Alfred Place Baptist Church

11:1 The Tower of Babel

Genesis 11:1 “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men 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 bitumen for mortar. 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 and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.’ But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men 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. That is why it was called Babel – because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.”

Early in history “the whole world had one language and a common speech” (v.1). Most linguists accept that all Indo-European languages of today are descended from a single language spoken at least 5,000 years ago. The people who built the tower of Babel had literally ‘one lip,’ one language and a single vocabulary. Some have argued that that might not mean that they had only a single language; it could refer to one predominant language, a trade language, a lingua franca by which they could co-operate and do their business. We’ve been told of other languages back in chapter ten, in verse twenty and again verse thirty-one; there were local languages spreading. We know how dynamic languages and dialects are; new words and new ways of saying things can develop with amazing rapidity. But at this time there was one predominant common language by which everyone could communicate with everybody else. There was no one who couldn’t make his meaning clear to anyone else for linguistic reasons. I am not sure about that interpretation. The references in chapter ten are probably retrospective; the obvious interpretation of the text is that the language which Noah and his sons spoke was being spoken by all their descendants.

So it was at this time that we are told of one unidentified group of people who pulled up stakes. I think of them as a group of anxious nomads. Off they travelled, and that was fine because God had told them to fill the earth. However, once they came to this area between the two great rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, in the region of Babylon, they stopped and in their minds settled there for ever. Today that part of the world is known as Iran and it was there that these people put their roots down in a plain called Shinar. Notice that they had moved there from the west; like Cain who had gone east from Eden, away from the presence of God. Later Lot was to travel east from Abraham. These people too moved east and that fact alone should cause us to hear faint alarm bells. So, though God had commanded all the descendants of Noah to fill the earth when this one group reached the plain of Shinar they settled there, refusing to go any further. That is the background of this famous incident.

1. THE MEN OF SHINAR DEVELOPED A SPECIAL SCHEME.

“Come!” one cried to another (it is the first of three ‘Come’s in our text), “‘Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They used brick instead of stone, and bitumen for mortar” (v.3). The children of Israel at Moses’ time did not build in that way, and neither did the Egyptians nor the Canaanites. These people arrived in this plain and decided to settle there, but they found no stones suitable for building, so they used their ingenuity and adapted the latest forms of technology in manufacturing bricks. They hardened mud bricks in a furnace and they used bitumen or asphalt for mortar – the Gulf region is still rich in oil deposits. So this group built using tar to cement the mud bricks together. “Come, let’s go for it!” their leaders exhorted. They all made one another feel geniuses. So they had the technology, now where were they going with it?

There came the second ‘Come,’ “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”(v.4). The crucial factor in laying out this city and erecting this tower is that there was no divine blueprint for such an action. The architect of Babel wasn’t the Lord. This conurbation was not like Jerusalem, the city of God. This is going to be the city of man, the secular city. You see its purpose very blatantly set out in our text in their own goal, “ that we may make a name for ourselves.”

One characteristic of the God of the Bible is that he gives names to people. For example, he changes the names of Jacob and of Abram. He was the one who named Adam, and even Jesus’ own parents didn’t get to choose the name of their firstborn child. In each case the chosen name pointed to what God had done or would yet do. This rankled in the thinking of these men settling in the plain of Shinar. They were determined to establish their own names. They wouldn’t be debtor to man or God; the Lord was to be marginalized from the life of this community from the beginning. Here was a society with Jehovah absent or at least on the fringes, a city without God. Though he had told them to fill the earth and subdue it, they had arrived at this plain and there their obedience came to a halt. They wanted to be left alone by the God of Noah and his seed. “Let’s be our own blessing, our own Messiah, our own saviour and god. Let’s be our own source of meaning. Let’s be beyond good and evil. We will define everything there is. That will be our mighty name.”

They said to one another, “Let’s not think small and build just one or two dwellings for ourselves and children, let’s make a city. More than that. Let us have a great tower, one that will reach up to heaven. It will be our reference point, our ground zero; we’ll know where we are and how to get back home from anywhere on the plain of Shinar. What civilization has ever existed before that can be compared to the one we’re planning? Men have never had our skills. Let’s do something to leave our mark on the world. Let’s erect this great monument reaching up to the sky!” So that is what they began to do.

