Today Pastor Gene takes a look at Genesis 11 and the account of the Tower of Babel as we ask: is God really a God of confusion?
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good morning buenos dias mongeau welcome if you're new here among us my name is gene and i serve here at c3 church as your lead pastor and i've learned something when you visit another country it's kind of important to learn a few key phrases like this donde esta el bano where's the bathroom depending on where you go you might need to have that one queued up and ready to go at any time then there's some other ones like communicating that you don't speak the language well that is clear but this is just a very polite thing to do if you hear me speak spanish you're like no kidding you really don't at least don't have the accent anyway but whatever it's a polite thing to do no hablo espanol really important you can go a little bit further right like muy bien very well letting them know i speak a little bit i speak portuguese a little bit better no falafel portuguese i don't speak very well then milo is how you say it in greek kind of bad accent again i'll hear about that later from my greek friend you know who you are it goes a long way i find when you can communicate with someone like that other people in their cultures you kind of meet them where they are it shows humility it shows you're trying to be polite i had this experience years ago many many moons ago heather and i we went to france we went to paris really cool before we went i brushed up on my french now i don't speak any of these languages very well but my mom was a french teacher so i knew a little bit of french and i made sure that i kind of brushed up a few key phrases like i don't know how to speak well can you speak english pretty good at reading it actually i could read a french menu probably still to this day but but there were a few things i didn't get now i'll tell you this there are a lot of americans that go to france they come back and they say french people are really rude i ask him this question every single time did you speak any french at all did you learn anything the answer is always no and so i let them know a little secret you see most french people speak english it's just that when you don't try to speak french they suddenly forget how to speak english that's what happens when we went i tried and pretty much everybody spoke english they reciprocated immediately it was a good time except one guy the restaurant i don't know the name of it on new york street funny enough ironically i think that's where it was in paris i couldn't read a menu item i didn't know what it was i was really struggling with it and so i asked him i'm like what is this and he couldn't speak english but because i was asking him questions in french he went out of his way i've done this before for you guys but it was a while ago he starts going took a while stingray it was stingray on the menu i was like who knows how to say that in in french so you know i got a pass there i find it goes a really long way it shows that you're trying right it shows you're trying it shows humility now there's something else and we're not going to get into it this morning because we're in church but it's kind of a good idea if you don't say them but you kind of learn what some of the bad words are so you know what people are saying about you not that as a christian you should change your behavior you just it's nice to know you can come up with something sarcastic or snarky insults like nimrod have you ever called someone a nimrod who's called someone a nimrod before come on you saw it in your heart all right so you did it that's what jesus that's the whole thing here all right so all of you i said i'm not whatever you did you called someone a nimrod but i bet you didn't know where the idea of using nimrod as an insult came from it's an unexpected place it actually comes from this that should be my walk out music when i come on to the stage it's far more appropriate than any of this other like bible stuff serious music that's right if you remember these cartoons that's more modern version i had to let it finish i couldn't just like stop in the middle drive me crazy i'd be whistling it all day finish finish so anyway you had elmer fudd and he's hunting the waskily rabbits remember and he's always after bugs bunny or daffy duck correct trying to kill him but he's not very good at it well in the bible as we'll see today nimrod was a great hunter and so it is used sarcastically by them to say he's a real nimrod not a very good hunter like this precisely what i was wondering my little nimrod now you know you learn a lot of cool stuff in church so we've been talking about people i try like job or job in these genealogies that often appear between the stories we know or not so we find this other person nimrod i'll say as many times as i can today in chapter 10 genesis 10 8 cush was also the ancestor of nimrod who is the first heroic warrior on earth since he was the greatest hunter in the world his name became proverbial people would say this man is like nimrod the greatest hunter in the world he built his kingdom the land of babylonia which will be important today with the cities of babylon eric akkad and kalna in greek it says he was a giant interestingly so we often use phrases that we don't really understand we tend to babble on and on we babble on today we find ourselves in genesis chapter 11 actually where we're gonna focus on a story many of you may know in between two genealogies which are important as we're finding out but before we do there's something i want to point out that is connected that gets lost in translation there's another phrase that some of you may have used but you probably actually didn't understand it have you ever used the phrase or heard someone use the phrase god is not a god of confusion have you heard that or said it yourself if you did you're wrong there you go i say that because it's not true context is everything i'll explain this to you and we'll see more of it in chapter 11 today of genesis context context context first corinthians i go there a lot it's an important letter they're all important in the bible but this has a lot of moving parts paul is dealing with a lot of issues in the church of corinth so we saw when we were doing a series on that book and second corinthians that there are certain themes that go over a number of chapters it's not like one chapter it's only this and then the next one we move on to the next point it doesn't do that there's really a flow and we've looked