Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Monuments to our Glory

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
Genesis 11:1-9
God's instructions to the first humans were simple: be fruitful, fill the earth, subdue it, rule over it, and do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We all know how Adam and Eve ignored the command not to eat of the tree. The incident at the tower of Babel shows us how their descendants disregarded another of God's instructions. Instead of spreading over the face of the land and filling the earth as God commanded, they grouped together. Their common language allowed them to cooperate toward a common end. Under normal circumstances this is a good thing, but they were cooperating to build a monument for their own glory, to make a name for themselves. God did not create humanity to glorify ourselves or exalt our own names, but to bring glory to Him. Their common language allowed them to take part in even greater sin than each man could have on his own. Already mankind was exchanging the glory of the immortal God for a cheap knockoff (Romans 1:23).
God, in His wisdom, confused men's language, causing them to babble. This broke up man's cooperation in sin and caused them to keep His original commandment to fill the earth. It's interesting to consider this story in light of the Day of Pentecost in the New Testament (Acts 2). At Pentecost, God sent His Spirit to fill the disciples and enable them to speak languages they formerly had not known. The Lord temporarily reversed what He had done at the tower of Babel so many years before and tore down the language barrier. Why?  So that the good news of Jesus Christ could advance more quickly to all people. God built the language barrier to avoid mankind working toward his own glory. He removed the language barrier so that mankind could more easily work towards His glory.
Are you working to make a name for yourself or for God? In what ways are you erecting monuments to your own glory? Many people work long hours for many years to make a name for themselves in their community, profession, or even vicariously through the lives of their children. They live and die for their own glory. They even put their names on buildings so their name will be remembered long after they are gone (a remarkably similar folly to that of Babel). What monuments do you need to tear down in your life today?

Maybe you haven't built any monuments to yourself, but are you building monuments for God? Are you cooperating with others spread the good news of Jesus' death and resurrection to people of every tribe, nation, people, and tongue? All believers are called to do just this. Are you giving to missions, praying for missions, supporting ministries that translate the Bible into the languages of unreached people groups? God has given us many tools to cross language barriers today with the gospel. Be sure that your life is spent building something that will last.
For further reading...
  • Acts 2- Read the story of Pentecost and compare it for yourself.
  • Operation World is a ministry that helps Christians pray for God's great mission of love around the world. They have a wonderful prayer calendar you can use to pray throughout the year for people in every nation. You can also sign up to receive an email prompt every day with ideas to help you pray for the advance of the gospel in various nations.
  • Revelation 5:9-10, 7:9-10, 14:6-7- Rejoice that God will prevail! He will redeem for Himself people from every tribe, nation, and tongue.

No comments: