Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 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. 4 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, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth. – Genesis 11:1-9
[Note: On this Memorial Day, we honor those who have given their lives defending the freedom we have as citizens of these United States of America. In our family we remember Aaron Clark who was killed in Iraq. He was a comrade of our own Aaron who served with him there. We remember our fallen soldiers and pray for comfort and healing for those they leave behind.
Also…You may have expected to begin looking at Genesis 10 today. Others may wish to reflect on the genealogies that are found there. They chronicle the expansion of Noah’s family, and the chapter ends: “These are the clans of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations, and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood” (Genesis 10:32). So now that the clans have spread all over the world, we have yet another reminder of the sinful nature of man here in the land of Shinar.]
Perhaps you’ve experienced the frustration of unclear or misunderstood language. It’s more and more common for me as I age, and my hearing is less and less acute. Someone will say something and I’ll mistake an f for an s, or a b for a p. But that’s nothing compared to an even more troubling reality most all of us have experienced. Many of us all too many times. Not just a mistaking of words, but more importantly, a misunderstanding of intent.
Have you been there? Every word you say is perceived to be harmful. Every time you try to clarify yourself, you muddy the waters further. Then you get more angry because you’re being misunderstood – or because you are being thought of poorly. That surely doesn’t help.
The problem here, however, is not just a difference of hearing. It’s not just that the builders of the Tower of Babel said, “Give me some bricks,” while the one who heard it thought he had asked for sticks. It’s not that when asked, “Are you ready?” And rather than hearing, “No” they thought you said, “Go!” That would be trouble enough. But add arrogance to the equation, and you have a real ballyhoo. Not good.
Even people with different languages can get along quite well in many situations. Patience, a willing heart, and humility of spirit go a long way toward good communication. But the foundation on which this conflict-riddled tower is being built it one of hubris. They are in it to make a name for themselves. And it won’t end well.
But the only Name that deserves to have something made over it is the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord our God. At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow. Not at the name of Babel. Not at the name of the United States of America. Not at Israel. Not at Iraq. Not at Great Britain. Jesus is the name above every other name. And he was a man of humility. And he sought to make a place for us by being lifted up on a cross. Humility, love, grace, faithfulness, obedience and goodness combine for our eternal good. Let there be no confusion about that.
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