Monday, January 30, 2017

God Who Confused and Scattered the People (Genesis 11:4-9)

Then they said, ‘Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower that reaches Heaven. Let’s make ourselves famous so we won’t be scattered here and there across the Earth.’ God came down to look over the city and the tower those people had built. God took one look and said, ‘One people, one language; why, this is only a first step. No telling what they’ll come up with next—they’ll stop at nothing! Come, we’ll go down and garble their speech so they won’t understand each other.’ Then God scattered them from there all over the world. And they had to quit building the city. That’s how it came to be called Babel, because there God turned their language into ‘babble.’ From there God scattered them all over the world.”
(Genesis 11:4-9, The Message)

God’s first command to humanity was, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28). In other words, spread out across the earth. When people spread out, it isn’t long before they start speaking different languages and creating different cultures. That seem to have been God’s plan all along – to have not only one language but many languages and cultures, of every tribes and nations, each praising God in its own way. Unity comes from diversity, awesome! John the Apostle saw the future: “I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there—all nations and tribes, all races and languages” worship God (Revelation 7:9).

But the people in Genesis 11 had other plans. Not God’s plan. They didn’t want to fill the earth. They wanted to stay right where they were and become great – maybe even as great as God, so they thought. They began building a great tower that would reach to the heavens – challenging God’s authority by having one language and one culture… “Unite we’re strong!” dare to challenge God.

God had other plans for them. God confused their language and scattered them to all the earth. It was a punishment, certainly. But it was also a mercy, for it forced the people out of their delusion of self-sufficiency (Richard Dawkins wrote God Delusion, I’ve read it. But I think it was he who is in delusion!), and into something richer and more adventurous. Imagine the future with me when all the people from every tribe and nation “standing, dressed in white robes and waving palm branches, standing before the Throne and the Lamb and heartily singing:

Salvation to our God on his Throne!
Salvation to the Lamb!

(Revelations 7:10)
Isn’t panoply is more awesome than monoculture?


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