[Jan 15]--Stairway to Heaven

Genesis 11:1-9

Unfortunately, punishment alone does not redeem or change the sinful human heart. 8:21 makes it clear that human nature has not changed with the flood, and again people went from bad to worse right after the deluge. Chapter 10 describes how the children of Noah reproduced and repopulated the earth, listing the nations that these children produced.

This passage actually is human history in miniature. Sinful men gather together in rebellion against God (in this case, in exact disobedience to 1:28), and try to make a name for themselves. Just for fun, go through vss. 3-4 and count how many times you see some variation of “we” and “us.” It’s obvious what their focus was, and to whom they were attempting to give glory (hint: it’s not God).

So they gather together, and attempt to reach up to God by their own efforts. It’s almost comical at that point how the Most High “comes down” to see what they’re doing. How foolish is it to try to reach the Lord by our own efforts, but that’s the history of human religion in a nutshell. I submit that this is the main message of the Bible: the utter futility of reaching up to God, and the good news of God coming down to us.

On a final note, a point should be made about unity. It seems that conventional wisdom takes it for granted that unity is a good in and of itself. Presidential campaigns are based upon it: “Working together we can achieve anything.” The largest organization in the world, upon which many people pin all their hopes for the human race, is the United Nations. This is not to disparage all attempts to work together, but this story does sound a warning: Unity is not an intrinsic good. Humanity can be united in rebellion against the Lord as well as in submission to him. A lynch mob is “unified.” Germany was almost unanimous in its adulation for “The Leader.” Whenever a political or religious leader calls for “unity,” we must ask him “Unity in what cause?”

But if unity is such a destructive force when it's in the service of a bad cause, how much more powerful is it when we're united in a good one? As the Psalmist put it, "How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!" How beautiful a symphony can be when every musician is 1) following the notes on his sheet, 2) playing in harmony with his fellow musicians around him, and 3) keeping his attention on the Conductor in front of him!

Lord, it's so tempting to follow the crowd. When someone at work is making a dirty joke, it’s so easy to join in the laughter. You aren't looking for people who just blend into the scenery. You're looking for people who will be salt and light. Help me be that one. 

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