The Gospel of Grace for Babylonian Hearts (Gen. 10:1-11:26)
Meet Kevin Baugh. Actually, excuse me; the proper title he would like for you to address him by us “His Excellency Kevin Baugh.” His Excellency is actually the self-proclaimed president of The Republic of Molossia. Don’t remember that from geography class? Well, that’s because this “micro-nation” consists of Baugh’s three-bedroom house on his 1.3 acre yard outside Dayton, Nevada.
And yes, please address him as “his excellency.” After all, he wears an impressive khaki uniform with six big medals, a gold braid, epaulets at the shoulders, and a blue, white, and green sash. Oh—and a general's cap with a gold starburst over the bill. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, "He has a space program (a model rocket), a currency (pegged to the value of chocolate-chip cookie dough), a railroad (model size), a national sport (broomball), and—in his landlocked desert region—a navy (an inflatable boat)." He even began printing money, which bears his image on it; not to mention having his own anthem, flag and honorary passports.
The newspaper goes on to say: "Baugh, a 45-year-old father of two, is a micronationalist, one of a wacky band of do-it-yourself nation builders who raise flags over their front yards and declare their property to be, as Baugh puts it 'the kingdom of me.'"
The Kingdom of Me. This may be a fun joke to Baugh, but often behind every joke there is some truth. Deep inside all of us is a desire to be a self-sovereign King or Queen of our lives. We want to control everything. We want to control people to make them behave according to our standards. We want the right to do with our time and resources the way we want it. We want to set our own rules and chart our own course. We want to be in charge of our own life and nobody has the authority to tell us what to do. We hate when people ignore, forget or do not recognize us. We want to see how many people “liked” our status or read our blogs. Have you ever googled your name? I have! Because after all, we are his/her excellency! We want to be recognized, valued and celebrated. Why else do people write, “I was here” on bathroom stalls?
Every day we act more independent than we actually are. We are tempted every day to think that we have the resources to do life. We appear strong to people. We don’t want to appear weak, so often we refuse to ask for help. Haven’t you realized how often we do not want others to serve us? We don’t want to be in a position to ask for something and receive it as a gift! Isn’t that opposed to the gospel of grace? Look at the ways we enviously brood on the better situation of others. Look at the ways when someone confronts us with a wrong, we reject it. Or how about the ways we like to act like we know more than we actually know? Or the ways our own woundedness makes us self-absorbed? In the end, we are self-proclaimed self-sovereigns desiring control in creating kingdoms and towers and monuments to ourselves and to our insecurities. We are in bondage when we live for the Kingdom of Me! And we need someone to save us from our number one enemy: Ourselves!
This is the heart of pride. And we carry pride like a disease. What does God think of such a heart? Well it is not anything new. We see as early as Genesis 3 that Eve was told that in disobeying God and choosing the side of the serpent that she will “be like God” (Gen. 3:5). Yes Eve, you can master your own existence. You can decide what’s good for you or not. You can set your own agenda. You can be a self-sovereign of the Kingdom of me. She wanted independence, autonomy and that got her and all of us into trouble. And we see the same thing with Cain and with his ancestor, the gangsta rapper Lamech in Gen. 4:23. Remember also the Nephilim who Moses said were, “men of renown” (Gen. 6:4), i.e. self-made important rulers. Even the Flood occured because people refused God’s authority and rule over their lives. They were self-destructing and God having to graciously put an end to it.
The title of our series has been New Beginnings: The Gospel of Grace in Genesis. Over and over again, we see that the Gospel is saturated all throughout this first book of the Bible. We are again and again confronted with our great sinfulness colliding with God’s great graciousness. Today in our text, we see once again nothing has really changed with the human heart. Today we see a sad example of how people become self-deluded and blind to what is good for them. Instead of following God’s heart and His Word, in pride they follow their own hearts and try to find their identities their way. Today we are going to look at the characteristics of what I’m going to call a Babylonian heart. The heart of the Babel-builders is in all of our hearts and then we will see how the Gospel sets us free. So first of all, take note here:
I. Characteristics of a Babylonian Heart (Gen. 11:1-4)
Before we look at Gen. 11, I want to briefly look at Gen. 10. Initially when you read Gen. 10, you might think that the descendants of Noah obeyed the mandate to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen. 9:1), especially as you read in Gen. 10:5: “From there the coastland peoples spread in their lands… or when you get down to Gen. 10:18 and read the Canaanites dispersed or when you get down to Gen. 10:32: “…from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the Flood.” But in Gen. 11:1 we read: “Now the whole earth had one language and the same words.” This means they had one language and the same vocabulary, but didn’t the author just say they had multiple languages in Gen. 10:5?
