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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary

Genesis 11

 

 

Verses 1-9

The Tower of Babel

Genesis 11:1-9

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

We will give some suggestion as to the connecting link between our last study, and today's. There are two outstanding considerations.

1. Noah's drunkenness. Noah lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood. Just when he began to be a husbandman we may not know, probably soon after he had adjusted himself to his new environment, inasmuch as his sons were still with him.

As to his drunkenness we may observe:

(1) God tells the unvarnished truth about His best men. There was no effort in the Bible account to condone Noah's act. The Word merely says, "He drank * * wine, and was drunken." Whether Noah knew that his wine drinking would make him drunk, we know not; we know, nevertheless, that he was drunk. We do not, however, hear of his getting drunk again.

(2) Good and great men err. Moses, and David, and Paul, and Peter, and you, and I, have all sinned. We trust that none of us have ever gone to the lengths that some have gone yet, we have sinned. Saints may sin, however, they do not need to sin. John has said, "These things write I unto you, that ye sin not"; then He added, "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous."

(3) The sins of saints shame God. To this day we look back at the sins of certain mighty Bible men, and we feel the sense of shame that comes over us. That is not all. In each case God was also shamed.

The Name of the Lord Jesus is continually blasphemed by those who profess to be His followers.

2. The generations of Noah. We have before us the latter part of Genesis 11:1-32 . It will be profitable to study it in connection with the genealogy of Genesis 5:1-32 .

Adam was born 4004 B.C. Seth was born 3874 " when Adam was 130 years old. Enos was born 3769 " " " " 235 " " Cainan was born 3679 " " " " 325 " " Mahalaleel was born 3609 " " " " 395 " " Jared was born 3544 " " " " 460 " " Enoch was born 3382 " " " " 622 " " Methuselah was born 3317 " " " " 687 " " Lamech was born 3130 " " " " 874 " " Adam died 3074 " " Methuselah " 243 " " Enoch translated 3017 " " " " 300 " " Seth died 2962 " " " " 355 " " Noah was born 2948 " " " " 369 " " Enos died 2864 " " " " 453 " " Cainan died 2769 " " " " 548 " " Mahalaleel died 2714 " " " " 603 " " Jared died 2582 " " " " 735 " " Japheth was born 2448 " " " " 865 " " Ham was born 2447 " " " " 866 " " Shem was born 2446 " " " " 867 " " Lamech died 2353 " " " " 864 " " Methuselah died 2348 " The year of the flood 869 " " 2348 The Flood Arphaxed was born 2346 " when Noah was 602 years old Salah was born 2311 " " " " 637 " " Eber was born 2281 " " " " 667 " " Peleg was born 2247 " " " " 701 " " Reu was born 2217 " " " " 731 " " Serug was born 2185 " " " " 763 " " Nahor was born 2155 " " " " 793 " " Terah was born 2126 " " " " 822 " " Haran was born 2056 " " " " 892 " " Peleg died 2006 " " " " 940 " " Nahor died 2007 " " " " 941 " " 1998 " " " " 950 " " Abraham was born 1996 " Two years after Noah died. Shem died 1846 " when Abraham was 150 years old. " and Isaac was 50 " " Abraham died 1821 " when Isaac was 75 " " " and Jacob was 15 " " A Few Striking Suggestions

1. All those in the Line of Christ from Adam to Noah died before the flood.

2. Adam lived to see the line of the Seed of the woman pass through nine generations without a single death along the whole lineage. This means that the firsthand story of creation could have been told by Adam to Lamech, who was Noah's father. Adam died when Lamech was 56 years old.

3. Methuselah who died in the year of the flood lived for 243 years before Adam died, and 600 years after Noah was born.

4. Noah lived 84 years as a contemporary of Enos, Adam's grandson, and Enos was born 325 years after Adam was created. Noah also lived to within 2 years of Abraham's birth. Thus Noah could have gotten from Adam's grandson the story of creation, and could have told it in person to Terah, Abraham's father.

5. Adam lived 243 years during Methuselah's lifetime. Methuselah lived 98 years during Shem's lifetime. Shem lived 150 years during Abraham's lifetime, and 50 years during Isaac's lifetime. Thus, either Abraham or Isaac could have received firsthand the story of Enoch's translation, and thirdhand the story of creation.

6. Enoch's translation was 57 years after Adam's death. Therefore, Adam lived 243 years of the period in which Enoch walked with God.

7. Moses was born only 64 years after Joseph died. Moses could have been in touch with some one who knew Joseph. Joseph knew Isaac and Jacob. They both knew Shem; Shem knew Methuselah, and Methuselah knew Adam. (This was not only possible, but probable.)

However, remember that Jehovah God knew all of these men, and He apart from any of them, could have given to Moses and the Prophets an inerrant revelation of all history, including creation, for God was before all things.

