21st Century City of Babel
Posted on 07/13/2008 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (may not contain everything found in the audio above)
Good morning, and welcome once again to Abundant Living Ministries CyberChurch.
Special greetings to our visitors. I hope you'll stay after the service and meet us in the fellowship room so we can get to know you a little better.
For the last two weeks, we've announced our interest in starting a weekly live praise and worship service on Thursdays at 4:00pm Second Life time, that's Pacific time. Several of you have given their feedback, and that time does work for some of you.
For those who haven't yet put in their vote or perhaps haven't been here the past couple of weeks, we really want to hear from you. To the right and left of the stage, there are overhead slides. Please click one of those right now and use the form that comes up to quickly tell us if you can come at that time.
Hopefully next Sunday we can make a final announcement.
Let's all stand to our feet and welcome the Spirit of the Living God to come in the way he pleases, and to do his will in our midst here today.
Holy Spirit, we invite you to come dwell among us, as we turn our hearts and our minds onto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. We just want to glorify and magnify the name of Jesus, and to take this time to set aside our own agendas and our own plans, and to just seek after your will, your ways, and your kingdom order and authority to be established in our hearts and lives.
Lord, we know that you are intimately involved in our lives, and you said in your Word that we should make our requests known unto you. So we bring before you some requests for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We pray for Ron's request for his friend. You know the situation, and you ARE the solution; so we ask for your presence to fill this friend's life, and we ask that you glorify yourself in him, as you work all things out to his good and your glory, in Jesus' name.
We pray for Grambo's friend Oda, who has stomach cancer. Jesus, your name is the name above every other name, including the name of cancer. And we curse this cancer in Jesus' name, and command you to whither away and be no more. We speak health into Oda, in the name of Jesus. Great physician, we ask that you please touch this precious lady, and draw her close to you.
We pray for Kenny, who wants to be drawn closer to you. We know this is your will, this is your desire, and you have put that desire inside of Kenny. So we ask that you continue to draw him so strongly that he drops everything else and runs with abandon into your presence and into your arms. May his whole life become a living testimony of a life of intimacy with you.
We pray for Laval who had surgery this past Tuesday. We ask that you bring her a speedy recovery, and that there would be no post-surgical complications, in Jesus' name.
Lord, we also want to pray for Scottie, who was in a very serious motorcycle accident, breaking most of the bones in his body, and bruising his heart. Last we heard, the pressure in his brain was rising. Lord, before Scottie was alive a single day in his mother's womb, all the days of his life were written in your book. We speak over Scottie, that he would live and not die, and would declare the glory of the Lord! Bring healing, comfort, and hope to both Scottie and those who know and love him.
Come and visit him, Holy Spirit, and prepare him for what you have in store for him. May his life be a testimony to all with whom he comes into contact, that they too can be reconciled to you through your Son Jesus Christ, and even if their bodies are broken and bruised, and even if they were to enter eternity before the next day dawns, they can have the same hope Scottie has, that to live is Christ and to die is gain, for to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
*** other prayer, listen to the audio to hear ***
Please continue standing, as we worship God with our giving.
Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the door, and give as the Lord leads.
Click the pulpit for a notecard, and let's sing praise to our God and King!
EVEN THE MOUNTAINS
We praise you Lord because you're worthy
You are Lord and King of the earth and sky
Let us lift you up and declare your glory
Let us lift our hands and our voices high
Even the mountains praise your name
the rocks and the stones cry Holy!
Whoever seeks for your face
will never be the same
Let your kingdom come
in Jesus' name
I'm an instrument, I am only a vessel
Help me open up to receive your love
Let us put to death thoughts of opposition
Let me step aside and point the world to above
SHOUT TO THE LORD
My Jesus, My Savior
Lord there is none like You
All of my days, I want to praise
The wonders of Your mighty love
My Comfort, My Shelter
Tower of refuge and strength
Let every breath, all that I am
Never cease to worship You
Shout to the Lord, all the earth
Let us sing. Power and majesty, praise to the King.
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name
I sing for joy at the work of Your hands
Forever I'll love you, forever I'll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have in
SOMETHING ABOUT THAT NAME
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
There's just something about that name
Master, Saviour, Jesus
Like the fragrance after the rain
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Let all Heaven and Earth proclaim
Kings and kingdoms
Will all pass away
But there's something about that Name.
NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES
Jesus, name above all names
Beautiful Savior, glorious Lord.
Emmanuel, God is with us.
Blessed Redeemer, Living word.
Jesus, our Blessed Redemmer, our Living Word! Your name is the name above every other name, and we worship you!
*** listen to the audio to hear the transition ***
Today's message is titled, "21st Century City of Babel."
