Over the last couple of months, we have explored the question: Are you desperate? We have seen how any time our mindset takes us away from being desperate for God, calamity happened. First, in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve fall into the temptation of self-reliance and pride and fall away from their relationships with their Creator. Then, later in human history, all the people of the earth turn to wickedness and reject God. In fact, only one man, Noah, is desperate for God. God saves this one man because of his desperation.
As we continue to trace the biblical story line, we come to the account of the Tower of Babel. After the flood, the number of people increased rapidly. We are reminded that the whole earth had one language and the same words (Gn 11:1). The people gather together in one place and decide to build a city and a tower with its top in the heavens (Gn 11:4). They decide that they must make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the earth (Gn 11:4). Their goal is self-reliance. They do not want to be dependent on God. They have ceased to be desperate.
The Lord comes to view their work. They are trying to construct a tower to get to Him— one that will reach the heavens. They have built this monument to their own power and abilities. He knows that this is only the beginning of what they will do (Gn 11:6). Should mankind ever falsely believe themselves self-reliant, they will become godless. Should the facade of a large city and tall tower compel them to abandon the God who had brought their forefather through the flood, they will believe themselves to have no need for the Creator who desires they be desperate for Him. The Lord decides to confuse the language of the people and scatter them over all the earth.
This could be seen as a judgment on the people and I would have no doubt this is their perception. However, this act of scattering and language confusion serves to bless them in ways that I cannot imagine they understood. Their comprehension of the sovereign plan of God is clouded as their relationships with many of the people they know are broken because of distance and language barriers. They were on a path that would have led them far away from God and ultimately toward their own destruction. They would have ended up like those people who were caught outside the ark in Noah’s day. Their sin would have eventually led the Lord to pour out His wrath on them and their offspring. Surely they were angry with the Lord because of His response to this great tower and mighty city but because of His action against them they have a chance to see how truly desperate they are for Him.
This tower and city provided them no hope. It is truly impossible to be self-reliant. It is impossible to make it on your own. It is possible, however, for you to believe that you can be independent of the Lord, or anyone else for that matter. In the wicked human heart, it is possible to reason how one might journey through their existence desperate for only self-satisfaction. There are myriads and myriads of people who wander through the short span of time granted them by their Creator without ever abandoning self-hope and comprehending their desperation of the one who knit them together in their mother’s womb. For those who wallow in the ignorance of independence, it is true what the Lord says, nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them (Gn 11:6) because no one who sets His heart to be self-reliant will ever propose to be desperate for the Lord.
Friend, let that never be said of you. May it never been that you get to the point where you believe that all things are possible for you—that you can do anything on your own. The Good Book reminds us that with God all things are possible (Mt 19:26), however, we remain desperate for Him. We build strong towers and powerful cities, but that will wane under the power of our Creator. We occupy a world full of men who believe they can construct a way to God. Our God continues to show great mercy in reminding us time and time again that we cannot do it on our own. We must acknowledge and understand our desperation for Him.
The journey through the biblical story line does not end there in the place called Babel. There is a man who is on the horizon. I man God will call from his land and people. A man who will be the father of a great people. Will he be desperate after the Lord?