I. THE UNIFICATION OF THE RACE (Genesis 11:1 )

We judge that the great bulk of people, up to the time of Babel, sought to cluster together. We have always been taught that in unity there is strength. That, no doubt, is true, but it is true in a twofold sense:

1. Unity for God is to be desired. Jesus Christ prayed, "That they all might be one." The Holy Spirit baptizes us in the one Spirit into the one body. Paul says, "That there be no divisions among you."

The effort of the devil is to divide saints into group upon group, all speaking a different "shibboleth." "Warring factions" is Satan's specialty in church life. Paul, in spirit, wrote "It hath been declared * * that there are contentions among you." He wrote again "I beseech Euodias, and beseech Synthyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord."

How beautiful it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! However, unity among saints is based upon and never contrary to the vitals of the faith; it must not be a union of darkness with light, or, a fellowship of the believer with the unbeliever. True unity under one head and in one faith is a source of great power in the Church, and is to be greatly desired.

2. Unity against God is to be deplored. Some one may say that if God calls upon saints to be one, why should He deprecate the confederation of the wicked? This is what the Lord said of the Babel: "Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they will begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do." God saw in the amalgamation of the race that they would set themselves together against the Lord, and against His Christ. They would encourage one another in their effort against God. They would seek to gather all their forces into one great united effort against everything that would tend to their spiritual allegiance to the Most High.

II. THE UNIFICATION OF THE LAST DAYS (Psalms 2:2 )

The spirit that dominated the race in the days of the building of Babel, is once more gripping the hearts of men.

1. First of all modern invention has made a big world, a little one. Geographic lines no longer separate nations; even great seas fail to keep them apart. We sit at our breakfast table with our daily paper and we have before us. the whole world, with the outstanding and epochal events of the day before.

No one nation can do anything, without affecting every other nation under Heaven. Every time a country goes to war the whole world dreads a possible international conflagration. The monetary conditions of one land affect every other land.

Fast railroad trains, the telegraph, the telephone, the air-ship, and the radio tie the earth into one great network woven and interwoven in indescribably effective relationships.

2. Modern political tendencies trend toward a United States of Nations. During the World War the Allies found it necessary to place one general at the head of the united armies. There is much talk today about one man stepping forward and taking headship over the whole earth. We, ourselves, heard a man from India speaking from the Round Table in London and contending that the only hope of the nations in the restoration of prosperity and in the establishment of world peace, lay in a monarch with universal authority and sway. He even went so far as to say, that he would like to be that monarch.

Mussolini has the restoration of a greater Roman Empire in view. Political leaders in France have not hesitated to voice the sentiment of a united government.

III. THE LAND OF THE ANCIENT CONFEDERACY (Genesis 11:2 )

If we open our Bibles to the Book of Zechariah we will discover that there is a woman sitting in the midst of the Ephah. The Ephah was lifted up and there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the Ephah between the earth and the heaven. The Prophet said unto the angel, "Whither do these bear the ephah?" "And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base."

Zechariah's vision is a vision of the end time. The ephah was a measuring container, and it stands for commercialism. Commercialism, in the last days, will be reestablished in the land of Shinar. Satan will re-enact upon this very earth, and in the very same locality, the efforts toward unification which were put forth at Babel.

A fuller description of this Babel, which became known as Babylon, is given in the 18th chapter of Revelation.

Commercial unification is the dominant thought of present-day world leaders. Great monopolies dominate all business. It is the combine which squeezes out the "little man," and establishes the rich. We speak of different commodities being "pooled." We think in the language of chain stores. We read frequently in our great dailies of the great trusts. On every hand are combines, federations, monopolies, amalgamations and submersions. The tendency is toward the centralization of power, under the unification of control. All of this will be consummated in a startling and amazing manner before the present age will have passed.

IV. BABEL STANDS FOR THE PRIDE OF MAN (Genesis 11:4 )

The purpose of the great tower which they proposed to build, and whose top was to reach unto Heaven, was to make unto themselves a name. They thought that they would thus centralize the peoples of the world about themselves. That their city would become the center of all activity. All of this was consummate pride.

The spirit of pride which dominated them, in those olden days, still dominates the world. The great Expositions which are held every decade or two by the outstanding nations, are held in order to magnify the power and prowess of men.

The tower reaching up into Heaven suggests unto us how man would exalt himself on the one hand unto Deity, and on the other hand how he would debase God to the level of humanity. The spirit of this age is duplicating the age described in our study.

The spirit of our age, is the spirit of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar said, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?"

V. THE PRIDE OF MAN WILL CONCENTRATE IN THE ANTICHRIST (2 Thessalonians 2:4 )

The spirit of Babel which said, "We will make us a name" was the continuation of the spirit of Satan, who said, "Ye shall be as gods"; it was also the spirit of antichrist who will oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God, "so that he as God sitteth in the Temple of God, shewing himself that he is God."

The false prophet will cause all to worship the image of the antichrist. The mark of the antichrist, and the number of his name will be, as it were, the signet for all commercial activity among men.

