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Genesis 11:1-9

The City of Man

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • April 29, 2018

After the flood, God told the sons of Noah- Shem, Ham and Japheth, to be fruitful and multiply, to populate the earth and subdue it. But Genesis 11 tells us that instead of following God’s word, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there, saying, “Let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name; lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

Notice the theme; “Let us build for ourselves…” And, “Let us make for ourselves a name…” That’s a formula for many troubles. Instead of doing the hard thing, the difficult thing that God would bless, they did the thing that would bring glory and honor and fame to themselves.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

The City of Man

Genesis 11:1-9

After the flood, God told the sons of Noah- Shem, Ham and Japheth, to be fruitful and multiply, to populate the earth and subdue it. But Genesis 11 tells us that instead of following God’s word, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there, saying, “Let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name; lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

Notice the theme; “Let us build for ourselves…” And, “Let us make for ourselves a name…” That’s a formula for many troubles.Instead of doing the hard thing, the difficult thing that God would bless, they did the thing that would bring glory and honor and fame to themselves.

The idea of building a tower to reach into heaven was not to create direct access to God.Although that does remind me of a funny story.One day Billy Graham was invited to visit the Pope in Rome and while he was there in the Pope’s office he noticed a red phone on his desk…

No, the idea of building this tower was to create a name for themselves; to create such a magnificent building so as to draw all people onto it.It’s a bit like building the great pyramids in Egypt; it has made famous the names of the pharaohs who built it.

The world’s tallest building today is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.It is 2717 feet tall.And of course, for almost 100 years the largest building in the world was the Empire State building.There’s a lot of pride associated having the tallest building in the world.It’s about making a name for themselves.

Historians of ancient Babylon describe a great tower or ziggurat at its center, a tower built of solid masonry that is 2 ½ football fields in length and breadth, upon which was raised a second tower, and on that a third, and so on up to eight towers. At the summit, on the topmost tower, there is a spacious Temple.

God frustrated their plans by confusing their language that they might be scattered and inhabit the earth as He had directed them. Their collective pride and evil would only bring their collective rebellion to new heights.

This is a significant story and a significant city because Babel later becomes known as the famous Babylon which has a direct connection to the latter-day events in the book of Revelation.

I. God Weighs the Motives of the Heart

  • When they come to the plains of Shinar, in modern day Iraq, they decided to settle there and build a great city with a tower that reaches into heaven.
  • Their motive is clear, “Let us make a name for ourselves.” That’s one of our great problems, our motives are so often in favor of self.It’s the desire of many to make themselves great; to have a great name for a great position, to receive great recognition.

James 4:2-3, You do not have because you do not ask.You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

  • If they’re scattered abroad they will become obscure and they would rather build something so great that they will be remembered as the great ones who built this great tower.
  • They reject God’s plan in order to make a great name for themselves.

A. Don’t be a Nimrod

  • When I was young it was an insult to call someone a Nimrod.But in that day, it was a compliment. Nimrod was a great hunter and was a role model to many who wanted to be like him.

Genesis 10:8-10, Nimrod became a mighty one on the earth.He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore, it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.”And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel…

  • As a mighty hunter, he became powerful.He was skilled with weapons and aggressive.

Illus – Fishing with a spear versus fishing with a pole.

  • Nimrod is seen in history as a strong leader who formed the world’s first empire at Babel and sought the power to control as much as possible.
  • The purpose of the tower was to peer into the constellations and create a new false religion.
  • Nimrod’s desire was to draw people with one language to become one empire; to create a unity.It is a picture of the Antichrist of the end times who will create a one world government and a false religion that takes the place of God.
  • In fact, Babylon has a direct connection to the Antichrist himself, which we will see.
  • Nimrod is a picture of a man who rejects God and convinces himself that he is self-made.

App – Those who are self-made must ask themselves – what part exactly did they make?