at it especially in hebrews where it kind of interrupts a flow matthew 5-7 the sermon on the mountain right so jesus doesn't stop right after chapter 5 and go chapter six you know and then just keep speaking in the sermon it interrupts it a lot and so first corinthians is really like that the chapter numbers can get quite disruptive or the little headers and things like that you're supposed to read straight through when we get to chapter 11 paul turns a corner he's talking about meat sacrifice the idols before that turns the corner and he gets into things in the worship service that's what he wants to deal with right now they're going nuts right so he gets into the head coverings then he talks about not getting drunk in church during the lord's supper no bueno stop doing that was it alto or pata i think it's like portuguese anyway out though i think it's stop i'll stop anyway he keeps going and he's going through all these different things that they're doing so he's going to talk about the spiritual gifts and then he's going to say in chapter 13 you've heard it at weddings that love is more important than all of this stuff that you're all hyped up about i'm a prophet or i'm this or i'm that love's more important gets to chapter 14 he's going to start closing up this train of thought before in 15 he talks about the resurrection when he does he talks about prophecy and tongues and things like that that are happening in the worship service this is where it appears first corinthians 14 33 but here's the thing especially about first corinthians very problematic church what people will do is they'll take one verse pluck it out that's bad enough out of context and they'll apply it to other things that it doesn't really belong to it's not what paul is thinking about or talking about here super super common and this is one of them i've heard people use this this was used i heard it used the first time not so long ago a couple years ago because i'm fairly new to church i wasn't raised in evangelical protestant church my whole life and it was used to retort people being confused in the bible study like it was getting too complicated for them so the person just rattled this off well god is not a god of confusion like we're not supposed to ever wrestle with scriptures you know it's got to be easy we got to understand it it's totally out of context here's a slightly better translation i like this one a little better so that's really probably a better translation for the word underneath there in greek which i'll try to pronounce akatastacia i think so i'll get an email about that too but anyway that's the word there and it's more like clutter really if you're talking to a greek speaking person it's clutter it's like a mess but this is a good translation because what's he talking about oh you got five people over here just babbling on with the prophecy i got people here speaking tongues everyone's going crazy and in that letter paul says you don't want to be doing that because people will think you're crazy one at a time the context is order in the worship service so disorder is very good but we'll see there is another word for confusion and that's not it which is why it's not necessarily the best translation also we'll see that using confusion here in this case is an example of a translation that doesn't consider the full counsel of god's word right so you need context the language and the full counsel of god's word what else is going on i got to make sure when i translate it that i'm not contradicting something else that god does in his word so today we're going to see that sometimes god is a god who causes confusion i want to make a note here that god often teaches in riddles mysteries and parables proverbs 1 5. let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser let those with understanding receive guidance by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables the words of the wise and their riddles enigma this is the greek word under that jesus taught in parables some tricky teachings hard to understand why well back then and just like today we have people in church for the wrong reasons they're not here to truly worship jesus jesus is not enough for certain people a lot of people come in and they just want a good show that's it they're here for the stuff maybe the goodie bags we don't give out so they don't come back and they aren't here to listen to and obey jesus obedience is key we've seen that so similarly there were people who were following jesus for the wrong reasons so jesus teaches in parables and he actually explains to the disciples why he gives all the reasoning we'll look at it today in mark the gospel of mark there is the initiation of the parables kind of sets it up with the parable of the sower so home jesus sits in a boat i believe and he begins teaching them but in parables and he just starts talking he says listen behold pay attention understand there was a farmer scattering seed and some of it fell on the sidewalk just rock birds came and plucked it up some of the seed fell on rocky-ish soil plant grew up a little bit but not so much it got burned up some of the seed it fell among like weeds plant grew up but really couldn't grow very much because of these weeds but some fell on fertile soil and these plants they grew up yielded a crop 30 60 100 times as much listen and understand that's it he's done disciples are like yo what's up with that what did that mean so imagine that we did that i think a few years ago got up and just told parable it's weird i had pastor wayne do that and sat down and everyone was like you know but that's exactly what jesus did didn't take any time to explain himself so the disciples asked him what did it mean like they're not getting it so he's like okay i'll explain this to you that seed is the word when it falls on rocks the devil the bird comes and just scoops it up it's okay it falls on rocky ish soil eh not so much burns up falls among weeds well those weeds represent the worries of this life riches he says specifically and so it can't really bear real fruit and then some fertile soil and it takes that real deep root the word gets in there so these soil types are people they're types of people the word gets in there gets good root and then yeah you produce 30 60 100 times the crop then they ask why he teaches this way right so he replies you are permitted to understand the secret of the kingdom of god but i use parables for everything i say to outsiders so that the scriptures might be fulfilled when they see what i do they will learn nothing when they hear