Nebuchadnezzar was a fit picture of this coming man of sin. Nebuchadnezzar held autocratic sway, "whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down." The fact is that "all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him." The antichrist will hold a like power and sway. King Nebuchadnezzar also lifted his heart up, and his mind was hardened in pride.

This spirit of self-exaltation which grew to such an alarming height in Babel, is becoming more and more the spirit of the day. The nations are fast becoming men-worshipers. The creature is being placed above the Creator, who is blessed forever.

Let us come and fall down before the Lord, and let us worship. What is man, that God should be mindful of him? His breath is in his nostrils, and he shall soon be cut off. All of his glory and pride shall be brought down to the dust.

VI. THE CONFOUNDING OF THE LANGUAGES AND THE SCATTERING OF MEN (Genesis 11:7-8 )

The Lord God caused men to speak in various tongues and languages. The result was that confusion reigned everywhere. Men sought out those who spoke as they spoke, and finally they went forth in various directions over the earth.

Babel stands for confusion. Unto this day we speak of a "babel of voices." There is an effort now on foot to promulgate some universal language. This in line with the present hour trend toward centralization and confederation.

Sin always brings confusion. Where God reigns there is order, and symmetry, and peace. Man's effort to bring peace, apart from the Prince of Peace, is futile. War and strife and fightings will continue until Christ comes.

How easily did God speak the word that caused men to speak in many tongues! God will once again speak the word. With the breath of His lips, and with the brightness of His coming, He will destroy the antichrist. The mighty men of earth, and the great men, will go into the rocks and the dens of the earth for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His Majesty, when He shall arise to shake terribly the earth.

VII. THE DESTRUCTION OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST BABYLON (Revelation 18:2 )

1. Babylon will be rebuilded in all of its former glory. The first Babel was cast down. The second Babylon, under Nebuchadnezzar the Great, which attained to so great a pre-eminence, was cast down. A third Babylon, surpassing the glory of the former, is yet to be builded. This third and last Babylon will be the seat of the antichrist; it will be the commercial headquarters of the world.

All nations will partake in her fornication. The merchants of the earth will wax rich through the abundance of her delicacies. She will glorify herself, and live deliciously. She will sit as a queen. Her merchandise will be the merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all manner of wood, and vessels of ivory. She will deal in costly odors, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots. She will possess slaves, and traffic in the souls of men.

2. Babylon will fall. God hath spoken. Even now we hear the angel, saying with a strong voice, "Babylon the great is fallen, * * and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit."

When Babylon falls, God will say, "Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her according to her works." "How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much of torment and sorrow give her."

The king's of the earth will behold her burning. The merchants will bemoan her fall. The masters of ships, and sailors, who were made rich by trading with her, will cry, "Alas, alas!" Our call to one and all, is, "Come out of her, * * that ye be not partakers of her sins, that ye receive not of her plagues."

AN ILLUSTRATION

LLOYD GEORGE AND THE SECOND COMING

The Coming of Christ is the only hope of a world under the throes of coming judgments:

"After Miss Pankhurst's address Lloyd George said: 'Miss Pankhurst has addressed a very serious appeal to us on very grave matters matters of grave moment to us all. I endorse everything she has said. No one contemplating the position of the world at the present moment can be free from misgiving as to what may be in store for us in the future. With great eloquence and force, and great foundation of truth, she has probed the subject, She called attention to the fact that we are moving rapidly on toward the next war. Armaments are more powerful than ever, more men are trained in arms, and the machinery of war is far more destructive than we should have thought possible in the early days of the war. Year by year we were devising more machinery till by the end of the war, the machinery for human slaughter and destruction was infinitely more powerful than in 1914, and we have been going on devising more powerful methods of destruction ever since. We are spending more money on preparations for war, far more money, in this and every country in the world, than in 1914.

It is time there should be some new thoughts, some new idea, and an arresting appeal to some force outside and above the world. I expect our interpretation of the Lord's Second Advent might not in all details be the same if we compared notes, but we know that the first advent will be to accomplish it.

The twentieth century has seen the greatest war there has ever been, and still the world goes on preparing for greater destruction than before. There is a need for the Second Coming to put that right The world has not yet heard the message that was heralded by the angels.

I agree with what the speaker has said that we might have Covenants of the League of Nations, Geneva and Locarno Pacts, Kellogg Agreements among all nations that war shall be outlawed, but we have not reached peace until there is a complete change of heart among the nations, and we want it not only in nations but in the individuals.

It is by such messages as hers (Miss Pankhurst's) delivered far and wide, that the cause of peace can be advanced, and I wish that the message we have listened to tonight could be delivered to millions here and in America and on the Continent of Europe.

I would like, on your behalf, personally to thank Miss Pankhurst, and to say with what gladness I have heard the message she has given.'" Quarterly of the Scripture Testament League.

 


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Bibliography Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Genesis 11:4". "Living Water". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lwc/genesis-11.html.

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