One hundred years after the flood an event took place according to God’s eternal counsel whose effect is still with us today. And there is nothing unusual about that. Adam’s fall has its spiritual effects upon the human race from that moment until the very end of time. The physical effects of the flood are still with us, and we live in quite a different world from that first world which was destroyed by the flood. And the confusion of speech, which took place one hundred years after the flood, is an event that has so very much to do with all the history of mankind from that day of the confusion of his speech till this very moment. In fact history could not have produced what it has, had God not confused man’s speech there at the tower of Babel. This was a key event in His eternal counsel that determined the direction of the development of the whole human race. And it has great value also for the growth and development of the church of God.
But we had better understand this building of the tower of Babel as God presents it in Genesis 10 and 11. And we ought, then, at once to rule out the idea that this tower was built as a place of safety and refuge, should God send another flood. Whatever the purpose was in building that tower, it certainly was not to be safe from the waters of another flood.
There are two elements in the account of what happened in the days of Nimrod and Peleg that at once rule out any such idea in the minds of the human race of that day. There is first of all the fact that God Himself gave promise that He would not again destroy the whole world with a flood.
Now you may argue, that unbelievers would not believe that promise of God. But that does not hold. Unbelievers did not believe that the first flood would come. Unbelievers will not believe and do not believe another judgment by fire either. They never believe what they do not want to believe. They do want to believe that there would be no more judgments of God upon them. After all even Satan believes that there is one God and trembles. Why is it hard to believe that these unbelievers took God at His Word in regard to the sending of another flood? That would not make them any more spiritual than the devil, and it does not at all mean that they had any saving faith.
And that they did believe God in this respect, that they were convinced that He would not send another flood, is plain from the very site of the construction of their city and tower. They set out to build a city with a tower that reaches to heaven. But what folly to begin such an ambitious project in the plain of Shinar? They could have saved themselves untold labour and time by beginning to build on the highest mountain. Then, too, they might then have more hope of building a tower that would reach to heaven and lift them above the waters that covered the mountains.
No, no, they themselves give an entirely different reason for building the tower, and it is this, “Go to, let us make brick and burn them thoroughly . . . And they said Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth.”
To understand this let us first of all take note of the fact that one man especially is mentioned among all the names given of the genealogies of Shem, Ham and Japheth, and around whom this whole series of events revolves. And he is Nimrod, a son of Gush, who was a son of Ham. Of him we read, “He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.”
There have been various interpretations of this statement concerning him that he was “a mighty hunter before the Lord.” There is difference of opinion as to what kind of hunter he was, and as to what it means that he was a mighty hunter before Jehovah. And we do not understand this tower of Babel unless we have the right answer to these two elements in his name.
It is claimed that Nimrod hunted men, was a tyrant, a cruel man who enslaved his fellowmen. This need not be the case at all, and it certainly militates against the phrase, “mighty hunter before the Lord.” Men would hardly add that he was mighty before the Lord, if it was this kind of cruel, tyrannical activity that got him his name.
Rather must we look upon him as a hero — which is also a possible translation of the word mighty. Consider that after the flood men multiplied and grew, but that the animal world, and particularly the wild beasts that, upon leaving the ark, became a threat to mankind multiplied and grew at a far more rapid rate. A child is born nine months after conception, and then remains a defenseless creature for many years. The wild beasts bring forth their young in shorter periods of time, and within a year are not only in full strength but able to multiply and produce another generation of enemies of mankind. And Nimrod boldly and successfully set out to kill them off in sufficient numbers that the wild beasts receded into the mountains and woods, and the people, who had now for safety as well as for better soil huddled together in the plain of Shinar where they could seek a measure of safety, began to scatter. Nimrod became their hero, and they sang of him as being a mighty hunter before the Lord.
But he was too successful. Now men began to separate and scatter farther and farther from that plain of Shinar. And Nimrod, who also had great abilities for organizing and had already established and ruled over four cities, had big ambitions about ruling the whole human race. This is evident in that cry that they must not scatter, and that they must make a name for themselves. This was Nimrod’s philosophy, and as their hero men also listened to him and quickly consented to a tower that would serve to keep them one nation under him, even though there were separate cities with their kings. Nimrod was to be the king over them all. The tower would remind them that they were all one people, and the city would be the capital city of the world empire. Indeed, here we have the first attempt at setting up the kingdom of the Antichrist.