Yes, I know, I will probably never win an award for my sermon titles, unless it's an award for the world's strangest, but hopefully we can receive some insight today regardless.
Let's start by reading about the first City of Babel, generally refered to as the "Tower of Babel," found in Genesis chapter eleven, starting with verse one.
1 Now the whole earth had one language and one speech.
2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there.
3 Then they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar.
4 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."
5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.
6 And the LORD said, "Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.
7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech."
8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city.
9 Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.
Generally we hear, at least I always do, about the Tower of Babel, and hear that they were trying to reach God by building a tower which would reach into heaven. We envision a huge tower built on a hill that disappears into the distant clowds.
But let's start off by dispelling the myths and getting a clear picture of what was going on here.
This story takes up only nine verses of the Bible. It begins by saying the whole earth had one language and one dialect, and ends by saying God confused their language and scattered them abroad.
They made bricks and baked them thoroughly. This suggests they weren't just playing around, but were producing the best bricks they knew how.
Then in verse four, they decide to build a great city, the tower of which reaches into the heavens, or into the sky.
I can imagine them talking about their plans, their grand vision for greatness as a people, and their ideas swell into a cresendo, as a great city becomes the greatest, culminating in a tower that pierces the clowds.
But the city and its tower were not the issue. And by their own words, we see the reason they were building this city. They said, "Let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth."
Their purposes had nothing to do with God's purposes. And they were completely united, of one language and one speech, or dialect. There was clear communication, and singleness of purpose. They were working harmoniously together toward a common goal.
In verse six, God says something very interesting. He says, "Indeed, the people are one, and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing they propose to do will be withheld from them."
Now, I'm not a motivational speaker. But I used to be, at least through writings and audio programs. This was a time in my life that I was not walking with the Lord, but was promoting new age ideas and techniques.
I believed and promoted the idea that if you set your mind to something and focus on it intently for how ever long it takes, there is absolutely nothing you cannot accomplish.
Well, that's exactly what these people were doing. The first thing God points out is that the people were "one." They were unified.
And I'm convinced this was not our modern-day psuedo-unity. I don't believe they just put aside their differences, held hands, and sang Cumbiya. Rather, it says they were one.
Do you realize what would happen if we were to learn how to walk in true unity as one, and we were unified in the Spirit of God and the Holy Scriptures, obeying the voice of the Lord?
God said that nothing would be impossible for them. But, since they were doing their own will and not his, he brought their plans to an end.
Now their unity was not the only thing God noticed. He said, "Indeed the people are one, and they all have one language." This is important.
You see, God did not have to send lightning and hail from heaven to destroy their work. God did not have to cause the earth to open up and swallow them. God did not have to make dragons fly down and burn them to a crisp.
No, God did none of these things. All God did, was confuse their language.
And as a result, they were scattered abroad over the face of the earth, and the building of their great and mighty city came to an end.
So how does this relate to us today? I'm glad you asked.
For many years now, America has been storing up the wrath of God against them. I realize this is true for the whole earth, but not too many years ago, the USA was a Christian nation, so our demise is that much more striking.
Wherever you live, you can compare these growing sins to what you see around you, and I think you'll agree the whole earth is in a whole lot of trouble if they don't repent and cry out for mercy from God.
Adultery is seen as normal, just an exciting thing to do, sometimes even the right thing to do.
Homosexuality is seen as just another lifestyle, something to be protected and celebrated as good and right.
We have murdered 50,000,000 unborn babies under the law that is supposed to protect the innocent.
We have turned to false gods, and those in the spotlight promote the idea that ultimately, we should worship ourselves.
We have removed the Bible, the Ten Commandments, and prayer from our public schools, and right now we're seeing God being stripped out of public office and the public eye.
Pornography, even accessible by children of all ages, is seen as "freedom of speech," while speaking out against sin is seen as the actions of radical extreemists.
What's wrong with this picture? Doesn't it sound like something out of the Old Testament, right before a prophet comes by whale to warn of its destruction, or a crazy old man starts building a boat talking about a world-wide flood, or one of our neighbors is led out of the city by two angels, as the sky grows dark, red, and heavy, as though it is about to rain fire and brimstone?
Now I specifically mentioned America, because I see something happening here that is relevant to our topic today. Just a few years ago, we could walk into any store and be hard-pressed to find any signs printed in Spanish, or find any employees who spoke it well enough to communicate.
Today, we see almost every sign doubled, one in English and another in Spanish.
Okay, I see some of you about to get upset if you're not already. This isn't a political message, and I'm not speaking against legal immigration. I'm simply pointing out a direction in which this country is going.
I've worked with those who speak little or no English, and have even seen them try to wait on customers. It's frustrating for everyone involved. It causes confusion.
