Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Tower of Babel

Proverbs 16:18
Pride goes before destruction
    a haughty spirit before a fall

Questions:

Have any of you learned any languages besides English? Which ones?
Have you tried talking to someone who doesn’t speak English? How did it feel? Did you figure out a way to communicate?

***

In 6 days, God created the earth and everything in it. The first two people He made were Adam and Eve, and they lived in a beautiful garden. God told them that they could eat anything from any of the trees except for one. For a while, they did a good job of obeying that command, but eventually, when the devil tempted them, they disobeyed and ate the fruit of the one tree they weren’t allowed to eat from. That made God very sad, and He had to throw them out of the garden because of it. They had children. Their son Cain was jealous of his younger brother Abel, and let’s just say he overreacted. At any rate, Abel didn’t survive. The first generation was guilty of disobedience, and the second generation was guilty of murder. Things were going downhill fast! Adam and Eve had a third son, whom they named Seth. They also had other children, but we don’t know what their names were. As more generations came along, people got worse and worse. They worshiped idols. They killed people. They did many other horrible things, and finally, several generations later, God had had enough. He caused a huge flood that wiped out everyone but one family and at least two of every animal. Noah and his family were the only ones who followed God, and He had Noah build a boat to save humans and animals.

He had three sons, named Shem, Ham and Japheth, who came with him on the boat. After the flood, Noah’s family started to grow. Ham had four sons. You may not have heard of his sons, but you’ve probably heard of some of the nations they and their descendants founded. Their names were Cush, Egypt, Put and Canaan. Cush had a son named Nimrod, who was a powerful king, and he built many cities. You may have heard of Babylon and Nineveh. Those and many others were his handiwork.

At this point, the people had again begun to multiply, and there were lots and lots of them. But they all spoke the same language. People started moving eastward, and they settled in a land called Shinar. Then they decided to build a city. Not just any city. This one would have a tower, and they decided it would be super tall. It should be the tallest building anyone had ever built, and it would reach up into the sky. It would be so tall that people from miles around would be amazed, and they would know how awesome these people were.

So they set to work. They made their own bricks and started construction. God was watching, though, had He had some problems with this. Everybody spoke the same language, and they thought awfully highly of themselves. Too highly. If this kept up, they would be able to do almost anything they set their mind to do, good or bad, and they wouldn’t bother looking to God, who provided what they needed to survive.

So God came up with a plan. Something that had never happened before.

One day, the people were working hard. The leaders were yelling commands at the workers. People talked to each other, and they started noticing something weird. Ils ne purent plus se comprendre.

« Trouve un marteau ! » cria un contremaître.

“Ano?” may nagsabi. “Anong sinasabi mo?”

Après avoir vu plusieurs aspects bizarres, le contremaître répéta : « Un marteau ! Un marteau ! »

“Hindi ko maintindihan” may sumagot. “Anong sinasabi mo?”

様々な所で奇妙な会話が始まりました。Nigdo se nerozumely. De snakket alle forskjellige språk. Por fin, tuvieron que abandonar la construcción de la torre. Mahirap magtrabaho ng sama-sama kung hindi natin maiintindihan ang sinasabi ng ibang tao.

En almal het uit mekaar gespat. They found people they could understand and moved on to different parts of the world.


TRANSLATION:

One day, the people were working hard. The leaders were yelling commands at the workers. People talked to each other, and they started noticing something weird. They could no longer understand each other.

“Get a hammer!” a foreman yelled.

“What?” someone said. “What are you talking about?”

After seeing a bunch of weird looks, the foreman repeated, “A hammer! A hammer!”

“I don’t understand!” someone replied. “What are you saying?”

Weird conversations started all over the place. Nobody could understand each other any more! They were all speaking different languages. Finally, they had to give up. It’s hard to work together on something if you can’t understand what people are saying.

So everyone scattered. They found people they could understand and moved on to different parts of the world.

***

The Hebrew word Babel means "gate of God", and it's similar to "balal," which means confusion. 

***

Questions:

How did making people speak different languages stop the construction?
Why did God stop the building?
Can you think of any other reasons that He might do that?
Do you think God’s punishment was merciful?

***

One reason God did it this way was to keep people from getting too powerful. Being united in a cause gives people lots of power. Sometimes that’s a good thing, but when people are united in rebelling against God, that is a bad thing. He made them speak many different languages so that they couldn’t be too united. Only a few hundred years earlier (which to God would be recent), He had sent a flood and wiped out almost everyone because they had become so evil. He didn’t want to have to do something like that again so soon! Even after the Tower of Babel, people got more evil, and God knew that someday He would have to do something about it. He punished the nation of Israel several times. Some of them even went into exile in Babylon. Notice any similarity between “Babylon” and “Babel”? It was probably the same place! Finally, many years later, God did the ultimate act of mercy. Jesus came to earth as a baby. I expect we’ll be hearing more about that later this month.

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