So the very heart of this city was a huge tower; “It is interesting how sometimes the archaeologist is able to cast little sidelights upon the Word of God. Various books give you drawings or diagrams illustrating their finds. They tell us that in this particular region between the Tigris and the Euphrates there are the remains of tower structures that were obviously used for religious purposes, though at a later date. One in particular was out­side the ancient city of Babylon—or rather, the site upon which it was built and where its remains are to be found. The archaeologists are able to tell us what it was like and to give us some dimensions. One, which may have been centuries later than the tower of Babel—a great tower or ziggurat as these structures were called—had a base ninety metres square. Let me give you the dimensions of this building in which I preach so that you can see how large that is. It is thirteen metres from wall to wall, and thirteen metres up to the peak of the building, which is therefore as high as it is wide. Now the height of just the base of the ziggurat was thirty-three metres—that is approximately two and a half times the height of the church—and on top of the base were a further five storeys, each up to eighteen metres in height! Even with my mathematics I could calculate (and then I checked it with the commentaries!) that we might reason­ably expect this tower to have been one hundred metres high, or more than three hundred feet. That was no mean achievement. That particular tower may not have been the tower of Babel, but it gives us some idea of the building skills of some of these ancient people and the scale upon which they conceived their building operations. ‘And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth’ (Genesis 11:4)” (Graham Harrison, Beginning at the Beginning, Bryntirion Press, pp. 121&122). So let’s bring together our understanding of the Tower of Babel. What have we said?

i] The first fault with this people was their disobedience. The descendants of Shem, Ham and Japheth were told to move out and replenish and subdue the whole earth, and yet this group went east and grated to a halt. They were staying put in the plain of Shinar. They weren’t moving again. They said that they were determined, “not be scattered over the face of the whole earth” (v.4). They were going to build a permanent city. They were not venturing forth trusting in God to guide, preserve and keep them. You understand that when God said to them, “Fill the earth,” he was blessing them, not merely commanding them. It’s a privilege to go forth in the name of the Lord. It was not a burden to be shouldered by the sons of Noah exploring and living in this beautiful world. It wasn’t open to debate whether to do it or not – any more than the disciples who heard the Great Commission from Jesus to go from Jerusalem into Judea and Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth had a choice voting to go for it or not. So the first wrong attitude was defiance.

ii] The second fault with this people was their pride . . . They were not asking God for help. They were looking at one another. “Come,” they cried to one another, “Let us . . . Let us . . .” They sought for significance and immortality in what they were going to achieve. Weren’t they showing themselves to be the true children of our first parents? Adam and Eve also thought they could be smarter than God. They would heed the serpent’s point of view. They would at least taste the forbidden fruit and see if God were telling the truth. Again you remember how the sons of God of Genesis 6 thought that they had a better understanding of marriage than the Lord who’d invented it. These tower builders sought meaning and fame by what they themselves did – without any reference to the living God.

iii] The third fault of these people was rebellion. What we read of in Genesis 11 is a confederacy of rebels encouraging one another, not holding a prayer meeting and worshiping the Creator but rather looking at and exhorting one another, “Come! . . . Come! . . .” Honest men, and faithful men, and men of integrity don’t long for the approval of others in stirring up rebellion. They say as Martin Luther said at the great Reformation, “Here I stand. I can do no other. So help me God.” What courageous manliness! Rebels, however, need to be reinforced by other rebels. They won’t dare to be a Daniel. They won’t dare to stand alone; they skulk around to find others to support them. “Come! . . . Come!”

Here were a group of men who determined to remain in that place, and protect themselves from God’s judgment by building houses, streets, a city-tower complex. Its height would reach to heaven. Now these people knew of the mighty mountains thousands of meters high, and they saw eagles flying far, far above them, high in the air like little dots, and above them sailed the clouds, and so I don’t think we have to believe that these rebels literally thought that they would be able to reach heaven with their building, any more than builders of the highest office blocks in our own world think they are literally going to scrape the sky when they erect their skyscrapers. I don’t believe for a moment that if that was their actual intention that they would be foolish enough to lay the foundations of their tower on the plain of Shinar, that is, almost at sea level, when they could equally as well have built it on the top of a nearby mountain and gained a few thousand feet start. What these Shinar rebels were doing was to build a city which was also a massive fortress which would protect them even from God himself. “A mighty fortress is our Tower of Babel” was their hymn. Thus they were going to be inviolable. “Jehovah can’t bother us here!”

