The Gospel at Babel

     The Bible is all about Jesus and His gospel. It contains many stories and accounts and each story and account is a line, or a trajectory.  Each line and each trajectory finds it fulfillment at the cross of Calvary and in the person of Jesus. Jesus Himself teaches us about the Christocentric nature of the Scriptures (Luke 24:27,44; John 5:46). So how does the Gospel of Jesus apply to a biblical account like the story of the tower of Babel in Genesis 11?
     Well the incident at Babel is very interesting. There, you have people gathering together in the plain of Shinar.  These were the not-too distant descendants of Noah.  Noah and his family were given the same command that Adam and Eve were given, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the whole earth” (Genesis 9:11). In obedience, the people were being fruitful and they were multiplying, but they weren’t exactly filling the whole earth. Instead, they settled into one place.  And it was in this one place that they decided to make a declaration of independence. They had the technology,  the man power, and the know-how to do great things. They were going to build a tower whose top would be in the the heavens. This construction project would be their crowing achievement, which showed off their autonomy and self-sufficiency.  And in a sense, they were going to build themselves up to God.  The irony is that they were trying to get to God in order to show Him, that they didn’t need Him.
     What were the results?  God intervened, confused their language, and dispersed them throughout the whole earth.            
     Where is the Gospel in all of this? Well, the Gospel of Jesus tells us that we could never get to God in our own power, wisdom, technology, and good works. Instead of us climbing and building up to God, God had to come down to us and do all that we were powerless to do for ourselves. Jesus’ life and death on the cross is a constant reminder of our own desperate dependence on His works, righteousness, and  blood.  We need Christ’s righteousness to be applied to our accounts.  Our striving and good works are stained with the sin of pride and self-righteousness. Our dependence upon our own wisdom and technology is a dangerous form of idolatry. We can’t ever get up to God, we need Him to come down to us.
     And I find it very interesting that here at Babel, you have the whole earth together, speaking one language, trying desperately to show that they don’t God. Yet, in the New Testament, we have many people, gathered from many nations, who speak many different languages (Acts 2:5). And yet, it was at Pentecost, where the Holy Spirit was poured out in great power and all the people were essentially speaking the same language.  That language was the language of the good news that Jesus had died to reconcile men unto God. One event reminds men of his inability to reach God on their own, the other reminds men of how God reached down to us through Jesus.

     

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