Genesis 11 – Man’s Attempts to Gain Glory and God’s Gracious Judgment

Thus the story of the founding of Babylon has been carefully constructed around key terms and ideas. The people of the land were at first united as one people sharing one language and living in the “land”. They moved “eastward” and built a city to make a name for themselves in order not to be scattered over the land. When God saw their plan, he initiated a counterplan, one that resulted in the very thing that the city builders were attempting to prevent: “the LORD scattered them over all the land” (11:8).

Although, by itself, the story of the building of Babylon makes good sense as the story of human plans thwarted in God’s judgment, the real significance of the story lies in its ties to themes developed in the surrounding narratives. The focus of the author since the beginning chapters of Genesis has been both on God’s plan to bless humankind by providing them with that which is “good” and on the human failure to trust God and enjoy the “good” that God had provided. The characteristic mark of human failure up to this point in the book has been the attempt to grasp the “good” on their own rather than to trust God to provide it for them. The author has centered his description of God’s blessing on the gift of the land: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the land” (1:28). The good land is the place of blessing. To leave this land and to seek another is to forfeit the blessing of God’s good provisions.

The people, who were once united in the land, left the land, moved “eastward,” and founded their own city, there to make a name for themselves (11:4). God, who saw that their plans would succeed, moved to rescue them from those very plans and return them to the land and the blessing that awaited them there.

The story of the building of Babylon ends with only a hint of a return to the land of blessing, but in the continuation of the Genesis narratives (chap. 12ff.), the next series of events brings God’s plans into sharp focus: “The LORD said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you…. I will bless you and I will make your name great’” (12:1-2).

John Sailhamer

Read Genesis 11. In these verses we see again that man fails to trust God for what is good and tries to grab what is good by himself. How do you see this desire at work in your own life? We also see God’s faithfulness to come down and judge man’s folly and sinfulness and to redeem the path before them. How do you see the graciousness of God working on your disobedience even when it is painful? How can you submit to his gracious work in drawing you back during these seasons?

Boldly I Approach by Rend Collective

Posted on: November 5, 2015 - 10:00PM

Comments are closed.