For the record, there’s much to appreciate about the modern era. Things like indoor plumbing, electricity, and advanced medical care have enhanced our quality of life; but have we progressed as humans? Some would say yes by pointing out efforts to fight hunger or new attitudes about tolerance and peace. On the surface, there appears to be a compelling argument for human progress, but how much have we really learned? Are lasting solutions as simple as the much suggested “…leaders sitting down, talking to each other and solving the problems”?
To get some perspective, let’s consider the first recorded “challenge” to mankind after the flood.
I. The First Global Summit
Genesis 11:1-9 states that everyone had the same speech and were concerned with a specific threat of being scattered abroad over the face of the earth. Why? Well, Genesis 9:1 says God had given a directive to fill the earth and even placed a “fear and dread” on the animal life ahead of the peoples’ migration (v.2). Now, considering the long life spans of Noah and his sons after the flood, there would’ve been “firsthand” knowledge of God’s previous interaction with man as they went forth. For example:
- The need for repopulation was a direct result of earlier generations’ rebellion toward God.
- God fulfilled his covenant to save Noah, his family, and the land animals.
- God was to be worshiped, praised, and served as modeled by Noah.
So what did they do? Did they reconsider and follow God’s instructions? No, they got together, talked it over and made an agreement.
II. The First Treaty
The people rejected God’s command and chose a different path. Their idea was a grand “public works project” to build a city on the plains of Shinar (Babylon) with a tower reaching the heavens. Why? Well the Bible describes in verse 4 that 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 humans. The construction of something so large, generations would know they had taken charge of their destiny and defined their own reality. Hmmm, that’s starting to sound very familiar…even contemporary.
III. Modern Towers
Currently there are several “towers” under construction in the public arena; such as the climate change industry, a push to redefine personal rights, and various global treaties (to solve every objectionable human behavior under the sun). It all sounds “cutting edge”, but is actually rooted in ancient attitudes. As a matter of fact, you can hear the echoes of the serpent’s voice in Genesis 3:5 “you will be like God” and for the most part, you can describe it in a single word-humanism.
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, as we live in a culture trumpeting beliefs like “tolerance is supreme”, “conviction is narrow-minded”, and “man is progressing”, let’s learn from the story by considering God’s response.
IV. God’s Intervention
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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 concerning His commands and His involvement in the world.
So what should we do while here in the shadows of modern towers? We should articulate the truth by pointing out the basic principles in scripture. The Bible gives us a clear lens on history, while also putting man’s grandiose plans in perspective. We should be engaged in taking action against problems of our day, but remember, our most basic need is for a Savior. In the Bible, Babylon is a symbol of the world system marked by “babbling”, but a clear word of truth spoken in love may just be the language someone’s been waiting to hear.