Moses has a literary purpose here. Sometimes when you watch the first scene of a show or a movie, the director will try to create shock or show something for dramatic emphasis. For example, the first scene might be one where you see a man’s eye open. He is lying in what appears to be a jungle. He gets up and starts running frantically as he hears cries for help. Then you see devastation everywhere on what seems to be a beach, possibly an island. People are dead. You see debris everywhere and parts of a plane scattered all around. Then the screen fades to black. The next scene you see people on a plane quietly enjoying their journey and the same man with a drink in his hand. And perhaps on the bottom it says, “a few hours earlier.” You, as the audience, then realize that the first scene happened some time after the second scene. It creates this suspense in your heart and makes you wonder how the disaster actually happened. Similarly, the arrangement here in Gen. 10 and 11 is not chronological, but literary.
Gen. 11 is the effect and Gen. 10 is the cause. So the nations were dispersed alright, but not because they obeyed God’s Word, but because they were judged. So now we will see what happened in Gen. 11 that caused the effects of Gen. 10. So what are the characteristics of a Babylonian heart?
a) Drifting from the Lord
Gen. 10 also gives us a couple of clues about what happened here. Look at Gen. 10:8. Cush is Ham’s son and Noah’s grandson. Cush’s son is a man named Nimrod. Noah lived 350 years after the Flood. When you do the math, we find out the Tower of Babel is 100-150 years after the Flood (compare with Gen. 11:20-26). So guess what? Noah and his sons must have been alive during the Tower of Babel! And I have no doubt that Noah and his sons retold the story regarding the tremendous flood to his children and grandchildren. Perhaps it was passed on that God is a God of new beginnings and that rebelling against Him and choosing your own way apart from Him is moving away from blessing toward the curse, just as God judged the seed of the serpent with a Flood. But Nimrod chose to go the way of the serpent anyway.
But Cush’s son, Noah’s great-grandson, Nimrod is called “a mighty man.” When it says “before the LORD,” it doesn’t mean he followed Yawheh, but that God notes this guy is a powerful leader. He has the first kingdom of the world. A “mighty hunter” does not mean he hunted animals. It means he hunted people. John Macarthur adds, “He was a mighty soldier. This great grandson of Noah, grandson of righteous Ham, wielded deadly power; ruled ruthlessly right in the middle of the Euphrates Valley, and no doubt conquered all kinds of people and consolidated families and people-groups and tribes into his great Babel.”
Wow. We see the drift and decline of man’s heart. Nimrod’s grandfather, Ham and his great-grandfather, most assuredly gives first-hand information about God, His grace and judgment, the Flood, His promises, His covenant, etc. but has no effect on him. This is exactly what Romans 1 says, “Man knowing God and glorifying him not as God and not being thankful, moving away from God, into idolatry” (Rom. 1:20-23). So Noah will see his great-grandson not building altars to Yahweh or an ark for Yahweh like Noah did, but towers and cities to himself.
Notice the people migrating east. In Genesis, whenever you see “east,” it is a bad thing. Going east means moving away from God and His presence and His blessing. Look at Gen. 3:24. Adam and Eve are kicked out of the Garden and at the east God puts cherubim. Cain goes away from the presence of the Lord to Nod, east of Eden (Gen. 4:16). Later Lot will go east toward Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 13:11). This is not meant to be taken literally for us now, like we should all pack up and go to California or something and avoid New York. But the point is moving away from God’s presence, symbolized here by going “east,” is to lose your identity and blessing. See it here in our text. The people, led by Nimrod, go east and build a city, a tower and a name for themselves.
This is a good reminder to us to be aware of drifting from the Lord. Hebrews 2:1 says, “Let’s pay closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” The idea there of “drifting,” is the idea of “fastening of the anchor to the seabed to keep the ship from drifting…the metaphor of a drifting ship carried by currents beyond some fixed point.” It happens undetected. It happens slowly. It requires no effort. Simply neglect God and His Word and before you know it, the end result is just as worse as openly rebelling against God. You end up shipwrecking your life.