But the point we want to make at this time is that not only did God come down and confuse man’s speech as punishment upon his sin of building the tower and the city, not only did God put a stop to this antichristian activity of the world of ungodly so shortly after the flood, by scattering them by the confusion of their speech; but this whole city and tower was built because there was already a spiritual confusion in the heart and mind of man. It was a tower of confusion, and not simply a tower that was visited by confusion of speech.
Now to confuse is to mix, to blend so that things cannot be distinguished. And the idea is not at all that mixed in with faith is also a bit of unbelief; and that in this mixture the tower was devised and the erection of it began. No, in the natural man there is no holiness mixed with a bit of unholiness. There is not civic righteousness mixed with spiritual unrighteousness. When man fell, he lost all his excellent gifts. He did retain a thinking, willing nature. He did not become an irrational, brute beast of the field. He remained God’s image bearer, although out of that mind and will he lost all power to think and will correctly, that is, to think and will as God does, and to think and will as God had created him.
He retained some knowledge of God; but so does the devil. There is no spiritual value in that, otherwise Satan also has some good work before God. But with that natural knowledge of God, with those glimmerings of natural light man began to confuse all that which he saw and heard in God’s creation. That is what idolatry is: a mixture of the natural knowledge that there is a God, and then worshipping the creature as that God. And all false doctrines today as well are mixtures of fact and the lie. False doctrines confess a god; but they design their own god.
And the confusion that led to the building of the tower of confusion is quite evident in what Scripture makes known to us. Consider once again that expression, “Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.” This is sheer confusion of thought! Men, unbelieving men, said that. In their confused minds Nimrod was a Godsend, a blessing, yea a gift of JEHOVAH, the Covenant God of His people.
What a damnable mixture of truth and lie we have here !
Nimrod — his very name comes from a verb with means to rebel — was no willing servant of God. He was no mighty man of God who sought the well-being of the Church of God. Had he succeeded, had his kingdom been established and had the whole world actually been united in him, the church would soon have been killed off, the Christ would not have been born and this descendant of Ham would have kept Shem from receiving the covenant blessing. Nor would Japheth have any tents wherein to dwell with Shem in covenant bliss and joy!
But men who were mixed up and confused in their thinking called him God’s blessing upon them. It was the social gospel of that day, a salvation that concerns itself with man’s material, physical well-being and needs no cross of Christ or forgiveness of sins for joy and peace. Let this little account here in Genesis 10 open our eyes and warn us not to follow all those who claim that their leaders are mighty men of God, men of Jehovah. All is not gold that glitters; and all are not mighty men of God who are presented as such and hailed by men to be such.
Consider the confusion further in that they say, “Let us make a name.” Well, they had a name; and a clear, spiritually unmixed and unconfused mind knows that name. It is, “servant of the Most High.” It is, “Steward of God.” It is, “God’s royal priesthood called to dedicate and consecrate all to God, to multiply, replenish and fill the earth.” Nimrod was a rebel! He led the whole world in a way of rebellion; he said by his cry for a name and a tower to unify the people, “We must and will rebel against God’s command! That is the good thing for us. We will stay together here and unite ourselves for a nameapart from God.”
In their confusion they still use the name of God while rebelling against Him, while defying Him and while going directly contrary to His command that they subdue the entire earth and be united in the truth of His Word. This was no attempt to unite and rally around the church, the body of believers of that day, but around a man who promised their flesh something for this life with utter unconcern for sin before God and for the glories of His heavenly kingdom.
Let a word of warning be sounded again against following those who have a social gospel and are hailed as mighty men before Jehovah. Let us analyze their teachings and claims. Do they seek to glorify God’s name, or is it a case of man making a name for man? Is it humanitarian in the sense of being all-involved and wrapped up in the physical and social needs of the human race, and has no atoning death of Christ to preach, has no message of forgiveness of sin before God and of-being united in the truth of Him Who is the Mighty Hunter in that He came to seek and to save that which was lost? A spiritually confused mind speaks of God’s Love, but has no room for His holy wrath and for sin!
Spiritual confusion produces the kingdom of the Antichrist. Be sure that you do not support it and serve its realization. It will fail as did the tower of Babel.