  • Their technological achievements were expanding. They discovered how to create bricks hardened in a furnace and tar for mortar. That allowed for engineering feats that were unknown until then.
  • Technological achievement is often accompanied by the technological advancement of destruction.Gunpowder was originally meant to be a potion for unlimited life, but instead brought death.
  • The ancient Babylonian Ziggurats were great towers. These were ascending levels of foundation with exterior staircases. But they led to a shrine at the top with the signs of the constellations of the gods inscribed on the sides. 

B. Consider the humility of John the Baptist

  • You might wonder what this story has to do with John the Baptist. Actually, it has everything to do with him because the story is about their desire to make a name for themselves.
Matthew 11:11, “Truly I say to you, among those born of women, there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist!”
  • In other words, John the Baptist was greater than Nimrod or any of the great men of old.
  • What made him great was that he knew God’s role in his life…

John 3:29-31, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease. He who comes from above is above all,”

  • John knew that he had been given a great privilege to make a path before the Messiah, but he also knew he was unworthy to untie the sandals from His feet.

Illus – Have you seen those football players who kneel and give thanks to God when they make a touchdown? They recognize the God who made them great.

  • But what is also important to understand is that Jesus made a most intriguing statement when he then compared John to those of the church…

Matthew 11:11, “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

  • What does that mean? It means that though John was great as a man, the church is the bride of Christ. The favor of God and the grace of God is on all those who ask Jesus into their heart as Lord and Savior.

II. Be a God-Made Man

  • The intent was to make a name for themselves and do it their way. They’ll make their own religion and name their gods after the constellations or name the constellations after their gods. They’ll do it their way.
  • God confuses their language so they scatter abroad as He had directed them.

A. Let God make your name

  • They decided to “make a name for themselves.” But God is the one who makes a person’s name.

Genesis 12:2, “I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing.”

2 Samuel 7:8-9, Say to My servant David, “I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people Israel.I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make your name great, like the names of the great men who are on the earth.”

  • God has made many names great; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Elijah and Daniel.
  • Nimrod to name, however, has become only an insult.
  • What we must do is to trust that God is the strength of our lives.

Psalm 73:24-26, With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory.Whom have I in heaven but You?And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

  • Trusting that God will make your name is to trust that God is working in and through your life to accomplish His purposes in your life.

Illus – God made a way for me to golf with Bob Gilder, professional golfer on the Champion’s Tour. I asked him to give me some tips after watching my golf swing. “Do you think I have potential?” I asked.

“Don’t quit your day job,” he responded dryly. “Seriously, being a professional golfer is not all it looks, but God has a purpose in my being here.” I later found out he leads a bible study on the tour with other golfers. He is fulfilling God’s purpose.

Psalm 37:23, The steps the man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way.

B. Trust in God’s provision

  • God’s plan from the beginning was to bless man with that which was good. He made a beautiful garden and let them have the abundance of everything good.
  • But the story of mankind is the story of man’s failure to trust God and enjoy what God has provided.
  • Instead, people want to decide for themselves what is “good,” even if it’s against God’s will.
  • We need to trust in God’s provision and that what God does is “good.”

“Let us make a name for ourselves,” is a basic urge of fallen man. It speaks of one of the basic philosophies of humanism, “glory to man in the highest.”

C. There is a city made by God

  • This message could be called the tale of two cities.
  • Babel, which means, Gateway of the gods in Acadian, and in Hebrew, confusion, later becomes the city of Babylon and represents spiritual idolatry.
  • Babylon is seen in Revelation as representing the world system. The message to those who follow after God… don’t drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.

Revelation 18:3-5, “For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality… and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.”I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.”

  • But there is a city of God’s provision. Even Abraham was looking for the city which has foundations and whose architect and builder is God.
  • In other words, choose from which well you will drink…

John 4:14, “Whoever drinks of the water that I give him shall never thirst; and the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

Genesis 11:1-9           NASB

1 Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. 2 It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 They said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly." And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. 4 They said, "Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth." 5 The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6 The Lord said, "Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another's speech." 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the Lordscattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.

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