For 2016, our church is teaching through the entire Bible, in all of our worship services and all of our Sunday School classes. I am so excited to teach the children through the Bible, learning that it is all about Jesus.
This week, our goal is to focus on Genesis 11, the story of the Tower of Babel. I have previously taught on Noah and the Great Flood. God’s solution for mankind’s sin problem is the New Covenant in Jesus Christ. The story of the Bible is God’s story to rescue mankind from his sin nature. The story of Noah and the Great Flood is a story of God rescuing people through covenant. It was a foreshadowing of the New Covenant, God’s ultimate form of rescue. This story is going to reveal man’s continued need to be rescued.
I. Mankind’s problem
As we have been walking through the Bible, we have seen much about who we are and why things are the way that they are. In the beginning, God created us in His image. God created us to have a personal relationship with Him and with each other. We were to be a living reflection of who God is by the way that we live and interact each and every day. To be the image of God means to reflect His character. The closer we are to Him, the more we walk with Him in a personal relationship, the more we reflect who He is. Our attitudes and actions reflect His attitude and actions. We love sacrificially. We are compassionate. We serve. This is why we exist. We are not able to do this because of what happened in Genesis 3. Mankind fell into sin and acquired a sin nature. This separated us from God and no longer allowed us to give a correct reflection of who God is. We could not have a personal relationship with God without His intervention. In Genesis 3:15, God promises that One will come, a male from the seed of the woman (Jesus Christ) who would destroy the power of our sin nature. In Genesis 6-9, man’s sin nature got so bad that the entire earth was a wicked place and there was only one man and his extended family that walked with God and reflected God’s character to the world. God saved Noah’s family with a covenant. Noah’s sin nature was passed on to his children and grandchildren. As the people began to reproduce, sinful disobedience manifested itself openly. God told the people to spread out all over the earth and repopulate the earth. They all spoke the same language because they originated with the same family. Instead of spreading out like God wanted. They came together and decided that they wanted to make a name for themselves by building an amazing city with a unique tower that would reach to the heavens. Their disobedience also began to manifest itself in the fact that their lifespans were getting shorter and shorter. Noah lived to be 950 years old. Noah’s son Shem, only lived 600 years. Noah’s grandson only lived 439 years. His great grandson lived only 433 years. His great great great great grandson, Peleg, only lived 244 years. Terah, the father of Noah only lived 205 years. The lifespan of mankind is getting shorter and shorter, quickly reaching the normal lifespan of what we currently have in our modern world today. Mankind still needs to be rescued from his sin nature and God has a plan. Part of that plan is to drive them away so that He can work on bringing about the Promised Seed from Genesis 3.
II. Mankind’s Potential
Mankind has lots of potential, even though we are tainted by our sin nature. We are curious by nature and we are creative by nature because God created us to be that way. We were also created for relationships so teamwork is something that benefits us greatly. These qualities are seen in the people who are building the Tower of Babel. Although they were being disobedient to the Lord, there are some good qualities that can be gleaned from this story. For example, these people were innovative. They created a new building material by burning bricks to harden them so that they could build taller buildings that previously thought possible. They were visionaries. Even though their vision for the future was in direct opposition to God, they did have a vision of what they wanted to do with their lives and they worked toward accomplishing that vision. Also, they congregated together in a city so that they could have relationships with one another. Because of this desire for relationship, the people building the tower worked together as a team. God tells us that people congregated together around the same vision, being naturally creative and innovative, and working together as a team, can accomplish anything. In fact, He says that nothing is impossible for them. I believe that we have much to learn from this example. The only thing missing in the equation is a relationship with God and a vision born out of obedience to God.
III. God’s Solution
God does have a solution. He knows mankind’s potential. He also knows mankind’s problem. God made a plan to fix mankind’s problem while also encouraging the good qualities that He placed in mankind when He created. The solution was not simply working together. The solution was to surrender to God’s leadership and allow Him to work in man as man used his God given gifts and talents for good instead of evil. His plan was to spread mankind out in order to teach people to depend upon Him instead of upon themselves. Also, they needed to spread out so that He could work out the plan to deal with man’s sin nature, bringing about the birth of Jesus through the seed of the woman. That plan was set in motion in Genesis 3. Genesis 11 ends with Abraham. After mankind spreads out, God is going to make a covenant with Abraham and reveal His plan for the Messiah to all mankind.