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The Power of Communication

June 8, 2014

Genesis 10:1-11:8

Intro:  The Scripture we’ll read today talks about an event that broke up a people united for the wrong reason.  They were united for the purpose of trying to be as great as God.  So God ended that little fiasco by breaking them up into different speaking groups.  But before we read that story, I want to read through the family tree starting with Noah’s sons.  As I read the names you will recognize some are the same as places you might see on a map in the far east.  I’d like you to give a sign of recognition when I read a familiar name.  Here we go, through Genesis 10.

 

Now that we’re caught up with the family tree, let’s look at what happened in history.

 

11:1

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.

This is important.  One people, one language.  How important is the ability to communicate?  Why is it that when we meet someone who doesn’t speak English we tend to talk louder so that they will understand?  This was not a problem at this time.  One language.  United.  No barriers of speech or understanding.

 

2-3

As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.

They were not only united, they were industrious.  They made bricks and used them instead of stone to build their community.  This is all good, right?  Progress!

 

4

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

Whoops!  Make a name for who?  Several generations removed from Noah and God is forgotten.  You understand how that happens, right?  A couple moments removed from my Bible time in the morning and I can forget God.  How about you?  It is in our being quick to forget that we lose hope.  It is in our being distracted by other things that we forge the power of God at work in our lives.  This is why we called, through Scripture to pray unceasingly and to hide the Word of God in our hearts, so that we don’t forget who God is and who we are.

 

These people were doing everything they could to show God that they were in charge of their lives, that they could do what they wanted and get away with it.  They could declare their independence!  But hold on!  Despite their ambition, God is still in control!  OH, and let’s make that personal!  Despite your own ambition and despite mine, God is in control of our lives!  We can try to ditch him and run it ourselves, making a name for ourselves, but the results could be disastrous . . .

 

5-11

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.  Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.

God acknowledges that the people are industrious, clever, capable of great things, but also, being the Creator of these humans, knows where such cleverness will get them. They are employed in a marvelous task for all the wrong reasons.  If we choose to use our gifts for anything other than the glory of God, we may end up very humbled in the end with nothing to show for the work of our hands.  Let this be a warning to us about how we use what God has gifted us with.

 

At the tower of Babel, God gave different languages to bring about confusion and dis-unity, to prevent the people from working against God for their own purposes.  At Pentecost, God gave the gift of different languages to bring about unity and the possibility that all should hear the unifying message of the Gospel!

 

Concl.  So I think this passage begs the question, “What are you building and for what purpose?”  Is your goal to compete with God or to honor him?  Let’s bring that closer to home.  Why do you volunteer in the church?  Why do you volunteer in mission?  Why do you do your job? (Teachers are shaking their heads and thinking, “I have no idea, but it’s certainly not to gain glory!” God bless you in these final days of school.)  What is the purpose behind anything you do?  If it’s not to honor God, then should it be done? 

 

On this Pentecost Sunday we celebrate the coming of the Spirit of God.  The Spirit came to indwell those who believe.  The Spirit, living in us, empowers us, emboldens us, teaches us, reminds us of God and God’s Word so that we might live for God and not ourselves.  The Spirit of God is what moves us toward the heart of God. 

 

Let me end with this reminder from Paul in Romans 8:5-6