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Is Our World a Safe Place Anymore? (Genesis 11:1-9)

Photo by Marcus P. on Unsplash

Residents of Afghanistan are fleeing their war-torn country to escape a repressive Taliban rule. A recent earthquake decimated the population of Haiti. Unexpected forms of Covid-19 threaten to infect more Americans. Residents of US cities are at one another’s throats over issues like masks and vaccinations used to prevent the spread of Covid. Even churches divide over being compliant with government orders to close their doors to curtail potential virus contamination. Climate control remains a hot topic for those who believe our environment is crumbling due to human indifference and mismanagement of our resources.

No wonder people inquire whether we are teetering on the brink of Earth’s final days. Recently, someone asked me if we are experiencing the last of the birth pangs Yeshua mentioned as portents of His return (Matthew 24:7-8). Is this the end? Can we look at current events as guaranteed signs of the final moments of the last days?

In 2006, I delivered a message on the questions Christians raise when we face troubling situations. Surprisingly, the list of disturbing signs of the last days was not too different 15 years ago. Devastating earthquakes. Powerful hurricanes. The predicted economic collapse of the stock market. Ongoing, persistent poverty. Increasing wars and terrorism. Political upheaval. Lack of trust in our news sources. False teaching among evangelicals. The moral corruption of our trusted leaders. Continual skirmishes in Israel. Not much has changed.

Again, I raise the questions on everyone’s mind, “Are the events mentioned above indicators of the final days? Are we in alignment with the Scriptures, or are we interpreting the Word of God the way we want out of sheer panic?

I felt it would be timely to revisit this message and apply its relevance to 2021 as we rush towards the dawning of 2022.

Israel as the Centerpiece in the End Times

In his book, The Will to Live On, Herman Wouk tells the story of a meeting he had with Israel’s first president David Ben-Gurion.  Wouk writes in his book, “My wife Sarah and I visited Ben-Gurion’s house in the Negev desert.  And the next day we traveled to Sde Boker or “the fields of mourning” kibbutz, in a command car escorted by a jeep with a mounted machine gun.” Wouk writes, “For back in 1955 when this took place, this little country was being harassed by terrorists from Egypt and Gaza.”

“When we were leaving, Ben-Gurion came out with his straight Zionist line. “You must return here to live. This is the only place for Jews like you.  Here you will be free.”

And Herman Wouk said, “Free?  Free with enemy armies with their leaders threatening to wipe out the Zionist entity?  Free?”

And Ben-Gurion said, “I did not say ‘safe,’ I said ‘free.'”

In the light of recent rocket attacks on Israel (2006) launched by the terrorist group Hezbollah and hundreds of thousands of Muslims protesting against Israel in the streets of Baghdad, in Tehran and Libya, the Jewish nation is not in a safe situation.  

America’s support for Israel is bringing our country deeper into the crosshairs of Islamic terrorists. 

In 2006 Yemenite president Ali Abdullah Saleh said, “I hope all countries bordering Israel will join the war. Arab countries should allow the transfer of weapons and people to Lebanon and Palestine. Every Muslim has the individual duty to fight on this front.”  

Photo by Andrey Grushnikov from Pexels

Here is another disturbing quote that exposes radical Islam’s hatred of Israel, spoken 15 years ago by Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei, “Everyone realizes the attack on Lebanon was a Zionist-American operation. It is the first step towards taking control over the Middle East and over the entire Muslim world. Bush and his American partners will be considered just as responsible and accountable for these events as the evil and depraved leaders of the Zionist regime.”

On the positive side, the Los Angeles Times took a poll on August 2, 2006. According to the census, most Americans—59%–consider Israel’s bombing campaign in Lebanon in self-defense justified.  Albeit, Americans are divided about how closely we should align ourselves with the Jewish state.  The time will come when we will have no other choice but to get involved.  And the question is: Will America stand by Israel, not if, but when the whole world turns against Israel?

After reading multiple blogs on ScriptureSolutions, the user is made aware of how important Israel is in understanding the timeline of the last days. Bible students who omit Israel as a primary focus before the return of Yeshua will experience frustration trying to stitch together the events of prophetic history.