what i say they will not understand otherwise they will turn to me and be forgiven continues jesus used many similar stories and illustrations to teach people as much as they could understand in fact in his public ministry he never taught without using parables but afterwards when he was alone with his disciples he explained everything to them that is these secrets of the kingdom in matthew's account goes on to say this this fulfilled what god had spoken through the prophet i will speak to you in parables i'll explain things hidden since the creation of the world psalm 78 prophet is asaph just in case you were wondering this was to separate those who were there for the wrong reasons those people who had the wrong heart they were there for the free food quite literally and all the show they just wanted the stuff that's it and today we have people who are just here for the show the stuff the worship is all about them and regarding the show there are some in it who are actually a part of it who try to make themselves famous they allow themselves to be the object of worship they don't discourage it and some even encourage it they get on when people do this in essence they're making themselves god the object of worship here in genesis 11 we have another instance where people are doing just that they're trying to be like god in fact it's a theme right from the beginning of the bible isn't it what did adam and eve wanted to do be like god that's what the serpent promised eve you eat that fruit you'll be like gods cain what did he do took a life first person to do that that's up to god think of it this way the sons of god this is what initiates the flood account right the sons of god go into the daughters of men and they make these giants they want to be like gods now here in genesis 11 we see that at one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words as the people migrated to the east they found a plane in the land of babylonia and settled there they began saying to each other let's make bricks and hearted them with fire in this region bricks were used instead of stone and tar was used for mortar then they said come let's build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky this will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world they wanted to make themselves famous similar to adam and eve they wanted to be like god going to the heavens so let's look at what the lord does 11-5 but the lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building look he said the people are united and they all speak the same language after this nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them come let's go down and confuse the people with different languages then they won't be able to understand each other so god confuses their speech we see here that he is a god who causes confusion genesis 11 starting verse 8 in that way the lord scattered them all over the world and they stopped building the city that is why the city was called babel because that is where the lord confused the people with different languages in this way he scattered them all over the world so babel in hebrew sounds like confusion that's why it's named babel there's actually a place named confusion they were trying to make themselves like god trying to be famous it says so god confuses them now here's the rest of the story many people don't know that the giving of the holy spirit in pentecost in the new testament is a reversal of babel jesus in acts he's already been crucified before in the gospels died buried raises from the dead he ascends into heaven background now the believers are together so acts 2 1 on the day of pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place suddenly there was a sound from heaven like a roaring of a mighty wind storm and it filled the house where they were sitting then what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each one of them and everyone present was filled with the holy spirit and began speaking in other languages greek glossa tongues languages usually glossa underneath there as the holy spirit gave them this ability here the holy spirit comes upon all the believers unlike as we'll see in the old testament it's more of like a selective type of thing for a specific purpose here it's just a waterfall of the holy spirit on these believers in jesus and the result is that they're united they're no longer confused they can now understand one another's languages acts 2 7. they were completely amazed how can this be they exclaimed these people are all from galilee and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages here we are parthians medes elomites people from mesopotamia judea cappadocia pontius and the province of asia phrygia pamphilia egypt and the areas of libya around cyrene visitors from rome both jews and converts to judaism cretans and arabs i made it all the way through that and we hear all these people speaking in our own languages tongues glossa about the wonderful things god has done it's a reversal of what god has done at babel genesis 11 the tower of babel people reach for heaven acts 2 god descends from heaven genesis 11 languages are confused they don't understand one another acts 2 they all understand by the power of the holy spirit genesis 11 the people are scattered acts 2 the people come together from all over the place they're united again in the holy spirit beyond these things there's an often missed broader implication that is extremely important i want to make a note about this it's kind of a sidebar but it's important we are all now one people group in christ that's it galatians 3 28 there's no longer jew or gentile slave or free male and female for you are all one in jesus christ racism is antithetical to christianity you cannot be a racist and be a christian we are all one in christ jesus this is important to understand christianity is a breaking down of social cultural and racial divisions which happened in genesis we are all united in christ jesus so this is in acts affirmed by paul in galatians so this is a reversal of that separation that division and the confusion now we're one in christ jesus there's also the rest of the rest of the story as they're speaking in other languages the gloss of the tongues some people think they're drunk but others in the crowd ridiculed them saying they're just drunk that's all but no then peter stepped forward with the 11 other apostles and shouted to the crowd listen carefully all of you fellow jews and residents of jerusalem make no mistake about this these people are not drunk as some of you are assuming nine