The City of Man
April 29, 2018
We are now in the Book of Genesis and we're at that place where the flood is now completed, and Noah and his three sons have been asked by God to be fruitful to multiply, to populate the earth and to subdue it, that is the entire earth. Genesis Chapter 11 tells us that they did not follow God's word but instead they went to the land of Shinar which is like upper Mesopotamia area. There they said, and these are the verses we'll look at…
"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 across the face of the earth." Notice the theme, let us build for ourselves and then later let us make for ourselves a name. This is a formula for many troubles. Let us do this in rejection of God. Instead of doing the thing, the difficult thing that God is going to bless, they did the thing that would bring glory and honor and fame to themselves.
Now, when they made this tower, I've read that some have suggested that they built it so as to have direct access to God, like man making his own gateway to God. I don't adhere to that particularly, I think however it's interesting because the idea of man getting his own access to God is a theme that we have seen through history. It's very interesting, it's the nature of man and it reminds me of a funny story actually.
This story is basically somewhat in the neighborhood of true. What did happen was, Billy Graham had been given an invitation to come to Rome and to visit the pope. He's in Rome and he's in the office of the pope and he looks on his desk and there is a red phone on his desk and he says, “I can't help but notice that red phone, what does that do?"
He said, “That phone is a direct connection to God." "Is it really a direct connection to God?” He said, "Really a direct connection to God? How much does it cost to use that phone?" “He said a thousand dollars a minute.” He said, "Really a thousand dollars a minute?” Sometime later Billy Graham was also given an invitation to visit the prime minister in Israel.
He is now in Jerusalem in the office of the prime minister and what did he see on the desk of the prime minister of Israel but any other red phone. He says, “You don't suppose that that phone is a direct connection to God?” He says, “As a matter of fact it is.” He says, “How much does it cost to use that phone?” He says, “It's free.” “Why is it free for you to use it but for the pope it's a thousand dollars a minute?” The prime minister said, “Well, you have to understand in Israel it's a local call.” Okay, it is my joke. I told that joke in Jerusalem. They loved it.
No, the idea of building this tower was to create a name for themselves, to create such a magnificent building, so as to draw people onto it. It's a bit like when they have the building of the great pyramids of Egypt. In other words, it's now made famous the names of the Pharaohs who built it. You can imagine then the pride of having the greatest, the tallest, make a name for ourselves, we have the greatest. Today as a matter of fact the tallest building in the world is called the Burj Khalifa is in Dubai and it's 2,717 feet, can you imagine more than a half a mile in height.
For almost 100 years, the tallest building in the world was the Empire State Building. The idea of course is to have the tallest, the greatest and to be known as the one who built such a great thing. It's all about man isn't it? It's all about what Man can do. The idea then it's in rejection of God and God's purpose. God frustrated their plans by confusing their language, that they might be scattered and inhabit the earth as he directed them. Their collective pride, their collective evil is going to bring about a greater rebellion to new heights.
Interestingly, historians of ancient Babylon describe a tower or ziggurat at the center of the City, Tower built of solid masonry, two and a half foot balling or two and a half football fields links in length and in width and creates a foundation on which is built another tower which is the foundation on which is built another on which is a built a another et cetera, all the way up to eight heights of towers the top of which is a shrine or temple that gives us an insight.
The idea is to make a new religion. Thus, this is a significant story and a significant city because Babel later became known as the famous Babylon, which is giving us a direct connection to latter day events in the book of Revelation. How interesting, history is connected to prophecy. Let's read it. Genesis 11 and we begin in verse one. Now, the whole earth used the same language and the same words, and it came about as the journeyed east that they found a plane in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, "Come, let us let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly."
They used brick for stone and they used tar for mortar, and they said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city and a tower whose top will reach in heaven and let us make for ourselves a name, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 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 would say purpose to do will be impossible for them.”
In other words, no evil that they have in their heart will be present, they will just continue in an evil pursuit. Come, let us go down then let us confuse their language that they may not understand one another's speech. The Lord scattered them abroad from there, over the face of the whole earth and they stopped building the city. Therefore, its name was called Babel because there the Lord confused the language and in Hebrew it means confusion. Although in the Akkadian language it means gateway of the gods.
I. God Weighs the Motives of the Heart
From there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth. These are the verses we're looking at and there's a lot for us to apply out of these beginning with this perspective, that God weighs the motives of the heart. Clearly, it's about their intent, their motive that comes to the plains of Shinar, by the way it's in modern day Iraq, which is where ancient Babylon was. They decided to settle there, built this great city and the greatest city the world has ever known. It is the empires beginning, the headquarters of an empire.