Fifteen years ago, I studied the tower of Babel to gain insight into humanity’s aversion to God and His decision to make Israel His elect nation. It may come as a surprise to realize the events at the ancient tower of Babel connect to the biblical timeline of Israel’s history leading into the modern era.

The World’s Relationship with God in the End Times

Is the world safe anymore?  Where is all this conflict heading? What’s the bigger picture?  

Genesis chapter 11 is the story of the tower of Babel. This account provides us with a picture of a world bigger than Israel and the United States. At the tower of Babel, a spiritual energy emerged that changed the course of history. After the Flood of Noah, the remainder of the human race gathered together at the famed Tower of Babel. This remnant of humanity conglomerated in one place in defiance and arrogance against the Creator God.

The modern person must know this same spirit, according to prophecy, will be unleashed again in the last days.  As the world once attempted to evict God from His Creation symbolically at the tower of Babel, we will try again at the end of time.  

Yes, Israel is crucial to interpreting end times prophecy. Israel is the centerpiece of the prophetic stage before the return of Israel’s Messiah. With Israel, God’s focus is primarily national. However, His intention has always been to bless the global community through Israel. Yet, before the coming of the awaited Redeemer, the international scene will take once more turn for the worst as we see at Babel.

Of course, how the world either draws close to God or shuns Him will affect how the nations treat Israel. Before God blesses the planet Earth through Israel, the world community must first acknowledge the God of Israel. Sadly, this realization will become a lost commodity at the end times. The farther society runs from God and renounces Israel, the more unsafe the world becomes.

Any environment becomes unsafe when humanity wants nothing to do with the Creator. Signs exist today that the same spirit of detachment from God witnessed at the Tower of Babel makes its presence known once again.

What are the signs of a world where safety in God is missing? 

An Unsafe World Starts with Building a Future without God (Genesis 11:1-3)

In Revelation 17:3, the Apostle John records, “an angel carried him away into a desert, and he saw a woman.  A woman was sitting on a scarlet beast, and this beast was covered with blasphemous names and this beast had seven heads and ten horns”.  Other studies identify the Beast as the Antichrist.

As we look further, we observe more information on the woman sitting on the Antichrist or Beast, controlling this world ruler for a while. According to Revelation 17:4-5: “The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones, and pearls.  [And] she held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. [And the] title [of who she was] was written on her forehead: MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (N.I.V.).

John says, “[I continued to look and] I saw that this woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to [Yeshua.  And] when I saw her, I was greatly astonished” (Revelation 17:6 NIV).

The angel continues to speak to John.  He cites, “The waters you saw, where [this] prostitute sits, [these] are peoples, [these are] multitudes, nations, and languages. The Beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute . . . will bring her to ruin and leave her naked . . . eat her flesh and burn her with fire” (Revelation 17:15-16).

At some point in the prophetic future, the woman-the mystery Babylon– will ride upon the Beast.  However, the Beast will turn against mystery Babylon and control that entity. The Beast, according to Revelation 17, will be given the power to rule.

“And the woman,” according to Revelation 17:18, “is the great city that rules over the kings of the Earth (NIV).

Photo by David Rodrigo on Unsplash

Early in the Genesis account, Moses records how the world’s inhabitants unified at Babel to reject God’s rulership. At the end of Scriptures, Revelation 17 predicts another attempt to join together in defiance of God.

Rather than focus on who the mystery Babylon is, I want to delve into the spiritual significance of the Mystery Babylon. To understand the end times Mystery Babylon, we are wise to go back to Genesis 11 to learn about the city and the tower constructed as a raised fist to the Creator.

In his commentary on Genesis, Bruce Waltke provides a helpful outline of the first nine verses that discuss the building of the Tower of Babel:

The Tower of Babel narrative can be divided into four scenes: the initial setting on the plains of Shinar (11:1–2); the human word to construct a city and tower (11:3–4); the divine word to deconstruct by confounding speech (11:5–7); and the final setting, the nations scattered (11:8–10). The story is equally divided between humanity and God. The first setting and dialogue feature humanity. The second dialogue and final setting feature God.

Bruce K. Waltke and Cathi J. Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), 175-176.

