Our service was taken by Paul Daniel of Bethal Evangelical Church, Clydach, who preached from Genesis chapter 11.
Paul began by saying we can be thankful for what God has done for us throughout history – for what He has done and where we are going. Paul told us about the Stanford University Prison experiment, in which volunteers took on the role of either prisoner or guard. At the start of the experiment all volunteers took on their expected roles but as the experiment continued it was observed that the ‘guards’ took on shocking roles. History repeats itself; US soldiers were caught carrying out similar torture. These illustrations show that through the generations people are just as bad as they were before.
In Genesis we have the account of the flood, when God looked at the world and all He could see was evil. He was so grieved He wanted to start again by flooding the world to get rid of the evil. He is a just God. Noah and his family were saved. After the flood he and his family were the only ones on the earth. The family grew. We read in chapter 10 that people were living in different places and had different languages (10:4-5, 10:20, 10:31). Yet in chapter 11 they are living together as one. What is going on? Chapter 10 and 11 are not in chronological order.
The bombshell is the people have been spread out into the world in clans, speaking different languages. The reason why this has happened is because God has judges them. The people sinned and God judged. The people have been given a fresh start but even when people have a fresh start they fall again. Sin has always been there since the beginning and will be there until the end.
Let’s have a look at what God sees, ‘And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built.’ (Genesis 11:5). He sees the sons of Adam – the same kind of people He saw in Genesis chapter 1.
- God’s humour looking at the tiny efforts of humankind.
The people wanted to settle in a place called Shinar. They had bricks and tar rather than stone and mortar – sub-standard materials. They wanted to build a tower so high so they could make a name for themselves. It is the same today – people want to build high towers in cities to show their importance. God says,’ Let us go down to have a look,’ as He sees them attempting to build a tower to heaven. The audacity of the people! God, of course, can see what is going on, but the people’s attempts are so feeble. God does not condemn creativity, He has given us gifts to work and to be creative. But we are to give the glory to Him, not ourselves. Here, the people wanted to make a name for themselves. God looks at the tiny effects of humankind and He laughs. What are we building our lives on? They used second rate materials that would not last. What is the number one thing you want to live for? If it isn’t God, it won’t work.
- God’s judgement – to limit what sin can do.
The people loved praise, they wanted people to see how great they were. They also wanted security. Together, as one people with one language they can accomplish something great, so they won’t be scattered over the face of the earth. ‘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). In Genesis 1 God told Adam and Eve to have children and fill the earth – not to make a name for themselves. Here, the people were disobedient to God so He scatters them and gives them different languages. They were altogether, of one mind, in unity. However. They were judged by God because they loved to praise themselves, to praise their own names and have their own security. They would do anything to protect their own security. History tells us this brings destruction. They were utterly selfish. God sends judgement. However, He sends mercy. He disperses them so they can’t carry out the destruction they might otherwise do.
The purpose of our churches is to go into all the earth and make disciples of every tongue and nation. ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ (Matthew 28:19). This church is for everyone – for all people.
- God’s Salvation, despite our sin.
People are the same whatever generation. Sin is there when we are born. In chapter 12 we read of the Lord appearing to Abram. God gave Abram a promise to make him great, to bless him and all the nations. ‘And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you name make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. (Genesis 12:2).
Despite sin, God will do something wonderful – He will bless all the nations. That seed will one day become Jesus Christ who blesses all people. If you confess your sin, God will bless you.
God judges the love of praise and the love of security. You and I all go back to this one point in history. Jesus, who was the one who ought to have been praised and ought to have been secure, was the one who gave it all up, carried the cross and hung humiliated. He has made us secure. The very sins that you and I do are the sins He has paid the penalty for. In the words of the hymn of Charles Wesley,
“The veil is rent in Christ alone;
The living way to heaven is seen;
The middle wall is broken down,
And all mankind may enter in.”
The people were trying to climb to heaven but the only way to get to heaven is through Jesus. The wall, the barrier, is broken down. He is the one who welcomes us in to heaven.