Their motive was clear, let us make for ourselves a name and rejecting God in it. One of the great problems of course is that the motives of self is often self. Favoring one's self in rejection of God's purpose and God's way. The desire of many to make themselves great and to have a great name or great position, great recognition. In fact, it's the dream of young people. Oftentimes, when they are launching into life, visions of greatness and a great name.
I was the same, I remember when I was young and I had a band actually, a band which let me just say right now is not very good. We didn't know that it wasn't very good, we thought it was amazing. We're going to take the world by storm, we're going to we're going to travel the world, we're going to make records and hit tracks and we're going to be like awesome.
Then of course the Lord crashes down to earth the reality that we weren't very good. The intent, the motive was greatness. James 4 speaks to it. James 4 says this, “You do not have because you do not ask.” All right, now that is a great principle. You don't have because you don’t ask, makes you really desire to ask. Then he adds this but you ask and do not receive because you ask with wrong motives so that you may spend it on your pleasure.
A. Don’t be a Nimrod
The motive of the heart, God weighs the motives, very, very important if they're scattered abroad they're going to become obscure and they would rather build something so great, that they would be remembered as the great ones who built this great tower. They are rejecting God's plan in order to make a name for themselves. It was founded by a man by the name of Nimrod, maybe we can say it this way, don't be a Nimrod. When I was young that was an insult.
Anybody remember that, it’s an insult to call someone a Nimrod. Back in that day he was a compliment, he was like a hero. In fact, Genesis 10 gives us this key to what was happening in Babel. It says this, "Nimrod, became a mighty one on the earth." He was a mighty hunter before the Lord, therefore, it is said, it's like a saying, he's like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. People wanted to be like him and the beginning of his kingdom was Babel.
In many ways he is very representative of a prophetic person who is the Antichrist, because the intent of the city, the intent of this tower, the intensive all of this is to have one unity, one government, you might say, one people's, at one leader over all of it. It's a picture of the Antichrist who sets up Babylon who given the spiritual designation of Babylon in prophecy as the desire of a one world government as we understand he will accomplish it.
This purpose of this tower, however, was to peer into the constellations, in other words, to create a new religion, a false religion. We're going to make our own, a name for ourselves, a city for ourselves and a religion for ourselves. Its desire is clearly seen in the wrongful intent of rejecting God, is a picture of the man who was convinced that he's self-made and doesn't need God, the person who's convinced that he is self-made must answer the question what part exactly did you make? Because you breathe in God's air and you're standing on God's Earth and God gave you the strength and the intelligence and the ability to do what you are doing.
Their technological advancements were expanding, they've discovered now how to make bricks, harden in the furnace and tars or mortar and it allows engineering feats that were unknown up to that point. Technological advancement in the advancement of man's abilities is of course famous, but along with men's advancement of technological abilities comes with it also the technological advancement of destruction and the potential of evil as we know.
In fact, gunpowder, I was reading an interesting history on gunpowder. Did you know that it was actually originally invented as something to drink? As a potion. The idea was a potion that would bring longevity of life. It was invented in China as a potion for longevity of life and then they discovered it blows up things and then of course much death has come from it. Originally, it was used for firecrackers and fireworks and then they discovered that they could scare the enemy by throwing these booming things at the enemy.
Then they discovered that they could actually shoot tendons with them and the nature of war has changed, with development comes also destruction and evil. These ancient Babylonian ziggurats, these towers ascending levels of foundations with these exterior staircases led to a shrine, the top. The constellations of the gods were inscribed on the sides, helping us to see the intent, a rejection of God. Make a new religion, it's all about what man can do.
B. Consider the humility of John the Baptist
You contrast this, you contrast Nimrod and Babel and the intensive of trying to reject God and having a claim for oneself. You have to compare that and contrast that to the humility of John the Baptist. You say, well, what does John the Baptist have to do with this? Actually, he has everything to do with it and here's why. Because it has everything to do with the greatness of a name. This is what Jesus said, this is Matthew 11:11 Jesus is speaking about John and he says this, "Truly, I say to you that among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist."
II. Be a God-Made Man
That is an amazing statement. He is greater than Nimrod, he is greater than any of the great men of old, what made him great? Great of all the Old Testament Saints, greatest. What made him great? It's very interesting thing. What made him great was he understood the significance of God in his life and God's purpose on his life and he understand who--he understood himself in light of it, that is a great man.
John 3:29-31 gives us the insight, he who has the bride, the bride is the church. He who has the bride is the bridegroom, that bridegroom is Jesus Christ, but the friend of the bridegroom, now that's John himself is he who stands in hears him and rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. This joy of mine has been made full, he must increase but I must decrease. He who comes from above is above all, John understood.
