And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:4)
The first person on record to build a city is Cain — a rebel. In fact, he built a city after being told that he was to be a wanderer and a fugitive. To build a city suggests Cain was attempting to ignore that sentence in an act of defiance. The same could be said of Nimrod and his push to establish his kingdom in Babel (Babylon).
The people’s motive is to avoid being “scattered abroad over the face of the earth.” That’s a pretty important statement when you consider that God told Noah and his sons to “be fruitful and multiply” — which is to say, “spread out over the earth.” And then consider this: the people wanted to “make a name for ourselves.”
The Hebrew word translated “name” is שם shem, and conveys the concepts of what’s behind a name. In other words, shem denotes things like reputation and authority. When Messiah said that, “I come in My Father’s name,” He was saying that He came in His Father’s authority and was upholding His reputation. The builders of Babylon were saying, “Let’s build a city as an expression of our authority and establish our reputation in the earth because we refuse to be scattered abroad.” In reality, their city was sending a message to God that they were rejecting His authority and asserting their own.
We all know that God confused their languages and put a stop to the building project, however, the mindset that was birthed in Babylon still affects the world to this very day. People still reject the authority of the Creator and try to assert their own. Not only that, these people expect you and me to bow to their authoritative dictates and join in their rebellion. This we cannot do.
When we are compelled to obey laws that would require us to break God’s laws, we must consider who is the final authority. Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego told the king of Babylon, “We know you are a king of kings but we serve the King of Kings and we can’t abide by this dictate to serve other gods.” Messiah commended the church of Philadelphia because they “kept My word and have not denied My name” (Rev 3:8). He was acknowledging that, through it all, they had not denied His authority. This is the standard that we must live by — our Father is the final authority in all matters. Though we desire to live in peace under the authorities God has placed over us, we must always acknowledge His complete and total sovereignty in our lives and in this world.
Blessings and Shalom,