Loved ones, small bricks make big walls. When we drift, instead of building things for the Lord and having the Lord build us up, we automatically start building monuments to ourselves and to our insecurities. These people drifted away from God, His plans, His word and you would think at any point in building this tower they would have been like, “This is not what God wants for us. I’m out of here!” But one brick, after another, a small grudge, a casual viewing of television, a glance which becomes a gaze, a small habit here, a neglect of prayer there, a neglect of God’s Word here and guess what? A tower of Babel is built right before our eyes. And it is not so much that when we drift that God is upset, it is that we have drifted from God’s blessing and a sense of identity and significance that comes from His presence. We end up hurting ourselves and hurting the heart of God.
We have a universal propensity to drift downwardly. As D.A. Carson powerfully observes, “People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.” This stings my heart every time I read it. I am always drifting if it wasn’t for the grace of God pulling me back to Himself. Are we drifting from our priorities? Our marriage? Our relationships? Drifting away from the Lord is a sign of a Babylonian heart. Secondly,
b) Driven by self-preservation and self-security
What was the mandate given to Adam and Eve again in Gen. 1:28? God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” And just in case people didn’t take that seriously, right after the Flood, God blesses Noah and his boys in Gen. 9:1 and says, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” Fill the earth with God’s glory. Spread my name far. So what happens here in the plain of Shinar? Key word: they “settled.” Look down at Gen. 11:4: “…unless we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”
God told them to multiply and scatter. They instead multiplied and gathered. They decide, “We know what’s best for us. We need to stay together, be unified and stay here. No, we’re not going to subdue the earth; we’re going to pull together.” As Pastor Ligon Duncan says these Babel-builders are essentially saying, “We are going to collectively protect ourselves from the predatory peoples out there. We’re going to make a great name for ourselves. We’re going to build a great culture for ourselves; we are going to resist what God has told us to do.” So they disobeyed God’s clear command because they were interested in their own security, comfort as they found salvation in their unity.
Jesus tells us in the Great Commission to “Go and make disciples” (Matt. 28:18-20). This is essentially the same command of God to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. I think we are like the Babylonians here when we desire security and comfort, huddling inside our four walls of the church and homes, getting together with people we like and forgetting about everyone else. The Kingdom of Me and the Kingdom of Us.
But Jesus didn’t say, “Sit tight,” but to Go! (though the main verb there is to make disciples). Forget going to the mission field, we can’t even go across the street to talk to our neighbors! I see this Babylonian heart that says, “I just want to talk to people I can easily talk to, not the socially awkward. I just want to hang out with people who look like me, not the person who has a different background. I just want to mingle and hang out with people I like.” Love the stranger? Welcome the new person? No, I’ll let the extroverts do that because the Great Commission was just for them. It is a desire for safety to stay in the comfort zone and in doing so, we are building a tower of Babel of self-preservation. Yet we say we follow the One who left His comfort zone, pursued us, loved us and brought us into His Kingdom. Thirdly,
c) Driven by self-glorification
Moses tells us one of their motives was to preserve themselves, but another is found in Gen. 11:4: “Let us make a name for ourselves…” It is not wrong to build a city or even to build a tower or skyscraper. There is nothing wrong with community and collaboration or even community collaboration or even wanting to leave a legacy, but why we do it is what God is looking at. These people lusted for fame, power, for world renown and independence. This is the work of the seed of the serpent, just like Cain (Gen. 4:17).
They wanted to build a city and in this city would have a skyscraper, a “high tower that would be visible at a great distance so that people who wandered off would not be scattered but be able to find their way back to the city…it should be a tower that links heaven and earth.” The word “tower” is miḡdāl, which is related to the word “great” (gāḏôl).
Most scholars think that this tower was what is called a ziggurat. Scholar Stanley Greidanus notes that a ziggurat was a “stepped pyramid with a stairway on its side….” Commentator John Walton adds that ziggurats range in size from 60 feet per side to almost two hundred feet per side. Interestingly, at the top there was a bed and a table set for a deity. All of this was made to make it convenient and manipulate the gods to come down to meet the people. This is the first world religion set up by man by man’s way to get to God AND to make God come down to earth. By the way, that is the heart of every religion: how man can get to God. And in Revelation, Babylon is symbolic of the world system that opposes God including all false religions, which will one day topple (Rev. 19). We saw this same heart in the heart of Eve, but now we have a whole group of people doing it here in Gen. 11. But in Christianity, as we will see, is how God came to man.