John understood who God was in his life, he understood who Jesus was and he understood who he was. He says, "I'm not even worthy to untie the sandals from his feet" When you see someone who does something great, amazing accomplishment and then give God the glory, that's awesome. Ever seen like these football games and football player makes like one handed catch, it barely brings it in and touchdown and everybody's so excited and then it's so amazing when sometimes they'll, take a knee and give God glory. That is awesome.
There's so many other times right, someone does an amazing catch and then they're they like, look at me, look what I've done, but when you recognize God in your life and you know what God has done to make you great, that's a whole another thing. Here's something interesting Matthew 11:11, that's the verse I spoke about John but would you notice what he says next, he says, "Truly I say to you among those born of women, there is not a risen anyone greater than John the Baptist." Here we read that but listen to what he says next, "Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John."
That is just simply an amazing statement, what does it mean? He who is least in the kingdom is greater than John? It means that though John was a great man, the church is the bride of Christ. The favor of God is on the bride of Christ, it means that his love for the church, the bride knows the limits. It means that the grace of God, the favor of God, the commitment of God is everlasting. Do you know who you are? That's the question, do you know who God is in your life because if you've asked Jesus Christ into your heart as Lord and Savior, His love for you knows no bounds.
His commitment to you is everlasting that He will establish your steps, your life, maybe we can say it this way, be a God made man. That is way better, be a God made man. The intent of Genesis 11 in Babel is to make a name for themselves to do it their way. We'll make our own religion, Name the constellations after the gods are the gods after the constellations. We'll do it our own way, it's all about the claim of man. Maybe we could see that God will make your name.
A. Let God make your name
Hey, let God make your name. You look at Abraham, one of the great examples of the Old Testament. Here he's living in a time and culture where they were going after other gods but Abraham, he honored God in his life. He was called by God to leave his land and to leave his people and to go to that land, the land of Canaan, the land that He would give to his descendants as an inheritance, but it also says this, this is Genesis 12:2, "I will make you a great nation.
I will make you a great nation and I will bless you and I will make your name great and you will then be a blessing." That is the perspective that we need. Here's another good example, David. David, it says of him, this is second Samuel 7:8-9, you say this to my servant David. He says, “I took you from the pasture, I took you from following the sheep, in other words you were like a nobody and I made you ruler over my people Israel.”
In other words, the favor of God is what establishes your name is what establishes your way. He says, "I have been with you wherever you have gone." If you've asked Jesus Christ into your heart is Lord and Savior that promise is yours. Jesus says, "I will never leave you, I will never forsake you, I'll never turn my back on you, my love for you will never stop." He adds to that, "I've cut off all your enemies from before you and I will make your name great." Like the names of the great men who were on the earth.
God's made some great names Abraham, Isaac, Jacob Joseph, Moses, David, Elijah, Daniel, He's made some great names. In contrast, Nimrod who was now named is an insult. What we have to do is to trust that God establishes our way, that God is the one who opens doors. If we have any success in life, God did it. See, I like Psalm 73:24-26, "With your counsel, you will guide me and, afterward, you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And besides you, I desire nothing on this earth. My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart, God is my portion, God is my portion forever."
That's a powerful perspective. What have I on earth besides you, Lord? I desire nothing for you are the strength of my heart and my portion forever." He trusting God is faith that he will make your name, that he opens the door, that he, if any success comes, God did it. He's the one who gives purpose and meaning to your life, he establishes your way.
An illustration of this has to be that, one day, several years ago, I had the opportunity to golf with a professional golfer. How it happened was nothing short of amazing because I am not very good at all. It was a Monday, it was my day off, and I got up and I thought, "I want to go golfing." I called a friend, he couldn't go, called another friend, he couldn't go either but he said, "Well, I'll just meet you down there, we'll just hit some balls." All right, sounds good. I go down there and, lo and behold, there's a golf tournament going on down there and it's for my friend, who's like the chaplain for the Trailblazers.
I said to my friend, "I gotta go say hi to Al." He said, "Sure go ahead." I go to the clubhouse, I find Al and I said, "Al, look at this deal. This is your golf tournament, this is amazing, this is wonderful." He says, "Hey, do you want to go golfing?" and I said, "Actually yes, I would love to go golfing," He says, "Wonderful. Surely someone won't show up so it'll be free." I'm thinking, "Yes, this is getting better already." He says, "Well, just wait here and we'll find out."
I'm waiting a few minutes, he comes back and he says, "Guess what? You are going to be golfing today with Bob Gilder." If you don't know Bob Gelder, he's like on the Champions Tour and he's been a professional golfer since he graduated from college and been golfing as a pro all his life and now he's on the Champions Tour, he's a strong Christian and I get to golf with him. I said to Al, "No, no, no. Somebody else wants to golf. Let somebody else," right, "Somebody who's good.
