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Understanding Genesis 11: Consequences of Our Sin

Updated on June 8, 2015

Read the entire chapter 11 of Genesis on your own. You can read a variety of versions, from contemporary English to literal translations. You can download bible apps, websites (blueletterbible.org or biblegateway.com) or buy one from your local bookstore. I will use King James Version because some of the nuances are missing from other translations. When you read the chapter, don’t just read it—study it with questions and try to make sense of it.

Tower of Rebellion

And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. 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 11:3,4

Noah lived another 350 years after the flood and saw his son’s children grow in number. He saw Ham leave and his children grow sinful similar to how the world was pre-flood. Ham and his descendants formed separate tribes and dwellings, but they spoke the same language and knew of their history.

Selfishness was prevalent and they became greedy and violent. Their lifestyle changed, in that instead of living among nature, they created bricks and mud, and distancing themselves from God—He became a distorted figure instead of their Creator and Savior. Anything that reminded them of God was being supplanted by their own creation. Uses of bricks and mud, man-made objects were revered more than how God took care of them through nature. Animals were hunted, fighting broke out among family and jealousy/envy was the driving force in becoming stronger and powerful.

The tower was a symbol of their rebellion. Nimrod built their city, and his reputation for being strong and powerful fueled his ambition to topple God. "And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth." Genesis 10:8 They built the city to reach heaven and in defiance to God when He told them go forth abundantly over the face of the earth. "And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein." Genesis 9:7

God Comes Down

And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men built. Genesis 11:5

God did not have to go down there to see what they were doing. God sees everything, knows everything. "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do." Hebrews 4:13 When God comes down to our level, it is always to reach out to us. God came down to find redemption for Sodom & Gomorrah, but only three people were found to be obedient [Genesis 19]. When God came down to Joshua, it was to reassure him of his victory against Jericho [Joshua 5]. When God came down as a baby, it was to redeem us from sin [John 1].

God always comes down to our level to reach us, but some refuse or reject His outstretched hand. When He came down to Babel, even the heavenly hosts could not deny that all the inhabitants were rebellious and evil. God knows our heart, and when we are shown a truth about our self, it’s not to make us feel guilty, but for us to confess our sins and repent. "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." 2 Corinthians 7:10

If these children of Ham had been left to their own devices, they would have caused havoc similar to pre-flood. Instead of sending a flood, God causes them to scatter and prevents spiritual annihilation.

Forfeit Whatever Keeps Us From God

And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there. And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran. Genesis 11:31,32

With each generation, the children of Shem mingled with the children of Ham. Again, the number of God’s follower dwindles until there is only one man found to do His bidding. Shem is still alive when Terah has his children, while living in Ur. Shem faithfully tells each generation about the flood and how God saves them, but only Terah and Abram respond to these stories of salvation. After the death of his son Haran, Terah decides to remove his family from the influence of the heathen city. Unfortunately, only Abram and Lot follow him and Nahor stays in Ur. As they travel toward Canaan, Terah dies in Haran.

God will do whatever He can to save us, but we must respond to His calling. He will never force us, and perhaps it will not be comfortable, but the blessings far outweigh the discomfort. "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" Romans 8:32 Terah broke up his family in order to save Abram and future generations. Abram left his friends and the comfort of his home to travel to an unknown territory; living in tents and never calling one place, home. But with these discomforts came a great blessing of being God’s friend and having a miracle child, as well as being the progenitor for the promised Messiah.

Whatever life is now, have faith that God will bring about a blessing for you. "And he [God] said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9,10

To get a deeper understanding of the Bible, read along with Patriarchs and Prophets, written by Ellen G. White. The book is available on AdventistBookCenter.com and amazon.com

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