Lessons Learned from the Tower of Babel

Text: Genesis 11:1-9

The account of the towel of Babel is the final event recorded in Genesis before we are told of Abraham and God’s plan through him. The promise to Abraham was a pivotal point in the scheme of redemption. However, the story of Babel was not included in Genesis simply as a matter of historical record. It teaches us some important lessons about unity and apostasy.

Unity and Harmony Mean Nothing if We’re Not Working for God’s Purpose

  • These people were united (v. 1), yet God divided them (v. 8) – not all unity is desired/approved by God (1 Corinthians 5:1-2, 7, 13; 2 Thessalonians 3:6)
  • They were united in carrying out a specific purpose (v. 4) – the problem was that it was man’s purpose; we must be united in carrying out God’s purpose (Ephesians 4:3, 13-16)
  • Their unity was evident by their “same words” (v. 1) – we must also “speak the same thing” (1 Corinthians 1:10; 4:17); however, this does not mean we are silent on matters of doctrinal disagreement (Ephesians 5:6-11)
  • Unity must be based upon God’s word (John 17:20-21) – the “whole counsel” of His word (Acts 20:27)

What Seems Good to Us May Not Be Good

  • They had a seemingly good/noble aim (v. 3-4) – however, what seems good to man is not always right (Proverbs 14:12; Jeremiah 10:23); it must be according to God’s will (Colossians 3:17)
  • It does not matter how logical it may seem to us – ex: “social gospel” (cf. Isaiah 55:8-11)
  • It does not matter what “good” can be done – ex: institutionalism, missionary society, etc.
  • Good works are defined in Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17) – if a thing is not authorized in Scripture, in cannot be classified as a “good work”

We Will Never Reach God/Heaven Through Our Own Means

  • Their goal was to reach heaven (v. 4) – but even after they were done, God had to come down to them (v. 5)
  • Man has invented his own ways to reach heaven (ex: faith only, sinner’s prayer, being a good person) – yet none of them will work (James 2:24, 26; Acts 9:11; 22:16; Acts 10:1-2, 33, 48)
  • God has come down to us (John 1:1, 14) – this is what gives us the opportunity to reach heaven (1 Timothy 1:15)
  • But we must follow God’s plan of salvation (Romans 10:17; Hebrews 11:6; Acts 11:18; Romans 10:9-10; John 3:5)

There Are No Bounds to Apostasy

  • God said there was nothing impossible for these people (v. 6) – they were only limited by their own imagination
  • The path to apostasy is a slippery slope (2 Timothy 3:13) – apostates are only limited by their own imagination; they are no longer limited by the word of God because they have gone beyond that (2 John 9)
  • Therefore, because of the digressive nature of apostasy, error must be opposed (2 Timothy 4:2; 3:13; Romans 16:17; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Galatians 2:5; Philippians 1:15-17)
  • There will be consequences if we fail to oppose error (1 Corinthians 5:6; 2 Timothy 2:17)

Conclusion

  • When Genesis 11 started, all the people of earth were united – then God divided them because their purpose was not in harmony with His purpose for them
  • Since then, all people on earth have been divided in various ways – now God seeks to bring them together
  • We must be united in fulfilling God’s purpose for us – peace with God, then peace with others
  • If we seek peace and unity in some other way, God will not be pleased with us

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