to him was responding in an early Chinese language.  Communication was a mess.  Words that had been static were now fluid in nature, “and they ceased building the city” (11:8).  “And from there the Lord (physically) scattered them over the face of all the earth” (11:9).  They weren’t in “Kansas” anymore.

We don’t know all the methods God used to bring the world to its present condition, but we DO know that our earliest ancestors came to new locations SUDDENLY and without warning.  You can see this in other places within Scripture.  Philip was baptizing the Ethiopian eunuch near Gaza one minute (Acts 8:38), and then “the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away” (8:39), to “Azotus,” 20 miles away.  Ezekiel had similar experiences, in which “the Spirit lifted me up and took me away” (Ezekiel 3:14), and he found himself among “the captives at Tel Abib, who dwelt by the River Chebar” (Verse 15).  God can do anything He wishes.  SUDDENLY the lemurs were in Madagascar; SUDDENLY Australia contained marsupials and other specific creatures, along with the plant life they needed for life to be sustained.  God does “miracles” – often and whenever He wants!

Scripture is so specific about the events pertaining to early humanity, and God is so ABLE to perform these events, that you have only two possible responses: give yourself utterly to the Lord, trusting Him fully, or pretend it all isn’t true and continue in unbelief.  Why not BELIEVE in the Lord and prayerfully ACCEPT His Word? (You’ll be glad you did).

Father, I appreciate it that you are greater than what you have created, and I see that You can not only do whatever You want, but You actually DO so on many occasions.  Forgive my sin of unbelief, and let me TRUST in You.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
First Church On The Net
www.FridayStudy.org
Ron@FridayStudy.org
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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