Not too long ago, those who wished to come to America legally could do so with hard work. They would learn our language and our customs, and would become a part of us.
We were a land who all spoke one language. We build up for ourselves a great city, a nation, and made a name for ourselves. The towers of our city reached into the heavens. And nothing we set out to do would have been impossible for us.
What does God have to do to stop us? Could it be as simple as allowing the minds of those in power to see a confused language as a good thing?
Now I believe there are many other things going on in this day and age, many forces at work, and many ways in which the nations of the earth are heading toward destruction. But I want to make a Biblical point here today.
Are you with me? Good.
Now in the days of Babel, they didn't have telivisions, radios, or the Internet. They didn't have fax machines. They didn't have printing presses. What they did have was word of mouth. Our passage says that they all spoke one language, and one speech, or dialect.
Let's take other languages out of the picture for a moment. Let's ask the question, who really knows the English language anymore? I guess I'm one of the few who remember my English lessons like they were five minutes ago, and I'm just out of touch with things.
I'm admittedly a pretty bad speller, at least in my estimation. But I grew up going to a school, a homeschool thank God, in which if I got one letter wrong in a spelling test, I missed that word 100%. Today, students are being taught near-spellings. If they miss it just a little bit, they still get it right.
And if you think that doesn't make a difference in the real world, I beg to differ. I cannot even begin to count the times, even in a single year, I have experienced miscommunications which resulted in errors, hurt feelings, and the spread of rumors. People simply don't comprehend what's being said, because the language has been confused.
Now once again I want to point out that this isn't the whole story. But our situation in the area of language alone relates very well with the days before the collapse of the once-unstoppable human race.
Could the confusion of our language be just one of the ways God is putting on the brakes for a country who is not following him, but their own ways instead?
We've always believed that as a nation, we were unstoppable. Anything we put our minds to accomplish, we could do it. Any challenge that we faced together, we could overcome it. And I believe that sentiment was absolutely correct.
And so our language is being confused. Our unity is being divided. Our allegience is being blurred. And our history is being re-written to make sure none of the solid, life-giving clarity returns.
And, even deeper than that, our spiritual language is confused. As an originally Christian nation, America's spiritual language was one the same. It was founded upon the Word of God. It was widely accepted and understood that the Bible was true, that God was holy and hated sin, and that one must believe in Jesus to avoid the wrath of God.
But our spiritual language has been confused. Even among Christian churches which believe the Scripture is the sole authority of truth, there are different dialects.
Remember the people building the city of Babel all spoke not only one language, but were also of one speech, or one dialect. Today, even those of one language, the language of the Bible, are of many dialects.
One reason is that we don't yet know fully even as we are fully known. But another reason is that we are not always as firmly rooted in the Scriptures as we think we are.
We make statements such as, "The devil may be a roaring lion, but he has no teeth!" Well, I would certainly shout too if I believed that were true. But the Bible actually tells us that satan goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, not whom he may gum to death.
We teach things such as, "God no longer speaks to us directly, only through the words of the Bible." And yet this is based upon speculation and thinly-woven threads; and if God were going to stop speaking to us and leading us by his Holy Spirit, I think he would have told us so.
We come up with doctrines such as, "The Holy Spirit no longer manifests in the gifts of tongues, prophecy, words of knowledge, or miraculous healings. Those passed away with the apostles." And yet if we were supposed to stop believing that we who believe will "speak with new tongues," or that we will "lay hands on the sick and they shall recover," and if Paul's encouragement to ernestly seek all the gifts, especially to prophecy, if these things ceased to be of God, don't you think the Bible would clearly say so? If it does not, then whoever makes such a claim is adding to the Word of God, and such a claim can only be true if the cannon of Scripture is not indeed closed.
But let's hop back off our rabbit trail and come back to the main point, that our language is being confused. It has been for many years; in fact, it's been confused, and we've been scattered, since the very beginning.
And while the language of a nation could be confused by God so they are divided and cannot accomplish all the man-glorifying things they wish to do, who would you guess might be behind the confusion of the Church's language, so we cannot accomplish all the God-glorifying things he has called us to do?
Satan is an unoriginal loser. He's never had an original idea in his long, miserable life. He envied God for getting all the glory, and tried to copy God and exalt himself to God's level. So he was kicked out of heaven and down to the heavenly realms of the earth. Since that time, he has done nothing but twist and pervert that which God has already created.
He didn't create a new being in his own image, but instead inhabited a serpent which God had created.
In like manner, he fashions false religions after the truth of our spiritual existence and nature, and their false gods are usually a combination of a twisted form of God and his fallen creations.
