The story of Genesis to this point has been about a good and powerful Creator God and a rebellious and stubborn creation. We have seen the sin of Adam and Eve spread over the earth and watched as God started over with the flood and repopulated the earth through Noah’s family. Today, we see that it didn’t take long for the people to once again attempt to make a name for themselves and overturn God’s rule by trying to set themselves on equal standing with him. It’s humorous to think they really believed they could build a tower to heaven.
- When have you attempted to do things that were motivated by self-interest or for self-promotion?
READ THE WORD: GENESIS 11:1-9 (ESV)
11:1 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 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.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- In verses 1-4, it appears that the people were getting along well and living in community. What confirms that thought? Even though things were going well, what concern did the people express?
- What repeated phrase in verses 1-4 let you know that the people were acting on their own abilities? Who is missing in these verses that is present in ever other verse in this passage?
- What was the motivation for building the tower (vs. 4)? What does it mean to make a name for oneself, and why would God oppose that? What did God do (vss. 5-9)?
- In what ways are you tempted to make a name for yourself?
RESPOND TO GOD
Because we are created in God’s image, we all have many gifts and talents, and sometimes it’s easy to go through life feeling like we can handle things on our own. Despite being made in God’s image, we have to constantly remember that God is the creator and we are the creation designed to live under his authority. To make a name for ourselves is to throw off God’s rule over us. As you reflect on the passage today, ask God to show you things in your own life that you might be trying to accomplish on your own strengths or abilities, or worse yet, ways you’re attempting to make a name for yourself apart from the God of your creation.
- Confess to God the places in your life you are working in your own strength and/or to your own credit. Ask God’s forgiveness, and ask God for courage to serve him and the strength to do it in his power, not yours.
- Thank God for his loving mercy.