Daily Distinctives, February 28, 2018 – Goo Goo Ga Ga

I think the LORD has a great sense of humor. I mean that most respectfully. But you have to wonder about the God who created laughter and whether or not He is the ultimate cosmic comic. One only needs to look at some of the wonderful marvels of creation for a source of endless laughter. I think that the fact that He created me is proof enough that God has a sense of humor. I think about the time when the Israelites lost the Ark of the Covenant to the Philistines and the Philistines stored the ark in a room with a large statue of their god Dagon. When they came back in the morning the statue had been toppled over on its face and broken. And then there is Peter. Enough said. But seriously, I think that was why Jesus was so approachable. He probably had this heartwarming smile and told some funny jokes. Children flocked to him after all, and kids have an uncanny way of picking out the kind-hearted and joyful people.

I bring all of this up because, well, my brain tends to go there when I read passages like the one before me today. I picture God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit looking down from heaven and seeing the futile attempts of mankind trying to soar to heights that are not theirs to soar to. And God says, “Hey guys, will You look at that…Let’s go down and mess with them.” Ha! The reality is that what they were doing was offensive to God. They were not interested in using the creative abilities that God had endowed them with for the glory of God. No, they were building a tower of pride to flaunt their capabilities for the purpose of worshipping the stars and the created universe, not the Creator of the stars and maker of the universe.

[Gen 11:1 NKJV] Now the whole earth had one language and one speech.

This was before the world was divided. It would appear that humanity was very much centralized and all shared a common language. With everyone on the same page, there would appear that there was no limit to the possibilities before them. Nowadays when you get groups of people from other cultures and varied languages it is difficult to accomplish things because of the language barrier. Communication is critical to any big undertaking and the people were not having any difficulty constructing this affront to God.

I remember back in the day, before Google Translate, there used to be an online translation tool called Babel Fish. I wonder where they got that name from?

[Gen 11:2 NKJV] And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there.

Apparently, they were in Texas. Shiner Texas. There you have it. No, but seriously, in our last study we saw in our last study that the sons of Kush, one of which was Nimrod, headed east, and so they apparently settled there for a while before making this journey. I think the first thing they did there was built a brewery (my friends from Texas will catch what I did there).

[Gen 11:3 NKJV] Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake [them] thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar.
[Gen 11:4 NKJV] And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top [is] in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

God has given mankind ingenious minds. Have you ever wondered how the concepts of steam engines, guns, internal combustion engines, light bulbs, electricity, space travel, etc… came to be? It is amazing what men have discovered in such a relatively short period of time. The fact that they knew how to make bricks for stone and asphalt shows how advanced people had become. But to build a city, and a tower to reach the heavens showed that men are capable of so much. This is what God intended. The Creator created us in His image after all. The problem we have is the last part of verse 4. It says, let us make a name for ourselves lest we are scattered abroad over the face of the earth. They wanted to make a name for themselves. They wanted to build something that would not draw people closer to God, but to be gods themselves and draw people to themselves. It was a symbol of their power. But this also was running counter to God’s command that they go and fill the earth. Here we see that they desired not to be scattered abroad, which was exactly what God had commanded them to do.

As we read in our last study, the leader of this group of people was likely Nimrod, who as we discussed was the originator of this new cult of stargazers. Even extra-biblical scholars make reference to Nimrod and his rebelliousness against God. For example, according to the ancient Jewish historian Josephus, Nimrod “said he would be revenged on God, if he should have a mind to drown the world again; for that, he would build a tower too high for the waters to reach. And that he would avenge himself on God for destroying their forefathers” (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1, Chapter 4)

[Gen 11:5 NKJV] But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.

It is amusing to see that God came down to see man’s futile attempt to go upwards. God has always been seated upon His throne in the heavenlies, and this is what man aspired to do; usurp the very throne of God. This is the same thing that Satan wanted to do. He wanted a share of God’s glory, no doubt he wanted it all. Now, it is not like God met them half-way either. They were so far from meeting their mark it was not funny. If it weren’t for the heart of the issue, I would say this probably made God chuckle. But no, this was a serious issue. The people were intent upon reaching the stars so that that they could engage in another religion. Some suggest that this was a time when God came down in the form of man, a Christophany, that is in the pre-incarnate form of Jesus.

[Gen 11:6 NKJV] And the LORD said, “Indeed the people [are] one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.

Instead of worshipping God in one voice, their hearts were intent upon putting God behind them and making a name for themselves. When we consider how far man has come since these times, the ability to wage war more precisely and dramatically it goes to show the depravity and downward spiral of mankind. We think of the Gulf War and what they called “Shock and Awe” the destruction we are capable of is at new heights and increasing as time marches on. Now, we do some good. Advancements in medicine, advancement in cleaner and better living, these are the kinds of things that the LORD blesses us with. I would even dare say that we have munitions capable of striking our enemies with deadly accuracy limiting the casualties of non-combatants as a blessing in warfare technology. But I do want to key in on something the LORD says here. He says, “now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.” The one character flaw that all mankind has is free will, but it is the one thing necessary for a true relationship with God. Man purposes in his heart to do evil instead of good, though he has a choice. So what happens next is more of an act of grace than a punitive measure in my opinion.

