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Worship Theme: A Tower That Cannot Be Shaken
- CW 593 Holy Spirit, Light Divine
- CW 737 Lord, Help Us Walk Your Servant Way
- CW 587 Come Down, O Love Divine
- CW 590 O Holy Spirit, Enter In
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Message: A Tower That Cannot Be Shaken
Pastor Jon Enter
Have you ever wondered what the Tower of Babel would have looked like if it had been completed? Have you ever pondered how tall it actually would have been? There have been some rather famous structures built throughout the course of time. In fact, there is a list! The Seven Ancient Wonders of the World are: (1) Great Pyramid of Giza, (2) Hanging Gardens of Babylon, (3) Statue of Zeus at Olympia, (4) Lighthouse of Alexandria, (5) Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, (6) Colossus of Rhodes and (7) Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. All but one of these old structures have been destroyed.
Not to be outdone by the ancients, modern man has also built some superstructures that deserve recognition. The Seven Great Wonders of the Modern World boast these mega-structures: (1) Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro, (2) Colosseum in Rome, (3) Chichen Itza in Mexico, (4) Petra in Jordan, (5) Taj Mahal in India, (6) Machu Picchu in Peru, and (7) The Great Wall of China.
There are some people out there (probably in this very congregation) who might argue for an eighth wonder of the modern world! It’s the new football stadium in Los Angeles for the Chargers and Rams with its mass capacity of 100,240 spectators. It cost over 5 billion dollars to build!
If the people in the Plain of Shinar from our sermon text were able to accomplish their feat of building the Tower of Babel, there might have been an additional eighth wonder of the world in ancient times. But it never made it that far! The construction project failed. Not because of a union strike. Not because of city codes, red-tape or a lack of funding. It failed because God made it fail. It failed because the Foreman of all foremen came down from heaven and shouted, “Shut it down, people!”
Or, in the words of the Bible, “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.’” (Genesis 11:6-7) Doesn’t it strike you as odd that God would even care if a building is tall or not? Does this mean that God despises the Burj Khalifa—the world’s tallest building? The structure is 2,717 feet tall with 160 inhabitable floors! (By way of comparison, the Twin Towers in New York were a thousand feet shorter and had 50 less inhabitable floors of office space.) The Burj Khalifa is a modern day pick-your-jaw-off-the-floor superstructure that reaches heavenward. Does God sit in heaven and peer in anger at its glistening silver tower of triumph? If so, then God would have done the same at the Twin Towers, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the Eiffel Tower, the Washington Monument, the Cologne Cathedral and the Notre Dame Cathedral—all of which have held the record of world’s tallest building.
God doesn’t hate height. God hates sin. And there was sin running rampant at the Tower of Babel. They defied God’s obvious demands. In Genesis 1:28 this clear command was given to Adam and Eve and their descendants, “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.’” And in Genesis 9:7 the same command is repeated to Noah and his family and their descendants after they survived the Flood, “As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”
Did you catch the command? Have kids and move. That was God’s command to these early peoples. Have kids and fill the earth. Spread out across the land—from the deserts to the rainforests, from the salt-water oceans to the fresh-water lakes and from the mountains to the plains. God didn’t say, “Go to the Plain of Shinar and build for yourselves a city with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that you may make a name for yourselves and not be scattered over the face of the earth.” Wrong! That’s the exact opposite of God’s plan. But that’s what the people said. That’s what these rebellious people did. And God wouldn’t have it; God wouldn’t allow it. So God sent a horrific punishment to stop their building project.
By all counts, this punishment was one of the most universally devastating consequences to sin—even more devastating than the Flood. The Flood whipped out one planet’s worth of wicked people but when those survivors left the ark, there weren’t true fundamental changes to people…there were just eight people in all. But the consequence of God confusing the language of the people so that they couldn’t communicate with one another has been a catalyst for deception, mistrust and wars for thousands of years after the dust literally settled from the Tower of Babel.
Because of the severity of the punishment, you would suspect God to call himself a “vengeful God” as he showed these people who only deserves praise. God could have called himself a “just God” and destroyed these people as he did in Noah’s day for deliberately disobeying his command or like he did to Ananias and Sapphira who tried to build up their own name at the expense of God’s (Acts 5:1-11). God the Just God struck them dead right on the spot and he could have done the same here!
