Series: Consider this… “A Conversational Defense of our Faith”
Lesson #4: Hey, what’s that babbling I hear?
Scenario: You’re at a birthday party. The kids are busy playing and a conversation starts with other parents about the news of the day. As a couple of global issues are mentioned (environment, terrorism) someone says, “If the leaders would just sit down and talk, we could solve these problems.” How do you respond?
With that in mind, let’s look at the first recorded “challenge” to mankind after the flood. Genesis 11:1-9 records that everyone had the same speech and they decided to build a city on the plains of Shinar (Babylon). According to verse 4, they were concerned with a specific threat; being scattered abroad over the face of the earth. Why? Well, we could speculate, but the scripture of course is our best source for answers.
I. The Command
In Genesis 9:1 God had given a directive to fill the earth. He even placed a “fear and dread” on the animal life ahead of the peoples’ migration (v.2).
With the long life spans of Noah and his sons, there would’ve been “firsthand” knowledge of God’s judgment as they went forth. For example:
- The need for repopulation was a direct result of earlier generations’ rebelliousness toward God.
- God fulfilled his covenant to save Noah, his family, and the land animals.
- God is worthy of worship, praise, and service as modeled by Noah.
II. Their Rebellion
The people rejected God’s command and chose a different path. Their idea was a “public works project” to build a city with a tower reaching the heavens. Why? Well the Bible tells us in verse 4 they wanted to “make a name for themselves”. Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with building a city and a tower, but their motive was the issue.
It would be a monument to them-as a people. The construction of something so large…generations would know they had taken charge of their destiny and defined their own reality. Oops, that’s starting to sound familiar…even contemporary.
III. A Modern Tower
Currently there are several “towers” under construction in the public discourse, but I’ll focus on one-humanism. Whether the name has “secular” in front, another label, or no label, modern humanists sound cutting edge, but have roots reaching back to ancient times. As a matter of fact, you can hear the echoes of the serpent in Genesis 3:5 “you will be like God” and 11:4 “make a name for ourselves” in their teachings and goals.
With the Enlightenment and Greek philosophy as a resource, Roy Wood Sellars wrote the first Humanist Manifesto in 1933. It stated core beliefs through 15 affirmations. Some of the points; the universe is “self-exiting and not created”, a “continuous process” is man’s origin (evolution), “old attitudes of prayer and worship” are to be replaced with a “heightened sense of personal life”, a “cooperative effort to promote social well-being” should be established, and a “socialized and cooperative economic order” needs to replace the inadequate “profit motivated society” (capitalism).
Consider how they’ve shown up in various institutions over the last 80 years, like the education field, political/legal forums, Media circles, and Social organizations. It’s not a conspiracy so-to-speak, but something larger, deeper, and fundamentally rebellious…it’s the “call of the tower”. For a quick overview of Secular Humanism click this link:
So, how do we respond in conversations that are framed with beliefs such as “tolerance is supreme”, “profit is evil”, “conviction is narrow-minded”, and “man is progressing”? Well, first we should learn from God’s response.
IV. God’s Response
- He accomplished His purpose in spite of their disobedience. By changing their language, He “scattered them over the face of the earth” Genesis 11:8-9.
- A permanent reminder was left from Babel that’s still with us today. The languages of the world are a testimony of God’s seriousness about his commands.
Based on that, we see Proverbs 19:21 in action. It says, “There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel-that will stand.” Our job is not to deconstruct every opposing view, but articulate the truth of scripture. A lesson from the story is that man’s attempts to control destiny is futile at best and fatally foolish at worst.
We need a savior. That’s the reality, and Jesus is the only worthy of the job. When in history has mankind ever permanently fixed any global problem? The answer is…never. Of course we should be engaged in taking action against the problems of our day, but remember the overarching reality of the Bible.
In the Bible, Babylon is a symbol of the world system, and thankfully we’re not citizens, but sojourners. As a “guest” in a foreign city, there will be times when it sounds like everyone is “babbling” because…well…they are. In those moments, I encourage you to think about “home” where Jesus reigns, and ask Him, through the Holy Spirit to lead. A word of truth spoken in love can translate directly into someone’s heart, and you may just speak the language they’re waiting for.