Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Genesis Chapter Eleven, Part 3

11:7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language
If we look back at verse 3 we will see our Lord using the same language the people did when they considered how to cast off His yoke from them. This verse also briefly reveals a conversation within the Godhead as God speaks to Himself, saying, “let us go down.” The plurality of God was an ill-concealed mystery in the Old Testament that was brought to full light with Jesus Christ. One of the most profound and simple passages in the Old Testament that testifies of God’s triune nature is in Isaiah.

The prophet writes, “Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord God and his spirit, hath sent me,” Isaiah 48:16. Again, the NKJV captures the essence of this verse magnificently: And now the Lord God and His Spirit [has] sent Me.” Yes, the original Hebrew uses a singular verb to describe the Lord God and His Spirit; they are one essence. So too, apparently, is the One talking about being sent, since it is God speaking.

The confounding of language was a curse that birthed nationalities in our world. Before then, all men had one language, 11:1. The curse was partially lifted at Pentecost, when the tongues of fire fell upon Peter and the rest, and they all spoke with the languages of the nations, so that everyone present could understand them, Acts 2:6. It is as the prophet wrote, “He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up,” Hosea 6:1. There is also the promise of a complete healing yet future. Zephaniah writes, “My determination is to gather the nations to my assembly of kingdoms, to pour on them My indignation, all My fierce anger; all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy. For then I will restore to the people a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord,” Zephaniah 3:8-9.

Verse 8 of this prophecy clearly refers to the Day of the Lord, or the Tribulation; specifically the battle at Armageddon. After the accomplishment of this terrible battle the Lord will restore (that is, give back) to the people one language, which He describes as a pure language; the purpose being so that everyone with one accord will suffer no language barrier when coming together to call on the name of the Lord. Their language and intent or purpose will be “one accord” as it was during Babel, but what a difference behind the motivation! I am fairly convinced that the thousand year reign of our Lord Jesus will find the nations speaking one language again, as it was prior to Babel and the Flood.

11:8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
The command given to Noah and his sons was finally carried out by the Lord’s curse of languages or nationalities upon mankind. Note that in Genesis 10 verses 5, 20, and 31 that the nations were separated according to their family, and their [new] tongue, or language. The events of chapter 11 verses 1-9 occur earlier than chapter 10, chronologically speaking. Families were apparently kept together by God’s mercy, since He gave them a language they could all understand; this also was part of our Creator’s design to fill the earth and subdue it. Paul summed this up for his Athenian audience when he said, “[God] hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell upon the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation,” Acts 17:26. In other words, God determined which nations would exist at a given time, and the extent of their boundaries.

What does Scripture mean when we read that God “scattered them abroad…upon the face of all the earth?” I wager that it is quite literal. Ancient man has had dominion across Africa, Europe, Asia, the Americas, etc. If there were still land channels available to travel after the Flood, it is not a stretch of the imagination when one learns about such civilizations. The error enters when we begin to interpret such history by the light of Evolution. The simple fact that nearly every ancient nation and society has a version of the incident in the Garden of Eden, as well as a world-wide deluge that drowned most of mankind, should make one pause and consider. Did a hundred isolated societies thousands of miles apart all formulate such similar stories to explain past events? What are the odds? Rather, would it not be easier to grasp the simple truth that mankind, prior to Babel’s curse, knew the truth about the Fall of man and the Flood, carrying both with him when he fled the city? As we are prone to twist the truth of a matter when it helps us avoid accountability, so too might ancient man have altered the history of both accounts enough to salve his conscience. Who wants to tell their children that they are God-cursed rebels? Man’s fallen condition has not changed since Eden.

It is interesting to note that the residents of Babel fled the city before its completion. Nimrod lost power when he lost so many to God’s curse of tongues. Look back into chapter 10 again, and you will find that Nimrod was not idle after the debacle in Babel. Verse 11 states that “from that land he want to Assyria (KJV Asshur; Shem’s descendant) and built Nineveh, Rehoboth…” If you recall, Nineveh was the city in which archeologists unearthed the writings regarding Gilgamesh, the founder of the city. He was a man created by the gods with physical greatness, but with a wicked temper and an insatiable desire to become a god. The gods created another man, his adversary, to defeat Gilgamesh, but in the ensuing battle Gilgamesh won. Despite that, Gilgamesh was denied immortality and spent the remainder of his life beautifying his city. When diplomacy failed, Nimrod waged war.

As a final reflection of verses 1-9, I would like to draw our attention to the similarity of the times prior to the Flood. Genesis 6 records the intrusion of “sons of God” coming into the daughters of men; or demons approaching mankind (apparently through women especially) in some form of Spiritism. Spiritism, personified most clearly in Hinduism, is the oldest apostate religion among men. Here we see perhaps mediumship and possession (coming into the daughters of men) as well as a perversion of the prophecy regarding the coming Seed of the woman destined to bruise the serpent’s head. The world was drawn together in apostasy. The result was the judgment of the Flood. Now the world had gathered together to formulate their own government and religion, divorced from the sovereign rule of El Shaddai. The result was the judgment of languages. There will be a third global judgment upon mankind when they join together against the Lord, and against His Anointed; it will result in the utter destruction of this world system to usher in the thousand years.

11:10 These are the generations of Shem
From this point onward the Holy Spirit is directing our attention to Shem’s bloodline, and a specific descent that would eventually lead to Abraham, father of the Jews. The earth went on for 1656 years or so before the Flood; and another 352 years or so before Abram’s call out of Ur of the Chaldeans. The first 11 chapters of Genesis record God’s dealings with the nations of the earth as a whole, before narrowing His dealings to a single man through whom would come the Jews, and through this people the Christ. Genesis 1-11 records the first 2008 years of human history as told through God’s dealings with the Gentiles. Chapter 12 will set the stage for Abram, called out of devil worship into a land he knew nothing of, following a God whose power and purpose were beyond human comprehension.
To be Concluded.

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