Today’s Scripture: Genesis 11:1-9
At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words. 2 As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia and settled there.
3 They began saying to each other, “Let’s make bricks and harden them with fire.” (In this region bricks were used instead of stone, and tar was used for mortar.) 4 Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.”
5 But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. 6 “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! 7 Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”
8 In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the Lord confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world.
I like to play around on Google Earth. I especially like to “fly” to different locations and see famous landmarks like Big Ben or the Eiffel Tower or the Great Pyramids. I also like to scan large cities in 3-D, flying over the tops of buildings and seeing them rise above the streets. One thing I have noticed about all these landmarks: humans like them to go big. The taller the better. It’s almost as if the higher they are the more we will be remembered. In fact, you can almost hear the people who made them saying “this will make us famous”. Just like the people in Babel.
We have a tendency to want to make a name for ourselves – to build a monument – to make a statement. And maybe that’s not really a problem. But when we start to build monuments to ourselves – we tend to leave God out of it. We tend to focus on OUR accomplishments and OUR pride and OUR success. Our egos get bigger and bigger as the tower gets taller and taller.
The story of the Tower of Babel is a tale about how different groups of people ended up all over the world speaking all different languages. It was used by ancient people to explain the “why” of the way things are. But I do think there is a deeper meaning in the story for us today.
You see, we still build towers. And we still forget that life is not all about us. The story of Babel is one that should remind us that building towers to make us famous always ends with the tower coming down and the bricks being scattered.
What tower are you building today? Maybe it’s time to take a break and ask God to take over the construction.
God forgive us for building towers to ourselves. Help us to live our lives in such a way that we don’t need to create towers – that those lives will be the monuments themselves – and that those monuments will honor you.
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