Theme: “Let us make us a name…”
(Key Verses: Gen 11:1-9)
Genesis 11 is a very significant chapter in the Bible because it highlights once more the one and only division with which the elect of God are concerned – that of the division of darkness and light (Gen 1:1-5; Joh 1:1-14). This division contrasts two totally opposing mindsets that God has instituted by which all in the first Adam will also live by (Mat 4:4). The first nine verses of the chapter summarise the fatal flaws and marred condition of the mind of our natural man which relates to the darkness God created (Isa 45:7; Jer 18:4). This is the ‘world order’ under which all mankind are subjected, even “by reason of Him who subjected [them all] in hope” of a new spiritual ‘world order’ in Christ (Rom 8:20). The rest of Genesis chapter 11 focuses on the offspring of one of Noah’s sons, namely Shem, and sets the stage of the true new ‘world order’ of the Lord and His Christ which comes through faith and obedience to His commandments. This latter ‘order’ is what all the Scriptures focus on when those with the mind of the Lord can see God’s perfect plan for humanity typified by one man and the faith he was given. That man is Abraham, who is a type of Christ and the faith which will pleases the Father by which “all will be blessed” (Gen 12:1-3). Through the mind of the Lord “the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God” is unveiled in all its splendour and beauty (1Co 2:10; 1Co 2:15-16):
Rom 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
Rom 11:34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?
Rom 11:35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? 36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
The theme of the natural or carnal mind’s religious ambitions to reach or impress God on its own terms comes to us within these first nine verses of Genesis Chapter 11. Here we have a summary of the modus operandi of the first Adam and what his generation is all about from the beginning as worked by God to fulfil His purposes and His will at all times (Eph 1:11). The first verse gives us the context and unified mind (“one language” or “one speech”) of all generations of mankind on the earth from the creation of the first Adam up until that point in time. All earthly nations really come from “one blood” and that spiritually refers to our carnal life and way of being (Act 17:26):
Gen 11:1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
No one in the first Adam can escape the evil and darkness God has created in the natural mind with all its selfish lusts, pride and ambitions which is of the “old world [order]” and “not of [the holy spirit of] God” (Gen 2:7; Isa 45:7; Jer 18:4; 1Jn 2:16; 2Pe 2:5). Before God confounded the one language of mankind, they all lived in the east in the land of Shinar which also helps us to see the physical and religious origins of mankind since the global flood:
Gen 11:2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
The concept “east” links here with the land of Shinar, which is called the “country of two rivers”, an ancient name which associates to the physical region of Babylonia or Chaldea. Some translations have it that mankind first moved eastward which also connects beautifully with the rebellion naturally present in man’s religious mind-set. Mankind by nature rebels against God’s commandment and His ways of doing things (Rom 7:15-24).
Gen 11:2 ASV And it came to pass, as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
Gen 11:2 (JPS) And it came to pass, as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
Gen 11:2 (RV) And it came to pass, as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
From an earthy perspective the sun seemingly rises in the east, and in that way God teaches mankind how the spiritual light comes into our lives (Rom 1:20). The entrance into the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple in Jerusalem was facing east and that is how we all come into our own spiritual understanding of God’s ways. However man’s ways are always in the opposite direction. The land of Shinar is later known as Babylon in Scripture and that all typifies the spiritual domain of all mankind in the sea of flesh with all its “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues” (Joh 3:6; Rev 17:15). Babylon is that all encompassing controlling systems of mankind under which our flesh resides – the old spiritual ‘world order’ with its centralised carnal mind. This is the very subtle and evil ruler in our lives which entices us to boast with the treasures and talents of our natural house and then captures us in complete slavery and spiritual bondage:
2Ki 20:14 Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country, even from Babylon.
2Ki 20:15 And he said, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All the things that are in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them.
2Ki 20:16 And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD.
2Ki 2017 Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD.
