About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Verse 1 tells us that all
people in the world spoke one language and a had common speech.
Note the difference between one language and common speech.
The common speech may suggest all had the same dialect and the
same mannerisms of language. There
weren't any variation from one area to another.
Verse 2 tells us that
men moved to the east. You
might ask, "to the east of where?"
Many scholars believe that the movement east is from where the
ark settled, wherever that might be.
Many feel the ark settled in what is now northern Turkey, while others suggest it landed farther east.
But the place where man moved to is stated specifically in this
verse. It is in the area of Shinar.
In verse 3 we see a
movement beginning in man. Man
began to build, and in this case they built with brick instead of
stones. In making the bricks
they used tar, an oily material instead of mortar. It
seems obvious to me that these people discovered what has become so
important to this area of the world and that is oil.
main reason why these people invented brick to build with is because in
this area of the world, unlike in
I should also comment on the cities that were being constructed. Historians tell us that in the early stages of cities people actually didn't live in the cities. They still lived rural lives. The cities featured a temple and building that we would call government or commercial buildings.
The next step in this
movement is seen in verse 4. Man
agreed to come together and build a city so they
could make a name for themselves and not be scattered all over
the world. They would also
build a tower in the city that could reach to the heavens.
Many Sunday school teachers over the years have taught that this
tower was meant to reach heaven where God is, but the text really
doesn't say that. It was to
reach the heavens, and if I
continue to interpret the word "heavens" consistently, that
doesn't mean heaven. It
simply means the skies above. These
men wanted to build an impressive tower to show off their abilities.
As the text says, they wanted to make a name for themselves
through the building of this tower.
Things have not changed since those days.
Man still does that today. We
build to make a name for ourselves.
We build towers too. The
CN tower in Toronto,
tower that was being constructed here was for religious purposes, not
for military defensive purposes. In
the ancient eastern world these towers were places where the gods would
come down to earth and live and thus where people could worship these
gods. They could be very
large, often triangular shaped towers with stairs going around the tower
to the top. These stairs
were meant for the god to come down and live in the tower's temple.
We also note in verse 4
that one reason for building the city and the tower was to prevent being
scattered around the world. This
is in direct opposition to what God told both Adam and Noah.
Man was to reproduce and fill the whole earth.
These men wanted to centralize themselves into one place.
Man always wants to centralize, and reach into themselves, when
God says to move out, and reach out, not be inward in things we do.
In verse 5 we see that
God came down to see the tower that these men were building.
I think this language of "coming down" is
anthropomorphic. I don't
think God has to come down to see anything.
He sees everything quite clearly from where He is.
The point to be made here is that God noticed what these men were
In verse 6 God says that
because these men have one language, they will be able to do whatever
they want. Having one
language made it easy for man to communicate
and build their plans. Having
one language seemed to be one of the underlying issues here that helped
man to make a name for himself, when all along, God wanted them to
respect and promote His name, not theirs.
We also notice here that
God says that man's capabilities are endless.
I'd suggest the reason for this is because we were created in
God's likeness and image. This
tells me that if given the time, we as humans could do pretty well
anything, and we've come a long way already.
I don't think God will allow us to do anything and everything we
want. There are limits to
what we will be able to achieve. He will shut things down on the earth
prior to this happening. Nevertheless,
we see that God says that man has endless possibilities.
In this chapter God
confuses the language of man. Man
from this time on have different languages and different dialects.
We've been trying to compensate for this ever since.
I think computers are one way to compensate.
The computer, along with the internet, has broken down the walls
that resulted from this confusion. Man,
in his attempt to promote himself, will have this final promotion seen
in the coming of the anti-christ at the end of this age.
I'm sure computers will play a big part in the rule of the anti-christ.
In verse 7 we see how God
would deal with this. He
said, "let us come down and confuse their language."
Once again we see the word "us' in reference to God as we've
seen earlier in Genesis. You
can't prove the Trinity from this one verse, but you can prove the
plural nature of God, and when I say "plural nature of God," I
need to stress that God is one. Within
this "oneness is plurality."
So God confused the
language of men so it would make it hard for them to communicate.
Well, for the most part, we've got around this confusion of
languages. We are pressing
onward to our goal of making a name for ourselves and centralizing
ourselves. Once again, this
will ultimately take place in the last seven years of this age with the
rule of the one world government led by the anti-Christ.
Verse 8 tells us that the
Lord "scattered" them and they stopped building their city.
How He scattered man is uncertain to me.
The text does not say. Somehow
He made things such that they did not want to stay on the Shinar
Once again, it's our
tendency to want to stay put, to settle in, to act inwardly, but God
seems to want us to reach out and move on.
He even had to push the first Christians out of
In verse 9 we see that
the place where the tower was located was called Babel. It appears that the name
"Babel" came about after God confused the languages because the word
"Babel" means "confusion." Thus we get the city and empire name
This section ends by God
scattering man from this one central place.
He forced them to move out across the earth, something He told
them to do n the first place.
From verses 10 to 26 we
see the lineage of Shem. I will
not comment on these names. I will
make note that God said in Genesis 6:3 that man would now live 120 years.
It is clear from this portion of chapter 11 that this did not take
place all at once. You notice
people living 200 and 300 years, but still, that's a long cry from the 900
years that men used to live. Noah
lived 950 years. What you can see
is that there is now a progression downward in the life span of man.
It is interesting to note
that there were 10 generations from Shem to Abram, just as there was 10
generations from Seth to Noah.
In verse 27 we see the
name Terah. He was the
father of Abram, Nehor, and
Verse 28 tells us that
died while his father Terah was still alive.
Verse 29 tells us that
Abram and Nehor married, at which time they all lived in Ur. Abram married Sarai.
Nahor married Milcah who was actually his brother's daughter.
So Nahor married his niece.
Verse 30 also tells us
that Sarai had no children. This
is most likely mentioned here because this plays an important part in the
whole story of Abram.
Verse 31 tells us that
Terah took Abram and his wife Saria, along with lot out of
Verse 32 tells us that
after living 205 years, Terah died in Haran.
Before we leave this
chapter we should turn to Stephen's message that he spoke to the Jewish
leaders just before they killed him. In
Acts 7 Stephen begins his defense, and in verse 2 he starts with Abraham.
Before I state what Stephen says, there's two ways of looking at
Stephen's words. One is that there
are some problems and discrepancies. If
you don't believe that, then you believe that what Stephen says is inspired by
the Holy Spirit and fills In some information that we don't see in Genesis.
I believe what Stephen says is inspired and complements Genesis 11 and
12, yet beyond that, there might well be some oral tradition that gives
Stephen some knowledge that we don't see in Genesis.
Stephen says that God
appeared to Abraham while he still lived in Mesopotamia, before he went to Haran. The Genesis account that we've
just looked at says that Terah took Abram, along with the others, and they
were supposed to go to
In Acts 7:3 we learn that
God told Abram to leave his extended family, and from Genesis we know that he
was to go to Canaan, but we also know from Genesis that he did not go to
It's only speculation,
but I wonder if Terah's son
God actually had to tell
Abram to leave
You also might remember
that Noah prophesied that Canaan would serve Shem, and this was God's
intention when He told Abram to go to Canaan.