Genesis 11:1-9

May 16, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Posted in Bible Study | Leave a comment
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Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. 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 abroad over the face of the whole earth.” The LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. The LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 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.

This week, we’re going to start delving into chapter 11 of Genesis! This is another pivotal chapter and it will lead us directly to Abraham. To recap what’s happened so far, The Flood has happened and Noah, his sons, and their wives are the only ones that have survived. They have started a new life in a completely altered earth and have begun to multiply on the planet. Ham’s son Canaan has been cursed because of Ham’s sin. We then looked at the descendants of each of Noah’s three sons. Now, we’ll take a look at what happened as their numbers grew.

In the beginning of Chapter 11, we’re told that everyone on the planet used the same language and the same words. This means exactly what it says. Everyone understood what everyone else said. As the descendants of Noah moved eastward, they settled in Shinar. It is important to remember that when it says “the whole earth”, this most likely was just the 75 people that were descended from Noah. Even if we multiplied this figure by 4, it is only 300 people. This means that it is probable that the entire group made their way from the mountains of Ararat to the plains of Shinar to settle. It is here that they decided to build a city and a tower.

The purpose of the tower and the hearts of the people is given to us. They wanted to build the tower so that they could make a name for themselves. This is something that man is not supposed to do. The other thing that we see is that they were building the tower and the city because they did not want to be scattered over the earth. This was in rebellion to the command that God had given Noah and his descendants after they had gotten off of the ark. The people were told to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth (Gen. 9:1). They had decided that they knew better what should happen and they refused to obey God. Because of their rebellion and disobedience, God was decided to take action.

The Bible says that God came down and saw what they had built. When He saw all of it, He said that because they are of one language nothing will be impossible for them. To cause the people to obey Him, God confused their languages so that they couldn’t understand one another. It is clear from the last chapter (10:5, 10:20, 10:31), that the people were divided according to their families and languages. This implies that the families were not split apart. Instead, each family was given its own language and because they could no longer understand each other, they moved away from each other and began their own families. There is something else that the splitting up of the people did. As the people moved to different areas of the planet, they would have encountered different climates and weather patterns. It also would have separated the people from a larger DNA pool. So, certain traits would become more prominent in the different groups of people. This is a solid, and Biblical, explanation of the differing people groups that we see today. It is why some people have black skin and others have white skin. It is the reason why some have certain features and others don’t. It doesn’t mean that any of the groups are less human or more human, they are just different.

The area was called Babel because God confused their languages, but it is important to understand that it was God Himself that scattered the people abroad. If God wants something done, it will happen, regardless of whether or not man cooperates. God is sovereign and His will is going to happen. The idea that God would allow man to participate is a blessing in itself. Are you disobeying God? Are you living in rebellion to Him and His commands? If you are living in sin, the Bible says that you’re in rebellion and if you die in those sins (lying, stealing, lusting, hating, etc) you’ll find yourself in hell for eternity because of God’s justice. The great news is that if you’re reading this, you have at least one more chance to repent of those sins, put your faith totally in Christ alone to save you, and know without a shadow of a doubt that you can go to heaven when you die. This is the glorious gospel and is something that I ask you to consider, before it’s too late.

Next week, we’ll take a closer look at the lineage of Shem! Please stick with us and spread the word about our blog, our shop, and the gospel of Jesus Christ!

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