Let somebody else golf with him." "No, no. I want you to go with him." "Okay." I golfed all day with Bob Gilder, and he is absolutely amazing. Tow eagles that day, right? He's amazing. One day, I mean one time, I hit this beautiful shot. One beautiful shot. I hit this beautiful shot and I was like, "Wow. Look at that," right? I said to Bob Gilder, I said, "Do you think I got potential?" He said, "Don't quit your day job."
Then, he said, "No, seriously, being a professional golfer is way harder than you think. You have to golf all that time. After awhile, it's not the same, you have to golf all the time. If I want to spend time with my wife, she's going to go golfing with me. I'm on the road more than half of the year." He said, "Oh, it's way harder than you think," he said, "There's this. I know that God has called me here for a purpose, for every tournament I ever go to, I always invite all of the golfers to a Bible study the night before. I know that God is using me in their life."
B. Trust in God’s provision
I thought, "Now here's a person who understands God's purpose. God is the one who orders the way. God is the one who opens the door. God is the one who gives purpose and meaning to a person's life." Psalm 37:23, he says it this way, "The steps of man are established by the Lord and he delights in his way." Do you believe that? Do you believe that your steps are ordered of the Lord? That he is the one who opens doors? See, it's a question of faith, isn't it? Trust in God's provision, that's faith.
God's plan, from the beginning, was to bless man with that which was good. He made a beautiful garden and he let them have the abundance of everything that was good. The story of mankind is the story of man's failure to trust God and to enjoy what God has provided. Instead, people want to decide for themselves what is good, even if it's against God's will, even if it means that they end up being resisted by God and that God thwart their way. Do you want the favor of God or God's resisting you?
I want the favor of God. I want God establishing the footsteps of my life. Anybody else? We need to trust God's provision, that what he does is good. They say, "Let us make a name for ourselves." it's the basic urge of fallen man, it's the basic philosophy of humanism, glory to man in the highest. See, you look at the story of Babel and recognize that it becomes Babylon. It's a city of green significance spiritually and prophetically because of what it represents.
C. There is a city made by God
It becomes the center of the one world government, the Antichrist arises from it, from Babylon. You know what's interesting? What's interesting is that we know that, in the latter days, that the Antichrist will put the name or the number of his name on the forehead of those who follow after. Now we don't know his name but we do know the number of his name which is 666.
What's interesting is that that number, 666, can be directly traced back through history to none other than Babylon of which Babel is the foundation. The constellation gods are numerically designated and they are then ascribed in such a way that the God, above all other gods, is given the number 666. You see in this picture of this leader who is trying to bring everyone together in one unity of one government, a picture of the Antichrist in the latter days and this city Babylon of what it represents, for it represents the rejection of God and all that's wrong with man.
In fact, it says it this way. Revelation 18:3-5, "For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality." That is poignant, that is descriptive. All the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality. The merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality. [unintelligible 00:28:06] in Greece, speaking to the basic drives of what's wrong with man. Rejecting God and drinking of the wine of the passion of the immorality of the world and the sensuality of the riches of the greed. And then, he says this, "I heard another voice, another voice out of heaven saying this, 'Come out of her, come out of her my people.'"
Can you just imagine the Lord's voice speaking? "Come out of her, my people, I love--" he's speaking to the bride, the church is the bride, "Come out of her, my people. You know I love you. Come out of her, my people, come out of her," he says, "So that you will not participate in her sins. Don't drink of that wine. Don't drink of that wine, it will poison your soul. Come out of her, don't participate in her sins or receive her for plagues, for her sins had piled up to the heavens." God has remembered her iniquities.
Of course, Babylon will be destroyed, it is spiritually designated that future city is Babylon whose history can be traced all the way back to Genesis 11. "Come out of her, come out of her, my people. Don't drink of that wine of that passion of that immorality." See, this is a picture for us because we are people filled with passion, God made us with a passion. What is it that drives you? What is it that you are passionate about? It's the very center and core of who you are.
Don't drink of that passion, that wine, but instead, he says-- this was John 4, speaking of living water, and he says, "Whoever drinks of the water that I give him shall never thirst. The water that I give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." What a contrast, what a contrast. God knows the nature of our soul. God made our soul. He knows that we are people driven by passion. He says, "Therefore, be very careful from what you drink. Because the wine, the immorality over sensuality will poison your soul.
All that it represents, the rejection of God, the desire of men, I'll do it my way." That never has ended well. He said, "I want you to see the favor, the blessing, the grace, I'll give you living water, drink from that, it'll change your life, it will transform your life. You drink from that water, you'll be made new. Your soul will be alive."