Genesis 11:5-9: The last laugh.

“5 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. That is why it was called Babel  – because there the Lordconfused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.” NIV

It’s been pointed out that God’s answer to their: ‘’Let’s go up’’ was to say, ‘’let us go down’’ (7). The relevance of Psalm 2 to this passage has also been noted. There, in that scenario, people are in rebellion towards God, but He has the last word and the last laugh (Psalm 2:4).  God is merciful, and for all their disobedience and rebellion, God did not destroy the people at Babel. He only ‘’scattered them’’ (8), and so put a stop to the building project. But He allowed them to live and breathe, and so, presumably, gave them the opportunity to return to Him.

What a contrast between these people (‘’so that we may make a name for ourselves’’, verse 4), and Abraham ( ‘’I will make your name great’’, Chapter 12:2). Can you imagine someone speaking or writing about you many thousands of years from now? No, you can’t can you? Nor can I. But when God chooses to make someone’s name great, He does a fine job of it. We are mentioning Abraham today (and we’re going to be travelling with him for several weeks) because God is as good as His word. Abraham’s name is widely known today, and he is honoured by Jews and Muslims as well as those of us belonging to the Christian faith.

But it doesn’t matter at all to have a famous name. All that is important is that God should fully have His way with you. If that is to live in anonymity and obscurity, that’s all fine too. His will be done. Someone wrote: ‘If the Lord’s going to raise you up, let Him raise you up. But whatever you do, don’t raise yourself up.’ You’ll be sorry in the end – and many other people will be too.

‘’Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them’’ (Jeremiah 45:5).

PRAYER: Help me please, Lord, to learn from this passage, to quell the least stirrings of selfish ambition. I admit I will only be able to do this in your strength.