o'clock in the morning is much too early for that give me a minute everything i want to say and what should not now what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet joel in the last days god says i will pour out my spirit upon all people your sons and daughters will prophesy your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams in those days i will pour out my spirit even on my servants men and women alike you catch that men and women alike and they will prophesy now not the first time in the bible that women will have prophesied that happens in the old testament too a lot of people like to ignore that and it will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below blood and fire and clouds of smoke then the sun will become dark and the moon will turn blood red before that great and glorious day of the lord arrives but everyone who calls on the name of the lord will be saved i want you to catch that breaking down no longer male or female interesting now god uses the initial confusion in babel and this foolishness to spread and reveal the gospel let's take a look at first corinthians again paul begins by talking about well talking about the wisdom of the world versus the wisdom of god and people just think that this idea of the gospel is foolish it's foolish huh you know think about the roman gods of greek gods your god died on a cross what kind of god is that it's foolish to them they're not getting the point of the resurrection so paul gives us a little more background behind some of this reveal this gospel mystery first corinthians 2 6 yet when i am among mature believers i do speak with words of wisdom but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world or to the rulers of this world who are soon forgotten no the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of god his plan that was previously hidden even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began but the rulers of this world have not understood it check this out if they had they would not have crucified our glorious lord that is what the scriptures mean when they say no eye has seen no ear has heard and no mind has imagined what god has prepared for those who love him the rulers of this world might not have killed jesus unless they were confused and that needed to happen so jesus could rise from the dead and then so could we important remember i've showed you and i encourage you if you want to learn a little bit more go back and watch the previous bible studies start at the beginning there aren't too many of them and you'll see how is affirmed by the early church fathers they really believed they showed a lot of quotes of bible study on this that the greek version of the old testament that arrived just a couple hundred years before christ did so to prepare the way for him some church fathers said it revealed certain secrets that were not previously revealed and this was the preparation for christ very important to understand that and if we go back to the gospel of mark we have a pretty interesting thing you may have noticed it even a casual reading of the gospel of mark you'll notice a couple of things first of all everything's immediate immediately immediately immediately it's a gospel of immediately it's very quick 16 chapters is the fastest moving of all four gospel accounts the other thing you might notice is that jesus often doesn't want people to know who he is or where he's going he avoids certain places it's called the messianic secret by some scholars so you'll notice that when he heals the demon-possessed man in capernaum he shuts him up because he knows who he is he's like you're the holy one and he's like ah cast out the demon quiet the man with leprosy heals the leprosy but he says don't tell anybody about this of course the guy goes and tells everybody about it you get all the way to nine he's still doing it he's going through galilee and it says his suffering foretold the second time and he tells him he didn't they didn't want him to know where he was going all right don't tell anybody about this he avoided certain places because the son of man is going to be handed over to men and killed has to happen at the right time it was so that everything would be revealed at the right time according to scriptures very important this is highlighted in ephesians really important one night god has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding christ which is to fulfill his own good plan and this is the plan at the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of christ everything in heaven and on earth ephesians 3 4 and following as you read what i have written you will understand my insight into this plan regarding christ god did not reveal it to previous generations but now by his spirit he has revealed it to his holy apostles and prophets and this is god's plan both gentiles and jews unity here who believe the good news share in equality and the riches inherited by god's children both are part of the same body and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to christ jesus by god's grace and mighty power i have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this good news though and the least deserving of all god's people he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in christ i was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious plan that god the creator of all things had kept secret from the beginning part of that confusion was for the preparation of christ this reversal of babel has been done so that jesus's name may be proclaimed everything is unconfused so that the gospel spreads throughout the world and a part of that gospel is humility it is the undoing of the confusion but we must not use it to make a name for ourselves like the people and the story or account of babel did it shouldn't be our objective today in the church to make ourselves famous it's all about making jesus's name no not ours i've shared with you in the past the beautiful gospel poem in philippians 2 the carmen christie i've said if we set it in church every sunday it wouldn't be enough it's beautiful it tells us about who jesus is and what he did for us and in it it says he was humble it says he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death even to death on a cross even though previously stated he's god so for that reason god gave him the name that is above every name so that at the name of jesus every knee will bend those in heaven on earth and below the earth and every tongue glossa language will confess that jesus christ is lord to the glory of god the father amen