[Gen 11:7 NKJV] “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”

I love that subtle little mention of the Trinity there as it says, “let Us go down.” Just thought I would throw that in there. But the LORD goes down to confuse their language. God is so powerful that He could annihilate them with a single word. Mankind thinks they are all that and a bag of chips, but all it takes is God simply confusing their language and their whole world falls to pieces. You can’t even overcome the hurdle of language barriers and you want to sit on My throne? Really?!?!

[Gen 11:8 NKJV] So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city.

The LORD will have His way no matter what. Whether He used the language barrier to do the trick, or He physically transported them from the city, which He no doubt has the power to do (Acts8:39). Had God not thwarted mankind’s desire to rise to greatness, perhaps Armageddon would have come a lot sooner.

[Gen 11:9 NKJV] Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

The name of the city is like it sounds. We use the term “babbling like a baby,” because that is just what it was. It was a nonsensical word, equivalent to “goo-goo gaga,” in fact they could have very well named the city Goo-Goo Gaga, it would have been the same thing. Can you imagine it? One second you and your homie Arphaxad are working together mixing some mortar, and all of the sudden he begins babbling in some strange baby language. At first, you would be like, “Hey cut it out, dude.” He would be wondering why you were acting silly and talking like a baby, and after a while, you’d be throwing bricks at each other thinking the other guy was mocking you or something. It must have been a hysterical sight to see.

But in the end, God got His way. Mankind went forth and populated the earth. Who knows what might have happened had God allowed them to pursue their grandiose desires. It would seem to me that this was more of an act of grace and mercy than a punishment. In one of my recent devotionals, I talked about a song by the band Rainbow, called Stargazer. I think this song better fits into today’s topic than it did in my previous study, but I digress. And so while mankind will always strive for advancement we must be aware that we were created for such, the problems begin when we do it in our own power and for our own glory. It is a good thing to desire to create things, to improve the quality of life, to make advancements in health and science. These are good things no doubt. Still, there is nothing that we can do that is of any lasting value if it is not for God’s glory. When we put our hand to the plow, we do it in vain if the end goal is not to glorify God for the produce which He will provide. When I started this study today, I thought about God having a sense of humor. The reality is that while God may indeed have a sense of humor, His love for humanity makes Him sensitive to what we need. And like a good father, God will redirect His children in the best path even when we desire to walk another way. I know I have seen it in my own life. I get this notion that I should be doing something a certain way, and just like that it all falls to pieces around me. I later discover that had I been allowed to do what it was that I wanted to do, something even greater that I never considered would have been foiled by my own plans. God always has something better for us than we think possible. That is why we must trust in Him for direction, and in all that we do, we must take the path of humility, recognizing that we are powerless to do anything without God giving us the strength, the mind, and the resolve to accomplish it. The truth is that anything that we do outside of God’s will for us is a sin. Sometime God will thwart our plans to keep us from sinning. That sounds an awful lot like grace to me.

Prayer: LORD, I am reminded of that song, “Sometimes I Thank God for Unanswered Prayers.” LORD, there are so many things that I have desired in my life, but You have steered me away from them by what many would call “circumstances.” LORD thank You for arranging my “circumstances” in such a way that You get all the more glory. The more I learn about You and the more I draw closer to You, the more I realize how foolish my thinking is. I am so grateful that You gently embarrass me. You could make my folly a spectacle but you preserve me and nurture me, correct me when I am wrong and continually grow me into the man of God that You would have me be. Life is good when You are on the throne of the life You have given me. Help me LORD to recognize You more often throughout my day. Help me LORD to see Your hand at work in the events that unfold before me. May You receive all glory and honor from me as I live this life You have blessed me with. Help me LORD to be a good steward of the flock You have given me to shepherd. Help me to lean on You and depend on You when pride desires its way. I thank You, LORD, for the godly men and women You have placed in my life to help me reign in my thoughts and steer me into the better paths. LORD, I want to lift up one of those men to You now. Father, I pray for my pastor. I thank You that You have a plan and a purpose for his family and it is the best plan and purpose possible. I pray for his daughter, and for her health, both physically and spiritually. I pray that You would use this season of her life to draw her to You in a deeper and more profound way than even her parents thought possible. Be with her mother. LORD, I cannot imagine what it is like to have the heart of a mother. I see how my own wife relates to our children. But LORD, when a mothers child is ill, there is nothing on earth that can keep her away. And so LORD, I lift up my pastors wife to You as well, as she has to come back and leave her daughter in the care of others. I pray that though it must break her heart, that You would give her confidence and strength to endure the brief separation from her daughter. I pray that all of this would make for a great testimony of Your loving kindness, Your mercy and Your grace. LORD, may You recieve all praise for the great things You are doing in this families life. I love You LORD and thank You for all You are doing and continue to do in the lives of Your people. It is in Your name that I pray. –Amen

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