In Acts one and two, we witness the human agents in a state of rebellion against the Law of God. These rebels have gathered together to oppose God, but in Acts 3 and 4, after demonstrating how fallen humanity behaves independently of God, we see the consequences of their behavior. The most crucial phrase in this biblical narrative surfaces in verse 5, “and the LORD came down.” Here the Lord takes the initiative to step down into His creation to behold the city and the tower that was built and throw a monkey wrench in humanity’s objective to establish a society devoid of God.

As we delve into the text of Genesis 11:1-9, we will examine the attitude that inspired these early humans to take on this architectural task. In addition, this article points out how this same spirit at Babel will manifest again to build a future without God via a world empire to rule the Earth.

The text of the first three verses reads as follows:

The whole earth had a common language and a common vocabulary. When the people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. Then they said to one another, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” (They had brick instead of stone and tar instead of mortar.)

Genesis 11:1-3 (NET)

A false sense of understanding (Genesis 11:1-2)

Genesis 11:1 starts, “the whole earth had one language and the same words.”

At this time in biblical history, all humanity descended from Noah. In Genesis 10:32, Moses shares, “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” ( ESV). In Genesis 11:1-9, the lawgiver explains the situation in Genesis 10:32 is the outcome of the Creator intervening in human affairs. His purpose was to scatter humanity since they were conspiring together against His rulership.

Mainly, the text provides evidence of an erroneous self-understanding on the part of Noah’s descendants.

In verse 1, a representative group of all humanity gathered together while speaking the same language. There were no barriers to their understanding of each other. They experienced total unity via their language and vocabulary.

Can you imagine such unification? How often have we called a customer service number when the agent attempting to help us is not primarily an English speaker. We cannot understand their pronunciation of words we are familiar with. Instead, we face a language barrier even with our native tongue. In Genesis 9:1, language barriers did not exist. However, humanity employed this divine gift of a common vocabulary to organize an insurrection against their Maker.

According to the IVP Bible Background Commentary of the Old Testament, the record of a time when all humanity spoke a single language is preserved in Sumerian in the epic entitled Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta. This account also archives an incident when speech changed, and contention resulted. The confusion of language by a deity was an ancient theme (pg. 41).

In Genesis 9:2, the account continues, “And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there” (ESV). The Hebrew word for “migrated” implies “to pull up stakes” that hold down a tent. Assuming the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat in Eastern Turkey, these migrants pulled up their stakes from this location to travel eastward to Persia and then to Mesopotamia.

Waltke mentions the migration eastward has a figurative meaning that signifies these Babelites are moving away from the blessing of God (Gen. 3:24; 4:16; 13:10;-12; 25:6; 29:1) (Matthews, K. A. Genesis 1–11:26. NAC. Broadman & Holman, 1996).

These wanderers came to the plains in the land of Shinar, the southeastern region of Mesopotamia, south of Baghdad in Iraq. Shinar is also the biblical designation for the lower part of the Tigris-Euphrates basin, an area that witnessed the earliest development of civilization.

According to the early records of Genesis, the Garden of Eden sits in a place where four rivers flow (Genesis 2:10-14). Two of the rivers were the Tigris and the Euphrates.  Babylon also is located in the land between these two named rivers. Was this gathering by these post-Flood inhabitants a feeble attempt to get back to Paradise?

Courtesy of NEH (https://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plans/cuneiform-writing-system-ancient-mesopotamia-emergence-and-evolution)

God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden, the exact location between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers. Thereupon, the Lord barred Adam and Eve from enjoying the blessings of Eden.

After Adam and Eve vacate Eden, the universal Flood swoops down on the earth. Next, Genesis 10 provides the names of the descendants of Noah after the Flood.

The move eastward suggests the following narrative by the people in that day, “Let us return to the Garden of Eden. Let’s re-establish ourselves in the region of the Tigris and Euphrates, but this time, without God. Since we speak the same language and understand each other, we can work together without the Creator”.

Once God was real to these people. Some were descendants of individuals who underwent God’s judgment through the universal Flood.  As time passed, that manifestation of God’s wrath grew faint. Now they are on the verge of returning to the Garden.

