Man’s Pride Confounded

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Genesis 11:1-301And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 3And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. 4And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. 5And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. 6And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 7Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. 8So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 9Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth. 10These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood: 11And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. 12And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah: 13And Arphaxad lived after he begat Salah four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters. 14And Salah lived thirty years, and begat Eber: 15And Salah lived after he begat Eber four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters. 16And Eber lived four and thirty years, and begat Peleg: 17And Eber lived after he begat Peleg four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters. 18And Peleg lived thirty years, and begat Reu: 19And Peleg lived after he begat Reu two hundred and nine years, and begat sons and daughters. 20And Reu lived two and thirty years, and begat Serug: 21And Reu lived after he begat Serug two hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters. 22And Serug lived thirty years, and begat Nahor: 23And Serug lived after he begat Nahor two hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. 24And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah: 25And Nahor lived after he begat Terah an hundred and nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters. 26And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran. 27Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot. 28And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees. 29And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram's wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah. 30But Sarai was barren; she had no child. (Genesis 11:1‑30)
Before going on with the eleventh chapter, we will just notice a couple of things in the tenth. The names given in it are of great interest to those who study the Word of God, for they tell us where the families of Noah’s sons settled after the flood. This gives us the key to some very important prophecies in other parts of the Bible, for it is all linked together according to the perfect wisdom of God. The Jews are the descendants of Shem, the Gentiles of Japheth, and Egyptians and other African peoples are from Ham.
The Tower of Babel
“And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech” (Genesis 11:11And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. (Genesis 11:1)). Think of how nice it would be if everyone still spoke the same language! It would save so much trouble, and even war, if they did, but every blessing which depended on man’s faithfulness has been lost. Man’s course has always been one of departure from God, thus bringing God’s judgment upon him. The blessings we enjoy in the world today are the result of God’s patient grace to His creature, for we de­serve His righteous judgment.
These men in their pride decided to build a tower whose top would reach to heaven, perhaps thinking they could take shelter in it if there were another flood, although God had promised there would not be another one. However they started to build. Their tower must have looked very grand, and the bricks were well baked. It was getting higher each day! But what kind of mortar were they using? It was slime, which was really a black asphalt. This would remind us of our black, sinful hearts which the Bible says are, “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:99The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)). The whole building was held together by the “black mortar” of sinful man and his efforts, and was doomed to failure. All men’s plans to reach heaven, or to escape judgment by their own works, are useless. God’s salvation is by grace, and not of works (see Ephesians 2:8-98For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8‑9)).
God’s Building
In contrast to this tower that the children of men were building, we are told in 1 Peter 2 about a building that God is making. It is composed of all true believers, who are “living stones” in this wonderful structure. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only foundation, and the Corner Stone, and when any boy or girl accepts Him as his or her Saviour, God builds them as “living stones” into His building. All who are part of this building will surely reach heaven and spend eternity there with the Lord Jesus. Dear reader, do not try to get there by your own efforts, for you cannot. Accept the Lord Jesus as your Saviour today.
God came down to see the city and the tower which the children of men were building. Remember, boys and girls, that God knows all about your plans too, and the motive behind every action. Are you leaving Him out of your life, or do you try to please Him day by day? These men were trying to work out their own plans without any thought of God, but they came to a sad end. God made them all speak different languages, and they could not understand one another; they left their building, and were scattered over the face of the earth. In spite of it all, God is still working in grace, and is saving the souls of men and women “out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Revelation 5:99And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; (Revelation 5:9)).
Further Meditation
1. What does the black mortar used to build the tower represent to us?
2. Why does God use a symbol like “living stones” to describe Christians who are currently being added to His house? How do stones get shaped by the master builder?
3. There’s a wonderful and simple meditation entitled The Tower of Babel—Genesis 11 found in God’s Wonderful Stories: Volume 2 by Grandma Smith.