Baking the Bricks of Pride
“The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.” – Genesis 11:5
A key factor in the development of world civilization can be rooted back to a particular event recorded in the pages of the book of Genesis. In the eleventh chapter, we come across the Biblical account often referred to as the tower of Babel. It records the fascinating story of how the various languages came about. The population of mankind had greatly increased and multiplied upon the earth since the time of the flood, and men had become greatly concerned that they might become scattered across the land. Motivated by this feverish fear, along with a strong lust to make a name for themselves, they began constructing a tower in an attempt to reach toward the heavens. God was displeased with their prideful propaganda, and in His sovereignty confused their efforts by frustrating their plans. He blanketed the construction site with verbal chaos and confusion. Brick bakers and brick layers suddenly did not understand each other. Foremen and linemen were unable to communicate. Mortar mixers and tool workers were perplexed. They weren’t able to complete the tower simply because they simultaneously spoke different languages. The construction was halted, never to be continued.
In that amazing story, we read that the Lord “came down” to observe man’s tower. This is a most intriguing statement. Did the Creator of the universe really have to “come down” to observe what created man was constructing? Of course not. God did not need to come down and see the handiwork of the sons of men, for nothing escapes His infinite gaze. When the Bible refers to God as coming down, it is an expression of His powerful presence. It means that He is ready to act in a great and powerful way. Throughout scripture, the action of God “coming down” is either an action of blessing (Numbers 11:25; Numbers 12:5) or an action of judgment. In our story, God “came down” in an act of righteous judgment and caused the very thing that the sons of men were attempting to prevent; He scattered them across the whole earth (V9).
What a fascinating demonstration of the authoritative power of God! But the story becomes even livelier in light of a certain proverb. In Proverbs 18:10, we read that one of the names for God is “Strong Tower.” It says that, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe.” This means that in our Genesis text, it was God the Strong Tower who halted the construction of the weak tower constructed by frail and fickle men. And He did so because man was not created to make a name for himself, and God is never impressed by man’s feeble attempts to do so. Rather God created man to magnify His great name. The Lord will always cut us down to size when we try to do great things for ourselves rather than great things for God. Because of our sinful tendencies, we try to elevate ourselves by constructing our own “towering” plans without consulting God’s blueprints for our lives. We are naturally inclined to be in the self promotion business. We bake the bricks of pride and slap on the mortar of self-sufficiency, while trying to construct our own brittle towers. And we do so all in a futile attempt to make our name great. But God the Strong Tower will leave no room for pride, and will put us in our place by halting the construction of such towers.
Oh that we would people of righteousness that abandon our towers of pride and safely run to the strong and sturdy Tower of God!