Many biblical commentators maintain that the effort by this post-diluvian generation was a stab at establishing a one-world government. Although this conjectured scenario fits well with the modern ideas of the end times, it might be far-fetched to read such an advanced political perspective into the text. Adversely, these descendants of Noah were more focused on putting down their stakes in a city where they could depend on themselves rather than God for their livelihood. With the construction of this famed tower, we learn these explorers had room for a religious system but based on false deities. The Creator God may have been too restrictive for this forward-looking generation. A pantheon of deities of their own making would be more to their liking.

Today we can go through a tremendous experience, whether a health issue, a marital crisis, or another trial.  We understand who God is, and we witness His intervention.  Yet as time passes, we become more secure.  We seek fulfillment in ourselves and choose a life minus God. This endeavor betrays a false understanding of who we are in the sight of a holy God.

A false sense of direction (Genesis 11:3)

The people in Genesis 11 had a misguided understanding of who they were before the Lord God. In addition, they nurtured a false sense of direction.  Rather than populating the Earth as God commanded in Genesis 9:1, this generation wants to do things their way and chooses not to spread out as God commanded. They had direction. However, it was a self-driven, false sense of direction.

People who live without God have direction, but selfish ambition is empowering them. We need to ask ourselves: “I know I’m moving forward, but am I seeking the divine blueprint, the destiny that God has for me?  Is God’s will just an option?” 

Genesis 11:3 records: “They said to each other, Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ [And] they used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar” (Genesis 11:3 NIV). These people encouraged each other to act in a rebellious manner, leaving God out of the picture. Their goal was to build a city and a tower as a memorial to bring prestige to themselves and worship the creation rather than honor God.

Moses remarks that these builders used kiln-baked bricks rather than stone. A citation from the IVP Bible Background Commentary of the Old Testament supports the historical reliability of the author’s comment in verse 3:

In the southern plains of Mesopotamia, however, stone would have to be quarried some distance away and transported. The technology of baking brick was developed toward the end of the fourth millennium, and the resulting product, using bitumen as a mastic, proved waterproof and as sturdy as stone.

IVP Bible Background Commentary of the Old Testament,2000, pg. 41

The bricks used were not run-of-the-mill bricks.  According to the Enuma Elish (Babylonian Epic of Creation), it records every brick the Babylonians used was inscribed with the name of the Babylonian god Marduk.

During this time in history, the people are throwing off the yoke of God and building this structure. For all intent, the structure is dedicated to a false god invented by these descendants of Noah. 

An unsafe world continues with a desire to build a name for ourselves (Genesis 11:4)

In California, we are very health conscious.  The May 2006 Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association published a study on the side effects of select indoor air purifiers. The study found certain ionic air purifies use a process called ozonolysis, which produces pollution. These machines emit ozone, the same chemical the EPA has been trying to eliminate from our air for decades. The report states people buy air purifiers and bring them into their homes, emitting pollutants within their abodes.  

We talk about building a marriage, a career, or a family, but when we leave God out of the picture, it brings a destructive attitude like a Trojan horse into our homes. Though everything appears to be good and moving forward, if God is missing from the design, we can pollute our relationships with an attitude unchecked by the Spirit of the living God. Rather than seeking to bring glory to Him, we construct our reputation using whatever materials-good or evil-are available to us.

The text continues in verse 4, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

The goal of building a city and a tower were not sinful endeavors. The error of their ways was to embark on this building project while leaving God out of the picture. In this intention, they had opened a door for a Trojan horse to come into their midst.

The goal in building the tower and the city was twofold:

1) they sought to acquire a reputation for themselves. The first goal of these builders points to their need for significance and security apart from God. These are provisions already promised by God. But the builders wanted these amenities apart from God

2) they wanted to stay together. These rebels needed to remain together to live in dependency on one another and not the Creator. They did not desire to find security in God. This attitude appears in their wilful resolve, “Let us,” instead of seeking the Lord to fulfill their needs. The word for city, עִ֗יר (‘ir) in verse 4 can speak of a fortified location with a ruler over the surrounding villages.  Hence, this wayward generation wanted to set up a city in which they would rule, and its center would be the tower with its religious significance.

Rather than seek the Creator to be their protector, these earth dwellers had other aims in mind. In essence, they wanted to make a name for themselves.