So not only was this about “how great we are!” but we are going to use whatever gods that are out there to bless us to make us look great. Elsewhere in Scripture, it is God alone who makes a name for Himself (Is. 63:12, 14; Jer. 32:20; Neh. 9:10). So it is not, “God, what is your will and we exist to make you look great by obeying it. Use us for your glory,” but “God, this is my will and you exist to make me look great by obeying my plans and serving me. I want to use you for my glory!” So no God, we at Babel will dominate creation our way and when it is all said and done, people forever will be talking about how great we are.
It is pride. It is stealing God’s glory. It is creating God in our image. Sometimes I wonder with technology and social media how easy it is now for people to create their own towers of Babel, towers of self with their own facebook and twitter pages, blogs, and wanting to go viral with youtube videos, etc. I am not anti-technology, but I see the heart of Babel getting a nice platform there of creating this false sense of security and significance.
The goal of all pride, says pastor C.J. Mahaney, is self-glorification. It is to rob God of legitimate glory and contend/fight for supremacy with Him. It is depriving God of something only He is worthy to receive. What areas of our life are we contending with the Lord for His rule and supremacy? And as we pray, “May your Kingdom come!” Let us also pray, “May my Kingdom go!” If we are about making Jesus look good, do we realize that life may not be about how we think it should run? Pastor Mark Driscoll adds, “We walk into every situation saying, “What will make Jesus look good?” Which may mean we lose. Which may mean we're fired. Which may mean we lose money. Which may mean we're not a great success in the eyes of those who esteem us.
But it does mean, “Well, I did what made Jesus look best.” And friends, when you come into any circumstance, if you can answer the questions that way, you will be a person who abides in Christ and bears much fruit that will last. You'll be a person that says, “Well, I don't do what's best for me. I do what's best for Jesus. I don't do what makes me look good. I do what makes Jesus look good. And I'm not in this so that everybody would think good of me. I'm in it so everybody will think good of him.” So how does God respond to all this? Take note secondly,
II. The Gospel of grace collides with Babylonian hearts (Gen. 11:5-26).
To fully appreciate what Moses is doing here, you have to learn a little bit about how Old Testament writers write. They often use a literary device called chiasm. We don’t really use it in English. In a chiasm a list of items, ideas, or events is structured in such a manner that the first item parallels the last item, the second item parallels the next to the last item, and so forth. Let me give you an example, taken from Grasping God’s Word:
I got up this morning, got dressed, and drove into town. I worked hard all day, returned home, put on my PJs, and went to bed.
To analyze the chiasm we list the events and look for parallels. We will list the first item as a and the corresponding parallel item as a′. The parallels of the story line up as follows:
a I got up this morning
b got dressed
c drove into town
d I worked hard all day
c′ returned home
b′ put on my PJs
a′ went to bed
I got up this morning is noted as a, and it parallels the last event, I went to bed, noted as a′. Likewise got dressed parallels put on my PJs and so forth. Note that the middle event (I worked hard all day) does not have any parallel. Frequently in chiastic structures, if the middle event does not have a parallel, it functions as the main point or the focal point of the chiasm. The stress of this ridiculous example is on the narrator’s working hard all day.
The narrative in Genesis 11 is a chiasm:
a the whole world (11:1)
b had one language (11:1)
c Shinar, and settled there (11:2)
d “Come, let’s make bricks” (11:3)
e “Come, let us build (11:4)
f a city with a tower” (11:4)
g But the Lord came down (11:5)
f′ to see the city and the tower (11:5)
e′ that the men were building (11:5)
d′ “Come, let us go down and confuse their language” (11:7)
c′ Babel—because there (11:9)
b′ the Lord confused the language (11:9)
a′ the whole earth (11:9)
Notice where the author wants us to see the point: G, which is found in Gen. 11:5. It is full of humor and irony. From man’s perspective, this was a huge monument of gigantic proportions and very impressive. You can almost see Nimrod getting to the top and pounding his chest screaming like Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic, “I’m the King of the World!”
What about God’s perspective? John Piper says, “The author mocks the tower by saying that God had to come down to see it. This tower is so far from being in heaven, God can’t see it from heaven.” I like how Kent Hughes says it: “Yahweh must draw near, not because he is near-sighted, but because he dwells at such tremendous height and their work is so tiny” (Procksch). Their tower was so microscopic that the all-seeing omnipotent God had to come down to see. It was as if God stooped down like a man on his hands and knees and lowered his face to the earth to see the great tower.”
