Tower of Babel

  • Read Genesis 11:1-9 here.
  • If you missed Sunday’s sermon (14 September) you can listen to it here

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Last week at the end of the sermon we handed out a nail on a string to each person in attendance.  The point of this exercise was for each person to hang the nail somewhere to remind them that “You Are God’s Building”, from 1 Corinthians 3:9.  If you received one of the nails, where did you hang your nail, and why did you choose that place?

The account of the building of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11 doesn’t give a clear explanation of what God found objectionable about it.  God’s words are that if the tower was built, “nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them,” which doesn’t really provide a clear explanation of the sin.  I suggested that based on the reason given in v4 for building the tower that the main problem was one of pride and leaving God out of their plans.  Are there other issues that God may have objected to in the building of the tower?

The sermon this week took a small detour to discuss the relationship between temptation and sin.  Based on Hebrews 4:15 I argued that it’s okay and normal to have longing thoughts about sin, that’s temptation.  The problem occurs when we dwell on those thoughts or act upon the thoughts, that’s when sin occurs.  Do you agree or disagree with this distinction?  Why might some people feel uncomfortable with this distinction?

Other possible sermon themes from this text include:

  • God’s love for all nations, (and how it relates to the call of Abram).
  • The first 11 chapters of Genesis demonstrate a cycle of sin and punishment.  In most cases the punishment is accompanied by grace, but not at Babel.

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Songs & Scripture

I’m thinking that appropriate songs would focus on humility and resisting temptation.  Which songs come to mind for you?

  • I Am Resolved
  • Yield Not to Temptation (SOC, SFP)
  • Stand Up Stand Up for Jesus
  • Humble Yourself in the Sight of the Lord (SFP)
  • Lord, Take My Life (Zoe Group from 2001 album Deep Calls to Deep)
  • Lord, I Give You My Heart (Hillsong on the 1996 album God Is In The House)
  • Had It Not Been the Lord
  • We Fall Down (Chris Tomlin from the 1998 album Authentic)
  • The Basin and The Towel (Michael Card from the 1994 album Poiema)
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4 comments

  1. Dad

    The subsequent use of towers as places of sun worship in numerous parts of the ancient world e.g. Babylon and South America hint at another possible purpose behind the building of the tower at Babel. This may have become a subsequent development rather than a direct purpose at Babel, but is worth some consideration in this context.

  2. rob

    While temptation is part of our lives, Jesus clearly taught in Mathew 5:28 that “Anyone who looks at a women lustfully has already committed adultery”, if I entertain a temptation, I am sinning against the Laws of the New Testament. Even when Jesus was tempted he immediately responded to every temptation by the scriptures.
    Therefore while I am tempted everyday in some small way and I have longing thoughts about the temptation then I am sinning and need to ask for forgiveness.
    The reason that Christ was perfect and did not sin was that he did not long for Satan’s world or for Satan’s temptations and wanted to fulfill the Scriptures.

  3. ozziepete

    Thanks Rob, I agree. Sins like lust or hatred or coveting all occur in the head (although they may also lead to sinful actions), so it’s difficult to define when they change from temptation to sin. A general rule of thumb would be that the longer we entertain those thoughts the more likely they are to be sinful.
    It is also a good reminder that knowing Scripture helps resist temptation. We shouldn’t just read the Bible because we ‘have’ to, but because it makes a real difference in our lives.

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