There is, of course, a physical application within the ‘world order’ here on earth through very influential people and families who are regulating various aspects of human society in general today. God is laughing at those who are propagating the foolish idea that mankind can actually have things in their control, but this gives others a valid reason and purpose in life to expose the so-called ‘illuminati’ (the enlightened few) and other such manipulating forces behind human society (Psa 2:1-12). The natural mind, and its vivid imagination, loves these kinds of secret organizations which keep many busy since the people found a plain or valley in the land of Shinar. Whether we are informed or uninformed about these very interesting distractions, the Scriptures are quite clear that all kingdoms and rulership on earth are God-ordained delegated control to which we all must submit (Heb 13:17). These words of Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar are God’s fiery words for our man of sin under these delegated rulers in every generation. Spiritual Babylon will be judged to its complete destruction in us eventually through the severe trials sent by God and only in that judgement will anyone be persuaded to be fearful of God and not to resist any “ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake” (Mat 5:39; 1Pe 2:13; Heb 13:17):
Dan 4:25 (ERV) King Nebuchadnezzar, you will be forced to go away from people. You will live among the wild animals. You will eat grass like cattle, and you will become wet with dew. Seven seasons will pass, and then you will learn this lesson. You will learn God Most High rules over human kingdoms and gives them to whoever he wants.
Dan 4:32 And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
When we do not recognise God’s provisions, we devise our twisted inventions, as per God’s design and plan. This is what we do when we are under the delegated controls of the Babylonian rulers in our own land of Shinar which reflects our own natural religious attitudes towards God:
Gen 11:3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
The residents in the land of Shinar, for the first time (according to the Scriptures) used bricks in the place of stones as a building material. The Hebrew word for bricks here “lebênâh” which comes from the word “lâban” which means “white”. Here is the word “lebênâh” in another verse to show us what God thinks of man-made religious altars of white bricks:
Isa 65:3 A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens [behind a false covering or protection], and burneth incense upon altars of brick [Hebrew: “lebênâh“].
Even if we take our self-made bricks through the fire and “burn them throughly” as the people in the land of Shinar did, it cannot produce love and obedience to God. This is when our earthly king (typified by king Saul) wants to do the work of the priest and prophet long before its time (1Sa 15:20-31; Jer 7:29-31). Even when we do things with “a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge” of what true love is, we really believe we are doing all for the glory of God (Rom 10:2; Mat 7:21-23; Isa 4:1; Act 8:3; Act 9:1-2):
1Co 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
1Co 13:2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
1Co 13:3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
All man-made things, like our religious altars of white bricks behind an outward facade or “form of godliness”, are for sure not good in God’s eyes (2Ti 3:1-7). The white of the flesh is pointing to our own righteousness which is always a stinking cloth to a truly holy and righteous God:
Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
These white bricks connect closely with an illness in “the skin of [the] flesh” which we all suffer from in the generation of Adam:
Lev 13:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, saying,
Lev 13:2 When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, a scab, or bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh like the plague of leprosy; then he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest, or unto one of his sons the priests:
Lev 13:3 And the priest shall look on the plague in the skin of the flesh: and when the hair in the plague is turned white, and the plague in sight be deeper than the skin of his flesh, it is a plague of leprosy: and the priest shall look on him, and pronounce him unclean.
Lev 13:10 And the priest shall see him: and, behold, if the rising be white in the skin, and it have turned the hair white, and there be quick raw flesh in the rising;
Lev 13:11 It is an old leprosy in the skin of his flesh, and the priest shall pronounce him unclean, and shall not shut him up: for he is unclean.
The white hair and the rising of flesh is our covering of our own nakedness which is not of the spirit of God (1Jn 2:16):
Isa 30:1 Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin.
The same applies to the slime these people in the land of Shinar used in the place of mortar. All this shows how we provoke God to anger continually and “add sin to sin”. This is our religious inventions of brick and mortar to make things understandable to our carnal mind and ‘getting our head around’ spiritual things of God when it is impossible for our natural mind to even understand God’s works in the earth:
1Co 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Joh 3:12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
All man’s efforts are coming from a religious or twisted spiritual conviction even when we do not know that or can see our own marred condition as from the Potter’s hand – “sin through ignorance” (Lev 2:2; 4:13; 4:27; 5:15; Num 15:27; Ps 51:5; Jer 18:4; Rom 8:20):
Gen 11:4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
In our ignorance we also think we can impress God with our own works. The reason why people in the land of Shinar were motivated to build this city with its tower is to make “a name” for them in heaven! We want to get to spiritual glory via the short-cuts and short circuiting the process, not via the God–ordained process of overcoming “the whole earth” in a slow and progressive manner (Exo 23:30; Act 14:22; 1Pe 4:12; Rev 15:8). Then we are somehow bewildered and amazed when God says He does not know us and rejects our good name. The more things change, the more they stay the same is a very true saying for those who still maintain that flesh can be perfected and live happily ever after (1Co 15:50). This is the heart of our own old fool – our natural man:
Psa 14:1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
Psa 14:2 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.