To make a name for themselves includes several ramifications:

To think more highly of ourselves

The top of the tower (וּמִגְדָּל) was to reach the heavens. These builders saw themselves as those who deserved access to heaven but in their way and not following divine revelation.

Allegedly, these humans believed this ziggurat mountain with its roots in the Earth and its top in the clouds would serve as a mythic gate to heaven as seen in the name Babel “the gate of the gods.” To these pagan tower builders, the gods would have a staircase to come down into their temple and their city. The language used in verse 4 indicates humanity now dwells in heaven. But God shows them they are wrong (Gen. 19:24; 21:17; 22:11, 15; Deut. 26:15; Ps. 115:16).Bruce K. Waltke and Cathi J. Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), 179.

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1563).

On the construction of this ancient structure, these comments made in the Torah: A Modern Commentary provide us additional insight:

A tower-like structure called ziggurat—literally, “that which has been raised high”—was a distinctive feature of all Babylonian temple complexes and may have served as the humanly constructed equivalent of the mythical holy mountain in Babylonian mythology. The ziggurat called Etemenanki (“house of the foundation of heaven and earth”) was reported to have consisted of seven stories receding in pyramid-like fashion toward a flat top and reaching a height of nearly 300 feet (90 meters). Archeologists have uncovered the foundation of this ziggurat, and its extent would seem to coincide with the reputed size of the Tower of Babel

W. Gunther Plaut and David E. Stein, eds. The Torah: A Modern Commentary. Revised; Accordance electronic ed. (New York: Union for Reform Judaism, 2006), 77.

However, to take one step deeper, it is essential to know what the erection of the tower meant to this crop of free-thinkers:

In the spirit that pervaded this ancient building project, we see a deep arrogance. In having access to heaven, these humans revealed an over-inflated view of themselves. This was an attempt to equal if not displace God. In the same way, Adam and Eve believed they could discover knowledge apart from God, these inhabitants exhibited a sense of arrogance. Because they had a unified language and built this structure for the gods to come to them, they believed in their superiority.

TW. Gunther Plaut and David E. Stein, eds. The Torah: A Modern Commentary. Revised; Accordance electronic ed. (New York: Union for Reform Judaism, 2006), 77.

To “make a name for ourselves” signifies the desire for significance and immortality utilizing their achievements. These people were more interested in constructing their pride than in the erection of these cities (Gen. 4:12-14, 17). God was not pleased with their motivation. They pursue significance not in God but in this towering structure that enables them in their pride to gain access to heaven (Waltke, pg. 180).

The manifestation of pagan spirituality is rooted in the pride of self. These rebels felt capable of conversing with the gods on their terms. Human pride and arrogance replaced the word of the Creator. Such arrogance is another Trojan horse these artisans invited into their midst.

To think of ourselves as having no limitations

On the one hand, the building of the tower by humanity demonstrates their self-importance. These Noahic descendants reveal their desire to live minus any limits like their ancestors.

Some biblical scholars maintain the tower builders are the spiritual heirs of the line of Cain. Both migrated eastward (4:16; 11:23); both build a city to establish a secure place and a meaningful quality of life apart from God (Gen. 4:17; 11:4); both are proud builders (Gen. 4:19-24; 11:3-4); both are judged by being compelled to migrate (Genesis 4:12-13; 11:8); both continue to propagate under the Creator’s blessing (4:17-24; Genesis 10) (Waltke, pg. 177).

These masons of the tower of Babel yearned to throw off all divine limitations. Plus, they were arrogant enough to believe they could pull off this feat. In contrast to the greatness of God, they believed in their unlimited ability to achieve their prominence without God.

In the next section, we will look at the religious ramifications of this effort to build a tower “with its top in the heavens.”

An unsafe world is fortified by a spirit of religious power (Genesis 11:4)

Instead of a political focus, the construction crew of the Tower of Babel zeroed in on the spiritual nature of throwing up this tower. “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” (Genesis 11:4 ESV).

In these early cities, like Babel, the central focus was the temple complex. Often, the temple system constitutes the city itself. The temple or ziggurat provides a location where the patron deity is worshipped.

