In Rebellion Again

Chapter 8

To populate the barren and devastated earth which the Flood had so lately swept clean from its moral corruption, God had saved but one family, the household of Noah. To Noah He had declared, “Thee have I seen righteous before Me in this generation.” Genesis 7;1. In Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, we see the character of future generations revealed. In these three founders of the human race, the character traits rapidly developed which had led to the great separation between the obedient and disobedient that had taken place before the Flood.

For a time, the descendants of Noah continued to live among the mountains where the ark had rested. As their numbers increased, however, many began to disregard the truth; and apostasy developed. Those who had no desire to remember their Creator or to be controlled by His Law felt a constant annoyance from the example of their God-fearing associates. After a time, they decided to separate from those who continued to worship God. In due course, their journey brought them to the plain of Shinar, on the banks of the river Euphrates, where the beauty of the situation attracted them. They settled upon this fertile plain.

Here they resolved to build a city and in it a tower of such marvelous height as to make it the wonder of the world. Contrary to God’s direction to scatter throughout the earth, these builders determined to keep their community united in one society and to found an empire that would eventually include the whole earth. In this way, their city would become the capital of a universal empire; its glory would command the admiration and respect of the world. They intended that the impressive tower, reaching to the sky, would stand as a monument of the power and wisdom of its builders, preserving their fame for all time.

Those who had come to live on the plain of Shinar did not believe God’s promise that He would never again destroy the earth with a flood. Many of them even denied His existence and considered the Flood a natural disaster brought about by natural causes. Others, while believing in a Supreme Being and that it was He who had destroyed the pre-Flood world, rebelled in their hearts and like Cain, they hated Him. One of their reasons for building the tower was to secure their own safety in the event God should again purpose to destroy mankind with a flood. They planned to erect a building that would be of a greater height than that reached by the waters of the Flood, thereby placing themselves beyond all possibility of danger.

Even before fully completing the tower, the people began celebrating the success of their project. The tower had reached such a lofty height that the workers at the top were no longer able to communicate directly with those at the base. In order to make known the needs of the builders at the top, individuals stationed at different points in between relayed the messages to the workers below. As messages were thus passing from one to another, the language suddenly became confused. As a result, workers at the top did not receive the material called for; and the directions delivered were often just the opposite of those that had been given. Confusion and dismay followed, and there was no longer harmony or cooperation among the workers. All work came to a standstill. Unable to explain the strange misunderstandings among themselves, the builders, in their anger and disappointment, blamed one another. Their organized efforts became disorganized and ended in quarrels and bloodshed. Meanwhile, lightning from heaven broke off the upper portion of the tower, knocking it to the ground, an evidence of God’s displeasure. Men were made to understand that there is a God who rules in the heavens.

Up to this time, men had all spoken the same language; now those who could understand one another’s speech united in companies, some going one way and some another. “And from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” Genesis 11:9. This scattering was the means of populating the earth. In this way, the Lord achieved His purpose through the very means that men had used to keep it from taking place.

But at what a loss to those who had set themselves against God! It was His purpose that as men should go forth to found nations in different parts of the earth, they should carry with them a knowledge of His will, that the light of truth might shine undimmed to future generations. Noah, the faithful preacher of righteousness, lived for three hundred and fifty years after the Flood and Shem for five hundred years. What a golden opportunity their testimony would have provided future generations to have become acquainted with the requirements of God and the history of His dealings with their fathers. Unwilling to listen to these unpleasant truths, the inhabitants of Shinar had already separated themselves from the people of God. Now, by the confusion of tongues they were, to a great extent, shut out from communication with those who might have shared with them the light of truth.

Those dwelling on the plain of Shinar determined to establish a government that should be independent of God. As men turn away from God, persecution, violence, and cruelty replace His characteristics of justice, purity, and love. Had the builders been able to continue with their plans without hindrance, they would soon have corrupted the whole world. Their confederacy was founded in rebellion, a kingdom in which God was to have no rule or honor. Soon this mighty power would have become so great that it would have driven righteousness—and with it peace, happiness, and security—from the earth. In mercy to the world, God defeated the purpose of the tower builders and overthrew the memorial of their daring.

God bears long with the waywardness of men, giving them sufficient opportunity for repentance; but He marks all their devices to resist the authority of His just and holy Law. From time to time the unseen Hand that rules over the destiny of all earthly governments reaches out to restrain evil. Unmistakable evidence is given that the Creator of the universe is the Supreme Ruler of heaven and earth and that none can with impunity defy His power.

The plans and purposes of the builders of the great tower ended in shame and defeat. The monument to their pride became the memorial of their folly. In spite of the lesson given, society today continues to follow the same course—depending upon self and rejecting God’s Law. It is the principle that Satan tried to carry out in heaven, the same principle that controlled Cain, leading him to present an unacceptable offering.

Many are seeking to make a heaven for themselves by obtaining riches and power. In striving to reach their goals, they trample upon the rights of others and disregard divine authority. Though the proud may, for a time, be in great power and appear to succeed in all that they endeavor to do, in the end they will find only disappointment and misery. “The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: He maketh the devices of the people of none effect. The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations.” Psalm 33:10–11

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