PRIDE, PAIN AND POWER – Genesis 11
In Genesis 11 we read the story of the tower of Babel-the one in which people decide they’re going to build a tower that reaches to Heaven. Take a look at the first 9 verses of Genesis 11. …So that we may make a name for ourselves
God comes and inspects what they’re doing and decides that if they can do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them and so God decides Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.
Here’s a great question to ask – why would people find this story important and worth passing on? Glad you asked. First, who built Babel? If we go back one chapter we read in verse 6 that…
Cush was the father of Nimrod, who became a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD…The first centers of kingdom were Babylon(also known as Babel), Uruk, Akkad… What else do we know about Nimrod? The name Nimrod comes from the Hebrew root word rebel. Interesting. So, why does this matter?
By the time you get to the story about the tower of Babel, what we know is that it’s being built by a violent and powerful warrior who is also building lots of other cities and that his name is connected with the idea of rebelling. This empire building – It’s what happens when someone, or a group of people, use military might and economic dominance to crush anything-and anyone-in the way of their plans.
What was it exactly they said to each other about how they were building the tower? The text reads in verse 3…they said to each other “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.
This is huge. They used brick instead of stone. Have you tried to build something tall out of stone? It’s next to impossible. Why? Because stones are of all different shapes and sizes and they’re hard to stack on top of each other.
If you’d been building things with stone forever, and then you started using bricks, what questions would you immediately have?
Probably questions along the lines of – these bricks are amazing, they make all kinds of building possible that wasn’t possible before-just how big could we make something with these new bricks?
What’s another name for these details about the brick and mortar? Technology! This is a story about, among other things, technology.
And what does that have to do with Nimrod? This is a story about what happens when a powerful warrior who’s building an empire gets his hands on new technology and begins to use it to set himself up as a god, crushing everybody and everything in his path.
This was a new phenomenon. People were spreading and scattering and settling in new places and some were gaining more and more power and influence which affected everybody else.
Imagine building little walls out of stone your entire life and then making a trip to Babel and seeing people starting work on a tower made of bricks. It may have been awe-inspiring, but we can also assume that it would have been terrifying.
If somebody can do that, what else can they do? Or to put more of an edge on it what couldn’t they do? Imagine if other countries had nuclear bombs but your country didn’t. And imagine what it would be like to not have nuclear bombs, but to know that one of those countries that did have nuclear bombs had actually used their nuclear bombs in recent history, dropping those bombs on actual cities that people lived in. Terrifying.
We have tremendous power and ability as humans. It’s extraordinary, and it’s to be celebrated and enjoyed We also have the tremendous capacity to use our energies and minds and power and abilities to further our own purposes and greed and empire building at the expense of those around us, making the world less and less a peaceful home where everybody is thriving.
Maybe the real power of the story is the haunting warning it brings that when we make it all about ourselves and our accumulation and our ego and our power and our desire to rule-when we become too full of ourselves, too obsessed with our own importance, too fixated on elevating ourselves to the top of the top of the tower we’re building , God has endless, clever, and unexpected ways of scrambling our efforts, thwarting our plans, and sometimes even confusing our language so we…babel.
How do we not repeat this history? Well the fact is – look at what we do with technology…There is only one cure from the disease of the common self – and that is to see ourselves in light of our relationship with God.
We Must Serve Others Rather Than Praising Ourselves. Romans 12:3 – Don’t think more highly of self than you ought to think, but think soberly.
- Admit your weaknesses and especially your sins.
- Appreciate the good qualities of others.
- Give God credit for what good things are in you.
Romans 12:16 – Do not set your mind on high things – Do not be wise in your own opinion.
Micah 6:8 – My Life Verse – He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
We Can Serve the Needs and Interests of Others
Matthew 23:11,12 – Greatness is measured in terms of service rendered to others.
We are really great if we humble ourselves to do what is good for others, regardless of what other people think. Jesus is saying that to Serve makes you great, and you can do that with or without authority. But service requires humility.
Philippians 2:3-8 – Each should count others better than himself (v3).
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
The cure for the common self, the hatred of racism, of selfishness, of bitterness and pettiness and resentment? Serving people in need…a common thread woven through the Bible – Explained in the teachings of Jesus is THIS – SERVE!
That’s why we say, here at Sugar Hill Church that we believe the Bible is a BIG DEAL, that JESUS is THE BIGGEST DEAL and we display that belief best when we SERVE people in need, both here and around the world — It’s the cure for the common self – It’s BOLD and it’s POWERFUL.