The IVP Bible Background Commentary of the Old Testament adds more information on the religious nature of the ziggurat,

At the top was a small room for the deity, equipped with a bed and a table supplied regularly with food. In this way the deity could refresh himself during his descent. None of the festivals or ritual acts suggest that people used the ziggurat for any purpose. It was for the gods. The priests certainly would have to go up to provide fresh supplies, but it was holy ground. The ziggurat served as the architectural representation of the pagan religious developments of this period, when deity was transformed into the image of man.

John H. Walton, Victor H. Matthews, and Mark W. Chavalas, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, Accordance electronic ed. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 42.

Yes, these people wanted to connect with the deities on their terms. Yet more profound than that, their common purpose unmasked other aspects of the religious nature of this ancient project.

The religious effort to deify mankind

The goal of these builders was not to reach God but to exalt themselves as independent of God. Because they built this tower separate from God and provided a way for false deities to come down to them, these upstarts approached the spiritual realm in their way. In this effort, they demonstrated unity. Though many Bible teachers utilize the towel of Babel incident to bolster their view the building venture was to create a one-world government, this conjecture is foreign to the text. It is hard to see political ramifications in the Genesis 11 account. Instead, the focus was on the spiritual.

Here is where the error of these builders wanting to make a name for themselves is exposed. Making a name for oneself is not necessarily wrong or evil. In other contexts, God told His people they would make a name for themselves through having descendants. But when this desire leads one to pursue wicked schemes, then God will oppose such an effort. The desire to throw off the shackles of divine revelation and approach God their way unified these people. They sought to make a name for themselves rather than God. In making a name for themselves, they were attempting to displace God,

The ultimate religious effort to deify a final world ruler

From the album L1 – LC – Lockhart/Campbell – William Andrew Lockhart & Mary (Campbell) Lockhart

It is no coincidence Revelation 17 calls the last world empire the mystery Babylon.  An absolute world ruler or Antichrist will conquer this kingdom and take over. His next step will be to make use of the self-exaltation of man seen at the tower of Babel and push it to the final degree and boldly proclaim, “Do you want to exalt man? I am the final man. I am the evolved man.  I am god himself.”

Figuratively, the final world ruler attains the top of the tower of Babel by his claims of greatness. Similarly, the ancient Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar saw himself as the sole source of the greatness of Babylon. Daniel 4:30 records the words of the King of Babylon, “and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” (ESV)

In the face of his pride, the Lord God judged Nebuchadnezzar and caused him to live in an animal-like existence until he repented of his self-exaltation. ‘While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” Daniel 4:31–32 ESV)

In the same way, the final world ruler will make great boasts against God and face divine retribution. And the Beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven” (Revelation 13:5–6 ESV).

Concerning the final demise of this apocalyptic figure, the Book of Revelation records:

And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur

(Revelation 19:20 ESV)

One might conjecture in a scenario like Babel, there might be a danger of one charismatic ruler stepping in the center ring and bringing all attention to himself. Though this scenario did not occur at Babel, today, such a leader might attract a following. As already indicated, in the end times, such a ruler will arise.

Does it seem feasible that a man of this self-imposed stature will grab the international spotlight?

This world leader would be successful in solving the Middle East crisis. In addition, he may repair world poverty and rectify the global warming issue. This powerful individual would address world healthcare and Islamic terrorism. Sure enough, as indicated in the Book of Revelation, such a personage could easily exalt himself, and the world will bow before him. This human magnet of spiritual power will climb to the peak of the tower, epitomize all human effort to oppose God, and crown himself with the title, “true living god.”

An unsafe world eventually realizes its need of the intervention of God (Genesis 11:5-7)

The spirit of Babylon prepares the world for the eventual intervention of God. In verse 5, we read: “The LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. [And]  the LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.  Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other” (Genesis 11:5-7 NIV).

The text reads, “The LORD came down to see . . .” Verse five forms the central focus of this passage. In verses 1-4, we see man’s foolish belief in living independently of God. Then God steps in.

The Lord “came down” to view His creation caught up in paganism represented by the ziggurat. The builders were not expecting the one true God to come down. They were anticipating the pagan deities created in their image who would bless their rebellious efforts.

God comes to see what His creation is doing before He announces judgment. His divine descent presupposes His prior knowledge of the situation. He is sovereign and only comes down for the sake of the people on Earth.

