Sin and temptation are funny things. They often disguise themselves in respectability and inventiveness that catch us off-guard at the last minute. Genesis 11 tells the story of a community’s effort to construct a great tower at a time when humanity shared common speech. The vision statement for the project was: “Building a tower to heaven to make our name great” (see Genesis 11:4). T-shirts and coffee mugs with the vision statement emblazoned on them were distributed all over town and the project commenced with great zeal. The only problem was that this effort was one more in a string of typical human aims to displace God and put humanity in His place. God will have none of it and stops everything before it reaches conclusion. Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s painting shows the colossal effort involved in this project. The architecture intentionally reflects that of the Roman Colosseum, reminding the viewer that both Rome and Babylon were biblical cities representing prideful humanity’s stance against God. Already in the painting we can see some arches beginning to crumble. The tower’s construction cannot hold together architecturally just as pride in communities and individuals pulls against itself, ending in collapse. We’re told in Genesis that God set out to “confuse their language so they will not understand each other” (11:7). This may sounds harsh until we realize just how disastrously far human brokenness and sin can go when gathered together around collective endeavors. We read about it in our history books and today’s news: war and hatred, greed and emptiness, repression and injustice. The journey of Lent reminds us that this is not only true in history and in the news, but also in us. Lent teaches us to lay our pride down and learn to be quiet–even silent–before God.
Arriving One: the final destination of the church
This past weekend we concluded our series, “One: The Being of God in the Life of the Church,” at Eastbrook Church. To bring this great exploration of unity to a close, I traced the movement from the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1-9 to the heavenly vision in Revelation 7:9-10. In one sense this is a contrast between humanity divided and humanity united.
You can view the message video and outline below. You can follow along with the entire series here and the devotional that accompanies the series here. You could always join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.
“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10)
Humanity Divided (Genesis 11:1-9)
- Human assertion against God
- God’s confusion upon humanity
Humanity United (Revelation 7:9-10)
- The gathering of the saints in the new heaven and the new earth
- The contrast with Babel’s division centered on humanity
- Here true unity is centered on God
- The Great Multitude Before God
- Unified before God: standing together, adorned similarly, crying out as one
- Identifiable difference: every nation, tribe, people, and language
Moving Toward a Unified Arrival (Colossians 3:1-17)
- Our focus on Christ and things above (3:1-4)
- Take off the old self (3:5-11)
- Put on the new self (3:12-17)
This week dig deeper into Revelation 7:9-10 in one or more of the following ways:
- Memorize Revelation 7:9-10 or Colossians 3:12-14
- Read Genesis 11:1-9 – the story of the Tower of Babel – and consider what was going on here. What do you think was at work within the hearts of humanity in this story? How does this story echo the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3?
- If you want to dive deeper into Revelation 7:9-10, consider listening to or watching another preaching series from Eastbrook called “Becoming 7.”
- Continue with our season of prayer and fasting. Find more info here.