When Noah and his family started afresh in the post-flood earth, God gave them specific instructions to spread out and occupy the whole world, and they began to do so. The sons of Noah took their families in different directions, but some men settled in a great plain called Shinar, rather than continuing to spread out as the Lord had directed. They became experts at making brick and said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city. . . so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:4)
God said: “Spread out over the whole earth.”
Shinar-people responded: Let’s build.
The ancient people’s sin wasn’t building the city, or the tower now called the Tower of Babel, but was the blatant disregard for God’s command to spread across the whole world. God’s response was to confuse the people by giving them different languages and, unable to communicate, they abandoned the construction of the city. The end of the story says: “From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:9)
God got His way in the end.
God had made His command clear to the descendants of Noah that they were to spread out over the whole earth. In the same way, Jesus made it very clear when he commanded his disciples to spread out and take the gospel to every nation. He said it in at least five different ways recorded for us in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts. Since we are his disciples, our mission is to spread out so that we can tell the story of our amazing God to all the nations of the world and so that the knowledge of God’s glory can be known by all peoples.
Satan’s tricks are ancient and crafty, but they aren’t new; they are just re-branded and marketed differently. With his influence, and in our arrogance, like those that disobeyed God at Babel, we Christians also defy the command of Jesus to spread out and, just like the ancient people, we build. I call it the Tower of Babel phenomena.
I think the basic problem is fear. Leaving the rest of the flock to go out on your own is scary, so we stick together, even though it is the opposite of what God told us to do. Once again, we side with fear rather than with faith. But why do we build? Why do we, as the Church, spend millions of dollars, or tens of millions, to build more and more buildings?
In the Old Testament the people were trying to make a name for themselves and, if Satan’s tactics are the same and people are the same, then we are probably trying to make a name for ourselves, also. Maybe we build our church buildings bigger and better so that we can show our buildings off to others. Or, maybe we just build bigger buildings so that we can hold more programs to bring people in. Whatever the reason, all of the emphasis on church buildings has turned the paradigm that Jesus laid out upside down. Rather than “Go and tell,” the beautiful comfy buildings bid disciples to, “come and listen.”
Main point: We don’t have to be suckers and fall for Satan’s same old tricks.
So what: When the economy goes sour, churches cut back on missions and their ministries to the needy, in order to support the building and staff infrastructure that they built. In your church, don’t listen to the tricks of Satan and help keep priorities straight. The Bible mentions “The Great Commission,” and The Great Commandment.” There is no mention of, “The Great Construction.”