The first killing was not even satan's doing. No, the first killing was by God's own hand, as he slew an animal and used its skin to make a covering for the newly-fallen man.
So don't think that satan is brilliant and highly creative just because he has managed to egg on man's own tendency to interject his own ideas into the truth of God's Word. Confusing the language to divide and conquer is nothing new. God did it first for good, and satan is copying God for evil.
And in the same way, satan will some day soon mimic the unifying power of God to unify all people by his Spirit. He will raise up a world-ruler who, out of the chaos, will breath the seductive poison of one false spiritual language. By force if necessary, everyone on earth will be required to worship him and take his mark upon them.
But his kingdom too will be crushed by the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, who will trample his enemies under his feet, and will establish his kingdom of righteousness forever and ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end! Praise the Lord!
The kingdom of God is quite a different story from the kingdom of this earth. People from every tribe and nation, from all the peoples and languages of the earth, from every background and culture, and from every social and economic class and level or lack of education; when they are unified in the Spirit of God and founded upon the Word of God, there is no division. They are one. And whether they are praising God in Hebrew, Spanish, English, French, Latin, or Greek, there is no confusion, for everyone else who is born of and walking in the Spirit of God can understand their spiritual language. That which would render the carnal man divided is no match for the unity that comes by the Spirit of the Living God.
I've heard stories of people who were overcome by the Spirit of God and started speaking in tongues to an unbeliever, only to discover that they were really speaking in that person's native tongue, leading them to Jesus.
And when someone stands up for the whole church to hear and begins giving a word in an unknown language, the Holy Spirit gives the interpretation for someone to speak in a language everyone understands.
The ways of God are quite different from the ways of man, and are foolishness to him. But from the viewpoint of the perfect One who created man and knows him intimately, it is OUR ways which are utterly foolish and obsurd.
The way of man is to follow his own direction and seek his own glory. And the way of God is to confuse the language of man so that his vain and boastful strivings come to naught.
The Scriptures say, "You have seen me and know me, O God, you know my rising up, my coming in and my going out. There is not a word on my lips but that you know it already. You are intimately aquainted with all my ways."
It is our choice to respond to the drawing of the Holy Spirit or to harden our hearts and continue going our own way. And it is the sovereignty of God that confuses the tongues and the hearts of mankind who has united to promote their own programs and make themselves great.
Likewise, it is our choice to make sure our "dialect" is firmly founded upon what the Bible actually says, realizing that our conclusions and speculations are not a foundation for truth. And it is the sovereignty of God that brings people of every tongue and tribe together in the unity of the Spirit, breaking all boundaries and making us all one in Jesus Christ.
The world is in a confused mess indeed. And so is the Church. But we are on the threshold of something of incredible magnitude. Look upon the horizon, and you will see something both fearful and full of glory, both dreadful and magnificent beyond compare.
We are about to enter a time of darkness never before seen in the history of humanity. And we are also about to see the glory of God as it shines in radient contrast to the darkness all around us.
And as this contrast becomes more defined, the fence so many of us sit on will become too hot and too broad. Let's make sure we're on the right side, as close to God as we can be and daily striving to grow closer. And if we are, when that defining moment, that terrible moment of ultimate decision, we will have enough oil in our lamps to shine for Jesus, and will not be snuffed out by the pervading evil darkness all around us.
So the call today is to sharpen your dialect. Weed out any language of thought, any language of attitude, and any language of action that is not the language of the Spirit, and attune our spiritual dialect to the unerring Word of God, with great humility, leaning not upon our own understanding, but committing everything into the hands of Jesus, holding fast to everything he has committed unto us until he returns in glory and majesty and awe.
The ministry team can come to the front now.
This altar is open for prayer and ministry. You're all invited to get out of your seat and come gather at the front for a time of prayer, as we seek the face of God together.
If you don't know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, it's not too late yet. You may not have another day, or even another hour, but you have right now, and right now the Spirit of the Living God is speaking to you, tugging at your heart, calling you to stop your endless struggle with the never-ending questions sent by the enemy to keep you from finding life.
Come to Jesus, and let him take you from death into life, from darkness into his marvelous light.
Just reach your hands up to him right now, and tell him, "Jesus, I accept your free gift of Salvation! Come into my heart. Forgive me for my sins and wash them away. I turn from them and surrender my life to you!"
If you need to go, you're free to do so. If you can stay, please do, and after your time seeking God here today is over, please make your way to the room on your left, and we'll have a time of fellowship.
If you're new, or if you just gave your life to Jesus, or if you're curious about what it means to receive Salvation and walk with God, please come to the fellowship room as well, and we'll meet together and talk about it.
For just a little while, come to the altar, and let's seek the Lord together.