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Genesis 11

  1. The Earth has one language.
    1. Read Genesis 11:1-4.
      1. For what reason are they building a city and ultimately a tower?
        1. Consider what has taken place recently with Noah.
        1. How tall is the tower?
        1. For what purpose are they building the tower?
    1. Verses 5-9
      1. The Lord came down to see.
        1. This is in response to the purpose for which they were building the tower. To build a name for themselves. See Psalm 34:16; 36:1-4.
        1. Let us go down!

Let us go down. We have said that Moses has represented the case to us by the figure hypotyposis (a vivid, picturesque description of scenes or events), that the judgments of God may be the more clearly illustrated. For which reason, he now introduces God as the speaker, who declares that the work which they supposed could not be retarded, shall, without any difficulty, be destroyed. The meaning of the words is of this kind, I will not use many instruments, I will only blow upon them, and they, through the confusion of tongues, shall be contemptibly scattered. And as they, having collected a numerous band, were contriving how they might reach the clouds; so, on the other hand, God summons his troops, by whose interposition he may ward off their fury. It is, however, asked, what troops he intends? The Jews think that he addresses himself to the angels. But since no mention is made of the angels, and God places those to whom he speaks in the same rank with himself, this exposition is harsh, and deservedly rejected. This passage rather answers to the former, which occurs in the account of man’s creation, when the Lord said, “Let us make man after our image.” For God aptly and wisely opposes his own eternal wisdom and power to this great multitude as if he had said that he had no need of foreign auxiliaries but possessed within himself what would suffice for their destruction. Wherefore, this passage is not improperly adduced in proof that Three Persons subsist in One Essence of Deity. Moreover, this example of Divine vengeance belongs to all ages: for men are always inflamed with the desire of daring to attempt what is unlawful. And this history shows that God will ever be averse to such counsels and designs; so that we here behold, depicted before our eyes what Solomon says:

There is no counsel, nor prudence, nor strength against the Lord,’ (Proverbs 21:30.) (Calvin Commentary in Genesis 11:7)

  • By the word of God men were dispersed.
    • Genesis 1:3,6,9,11…; John 1:1-5; John 18:3-6
      • When God speaks it has its proper effect.
      • The Curse of Babel
        • Revelation 17 and 18:1-3
      • Instead of making a name for themselves they became infamous.
        • The came together 11:1,4 and dwelt there.
        • The Lord confused and scattered.
  • Babel like Babylon is contrary to God and His purpose.

In the Old Testament, the city of Babylon gave birth to an empire that ruled the known world and imposed a worldview upon all the peoples that she conquered. Those she did not destroy, she subverted. She could be brutal; callous and proud and she believed that she would reign over the earth forever. She said in her heart: “I am, and there is no one besides me; I shall not sit as a widow or know the loss of children” (Isaiah 47:8 ESV).

She spoke as a god and she thought herself secure.

Her destruction is announced in Isaiah 47. In response to her wickedness, arrogance, self-indulgence, and brutality towards the people of God the Lord announces sudden doom:

But evil shall come upon you, which you will not know how to charm away; disaster shall fall upon you, for which you will not be able to atone; and ruin shall come upon you suddenly, of which you know nothing. (Isaiah 47:11 ESV)

And so it was.

History tells us that the Babylonian Empire fell very suddenly and very unpleasantly to the Persians under Cyrus The Great in 539 BC. Later when Darius was King the Babylonians revolted unsuccessfully and consequently, they experienced many of the same brutalities they had previously inflicted upon the Jews. The Babylonians themselves strangled many of their wives and children to keep them from starving to death during the brutal siege of their capital city. When the city fell Herodotus says that the gates were pulled down and 3000 of the leading citizens were impaled upon the walls. The once great city – the Queen of the world – was defeated, devastated and despoiled.

Just like God said.

Babylon next appears in the biblical narrative about 630 years later. The former seat of empire is now a village surrounded and nearly swallowed by a sea of sand. And yet her name begins to reappear in the New Testament canon as a symbol of the world at war with the people God. Peter uses it as a sort of code. He ends his epistle to the churches of Pontus and Bithynia by saying:

She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. (1 Peter 5:13–14 ESV)

She who is at Babylon.

Peter was nowhere near Babylon when he wrote that letter; Peter was in Rome, but he uses the word “Babylon” as a symbolic way of referring to the new world culture at war with the covenant community. Peter is saying: Rome is the new Babylon. Rome is the new mistress who would seduce and subvert the people of God.

Her final appearance in the narrative comes in Revelation 17.

In the Book ofRevelation, the reference to Babylon is obviously symbolic. John is carried away in the Spirit into the wilderness where he saw:

“a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.”  (Revelation 17:3–6 ESV)

The Whore of Babylon is the spirit of seductive culture, actively engaged in the deception and destruction of God’s people. That she rides upon “the beast” means she is propped up by the forces of anti-Christian government.

Just like the beast, who was, and is not and is about to rise, the “Whore” keeps on rising from the dead! A particular brand of her seductive charm may fall into the dust and be buried by the sands of time, but just you wait! Before you know it, she will rise again in another place, known by another name but waging the same destructive war against God’s covenant people.

As it was in the past, so shall it be in the future.

While scholars may debate some of the fine details of this vision, the main points of application seem abundantly clear:

  1. Culture is not neutral.
    2. The devil attacks God’s people via the front door through governmental persecution.
    3. The devil attacks God’s people via the backdoor through seductive, idolatrous culture.
    4. No enemy of God’s people will finally stand. The Lord has a day, and that day is coming.
  1. The Years of man decrease.
    1. Notice in verses 10-26 that the years of man decline rapidly.
      1. God did not limit man’s years to 120 instantly but over time (Gen6:3).
  2. Summary

The Kingdom of God is counter cultural.

The Kingdom of God is counter government.

  • Not in the sense to rise against the government but rather the ideas put in place by government are contrary to Christian thought and seek power and glory within itself.
  • World governments today seek to once again make a system that unites all people under one idea.