iv] The fourth fundamental fault of these people was to create another religion. In the plain called Shinar was the first of what has been many human experiments, to develop an alternative to Jehovahism. In Babylon the high tower, the ziggurat, was as much a symbol of their religion as a mosque and minaret are symbols of Islam. The ziggurat was their god’s home. It towered over the flat roofs of the surrounding town. It gave the inhabitants the assurance that their god was in their midst. The most famous ziggurat of all was in Babylon itself and it was called “The House of the Foundation of Heaven and Earth.” “We men have laid it – the foundation of heaven and earth.” Here were people who came to a halt in the plain of Shinar. There they fashioned a religion which would obtain for them lifelong security. They felt they could establish a throne on a par with anything Jehovah had made – reaching to his own height. From there they could rule with the authority of heaven, gaining for themselves great glory. So they called the name of the place ‘Babel.’ Babel means, ‘the gate of God.’ They could come and go as gods.

So what are we faced with in the tower of Babel? We are meeting men using organization and technology as an attempt to raise themselves to the level of God. What creativity and imagination and a spirit of innovation is shown in this new building! In its vast height, and in its radical composition – the bricks and the asphalt – it was all breathtakingly original. It was the Sydney Opera House and the Pompidou Centre and the London Gherkin all rolled into one. For that time – when there were old men alive who had been in Noah’s Ark – it was an extraordinary achievement, and “we men of Babel did it all by ourselves!” In all the world there hadn’t been a building erected by one of Jehovah’s followers that could remotely compare to the tower of Babel.

Now we know that this Shinar experiment was possible only because all the builders were created in the image of God. They all had God-given intellects and God-given desires to replenish and subdue the earth. We support endeavours like that today don’t we? There is nothing wrong with erecting striking buildings. Our concern is that these people were using their technology to play God, to centralize the power of the world in themselves, and control their destinies. They wanted a monument to their own greatness, crying, “We will not have Jehovah rule over us,” They were saying, “Who is the Lord that we should obey his voice?” They thought they could erect a fortress on a par with heaven itself and God would have to take note of them. Do we see that spirit today? Of course we do, in the individual, in the family, in the state and in the church.

i] In the individual we see the spirit of Babel in today’s philosophy of self-esteem.

One of the richest women in the world is Oprah Winfrey, an American television entertainer and an entire industry. She’s a lot richer than even J.K.Rowling. She is called “the Queen of Talk,” and she says that her secret is the self-esteem religion that encourages people simply to believe in themselves and follow their hearts. She recently was talking with someone called Naomi Judd over the issue of obesity on her television programme and Oprah Winfrey said, “When you’re really inside yourself you don’t need a book [that is, the Bible], you don’t need a psalm, you don’t need a song, but you know that you are worthy because you were born. The moment you get to the point where you really do feel worthy and feel, ‘I deserve it; I deserve all the happiness and abundance that God is willing to give me,’ it will be over.” That is her message that your life can change for better once you realize you deserve it. Oprah is living on the plain of Shinar. The Christian message is the very opposite of her philosophy, that I deserve nothing because of the sin of my father Adam and my own sins, but God in his great mercy has sent God the Son into the world whose life and death entitles me to everything. Jesus Christ deserved everlasting glory but he chose to take my shame and died in my place, and now I get everything he deserved. That’s the gospel.

ii] In today’s attitude to the family we see the spirit of Babel. Let me mention two ways, firstly in the sphere of reproduction. Ten million unborn baby girls have been aborted in India in the past twenty years by parents who have insisted that they will only raise male children. Again, there is a book called I’m a Little Frostie and it’s a tale for children that is literally chilling. The hero, Little Frostie, records how he spent quite a while in a special refrigerator much colder than an ordinary fridge. Other frosties were also there with him. Why did they live in such a cold place? Because some people didn’t have babies to love and had asked doctors to make them a baby. So the doctors made embryos in a test tube and stored them in extreme cold. There Little Frostie and his friends remained “very quiet, very still, and very cold” for a long time. As the story unfolds, the doctors thaw Little Frostie and put him in “mummy’s tummy.” A baby is born, making a happy family.

This book’s dusk jacket recommends it for children aged 3 to 6. It’s not exactly Mother Goose or Hans Christian Anderson. It’s a new way to answer children’s age-old question “Where do babies come from?” I’m a Little Frostie was written to help children who were conceived in vitro and frozen for a time to understand their origin.