God is not impressed with our impressiveness. Everything in us says, “Look at me!” “Ooh, I got a big church, I got a big house, I got a big IQ, I got a big library, I got a big car, I got a big motor, I got a big computer, I can do things big, I can do things fast, Look at how many friends I have, etc.” I like how American sports teams often after winning the championship calling the winning team, “World Champions.” All of our teams are in the US and Canada and we dare call ourselves World Champions?
So until we stand before a Holy, Powerful, Omnipotent God, at something bigger than us, are we truly humbled. How do you know if a stick is crooked? Put it in front of a straight stick! We are self-deluded and blinded until we asses ourselves in light of God. And God even pictured here One who comes down to even talk to these people is an act of grace. It is to help them see themselves clearly so they can be free out of bondage of serving self to serve someone who we were created to serve.
Look at how God intervenes in Gen. 11:6. God is not saying He is threatened or intimidated by man. He is not saying, “Oh no, if these people work together, they will one day kick me off the throne!” He is saying, “I have given people freedom, but they need accountability and help to get them back on track when they veer off. If they keep going like this, they will never turn to me. They will self-destruct because idols will always break the heart of their worshippers.” So God didn’t just topple the tower. Why? Because tomorrow they’ll get up and build another one. He went deeper. We might see this judgment as cruel as God forces the people to spread out. But really it is grace, because it gets them back on track on God’s plan for the world. This is more of an intervention than a judgment. This is more of God saving us from our biggest enemy: Ourselves. John Piper wrote, "The sun of God's glory was made to shine at the center of the solar system of our souls. And when it does, all the planets of our life are held in their proper orbit. Otherwise, everything flies apart. The healing of the soul begins by restoring the glory of God to its flaming, all-attracting place at the center. We are all starved for the glory of God, not self. No one goes to the Grand Canyon to increase self-esteem. Why do we go? Because there is greater healing for the soul in beholding splendor than there is in beholding self.” So God here tries to help man put himself out of the center of the universe so God can be.
Loved ones, the worst thing that can happen to us is if we get away with our sins. Piper also says, “To be caught in secret sin is a horrible thing. Only one thing worse. Not to be caught.” Praise God for graciously intervening in our self-deluded pride that causes harm to us to rescue us and put everything in order with God as the center of our lives again.
In closing, I want us to see how the Gospel collides with Babylonian hearts. For wanderers and drifters from God who cluster and gather making towers to self and monuments of insecurity, God shows a better way. And it will be through the seed of the woman, which we have learned is the line of Shem. Interestingly the Hebrew word for “name” is Shem. God will make for himself a name through Shem. Notice Shem is highlighted after mentioning the judgment at Babel of the seed of the serpent. God focuses on the seed of the woman. Look over at Genesis 12. Yahweh tells Abram, a pagan, in Gen. 12:1-3. “Go,” again the original mandate of Gen. 1:28 and 9:1. And guess what, “I WILL make of you a GREAT nation, and I will bless you and MAKE YOUR NAME GREAT, so that you will be a blessing…in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” When man tried to make a name for themselves, in God’s way here in Gen. 12, He makes a great name for Himself through Abram. Greatness will come by God’s way, not man’s.
The nations come from Noah’s sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. From Shem came Abraham, then Isaac then Jacob and eventually Judah, and eventually David and then came the one who is the Son of David, the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of man trying to go up to God, God will come down to man. Jesus does not cluster and gather in Heaven, but leaves His comfort zone to die for us! He comes so far down, even to the point of death. Bethlehem humbles us, but we must go further. We must move from the cradle to the cross; from Bethlehem to Calvary.
Looking at the cross is where our pride ends. You want a quick lesson on humility? Stand near the cross. Get close to the cross as possible. You cannot be a proud follower of a humble Savior. As John Stott says, “Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to say to us, ‘I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.’ Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.”
The Tower of Babel points us also to the Day of Pentecost. And guess what happens in Acts 2? Representatives of many nations that ultimately come from Shem, Ham and Japheth, gather together for day of the Pentecost. Instead of man going up, God comes down with tongues of fire and UNITES everyone through language. From there these people believe the Gospel and go to build God’s church. The Day of Pentecost is the reverse of Babel! And one day we will see people from every tongue and tribe and nation doing what? Giving praise to Jesus Christ! (Rev. 7:9). Piper adds, “It was the spectacular sin on the plains of Shinar that gave rise to the multiplying of languages that ends in the most glorious praise to Christ from every language on earth.”