Psa 14:3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Psa 14:4 Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the LORD.
These people in the land of Shinar quickly forgot what happened before the global flood and simply continued on their evil ways. Human beings are shown here to have very short memories when it comes to the Word of God and His commandments. People in general can remember many earthly things and write millions of books full of words concerning their own knowledge, but the true knowledge or science of God is soon forgotten:
Psa 127:1 A Song of degrees for Solomon. Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
Psa 127:2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.
God commanded Adam (initially) and then also Noah and his sons to fill the earth and subdue it (Gen 1:28; Gen 9:1), but the building of cities and towers took precedence in creating memorials or something to be known for. Even since Cain, the first born and the very seed of the serpent in us (Gen 3:15; Joh 8:44):
Gen 4:16 And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.
Gen 4:17 And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.
Man’s actions come from his thoughts and Scripture is clear that that is not even his own inventions. Everything is “of the Lord” and that includes every spirit that appears first to us in the form of words and concepts in our minds (Rom 11:34; 1Jn 4:1-6; Joh 6:63; Psa 139:1-4; Heb 12:9). Our thoughts are our spiritual heavens created by God for there He works all things after His will and as a man thinks so is he (Gen 1:1):
Pro 23:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.
Pro 16:1 The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.
Psa 115:16 The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.
Man’s perceptions of God are that of a distant God and that is how God wants the natural mind to see Him….removed and uninvolved. And so the Scriptures reveal God in that way to the natural mind:
Gen 11:5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
It is always interesting to see how our own natural religious mind wants to inform God of things God actually knows about. The carnal mind has this irresistible desire to inform others of its own knowledge. Naturally we never want to be seen as ignorant and stupid. We created cities and towers of libraries (physical and virtual) filled with information, and then we want to educate the uninformed in our haughty and earthy philanthropic spirit. Artificial divisions of human society based on false evolutionary premises rule the natural mind. Our ‘first world’ mind-set also wants to do its bit to reach the poor and barbaric in the underdeveloped (‘second world’) and undeveloped (‘third world’) societies – and how does the tower of religious mind-set gets further elevation from these good deeds. And then we want God to come down and see and esteem our good works – and He appears initially exactly the way we want to see Him until “the day when the towers fall” (Psa 18:25-26; Isa 30:25). That is when we can see that God indeed loves a cheerful giver and those who can help others with the same Christ-like humble spirit of those of the mature believers in Macedonia (2Co 9:1-9):
Gen 11:6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
Gen 11:7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
Gen 11:8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
God divided the earthly nations along language lines – not different outward features, racial and other outward features, as some propagate. But this one fractured city of mankind is never going to be completed because it is designed to end in ruin – man is God’s “son of perdition” (2Th 2:3). Babel is the symbol of all man’s splintered efforts to be successful and “of renown”, even in its unified opposition to the one mind of God (Psa 2:1-2; Num 16:1-35):
Gen 11:9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
Babel is always the religious city with its self-righteous tower that exposes man’s heavens and also the greatness and wisdom of God in working all things for His purposes. In the effort to build a strong safe city with its haughty pride and earthly lusts, we see our own lusts for the power that we are convinced comes through taking control. Confusion is still the overall language of the world. Some actually want others to believe they know what is going on and have answers to the multifaceted conundrum of human society! The United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and NATO are still relevant in our own time to see the confusion and futility of man’s efforts. If we just take time to see our own confusion, we soon come to the sobering realization that we do not even have enough time or any ability to sort out our own confusion!!! This is what the mind of Christ, with its new spirit language, reveals to us with its true comfort and peace – a really “strange tongue” which the spirit of God brings. With God’s mind we can see that everything is 100% under control and everything will be done on earth as it is in heaven. God fattens our old man in its own delusions and pride to supply the wood for the fire “in a day of slaughter” which is coming at its appointed time (Luk 15:22-24).
Jas 5:5 Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.