Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Tower Of Babel: Setting The Scene - Genesis 11:1-2 Bible Commentary

The Flood was not a permanent solution. It did not eliminate evil from the earth. The eight survivors who found shelter in the ark shared something in common with those who drowned: they had a sinful nature.1 Even if they were all at peace with God when they died, that was no guarantee that their children would follow in their footsteps. God Himself said after the flood that "the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth" (Genesis 8:21).

Setting The Scene: Sin In The Post-Flood World

Noah saw God's flooding wrath towards sinners. He listened as God told him of the new, rainbow covenant. Then Noah fell into the sin of drunkenness. If the man who built the ark and witnessed the flood could fall into such sin, what would his descendants be like?

If we assumed the best, we might believe that later generations were obedient to God's command to fill the earth [geographically] (Genesis 9:1). But as you've probably already gathered, that didn't happen. Noah's descendants didn't just fall into drunkenness. They didn't merely fall into sin. They were worse, much worse. They planned their sin and dove into it.

Rising Action: One World Language

Moses begins his account of the Tower of Babel like this:
Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. (Genesis 11:1-2)
Moses' emphasis here is on unity. The descendants of Noah were united in the way they spoke. Just as the same sun warms the whole earth, so too the same language filled the earth. Nobody was in the dark when it came to understanding the language of their fellow countrymen.

Such a reality is hard to imagine. Today there are thousands of languages. Think about what the world would be like if that wasn't the case; the advantages would be endless! All the hours people spend learning different languages could be redirected to other fields. Human society would advance more quickly. There would be fewer cultural misunderstandings. The world would be more unified.

Yet despite how splendid one world language might seem, Moses is about to show us why we would not want this.

Coming Soon! The Tower Of Babel: United In Sin - Genesis 11:3-4

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  1. ^ Though Noah was righteous (Genesis 6:9) and made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), he was also made in the image of Adam (Genesis 5:3) and was by nature a child of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). Like believers today, Noah had to continue battling against his sinful tendencies as long as he lived (sometimes he won this battle, and sometimes he lost, as is evident from Genesis 9:20-21).

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