The Gospel tells us we don’t need to make a name for ourselves because we come under the name above every name, Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:9). In Rev. 3:12 Jesus says, “To the one who conquers…I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out heaven, and my own new name.” In the Gospel, we find value, significance and worth because God gives us those things in Christ! Jesus became of no reputation. He made himself nothing so we can get His name, a reputation, honor and significance HIS WAY.
One author writes, “We take pride in birth and rank, but it’s said of Jesus, He was a carpenter’s son. We take pride in possessions, but it’s said of Jesus, “The Son of man hath no place to lay His head.” We take pride in our respectability, but it’s said of Jesus, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” We take pride in our personal appearance, but it’s said of Jesus, “He hath no form nor comeliness.” We take pride in our reputation, but it’s said of Jesus, “Behold a man gluttonous and a drunk…” We take pride in our independence, but Jesus gave himself to people and had the woman at the well draw water for him…We take pride in our position, but Jesus said, “I am among you as one who serves.” We take pride in our success, but it’s said of Jesus, “His own did not receive Him or believe on Him. He was despised and rejected.” We take pride in our abilities, but Jesus said, “I can of mine own self do nothing.” We take pride in our self-will, but Jesus said, “I seek not my own will but the Father’s.” We take pride in our resentment and justifiable pride, but Jesus said, “Father, forgive them.” We take pride in the fact we’re the righteousness of God, but it’s said of Jesus, “He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf in order that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” And amazingly, for proud people like us, Jesus humbly lived the life we were supposed to live and died the death we should have died. Here is some points of application.
Where are we building towers or monuments of our insecurities in our lives? Where does pride show up? We said already:
1) In our self-preservation. When we want sit and gather instead of go and scatter. 2) In our self-glorification. When we want to look good more than God to look good. When we want the praise of man and are addicted to people’s approval. I want to also propose to you: 3) in our anxieties. God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble (1 Pet. 5:5). In that 1st Peter context, Peter says that when we are anxious, we see our pride. Worry is a form of pride because worry is practical atheism. Worry is sin because it denies the wisdom of God; it says that He doesn’t know what He’s doing. It denies the love of God; it says He does not care. And it denies the power of God; it says that He isn’t able to deliver me from whatever is causing me to worry.” Now humility is nothing but truth while pride is nothing but lying. The reason why God is so great a lover of humility is because he is the great lover of truth. So as I asked earlier, do we ask for help? Yes, it is counter to our culture, but it is a sign of humility. Do we ask for prayer consistently? Is it because we don’t want to put ourselves in a position where someone has to serve me? Why aren’t we filling out the prayer section of our bulletins more? I stand before you with the biggest Babylonian heart of all!
Let me close with this thought. In Jewish culture, the High Priest would transfer the sins of Israel on to a goat. This scapegoat would then be banished outside the city and into the wilderness. Interestingly, the Bible says Jesus was killed “outside the gate,” meaning outside the city (Heb. 13:12-14), as our scapegoat, carrying our sins. Jesus died outside the city to one day bring us inside HIS CITY.
One day we will be in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:10), which comes down from heaven from God (Rev. 21:10). It is not a city made by man on earth to reach Heaven, but a city prepared for us from Heaven literally coming down to earth. It has the GLORY OF GOD, not for our glory. It has a GREAT, HIGH wall. Look over at Rev. 22:1-4. Notice the Tree of Life there. It is a city with a Garden. God does for us what we always wanted, a city and a name and what we could never do for ourselves. Look at Rev. 22:3. Nothing cursed will be there meaning the seed of the serpent is gone forever. God will rule as King (but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it). It is HIS Kingdom. We will worship Him, not ourselves. And then look at this in Rev. 22:4: “They will see His face, AND HIS NAME will be on their foreheads.” We look forward to the day we will be in God’s city, wearing God’s name, living for God’s glory! Until then, may our Kingdoms, the Kingdoms of Me go, let His Kingdom come as we go forth to spread His name and fame, to build His church for His glory.
Mastony, Colleen. “In the Spirit of Independence Day,” http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2008-07-03/features/0807010471_1_lonely-planet-declared-global-politics accessed 8 December 2011.
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