In our reading today we begin with the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11). We are perhaps 200 years removed from the Flood and God’s restatement to Noah of the command first given to Adam: Be fruitful, increase in number, and spread out over the earth (Genesis 9:7 CSB). The population has exponentially grown--and together migrated from Ararat in East Turkey to what will become Babylon between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. There the people decide to build a city, complete with a giant, tall tower, to make a name for themselves (I assume they are thinking about their reputation among the generations to come). This project would highlight human greatness. Further, the tower may have been connected to idol worship and viewed as a place that would mystically give access to heaven. Regardless, the project is a clear violation of God’s command to scatter and fill the earth. And God is going to act in judgment against the project, as well as the people.
At this point in time the population was unified by its common language. But unity, as well as the building program, now ends abruptly with the division of languages.
Unity--apart from God--can be a dangerous thing. It is that oneness that drives this massive construction project. The influence of unbelievers can fuel our own capacity for sin. We are not to isolate ourselves from unbelievers; Jesus was known as a friend of sinners. But we are to avoid relationships that limit our ability to act independently and follow God with our own conscience and will. Relationships with unbelievers that restrain and drive our decisions put us at risk spiritually.
Question of the day: Do I have a friendship, or a work or family relationship that makes it difficult to obey God? How can I establish appropriate boundaries to protect my freedom to follow God?
Father, please give me a heart for the lost, but also the wisdom to recognize my own vulnerability to be influenced by unbelievers. Help me to follow you with courage, regardless of where the world seeks to pull me. I ask this for your sake, as well as my own, and the sake of the people you have placed in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.