The story doesn’t mention that many hu­man embryos perish in the freezing process. It doesn’t mention that extra embryos are often thrown away if parents don’t want them, or that the embryos may go through government-supported experiments before being destroyed. If there’s any moral prob­lem with treating human embryos as products that can be manufactured, frozen, im­planted, or trashed at will, the story says nothing about it. In the story, the parents want a baby, the doctors give them one, and everybody lives happily ever after. They are living in the Tower of Babel on the plain of Shinar.

Little Frostie is just the tip of the iceberg. New reproductive technologies are opening as­tonishing possibilities and disturbing ques­tions. Molecular biologist Lee Silver of Prince­ton University thinks, for example, that human cloning would be fine. Silver predicts that in the future a woman can carry her own clone in her own womb. He says men will be able to become pregnant and have babies. He says two lesbian women will be able to combine their genes and truly have their own baby. Silver also thinks it may be possible and beneficial to make some hu­mans without a forebrain so they can be dis­membered for spare parts. Silver sees no moral limit on such things. “Whether we like it or not,” he says, “the global marketplace will reign supreme. The only limits on altering reproduction and human genetics will be whether people want it and can afford it.” The spirit of the Tower of Babel is enormously powerful in the world today. What has historically been the prerogative of God alone has now come under the dominion of depraved humanity. The prospect is frightening.

We see the spirit of Babel in the family also in the sphere of marriage. No institution has been as much under attack as Christian marriage. In the Bible God defines marriage as an exclusive commitment of a man and woman to one another made publicly ‘until death us do part.’ But today people simply live together for a time and then abandon the relationship and move on to another relationship. Or they do get married and then they divorce, and they remarry and can redivorce and so on. Or two men may live together or two women may live together and such sterile relationships betweeen members of the same sex inhabiting a dwelling place though called ‘civil partnerships’ are considered to be marriages. It is the philosophy of Babel that if something can be done then go ahead and do it, whatever seems right in your own eyes.

iii] In the church we see the spirit of Babel, in the whole ecumenical enterprise. There is one non-negotiable doctrine concerning which all the Christian denominations have to subscribe if they are to unite. It is a doctrine which declares that the future ‘Great Church’ must be ruled by bishops. It is the doctrine of episcopacy, and it is unchallengeable. Whatever preachers may believe about the trinity or the deity of Christ or how one becomes a Christian or whether there can be homosexual clergymen and clergy women – and enormous latitude is given to any church official concerning such matters because the ethical and doctrinal statements are minimal and studiously vague – however, what cannot and must not be challenged is that government in the ecumenical church is going to be by bishops. The authority will lie in those men and women to rule over the individual congregations and their officers. What a Tower of Babel that will be.

Listen closely, men and women. Did you know that this is the only spot in the world you will ever hear the Truth, here in the church? Did you know that the church is the only tower and foundation of the truth (1 Tim.3: 15)? You won’t get the Truth in the universities of the land, nor in our Parliaments. You will not get the Truth in our public schools or in our social welfare and justice systems. You will not get the Truth in a mosque, or a synagogue, or in a Buddhist temple, or in churches where God’s glory has long since departed. Only here, only amongst the elect, the redeemed of God, only amongst Christ’s sheep who are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. So you had better treat God fearing, Bible believing churches with respect and honour and serve them, otherwise the Truth will disappear from our land, and all we will have is the Tower of Babel.

iv] In the growing power of government we see the spirit of Babel. Aren’t you concerned with the powers that Caesar has taken to himself, the enormous data banks in which so many of the details of your life are recorded? Aren’t you concerned with the cameras on the streets, and in the shops, and buses, and stations, and banks, and building societies that monitor your every movement? An average city dweller will have his image taken 100 times each day. Big Brother is watching you. Aren’t you concerned about the growing powers of the Brussells bureaucrats of the European Union. 80 per cent of our legislation now comes to us from Europe. What began as a free trade area has developed into a united military power seeking to control everything even the shape of bananas and cucumbers. If we do not like what Brussels decrees, there is only one thing that we can do. We can lump it. For example, Brussels adopted a general directive (its code is 2000/78) that gave a framework for equal treatment in “employment and education”. It outlaws any “discrimination based on religion, or belief, age or sexual orientation.” But it was aware of religious convictions in some European countries. In Malta and Poland it said the EU “respects and does not prejudice the status under national law of churches and religious associations.” Those countries were free to make specific provision for religion. There exist religious adoption agencies which would not agree with single-sex adoptions. Christians do not accept homosexual marriages as valid. However, the British government would have none of these exemptions. It was more afraid of the gay lobby than the Christian lobby. It is trying to impose its will on the professing church. So the Tower of Babel is being built.