But rather than destroying them in the act of their sin, God was merciful. That is why God calls himself here: “the LORD”. The meaning of this name for God showcases the merciful aspect of God. The LORD did not strike them dead; he punished them by simply confusing their language so they couldn’t communicate. Or was it so simple? Even in the midst of this punishment God showed both his mercy (by not striking them dead) and his wisdom (by creating so many languages).
The beauty and complexity of language is mindboggling! If I had to invent a language it would involve a bunch of grunting, stuttering and non-verbal starring! Just think; there are over 3,000 different languages on this planet! Doesn’t that just make you marvel at the wisdom of God? And he speaks them all.
It’s a funny story. About forty years ago, one of our sister churches in the Midwest was thinking about changing their worship services from being a fully German language service to an English service. At the final voters’ meeting a very concerned and serious member stood up and asked, “If we switch from German to English, how will God understand us?”
God brought about the languages of this earth as a way to help humans form nations and spread across the earth. That is what happened here. The people surrounding the Tower of Babel were building a monument to themselves and ignoring God’s command. So—God the loving God, God the LORD—took away their monument to themselves and punished them in a way that would lead them towards righteousness. They refused to spread out across the land and so God’s punishment made them fulfill his decree.
That is the purpose of God’s punishments; they are intended to get us to repent and to redirect us to follow his will. Are you following through? You know in the midst of a consequence of your sin, you promise a lot to God. You promise to throw that dirty habit away. You promise to be a more faithful Christian. You promise and promise and promise. Do you deliver?
God’s consequences will get more and more severe in a loving attempt to try to get you to leave your life of sin and follow him. This Tower of Babel didn’t happen overnight. I am confident that there were multiple mysterious problems that hindered construction in an attempt to slow them down and get them to consider: “Is this truly God-pleasing?”
If you are running into the same sin in your life, if you are running into the same difficulty over and over again, if you are hitting a roadblock that you can’t get around, the LORD is trying to tell you something. The LORD is trying to get you to contemplate: “Is this truly God-pleasing or is this just to please and satisfy myself?”
Be careful. You are good at lying to yourself because you practice your defense of lying to others. You have so many excuses. You have so many ways to get the attention off your sins. And you have those excuses so rehearsed you even believe them yourself. “I had no other choice—you would have done the same thing.” “It’s how I blow off some steam.” “I’m doing this for you.” “I’m doing this for the children.” “It’s the economy; that’s why this is happening.” “I’m in control; I can stop at any time.”
Cut it out! Just cut it out! Be real with yourself. Be real with God. Is the life that you are leading God-pleasing? Or is a monument built to your desires, your wants and your selfishness?
Anything that is not built upon Christ the solid Rock; upon Christ the Chief Cornerstone may have well been built on sinking sand! It will crumble. When your life crumbles around you, cling to the Rock of Jesus! Jesus knows about building something that will last. As Jesus was standing before the superstructure of the Temple in Jerusalem, he said, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days” (John 2:19). The Jewish leadership around him was appalled and said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” (John 2:20) Jesus was, of course, not referring to the temple structure itself but the temple of his body.
We are witnesses through faith of Jesus’ glorious power over death. Christ destroyed death. He destroyed the devil. He destroyed sin. And he destroyed the monuments that you have built to yourselves in this life. Through forgiveness and through faith we realize the one true important focus of this life: to be built into the body of believers where there is one universal language—Christ.
Whether you speak English, Spanish, Creole, French, German, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian—or any of the 3,000 languages of this earth—one thing and only one thing matters. That is knowing how to pray to and trust in the name of Christ. The trust of Christ’s love is understood in any language.Even though our different languages can divide us; faith in Christ unites us! Build your life and build your faith upon Jesus Christ your merciful and loving Savior. That is a tower that cannot be shaken. Amen.
If there is someone you know that speaks a different language than you, you can reach out to them with Jesus’ love and forgiveness. There is a great resource at your fingertips. Our church body’s Multi-Language Publications provides translations of Bibles and other great witness materials in many different languages to help spread the love of Jesus.
Visit Visit www.wels.net/mlp for more information. for more information.