A Meditation on Genesis 11:1-9
urthermore, the builders of Babel pray, “Our will be done on
earth, regardless of what is done in heaven.” They deliberately concentrated their work in one place “lest [they] be dispersed over the face of the whole earth” (vs. 4), as God had commanded them (Gen. 1:28; 9:1). God’s clear command is held in contempt, which is always the case when one is preoccupied with their name and kingdom.
Ted Turner provides us with a good modern day example. A few years ago Turner stated that the Ten Commandments were obsolete. He said, “We’re living with outmoded rules. The rules we’re living under are the Ten Commandments, and I bet nobody here even pays much attention to ’em, because they are too old. When Moses went up on the mountain, there were no nuclear weapons, there was no poverty. Today, the Ten Commandments wouldn’t go over. Nobody around likes to be commanded. Commandments are out.”
Politely asking the Almighty to step aside, Turner modestly offers his Ten Voluntary Initiatives to replace the antiquated Ten Commandments. As you read Turner’s initiatives realize that while most people aren’t as audacious as Turner, they too are nevertheless replacing God’s will with their own when they don’t submit to His will.
1. I promise to have love and respect for the planet earth and living things thereon, especially my fellow species—humankind (It’s a good thing he clarified who his fellow species were).
2. I promise to treat all persons everywhere with dignity, respect, and friendliness (This is an intriguing initiative, since it was violated just minutes after he gave it, when he referred to Christians as losers and bozos. He apologized later for the comments).
3. I promise to have no more than two children, or no more than my nation suggests.
4. I promise to use my best efforts to save what is left of our natural world in its untouched state and to restore damaged or destroyed areas where practical.
5. I pledge to use as little nonrenewable resources as possible.
6. I pledge to use as little toxic chemicals, pesticides, and other poisons as possible and to work for their reduction by others.
7. I promise to contribute to those less fortunate than myself, to help them become self-sufficient and enjoy the benefits of a decent life, including clean air and water, adequate food and health care, housing, education, and individual rights.
8. I reject the use of force, in particular military force, and back United Nations arbitration of international disputes.
9. I support the total elimination of all nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons of mass destruction.
10. I support the United Nations and its efforts to collectively improve the conditions of the planet.
As Christians, we should love God’s will and live to do it. Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (Jn. 6:38). On another occasion Jesus told His disciples, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (Jn. 4:34).
How did God respond to the rebels at Babel? “Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth” (vv. 7-9). They wanted to make a name for themselves, but God gave them their real name—confusion, which in Hebrew is also folly.
How is the gospel to go forth today, now that we have this confusion of speech among the foolish outside of Christ? The answer is found at Pentecost, which reversed the judgment at Babel. Peter Leithart notes, “Acts 2, which is the story of the outpouring of the Spirit on the apostles, is like Genesis 10-11. Like Genesis 10, Acts 2 contains a ‘table of nations’ (vv. 9-11), and like Genesis 11, Acts 2 tells about a miracle of language. But the language miracle is exactly the opposite of the judgment at Babel. At Babel, people were unable to understand each other because of their different languages; at Pentecost, they are able to understand each other, in spite of their different languages” (Peter J. Leithart, A House for My Name, p. 68).
Pastor Wayne Christensen, www.foxlakechurch.org, August 10, 2014