Devotions in Genesis (week 13): This week we contrast futile, man-made religion at Babel with a real walk of faith and friendship with God.
Monday: read Genesis 11:1-9 and Ephesians 3:14-15. Scholars debate the origin of the word ‘Babel’ in Gen. 11:9, some tracing it back to a root meaning ‘Gate of God.’ If this was the original meaning, it highlights the goal of Babel’s builders: to ‘make a name for themselves,’ (Gen. 11:4), by reaching up to the very gates of heaven with their man-made tower. They sought by their own efforts at building a ‘tower’ or ziggurat pyramid (monuments which still stand today) to bring God down as their own man-made ‘godlet.’
Pray and Meditate: As Lucy says in the Narnia chronicles, God is no ‘tame lion.’ He will not permit men to bend Him to their own sinful desires. His plan – not that of the architects of Babel – will triumph. God therefore ‘scatters those who are proud in their inmost thoughts’ (Luke 1:51) and mercifully destroys man’s imperial design to build a unified civilization without Him. Let us learn with Paul in Eph. 3:14-15 to ‘bend our knees’ before God’s plan for our lives: He alone can give us a ‘name’ and a destiny which will last.
Tuesday: read Genesis 11:1-9 and Acts 2:5-8. It is a loving miracle when God confuses the languages of men, thereby preventing them from building an immortal, sinful unity of purpose which would destroy all their longings for security in God alone. God scatters them now so that one day He could gather them again.
Pray and Meditate: Thank God that, by His own Son’s death, Jews and Gentiles – the most polarized of peoples who could never understand each others ‘language’ and culture, can be made one in the body of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:14-17). Jesus is able to ‘make the lion and lamb’ lie down together. He even restores us to one language through the gospel, so that ‘every nation under heaven’ can hear, understand and believe in what Jesus did (Acts 2:5).
Wednesday: read Genesis 11:1-9 and Romans 10:5-11. The phrase, ‘Let us make…’ in Gen. 11:3 points to selfish human wisdom as men gather to plan their future security and fame. The good news is that God ensures that they fail in both endeavors. In Gen. 11:9, mankind ends up precisely where they were at the end of Genesis 10: scattered and spread out over the entire earth. As a final coup de grace, Moses under God’s inspiration changes the meaning of ‘Babel’ to sound like the Hebrew for ‘babble’ – showing us all the utter confusion which results from all godless human communication and ambition.
Pray and Meditate: Thank God for the good news of Romans 10:6: we do not have to try in our own strength to climb up to bring God down into our lives. Christ has come down Himself to be born into our situation. Faith means following Jesus through this life and up to where He has led – He has blazed a trail to heaven into God’s loving presence more enduring than any tower of man’s design.
‘Soar we now where Christ has led…foll’wing our exalted Head…made like Him, like Him we rise…ours the cross, the grave, the skies! (Charles Wesley, # 277 Trinity Hymnal)
Thursday: read Genesis 11:1-4 and John 15:5-16. But someone may say that it was good for mankind to ‘seek’ after God by means of this tower: ‘Though their methods were wrong, at least they were sincere in their search for a Higher Power,’ the contemporary way of thinking runs. But as Prof. Iain Duguid wisely says to a world today that loves spiritual questions and journeys with little concern for finding the answer: “It is not enough to be on a spiritual quest, even a spiritual quest after the true God. What counts in worship is not looking, but finding (Deuteronomy 4:29).”
Pray and Meditate: Have you sought after God ‘with all your heart and with all your soul?’ Ask God to give you that kind of urgency in your daily walk with Him. Also, magnify the whole-hearted search which Jesus makes for sinners like you, and thank Him for these great words: ‘You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.’ (John 15:16)
Friday: read Psalm 11:4-5 and Genesis 11:5-7. I was speaking this week with a family member in law enforcement who recently arrested a man whose heinous crime ‘happened’ to take place next to a car wash video camera. The next day in jail, the arrested man denied even being at the scene of the crime, not realizing that it was all recorded. God’s eyes don’t need a high-performance lense to focus in on our lives: ‘His eyes examine men (Psalm 11:4),’ even to the point that He knows every word on their tongue before they speak (Psalm 139:4). Why then does God ‘come down’ in Gen. 11:5 to observe even more closely what He already knows? The answer, again, is so that men are without excuse when they seek to build their lives without Him. They can never say to God, as an excuse for their behavior, ‘You don’t know what my life is like’ – He does know: He has come down into our world!
Pray and Meditate: Thank God that one day He will send Jesus again to earth – as the One who can judge all human actions and motives ‘from the inside’ because He became a man in our place. But even more thank Jesus that in His first coming, He did not come to the world to judge it, (John 3:17), but that we might believe in Him and never perish! Have you escaped the judgment to come by believing in Jesus Christ?