Genesis 11:4 – Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”
Ever since sin and the curse hit the planet, fallen sinners in every generation have wrongly thought that if they simply came together, there would be peace and prosperity on the planet. This delusional myth that globalism is the cure for all that ails us finds its origination at the city of Babylon in which was the Tower of Babel.
Genesis chapter 10 opens with a lengthy genealogy of people who will be important for the rest of the book. Genesis is basically written in chronological order with chapters 10-11 being the primary inversion as Moses’ intent is to establish the nations that were scattered out from Babel to best frame the story theologically. The genealogy breaks down into the descendants of Noah’s three sons, Japheth, Shem, and Ham (from whom the Egyptians descended).
Throughout Genesis, the concept of going east corresponds to getting farther and farther from God. For example, when Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden they went eastward (3:24) as did Cain (4:7). When people go eastward in Genesis, they are turning their backs on God and setting their face towards sin and into ruin (typified by Eden and the Promised Land) as places such as Sodom and Babylon lie eastward.
Babylon (also referred to as Babel) is introduced as a typical city not unlike most in our own day where regular people simply sought to build a secular society apart from God. Today, the area is near Baghdad, Iraq. Some people only speak of the Tower of Babel, which was a part of the city likely built to see incoming enemies, but the focus of the story is simply not on the building of the tower, but rather the building of a city to house a secular society as a counterfeit to the New Jerusalem Jesus will bring as headquarters for the New Earth. This area of the world where the Tower of Babel was erected is the exact same place where Nebuchadnezzar had a tall statue of himself built years later in the book of Daniel (Genesis 11:2; Daniel 1:2); the people may change but the demons working through them are the same.
The story does not mention any particularly heinous sins that the Babylonians committed other than the simple fact that their hope was to make their name great and not God’s. And, in the building of their great city, their hope was to gather together as a unified people who would not be scattered but would, apart from God’s covenant and blessing, live for themselves by themselves. In fact, this may be the first great city in the history of the world and its purpose was to stand against all other people and God as a sort of secular seat of authority on the earth and the first attempt at globalism – people pulling together to create heaven on earth without God.
What significance does Babylon play in the rest of Scripture both as a literal place and a metaphorical people in rebellion against God (e.g. the book of Daniel, Revelation 14:8, 16:19, 17:5, 18:2)?
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