Security and a Name
Sovereign Lord, the heaven is Your throne, the earth is Your footstool. You are the great and one true God.
Read Genesis 11:1-32
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (Heb. 13:14). That will be our true home.
Unlike in English, in Hebrew a “city” (4) is a walled town, providing security with control over who enters. The people desire to “make a name for ourselves,” lasting through generations. “A tower that reaches to the heavens,” like a modern skyscraper, is not a quest for God but something permanent, giving ongoing prestige. Today we see individuals and groups striving to outdo one another in the height and grandeur of their buildings. People and nations invest time, wealth, and political and technological expertise endeavoring to ensure security and a name. Associated is a fear of loss of identity through being “scattered.”
God’s evaluation is that such attitudes and actions are disastrous for the future of his world. The inhabitants’ focus is “us” and “what we can do,” “our security, reputation and identity.” How different will be God’s subsequent action, as the genealogy (10-32) leads on to Abraham’s family and a fresh beginning. God calls Abraham to leave familiar surroundings and his security, to go to some unknown place where “I will make your name great.” That is the path to security and a name, and blessing for “all peoples on earth” (12:1-4).
“Babel” is elsewhere translated with the familiar “Babylon.” Babylonians saw the meaning as “the gate of the god,” but the Bible says “confused” (9). Babylon became a potent image of human wealth, grandeur and might, mixed with arrogance and folly (Isa. 14:13-15; Rev. 18). Over against this is a vision of what God intends the city of Jerusalem to be. In Revelation, the New Jerusalem, “the Holy City,” a blessing to the nations, has many gates that never shut (Rev. 21:10-14,24,25; 22:1,2). The lure to adopt the self-centered attitudes of Babel’s citizens continues, but God presents another way forward.
Ask God for eyes to see cities and nations as he sees them, and pray for wisdom and courage to live now as a citizen of the New Jerusalem.
Father, I rest in Your ability to make the crooked places straight in the world and in my life. Help me live rightly this day.
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