In these areas of the individual, family, church and state we are increasingly living on the plain of Shinar, and what a dangerous place it is for Christians to live, because the people there are acting as if God doesn’t matter, and they are masters of their own destiny, that they can find salvation within themselves. Because all men and women are made in God’s image it is possible for us to make striking advances in technology; we can rule over certain aspects of creation, but that doesn’t make us gods responsible to no one but ourselves. We do need the Book and the psalm and the day and a people to belong to. We do need the Son of God and his gospel. Having a conviction that we are made in the image of God is indispensable. Helping the infertile married couple to conceive and have children is a ministry of mercy when it’s done within the prescribed limitations of God’s compassionate and wise Word. Pursuing genetic research is crucially important, but it is foolish rebellion to dispense with the Creator of the universe or try to rise to his level. To play God is a disastrous game; we ignore his design for marriage to our peril. To use our talents in a way that is good and not evil we need a vision of life that comes from the Bible. We live in a civilization where men want to control the environment, other living organisms, mountains of data, human psychology and genetics and destiny. The biggest battle in the future is going to be between those who insist on man alone controlling the world of men, and those of us who insist any controls must be subject to the restraints of the Word of God.

2. GOD INTERVENED AND SCATTERED THEM.

We come to the third ‘Come’ in our passage; “let us go down,” and the speaker is the triune God. We read, “But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men 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.” (vv.5-8). Now, God knows all things and is present in all places, so he doesn’t liter­ally have to leave one place in order to check what’s happening somewhere else. But Moses is poking fun at Babel as Elijah poked fun of the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel thousands of years later; “Call him louder! He is hard of hearing!” Moses is saying that God actually had to swing low, “come down”, to see their tower. As the build­ers of Babel worked on their tower, they thought they were scaling the heights; “No one has ever built anything remotely as high as this.” The fact was that they were still so far below God’s height, that it was a very long descent from God’s level to theirs. Some of our modern sky­scrapers may look impressive from the ground, but if you’ve flown over them in a plane, they look like Lego buildings. The tower of Babel may have impressed its builders, but they and their tower remained puny in God’s eyes. It is at Pentecost that men from all the nations are united. They are there in Jerusalem and the Spirit of God is poured out upon them, and they all hear in their own languages the wonderful things of God. They fall before Jesus Christ in repentance and not only received the forgiveness of their sins but are born into a new trans-national family.

As David Feddes says, “When the Lord saw the tower, he wasn’t worried about losing his own supreme posi­tion, but he saw trouble brewing. God saw there would be no limit to the people’s sinful rebellion against God and no limit to the damage done to humanity if the people of Babel kept playing God. If they were al­lowed to continue with their attitude of “the sky’s the limit” and went ahead with their plans for one world government, one man­made religion, and one centralized system of information and technology, they would be capable of anything, no matter how terri­ble. “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” (11:6).

“Organization (‘one people’) and infor­mation (‘one language’) are the keys to hu­man power. The Lord knew that in order to limit human power, he simply had to con­fuse their information and break up their or­ganization. So the Lord announced his definitive ‘Come’, “‘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. That is why it was called Babel—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth” (vv. 7-9). The tower project ended not with a bang but with a whimper. The builders talked but couldn’t understand each other. They couldn’t exchange information. They lost their organization. The tower of Babel remained unfinished, a monument to human folly and God’s rule.

[If you go to Edinburgh, Scotland, you’ll see up on one of the hills called Calton’s Hill, a monument that looks like a quarter of the acropolis. What happened was after the Napoleonic wars, some people got together and decided they would build a monument to all the Scottish soldiers who had fought in the Napoleonic wars. They got a quarter of the way through the project, and they ran out of money. So it is just sitting up there, just like it was when they ran out of money on the very last day. A quarter of an acropolis on the top of Calton Hill in Edinburgh! And people refer to it as Edinburgh’s Folly. Over and over and everywhere we see, we see men who have begun to make a name for themselves. They didn’t count the cost at the beginning and they’ve got half-way through with their grand designs, and they’ve fallen.]