Instead of allowing this rebellion to run its course, God steps in to prevent the revolution from progressing. He protects the human race from their own bad choices to institute His plan for humanity.

This section highlights the human race’s pride and the consequences of their hubris unchecked by the Creator.

The source of their pride is a common language

Their common language is the source of their strength and unity, as symbolized by the tower (Waltke, pg. 180). They believe because they can communicate with one another, they can accomplish almost anything. “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 (Genesis 11:6 ESV).

The outgrowth of pride is an unstoppable belief in themselves

The people refuse to live within God-given limitations. They are seeking to find fame, meaning, and unity through this technological effort. In the remainder of verse 6, we see, “and nothing they propose to do will now be impossible for them.” They will continue to live outside the boundaries set by God.

The Lord is saying these people are joining together not for good but evil.  They are using their potential for wickedness, not good. God has to come down and stop this moving train of self-will and scatter the people.  We wonder today, “God, people are gathering together, and it’s not always for good. Terrorism.  Nuclear attacks.  When is God going to intervene?”

There is presently a need for an intervention of God.

I don’t believe God is going to intervene yet. We’re ready for God to stop the madness, but right now, Satan is using militant Islam as a tool of antagonism, hate, and terrorism towards Israel. The world is set up for the Antichrist, the final leader, to take center stage.

The blockading of their pride was the confusion of their speech

In verse 7, we observe the Lord intervening at the Tower of Babel, “Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech” (ESV). In contrast to the unified purpose of mankind to disconnect from God, we see the joint counsel within the Godhead to overthrow this rebellious effort.

Photo by Pavan Trikutam on Unsplash

The term “confuse” carries the sense “to mix or mingle.” The post- Flood people secure their unity in their everyday language. God goes down to confuse their tongue. Now they cannot make a name for themselves and accomplish what they designed. The result was that this generation who enjoyed a universal language was compelled to separate from each other. The diversity of languages caused them to break apart their so-called oneness.

The people tried by their shared knowledge to join together, but the Lord confused their communication and shared understanding. The project to build the tower is abandoned.

Instead of allowing Noah’s descendants to create a world devoid of nations, God poured cold water on the zeal of these inhabitants. Why?

We learn from Genesis 12 the Lord planned to call Abram out of Babylon to form the nation of Israel.

The Lord communicates to Abram, “I need you to leave Mesopotamia and come to a land I am going to show you.  I am going to make a people, a nation that comes forth from you.  I am going to give these people their own land. In your seed, Abraham, I am going to bless the world.” To counteract the effort by Noah’s descendants to cement together, the Lord blesses the nations with eternal life by bringing forth the messianic seed of Abraham, Yeshua the Messiah.

An unsafe world will manifest itself in unity against God (Genesis 11:8-9)

Finally, Genesis chapter 11:8-9 states: “So the LORD scattered them from there over all the Earth, and they stopped building the city.  That is why it was called Babel— because there, the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there, the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole Earth.” These verses mark for the reader the results of God’s intervention during the events taking place at the Tower of Babel.

The world will unify to throw off all divine limitations

The Hebrew word for “disperse” (וַיָּ֨פֶץ) signifies, “to scatter or overflow.” In other words, the Creator uprooted the inhabitants of the post-Flood world (hifil stem) to migrate from a heavily populated area to a low concentration of people. Rather than being centrally located in Babylon, the human race scatters throughout the Earth.

As each family unit moves from one another, they develop their own cultures and language. The world becomes diversified instead of unified. The world divides into a multiplicity of nations, languages, and cultures.

As stated above, Genesis 11:1-9 provides a critical transition to the establishment of the Jewish nation:

This chapter is a transition from universal prehistory to a story of more limited scope—that of Abram, Sarai, and their people. The Torah sees humanity’s early history as a series of rebellions against the will of God. The rebellion of the people of Babel prompts God to look for a new channel to humanity. To Abram and Sarai and their descendants, God now entrusts the task of bringing blessings to all the nations of the earth

W. Gunther Plaut and David E. Stein, eds. The Torah: A Modern Commentary (New York: Union for Reform Judaism, 2006), 77.

God has to scatter the nations because they unified to create evil. They are gathering together to oppose God.  As the spirit of Babylon manifests itself again, we discern more and more rebellion by humans against God. Humanity still seeks to throw off the restrictions instituted by God. The guard rails around marriage are severely breached. Sexual activity is reaching new boundaries never heard of before. The disregard for the rule of law is embraced in the US and countries throughout western Europe. Most importantly, many nations, leaders, and political ideologies are stacked up against Israel.

