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Genesis 11:1-9 - Homilies By R.a. Redford

Order brought forth.

We are now to trace the rise of the kingdom of God among the nations. Already in the case of Nimrod, the mighty hunter before the Lord, that is, by permission of Divine providence, the antagonism between the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world has been symbolized. Now we find the concentration of the world's rebellion and ungodliness in the false city, type of the worldly power throughout the Scriptures. It is on the plain of Shinar to which the early migration from the East directed the course of mankind. We are not told at what time the settlement in Shinar took place. As the account of the confusion of tongues is introduced between the larger genealogy and the lesser, we may infer that its object is to account for the spread of nations. Whether we take this Babel to be Nimrod's Babel or an earlier one is of very little consequence. The whole narrative is full of Divine significance. Notice—

I. MAN 'S BABEL IS A LYING PRETENSION . It rests on an attempt to substitute his own foundation of society for God's; it is—

1. False safety—the high tower to keep above the flood.

2. False ambition—reaching unto heaven, making a name with bricks and mortar.

3. False unity—"lest we be scattered abroad." These are the characteristics of all Babel despotisms. Material foundations to rest upon; lying structures built upon them.

II. GOD 'S KINGDOM IS NOT REALLY HINDERED BY MAN 'S REBELLION . He suffers the Babel structure to be reared, but by his judgments scatters both the men and their projects, making the rebellious conspiracy against himself prepare the way for his ultimate universal triumph. So it has been all through the history of the world, and especially immediately before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The confusion of tongues was a judgment and at the same time a mercy. Those that are filled with such ambitions and build upon such foundations are not fit to dwell together in one place. It is better they should be divided. The investigations into comparative grammar and the genesis of human language point to some primitive seat of the earliest form of speech in the neighborhood indicated. It was certainly the result of the false form of society with which men began, the Nimrod empire, that they could not remain gathered in one community; and as they spread they lost their knowledge of their original language, and were confounded because they understood not one another's speech. It is remarkable that in the beginning of the kingdom of Christ, the true city of God which shall overspread the world, the Spirit bestowed the gift of tongues, as if to signify that the Babel of man's lying ambitions was to cease, and in the truth of the gospel men would be united as one family, "understanding one another's speech."— R .

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