8 Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth.Genesis 10: 9-11a
9 He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: Therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.”
10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel …
Here I am, minding my own business, reading along in Genesis, and KAPOW, God says HEY, that big thing was going on there (aka THE FLOOD), but look at this thing going on here. If there’s one thing I love in the Bible it’s the mini-stories, those fantastic interruptions in the longer narratives. The account of Babel in Genesis 11 is one such story. It’s only 9 verses long, and it is one of the first stories that captivated me in the Bible.
You know the story of The Tower of Babel, right? The whole world was feeling pretty good about itself. Oh yes, we were doing quite well. First of all, humanity had survived the flood. People had begun to repopulate the earth. And we had Nimrod the Mighty (3 mighties, mind you) who first comes onto the scene in Genesis 10.
His brief description, at the start of this post, calls to mind the ‘heroes of old, men of renown’, the mysterious Nephilim of Genesis 6 as well as Esau the wandering hunter in Gen. 25. But such men were not heroes of heaven but rather powerful men of the earth, aka anti-Christs. Oh, speaking of, there’s a connection here to Saul, son of Kish. But that’s another story.
So in Genesis 11, we humans were pretty smug. We had one language, and we had our fearless hunter leader of the earth, the Mighty Mighty Mighty Nimrod. So what could we do next? Well, we decided to build a monument to ourselves.
This was of course nothing to do with God, OH NO. The builders rejected stone and used their own man-made bricks as well as tar for mortar.
(Spoiler: see Gen. 14:10 where kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fell into tar pits! And this calls to mind the lake of fire.)
Here’s where we get to the bottom line, in verse 4 of Genesis 11. Where God calls His people by name, the people of Babel wanted to make a name for themselves, a city of man rather than a city of God.
And bless them, they tried. They combined their best efforts to build that memorial to human ingenuity, that heaven on earth. And to their human eyes, it looked pretty amazing.
In 2017, Professor George, an expert on ancient Babylon at the University of London, spoke in a series for The Smithsonian about the Tower of Babel, based on his research on an ancient sixth-century BCE tablet.
In the first installment of the series, Dr. George … examines the tablet, showing an image of the ziggurat, a massive stepped structure, and a figure holding a staff. The professor translates the inscription, which identifies the structure as the “Tower of Temple of Babylon”.Breaking Israel News
The ziggurat, with its seven steps, was no doubt an impressive sight, to worldly eyes. But what did God think of such a powerful city-state?
The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.Genesis 11:5
God had to descend just to see it!The best we humans could do was like a little matchstick tower. God was like, what’s that little speck there? Oh, let me get down closer.
As a child, I absolutely loved this story. My theonomic preacher was up there in the pulpit talking about the new Israel that we were all going to construct. We were going to elect Christians (ahem, him) to political office and re-establish Old Testament law. We were going to build a new Christian city state and Make America Great Again!
Well, I tell you. When I read the story of Babel, I began to see that God has other plans for us, better plans for us. You know how the story of Babel’s arrogance concludes, don’t you? God confounds their shared language and scatters them across the earth.
But of course that’s not the real end. We have only to look to Pentecost in Acts 2 to get a taste of the reversal of Babel that we will one day fully know. Not an earthly kingdom but a heavenly one. At the cross, the stone that the Babel builders rejected became the Chief Cornerstone (Mark 12:10), and God began gathering His people back together.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.Acts 2: 1-4
2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
As for Nimrod, there is more drama to come. Ninevah!