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Misdirected Ability – Genesis 11:1-11:9

They were already one people, with one language, in one land.  What was the source of their irrational fear of scattering?  Why did they need to establish their name in protection from that fear?  These unanswered questions suggest that the Why and the What are not relevant to the LORD”s reason.  The ability that served them so well, was used for evil in their attempt to establish a name, regardless of the justification for establishing their name.  Therefore, God took away their ability.  In so doing, their fear itself, the fear of being scattered, was fulfilled.  The opening and closing verses of this passage show the current state of things and the change from being gathered to being scattered which resulted in their lack of restraint in using their abilities.

The Art will be visible once we have at least five pieces to show.

Genesis 11:1-9

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

11 Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. The Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.

 

The Theme Explained

Before continuing, read the passage above and slowly let the images soak in.  Each image is someone’s personal expression of the theme.  Discover how the images reveal the theme from the passage.


The innovative ability of Man has always been viewed as a gift from God.  The construction of the city and tower stemmed from the people’s technical ingenuity.  They had invented brick and mortar.  They had developed the art of construction.  They sought to maximize these newfound abilities.  However, they had chosen the wrong motivation in using these abilities.

When God descended to see what had been wrought by these abilities, he did not critique their construction project.  It was not the City and the Tower itself that was the source of his anger.  The LORD made the statement that it was the fact that because they were willing to attempt this, they were willing and able to attempt anything.  This implies that perhaps there are somethings which should not be attempted.  There are limitations to the application of Man’s technical abilities.

Considering that the tower and city were left unharmed, the construction itself was not a limitation.  This leaves either the reason for the construction which is to establish their name, or the justification for the reason which is the fear of scattering.  The LORD does not mention the fear of scattering as a reason.  In fact, the punishment of scattering does not refer back to the fear of Man, rather it is done to ensure that they are no longer able to collaborate as effectively.  It is done to create a limitation on Man’s ability.  The reason then for this limitation is the motive behind the construction, to establish their name.

They were already one people, with one language, in one land.  What was the source of their irrational fear of scattering?  Why did they need to establish their name in protection from that fear?  These unanswered questions suggest that the Why and the What are not relevant to the LORD”s reason.  The ability that served them so well, was used for evil in their attempt to establish a name, regardless of the justification for establishing their name.  Therefore, God took away their ability.  In so doing, their fear itself, the fear of being scattered, was fulfilled.  The opening and closing verses of this passage show the current state of things and the change from being gathered to being scattered which resulted in their lack of restraint in using their abilities.

 

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