This morning I was reminded of Psalm 127:1, one of my favorite verses from the book of Psalms. The first part of the verse reads:
Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it…
The Bible’s best illustration of these words is the story of the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), from which I’ve got a sermon entitled “Building A Babel.” In the sermon, I talk about how impressive Nimrod’s (Genesis 10:8-10) city of Babel was, especially its tower, which was its centerpiece and crowning jewel. How impressive was it all? It was impressive enough that no less an authority than God Himself said, “…now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them” (Genesis 11:6). Think about that. God said, “If humans can work together in the necessary way to build this city and tower, they are capable of doing anything they set themselves to do.” That’s quite a statement!
But what was the great problem with Babel and its tower? It was the fact that it was all built a million miles outside God’s will. You see, in that early post-flood era God didn’t want people gathering themselves together into a centralized city. To the contrary, He had told Noah’s descendants to go out and, “…fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). Therefore, Nimrod getting a large group of people together and building a city was something done against God’s command. And don’t think that the people didn’t understand perfectly what they were trying to accomplish. They said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower…lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4). Furthermore, they built the city to make a name for themselves, not for God (Genesis 11:4).
Of course, most of us know how the story ended. The whole building project was relegated to the scrap heap of history when God confused the peoples’ one language (Genesis 11:7-9). Yes, this was the beginning of different languages being spoken upon the earth. The language confusion forced the people to cease building their city before they got it finished (Genesis 11:8). In other words, a whole lot of time, energy, and resources totaled up to a very unsatisfactory result.
And so how does Babel’s story speak to our lives today? It reminds us to do our “building” in God’s will. Whatever we are “building” (a career, a marriage, a home-life, a social life, etc.), we should seek God’s direction and guidance and follow His instructions to the letter. Perhaps today you are plotting, planning, scheming, and scheduling something for which you haven’t consulted God. If that’s the case, you’d better watch out. You might just be building your own little Babel. And if you are, God won’t be any more pleased with it than He was Nimrod’s. My guess is that the end result won’t be to your liking either.