There are two cities. The city of God and the city of Man – though the city of Man is an illusion. In today’s reading we find a “Table of Nations” which while incomplete, modern researchers are finding is astonishingly accurate. I found reading about the descendants of the three sons of Noah in Dr. James Montgomery Boice’s commentary fascinating but I want to touch on the Tower of Babel in today’s post.
From the beginning man has rejected living in right relationship with God in favor of being his own god. Instead of living with God in the Garden of Eden, we chose to go our own way. Every human being since Adam and Eve has made the same choice. That includes you and me. The story of the Tower of Babel is just one of many biblical stories illustrating man’s deliberate antagonism toward God.
In the middle of listing the descendants of Ham, the Bible tells us about Nimrod.
Genesis 10:8-10 ESV
“Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord. Therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.” The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.”
Nimrod was the first person to be called a “mighty man”. He founded several cities and build a kingdom. Notice that it is in the city of this “mighty man” that the tower is built. Their intent was to build a tower with its top in Heaven. Mankind had not given up their intention to be their own god. This tower was an affront to God; it was intended to prove man did not need God to attain Heaven. Here was an earthly city (or kingdom) of man building in defiance of God. It was a city of man, by man, for man’s glory. Is it any wonder God put a stop to it? In so doing God proved once again that He is God and man is not.
The struggles of man all find their origin in our non-stop attempts to replace God’s kingdom with one of our own. This is true in a macro sense, that is to say for all human beings, and it is true in a micro sense, that is to say for each individual. What city are you building? Are you building your own city intended for your own glory or are you building God’s city intended for His glory? God’s city is built for His glory and its construction is under His authority and direction. Your role in building that city is obedience. You must deny your own desire to build your own city – to be your own god – and you must daily seek God’s will in building His city. In which city do you choose to live and work?