POWER AND TOWERS
Lord, we are helpless to resist You or Your purposes.
Read GENESIS 11
The Tower of Babel
11 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward,[a] they found a plain in Shinar[b] and settled there.
3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel[c]—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
From Shem to Abram
10 This is the account of Shem’s family line.
Two years after the flood, when Shem was 100 years old, he became the father[d] of Arphaxad. 11 And after he became the father of Arphaxad, Shem lived 500 years and had other sons and daughters.
12 When Arphaxad had lived 35 years, he became the father of Shelah. 13 And after he became the father of Shelah, Arphaxad lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters.[e]
14 When Shelah had lived 30 years, he became the father of Eber. 15 And after he became the father of Eber, Shelah lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters.
16 When Eber had lived 34 years, he became the father of Peleg. 17 And after he became the father of Peleg, Eber lived 430 years and had other sons and daughters.
18 When Peleg had lived 30 years, he became the father of Reu. 19 And after he became the father of Reu, Peleg lived 209 years and had other sons and daughters.
20 When Reu had lived 32 years, he became the father of Serug. 21 And after he became the father of Serug, Reu lived 207 years and had other sons and daughters.
22 When Serug had lived 30 years, he became the father of Nahor. 23 And after he became the father of Nahor, Serug lived 200 years and had other sons and daughters.
24 When Nahor had lived 29 years, he became the father of Terah. 25 And after he became the father of Terah, Nahor lived 119 years and had other sons and daughters.
26 After Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.
27 This is the account of Terah’s family line.
Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. 28 While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth. 29 Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milkah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milkah and Iskah. 30 Now Sarai was childless because she was not able to conceive.
31 Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there.
32 Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran.
a Genesis 11:2 Or from the east; or in the east
b Genesis 11:2 That is, Babylonia
c Genesis 11:9 That is, Babylon; Babel sounds like the Hebrew for confused.
d Genesis 11:10 Father may mean ancestor; also in verses 11-25.
e Genesis 11:13 Hebrew; Septuagint (see also Luke 3:35, 36 and note at Gen. 10:24) 35 years, he became the father of Cainan. 13 And after he became the father of Cainan, Arphaxad lived 430 years and had other sons and daughters, and then he died. When Cainan had lived 130 years, he became the father of Shelah. And after he became the father of Shelah, Cainan lived 330 years and had other sons and daughters
New International Version (NIV)
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“My hand made all these things … But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isa 66:2, NASB).
If you wondered yesterday how people with the same ancestor developed different languages, this chapter provides an explanation. It also gives another perspective on how people became scattered over the earth. In Genesis 11, humans desire to be like God, and it seems that they are still trying to reach heaven, as well as make a name for themselves. When God sees their endeavors, He concludes that nothing will be too hard for them while they share a universal language. It is inconceivable that God would really think that nothing was impossible for humans, but He now realizes that He needs to limit their power. Surely this is related to God’s observation that the inclination of the human heart is evil from its youth (Gen 8:21). God’s scattering of the people and confusing their language is intended as a safety measure. Ironically, it is the fear of being scattered that has motivated the people to build the city and tower (4).
Power tends to breed corruption, and most of us can immediately think of some prime examples (others, of course, not ourselves!) either in the workplace or on a much larger scale. It is worth asking ourselves what danger we are in power-wise: fathers over children; spouses over each other; children over parents; colleagues; teachers; pupils; even careers. In which area(s) of your life would you like power?
The second half of the chapter details the line from Noah’s son Shem to Abram. Again, the genealogy implicitly testifies that God is continuing to bless humans with procreation, although when we get to Sarai, we find the first account of barrenness in the Bible. Nevertheless, as we know, despite the seeming impossibility of it all, God will build a nation for Himself from Abram. It will be another restart.
Lord, please help me not to be concerned with making a name for myself or desiring power. Instead, help me to use humbly and wisely the power that I have.
Lord, we now understand why You had to confuse our language so long ago.