Genesis 11:1-13:4 Matthew 5:1-26 Psalm 5:1-12 Proverbs 1:24-28
Babel is another saga in the man vs God, rebellion leads to punishment story that is typical of the beginning of Genesis. For some reason (see “God floods the world”) all of the people have come together to build a huge waterproof tower that will reach into the heavens (who needs gods when we can build our own tower to heaven)? People are so easily tricked that we can really on ourselves to accomplish everything we could ever want in life. We fail to realize that this is a direct insult to the one who is the Creator of the universe and source of life.
So God realizes that when united, people can accomplish anything. Since they are using their unity to rebel against God, the curse that is placed on humanity is not only the confusion of languages, but is essentially the beginning of division and racism. What is frightening is that over the last several thousand years, people have begun to embrace the curses that God places upon people in Genesis. We were cursed have to work for food, and today we see work-addicts today who want nothing more than success in their careers. We were cursed to have division and racism, and today instead of fighting against it, we live in neighborhoods with people that look/talk/act just like us and go to church with mostly the same. God told us we had to leave the peaceful harmony of Eden and today we fill our lives with busy-ness and stuff and fail to be the caretakers of the world that God created us to be.
The saddest thing is that Jesus came to undo all of those curses in our life and even for those of us who have Jesus in our lives, we still fail to leave behind the curses he came to liberate us from. There is no question in Paul’s writings (See Ephesians 2) that he expects the result of the cross to be an end to racism, that two people would become one. Unfortunately, he failed to realize how comfortable it is to live in a post-Babel world. It’s easy to spend time with the ones who talk like me.
After Babel, God begins moving in a new direction. No longer is the plan to be doing constant battle against rebellious people. He instead go to a man named Abram (soon to be renamed Abraham) and makes a covenant (something between a promise and a contractual agreement where both sides have a part in the promise) with him. There are a few key points to the covenant here, that God will give Abraham the Promised Land, that his descendents will be a great and numerous nation, and that he will be a blessing to all the nations (spoiler alert: the blessing comes through Jesus). God is not doing battle any more, but creating covenants through which he can develop relationship with people until the time comes when he can repair what has been broken.
It’s also extremely important to notice that God has begun a pattern of using messed up and often deeply flawed people to do His work and through which he will work his plan in this world. Noah’s drunkenness is an early example of this and now we see Abraham’s cowardice, selfishness and deceitfulness in his dealing with his wife, Sarai, as they travel through Egypt. Even so, God blesses him in every way and Abraham leaves Egypt with greater wealth than he came with.
I am surprised every day that I think that the readings are so short, but when I go to write about them, I have way to much I want to discuss. Probably my first criticism of the reading plan is that it divided the Sermon on the Mount into multiple days. I wish it had been on a single day. Because of that desire, I will leave it for Ryan to post on in its entirety tomorrow!
Someday we will get a boring reading and I will try to go back and bring out some of the highlights of the Proverbs we have so far left out of these discussions.