“Ever since that time, God has kept people divided into tribes and nations, making it hard for them to organize as a united world empire. God has kept people speaking dif­ferent languages, making it hard for people to communicate or work together. Even those who talk the same language often have mis­understandings that hamper their work. This difficulty is rooted in God’s decision to confuse human language at Babel. In many ways, this confusion has been a hin­drance to human progress and organization, but that’s just the point. God knows the pow­er of the human mind, and he knows the evil of the human soul that separates itself from God. The Lord limits progress in order to limit damage. Technological progress is very dangerous when it occurs without progress in obedience to God. Ever since Babel, knowledge and technology have moved ahead in fits and starts. Governments have risen and fallen. At times we might wish everything would run smoothly, that we could master all the information needed to develop a single system of government to bring the whole world together. But in our sinful condition, a united world system and unlimited technology would mean disaster, not salvation.

“At Babel God frustrated the proud goals of humanity, but the Bible warns us that Babel, or Babylon, is a recurring problem. Babylon represents human culture in its pas­sion to centralize and dominate and control everything, to create our own future inde­pendent of God. According to the book of Revelation, Baby­lon will reach its final form near the end of history. The Lord frustrated the original Babel and continues to keep human power within certain limits, but near the end, he will allow human power and human evil to run its course. A leader even more ambi­tious and ruthless than Nimrod will arise, someone the Bible calls “the beast” or “the antichrist.” Revelation describes the final Babylon as a concentration of knowledge and wealth and power in opposition to God, united under one central governing power. In this Babylon, everything is for sale, even human bodies and souls. When the Bible speaks of bodies and souls for sale, I can’t help thinking of experiments on embryos and the scientist who said that in reproduc­tive technology “the global marketplace will reign supreme.” In the final Babylon, any­one who opposes the antichrist agenda will be despised. But this world system, so advanced in technology, economics and political power, will collapse under its own sin and under God’s judgment” (David Feddes, The Radio Pulpit, March 2001, “Rebuilding Babel” pp. 42-44).

In our world God is active though men ignore him. What is he doing? He is revealing his wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. He is frustrating their purposes. There is that great refrain in Romans chapter one as Paul describes the Augustan age in which the early church flourished. God is giving them over to their sinful desires and giving them over to shameful lusts and giving them over to a depraved mind (Romans 1: vv. 24, 26 and 28). God will not be mocked; what men sow that shall they also reap. Babylon the great will one today fall.

Graham Harrison preaches, “‘Babylon the great is fallen’—and so falls everything that exalts itself against God. It happens individually; it will happen to you. You may think that all is well with you, that even God – if, as some of you might say, there is a God – even God cannot touch you. He can do it, he is able to do it, he is committed to doing it and he will do it! God cannot allow you to exalt yourself against him. All your hopes are going to be dashed. Your hope for health; it will fail you one day. Your wealth, such as it is, you will have to leave behind you. You may depend on popularity and affability, but friends are so fickle. All can go, and all will go. In the future, when your name is mentioned, people will say, ‘Who was he? Who was she?’ A nonentity, forgotten even by those who should remember you.

“He is a God who will allow no rivals, the God who is pledged to intervene and humble anything that exalts itself against him and his knowledge. Is that what you are doing? What is your life being built on; what are your foundations? Are you in some puny little way erecting a tower of Babel that you think is impregnable and indestructible? God will cast it down, God will inter­vene. There is only one place where you will be secure, only one foundation on which you can build. There is only one kingdom, one empire, that will never fade away, and that is the kingdom of our God and of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. You enter that kingdom not by virtue of your efforts, your works or your potential, but by the grace of God. You enter as your sins are washed away in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ shed upon the cross for sinners. I tell you in his name that, despite what the world says about you and whatever it ultimately makes of you, if you call upon him you will be in that kingdom. You will receive a kingdom that cannot be moved; you will have that confi­dence that you have listened to the God whose Word is never a lie and whose promises are never broken; the God who has promised never to leave you nor forsake you. He is the Lord who will build his church high and glorious and eternal, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. He is the God who has promised one day to take you to heaven, the God who has pledged one day to set you there on the very thrones of heaven praising and glorifying him” (Graham Harrison, Beginning at the Beginning, Bryntirion Press, 1999, pp.134&135)

28th January 2007 GEOFF THOMAS