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 11:8-9
When you think of copiers, what brand name comes to mind? Most likely it is Xerox. When you think of tissue paper, what brand name comes to mind? Most likely it is Kleenex. When you think of rebellious nation-states, what country comes to mind? I have no idea what your answer would be but biblically your answer should be Babylon.
Because of what happens in Genesis 11, Babylon becomes the first name in organized nation-states rebelling against God. As we will see in the next two blog posts in this series, the thread of Babylon as government-against-God runs through till end times.
We are learning about the Babylonian thread because of the wisdom we gain about the behind-the-scenes, supernatural reality of life. This is really good stuff to help us understand the big picture of our world today and how our lives fit in that world. I think Christians hinder themselves from experiencing the full power of our lives in Jesus apart from a clear understanding of Kingdom living, and Babylon is an essential piece of the Kingdom story.
Last week we established the four Babylons – Babel (Genesis 9-11), The Great Babylonian Empire (1894-1595BC), Neo-Babylonian Empire (covered largely in Jeremiah and Daniel having lasted from 626-539BC), and Revelation Babylon from Revelation 14-18. Further, from the sons of Noah we learned about Anti-Semitism and that Nimrod, the son of cursed Ham, is the builder of Babylon.
Today we look at Babylon in Genesis 11, commonly called The Tower of Babel.
In the run up to Genesis 11, God our Father has commanded man to fill the earth. Man was to spread out all over the creation which God provided. But Genesis 11:2 says that all man journeyed east, came to a plain called Shinar, and settled. Strike one. God says go and spread out. Man says gather and settle. What could go wrong?
Genesis 11:3 says, “They said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.’” Bricks were new technology. Bricks gave man the ability to build in ways they could not before. You need to appreciate how revolutionary this new technology was.
Today, we live in a day of rapid technological breakthroughs (In fact, here is a link to MIT’s list of top breakthroughs in 2023 – https://www.technologyreview.com/2023/01/09/1066394/10-breakthrough-technologies-2023/.). Every breakthrough presents wonderful possibilities for improving life. However, at the same time, every new thing presents opportunity to rebel against the LIFE and LOVE of God and His ways. So, a new pain management drug also becomes a new source of addiction and death. An app like Instagram provides a wonderful way for friends and family to stay connected while at the same time causing teenage girls to feel greater depression. Technology absolutely has a dark side.
Unfortunately, the Shinar settlers chose to leverage brick technology to further their rebellion. Their rationale forms what I am going to call the Babylonian attitude. An attitude forms in the people of Babylon as they organize themselves to do collectively what they could not do individually. Sadly, the core of their attitude, what would distinguish their culture, is rebellion. Collective rebellion forms the heart of the Babylonian people.
I liken the influence of the Babylonian attitude to the pervasiveness of the Texas attitude. I have lived in Texas since 1996. I distinctly remember soon after I got here being struck by the depth of love Texans have for their state. For true Texans the world is divided by Texas and Not-Texas. And a true Texan would reply to that observation by saying, “Well, of course.”
There is an attitude to Texans that pervades Texas. The attitude is in the air. Everyone breathes it even if they don’t know they are breathing it. And everyone is, in varying degrees, affected by it. (By the way, prior to living in Texas I lived in Washington DC. Wow. DC absolutely has its own, very pervasive attitude. I cite this as another example to hopefully stir you to consider other groups of people of which you have been a part that have collective attitudes. The attitude of individuals is one thing, when there is a group sharing the same attitude, the power is magnified!)
In the same way there is a pervasive Babylonian attitude of rebellion. And what we see in Genesis 11:4 is the seed, the very beginning, of that attitude. Watch their justification for their brick use, “They said, ‘Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered.” Babylonian rebellion was born.
- Build for ourselves a city – Not because God our Father was leading them to and not for His glory but Babylon would be built for the people themselves. Babylonian attitude is self-serving.
- And a tower whose top will reach into heaven – why a tower? The city does not need a tower. Let’s build as big and as tall as we can. What we can do will even reach into heaven. Babylonian attitude shows off. It is grandiose. Wants more, bigger, and higher.
- Let us make for ourselves a name – Collective man wants to make a name for themselves. The name God has for them is not sufficient. The name will be THEIR name for THEM. Feeling great comes from what man can do for himself. The Babylonian attitude wants to make a name for oneself.
- Otherwise we will be scattered – Collective man responds to fear. He does not trust in God’s faithfulness to provide as he fills the earth in obedience. God says, “fill the earth,” Babylon attitude interprets that as, “we will be scattered.” Babylon perverts the love and faithfulness of God by turning what He says is right and good into something evil and wrong.
So Babylonian attitude makes a name for oneself by leveraging whatever means necessary to exalt oneself expanding one’s territory denying the love and faithfulness of God.
This should begin to sound increasingly familiar. You should be able to pick up on satanic echoes in the Babylonian rationale. Hear the similarities from Isaiah 14 which seems to describe the fall of Lucifer. At some point, Lucifer, one of three named arch angels, rebelled against God. Why? What was going on in the angel that led to his rebellion? A portion of his turning is described in Isaiah,
“But you (Lucifer) said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’”Isaiah 14:13-14
Can you hear the reverberations from Lucifer’s rebellion as each brick is laid at Babylon? Satan wants a name for himself. He wants to get as high as God. He wants to be magnified. Rebellion is the heart of Satan. While he is not specifically mentioned in Genesis 11, his imprint is undeniable. Satan, the prince of rebellion, who seduced Adam and Eve to rebel, is in the heart and mind of Nimrod and the first Babylonian leaders, scientists, engineers, architects, and builders. The collectivism of those experts is harnessed in a government-state to rebel against God.
Babylon is the first gathering, organized collective of man to rebel against God in the spirit of Satan. It is the first city-state to war against God’s purposes. Copiers = Xerox. Tissues = Kleenex. Government in rebellion = Babylon.
Of course, God responds by “coming down” to see the top of man’s tower which is quite comical. For as high as man can build God still has to come down, a very, very long way. He responds by scattering man, doing to them the very thing they feared. In so doing, God separated man around His creation and confused their languages. Hence, the name Babel/Babylon means, “confused.”
By scattering mankind, God inhibited them from unifying, coming against Him as one people. That Satan actively works today to unify man as an army of defiance should not be a surprise. He has been working to reunify man since Babel. So, it is no surprise in Revelation 14 in the end of times as the Apostle John prophecies about a future war between gathered mankind and the Kingdom of God that he would declare Babylon will fall! Ultimate victory happens when Revelation Babylon is toppled and God’s people reign under God’s Messiah, King Jesus.
There is so much from this for us. 1. Satan is at work in nation-states to war against Divine purposes. 2. Satan’s favorite tactic is to lure people into making a name for themselves away from contentment in their godly inheritance. (To be Satanic does not necessarily mean one has a shrine to Satan or wears a pentagram. One can “merely” live seeking to advance one’s name and in so doing be a servant of Satan.) 3. Technology can be used for God’s glory and/or in rebellion to His ways.
Maybe a big take-away from the Tower of Babel is a further re-enforcement that our lives exist as parts of a much bigger narrative. As one who has been adopted into God’s family through Jesus and filled with His Spirit, you are in His Kingdom, to be engaged in His mission. Your life should be filled with, and defined by, Kingdom purpose. You have incredible value. Incredible meaning. Incredible potential.
I just don’t think living in the OVERFLOW of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is possible apart from embracing God’s war against Babylon and your role on the battlefield. May our Father use this blog series to enlighten and empower you so that every day you can enjoy your Kingdom purpose!