The unification efforts result in confusion.

Photo by Caroline Grondin on Unsplash

In the final verse, Moses pens, “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 11:9, ESV). Babel is located in modern Iraq, perhaps twenty miles south of Baghdad on the Euphrates River, south of where the two rivers Tigris and Euphrates converge.

The founders called the city and the tower “Babel” (בָּבֶ֔ל) which meant the “gate of the gods.” Moses parodies that significance with the Hebrew בָּלַ֥ל (Balal), meaning “confused.” Instead of the “gate of the gods,” the writer of Genesis states the valid name of this city is “a babel of voices” (Waltke pg. 178). This ancient construction crew aimed to build a tower that reached heaven. God turns this architectural project into confusion.

Biblical academics consider people tried to oppose God’s instructions to fill the Earth. After the erection of this city and tower, God fulfills His design that people saturate the Earth. Yet, we know from the biblical text humanity continued to build cities and nations, and empires.

Historically, the building of Babylon stopped in Genesis 11 due to the decrease of its population. However, later in ancient history, the population increased, and Babylon became the most glorious city in the ancient near East. Babylon reached its full potential under the reign of Nabopolassar (625-605) and Nebuchadnezzar II (604-562).

Most likely, the goal of the Creator is not solely to disperse these early earth dwellers but to hinder man’s attempt to discard His rule and establish their path to the divine.

Conclusion

Today Israel’s enemies are rebelling against the idea God has chosen Israel as His elect people in addition to the Ekklesia or Church of God. People still rebel against God’s choices and limitations. The Jewish Study Bible includes several relevant insights:

Whereas the builders of Babel sought “to make a name for [them]selves” (v. 4) on their own, the LORD, in the next ch, promises to make Abram’s “name great” Himself (12.2). And whereas they feared being “scattered all over the world” (11.4), the LORD calls Abram out of Mesopotamia and promises him a land of his own (12.1, 7). Whereas the builders of Babel are cursed with an inability to understand each other (11.7, 9), the LORD blesses not only Abram but all those who bless him (12.2–3).

Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, eds. The Jewish Study Bible: Second Edition. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 26.

The evil of those who oppose God has come full circle.

Listen to the words of this Iranian leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Yahya Raheem Safavi “In light of the Zionists’ crimes and oppression, I ask God to hasten the years when this regime will no longer exist.  There is a need to topple the phony Zionist regime, this cancerous growth called Israel, which was founded in order to plunder the Muslims’ resources and wealth.”

In contrast to the radical Islamic hatred for Israel, the world will gather to the tower again under the guise of wanting peace in the Middle East. The international community will convene to sit under the leadership of the man of peace.  He will bring a temporary truce that allows Israel to build a temple and end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  But the price of this peace is not a structure that reaches Heaven.  This time it is a person, the Antichrist, a man who calls himself god, the full manifestation of Satan on Earth.  He will convince his followers that they can reach heaven through him alone.

Today, evangelical leaders are to take a stand for Israel. However, some church leaders are turning away from Israel. In a previous blog, we explored the church’s steady move against supporting Israel.

I read an email from 2006 from a noted professor from Fuller Theological Seminary who suggests the best thing is for Israel to leave the land and relocate to Australia. 

Today some evangelical leaders designate Israel as an apartheid nation. These church officials reveal their lack of understanding of apartheid in South Africa compared to how Arab Israelis thrive in modern Israel. 

Christians are confused. Many are listening to Christian leaders who are more versed in pro-Palestinian politics than the Scriptures. Evangelical leaders will need to verse themselves in Israeli history from the Bible and beyond. A deeper understanding of the Middle East’s modern history will help combat false and inaccurate ideas about the modern state of Israel imposed on the church today.

The body of Messiah is undergoing testing. It is going to cost to stand up for Israel.

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