Call to Worship (Psalm 91)
Those who dwell in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the
shadow of the Almighty.
They will say of the Lord, “God is my refuge and fortress, the
one in whom we trust.”
Those who dwell in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the
refuge of God’s wings.
They will not fear the terror of the night nor the arrow that flies
“Those who love me, I will deliver,” says the Lord.
O Lord, we call to you now.
Show us your salvation.
Invocation (Jeremiah 32, Psalm
God our Redeemer, you promise deliverance to those
who love you.
Draw unto us as we draw unto you in worship.
Open our eyes to see, our ears to hear, our minds to
comprehend, and our spirits to encounter the
revelation you have for us this day.
Transform us with the truth of your love and grace, in
the name of the one who loved us and gave his life for
After Noah and his family came out of the ark, they
sought to follow God’s directions (Genesis 8, 9).
Chapter 10 is sometimes called “The Table of
Nations,” listing where the families of Noah’s sons
settled after the flood.
The lesson reviews how God Scatters the Nations
when they rebelled against God.
The study's aim is to understand how God dealt with
people in the past.
The study's application is to realize how He might deal
with us today when we are disobedient.
Factors brought to bear on the race of man during the
interval from Noah to Abraham were 1. the preaching
of Noah, 2. the punishment of the unbelieving
antediluvians, 3. the preservation of Noah and his
family, 4. the distinction of clean and unclean
animals, 5. the permission to partake of animal
food, 6. the special prohibition of the shedding of
man's blood, 7. the institution of civil
government, and 8. the covenant with Noah and his
seed that there should not be another deluge.
While the Word of God is very clear on the need to
have unity, it may not be His purpose that the whole
world be united under any one government or
language for fear of what destruction man may bring
It is disconcerting to consider how flight, the internet
and the global economy are reaping just such fruits
on mankind despite their best intents.
In the verses immediately preceding our text, we
discover that God purposed for the descendants of
Noah to gather in natural communities, families, and
Sadly, the people did not respond to the blessing of
God with thanksgiving and obedience. Instead, they
struck out on their own with ideas that became
Now the whole earth had one language and the same
Basil Atkinson points out that the Hebrew word
translated language means literally lip and that
speech means literally words.
Various dialects and speech patterns had not kept the
people from understanding one another up until this
The new developments of sin during this period are
chiefly: 1. drunkenness, 2. dishonoring of a parent
and 3. the ambitious attempt to be independent of
God's power and to thwart his purpose of peopling
These forms of human selfishness would find God’s
address later in the 10 Commandments.
Insubordination to the supreme authority of God is
accompanied with disrespect to parental authority.
Drunkenness itself is an abuse of the free grant of the
fruit of the trees and plants originally made for man.
And as they migrated from the east, they came upon
a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.
Noah’s descendants were evidently nomadic people.
They moved south and east to the land of Shinar.
At some point, they determined to build a city in the
region around the area later known as Babylon.
Some students believe that Shinar is near where the
Garden of Eden was located, since the Tigris and
Euphrates Rivers both ran through that region.
This plain was very large, fruitful, and delightful, and
therefore judged a fit place for a settlement, where
they might have room enough, and which promised
them a sufficient sustenance, quickly beginning to
build a city and tower.
Lesson: Unity can be unhealthy if it is without a worthy goal (Gen.
11:1-2; Ps. 2:1-4; Rev. 17:12-13)
Psalm 2:1-3 (NLT)
1 Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with
2 The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together
against the LORD and against his anointed one.
3 “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from
slavery to God.”
Reflection: Our global economy has the power to elevate
the condition of many poor peoples but only if the
markets can control their greed and have concern for
those affected. The internet has the potential to provide
information and education to untold masses but over half
of its capacity is spent on pornography.
And they said to one another, “Come, let us make
bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for
stone, and bitumen for mortar.
James E. Smith explains, “The motives of the tower
builders are not entirely clear. . . . Maybe they hoped that
the tower would provide protection from another Flood
or from enemies who might attempt to scatter them..”
C. F. Keil suggests, “The real motive therefore was the
desire for renown, and the object was to establish a noted
central point, which might serve to maintain their unity.”
God warns against plans for building things that perish!
Their tombs will remain their houses forever, their
dwellings for endless generations, though they had named
lands after themselves. But man, despite his riches, does
not endure; he is like the beasts that perish. This is the
fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their
followers, who approve their sayings.
Lesson: It is bad enough to sin alone; it is even worse to
encourage others to join you (Gen. 11:3-4)
Reflection: Because God has made us social creatures, we
seek the company if not the approval of those around us.
When hidden sin goes unaddressed in our lives, it has the
capacity to connect us to others who share that sin and
even seek to corrupt those whose company we keep.
Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a
tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name
for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad
upon the face of the whole earth.”
Here the people came together to strengthen themselves
and in pride to make a reputation for themselves and be
rulers over the face of the whole earth.
This appears to be in direct opposition to God’s command
to spread out and fill up the whole earth (9:1).
The people determined to build a large tower, one that
reaches to the heavens. The original purpose of the
structure may have been for defensive security and
The tower may have also had a religious and astrological
significance. Some Bible teachers feel that this was a kind
of temple tower, common later in the cities of
Mesopotamia and known as a ziggurat. Such buildings
were used for pagan worship.
We must never forget that God sees our actions because
the ways of man are before God's eyes
For a man's ways are in full view of the Lord, and he
examines all his paths.
The LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which
mortals had built.
Written Babylonian accounts of the building of the city of
Babylon refer to its construction in heaven by the gods as
a celestial city, as an expression of pride.
These accounts say it was made by the same process of
brick-making described in verse 3, with every brick
inscribed with the name of the Babylonian god Marduk.
E. F. Kevan points out the significance of Babel (Babylon)
“Right through to the book of Revelation, Babylon
represents the idea of materialistic and humanistic
federation in opposition to God.”
He adds, “The proud builders of the city had called it
Babel (the gate or court of God), but God, took up their
word and derisively gave it another meaning from a
similar sounding root, also called it Babel (confusion).”
Never lose sight that God is sovereign because He is still
God of Heaven and earth
Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is
God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no
And the LORD said, “Look, they are one people, and they
have all one language; and this is only the beginning of
what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will
now be impossible for them.
The people were not deceiving God by their plans. The
Lord had carefully observed all that they were doing. He
knew their hearts as well and concerning their potential
for sin and said, “If as one people speaking the same
language they have begun to do this, then no thing they
plan to do will be impossible for them.”
The power of sin would continue to grow.
Sin will rule a corrupt heart. Wrong desires lead to wrong
action (James 1:15). No wonder Proverbs 4:23 teaches,
“Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of
life” (NIV 1984).
In the case of the tower of Babel, “God moved to deprive
them of the ability to comprehend one another, and thus
effected their dispersion” (Keil).
Lesson: God knows the true intent of every man's
heart, including yours (Gen. 11:6; I Kings 8:39)
Reflection: We like to think that our motives are pure in
this life but we need to ask if they are pure enough for the
next life. All we do breaks down into serving this world or
the next. Not all things here serve the next world but the
next world serves all things here best.
Come, let us go down, and confuse their language
there, so that they will not understand one another's
God said, “Let us go down...” The “us” is most likely a
reference to the Trinity.
By confusing their language, the Lord caused the people
to leave their construction project and scatter across the
face of the earth. This brought the building of the tower
to an abrupt halt. The place is now called
Babel, “confusion,” to commemorate this judicial act of
The truth is inescapable. Those who are with God gather,
while those against Him scatter
"He who is not with me is against me, and he who does
not gather with me scatters.
So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the
face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.
The sin of the Shinarites (people in the plain of Shinar)
appears to be immense pride.
They said, Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower
that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name
This was open rebellion against God, an independence of
Ironically, instead of attaining significance and immortality
they achieved alienation and dispersal.
Expulsion was the earlier fate of Adam and Eve (3:23) and
of Cain (4:12).
This judgment was also an act of grace; in isolation the
peoples were more likely to turn to God (12:3; Acts
Lesson: The consequences of our sin can affect
generations to come (Gen. 11:7-8)
Reflection: The cycles of addiction, abuse and poverty are
testimony to the legacy of our behaviors. Unaddressed,
each generation multiplies the pain. Those who deal with
these behaviors know how difficult it is to break these
cycles and how quickly they spread. Sin still brings death
in many forms.
Therefore it was called Babel, because there the LORD
confused the language of all the earth; and from there the
LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the
The children of men were now finally scattered, and never
did, nor ever will, come all together again, till the great
day, when the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of his
glory, and all nations shall be gathered before him.
Matt. 25:31, 32.
Lesson: In His mercy and grace, God often limits the
extent of man's evil actions (vs. 9)
Reflection: Every so often, we get a glimpse at what man
can do to himself (The Holocaust, The Inquisition) even in
the name of God. Our ability to sleep in peace at night
depends on knowing that God limits the extent of man’s
evil every day.
What the people considered their greatest strength—
unity—He swiftly destroyed by confusing their language
(v. 7; v. 9).
What they considered their greatest fear—scattering (v.
4)—came naturally on them (the Lord scattered them...
over all the earth, v. 8; v. 9).
What they desired most—to make a name for themselves
(v. 4)—ironically came to pass, for they became known as
“Babel.” Then they stopped building the city and were
Their desire to enhance their unity and strength had
potential for the greatest evil, according to the Lord’s
evaluation: If... they have begun to do this, then nothing
they plan to do will be impossible for them.
So what they would not do in obedience (scatter over the
earth, v. 4) He did to them in judgment (v. 8).
As the first revelation of God may have been due to
Adam, the second may be ascribed in point of matter to
Noah. The two joined together belong not to a special
people but to the universal race.
Perhaps if those revelations had ever appeared in a
written form before Moses, they might have descended to
the Gentiles as well as to the Israelites. But the lack of
interest in and rejection of holy things evident in this text
would account for their disappearance among the former.
Significantly when the church began in Jerusalem on the
Day of Pentecost many years later, people were there
from every nation (Acts 2:5), and all of them could hear
the message of salvation in their own language.
With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the
apostles, the confusion of Babel was replaced by a single
divinely-directed message preached by the apostles (Acts
Benediction (1 Timothy 6)
People of God, pursue righteousness, godliness, faith,
love, endurance, and gentleness.
Fight the good fight.
Take hold of eternal life.
To God, who dwells in unapproachable light, and to Jesus
Christ, the blessed Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord
of lords, and to the Spirit, be all honor and glory, now and
Blessing (1 Timothy 6)
People of God, do not set your hopes on the uncertainty
of riches, but rather on the richness of God, who provides
us everything for our enjoyment.
Be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share for in
the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.