Controlling God

A daily devotion for April 30th

Read the Scripture: Genesis 11:1-26
Genesis 11:1-26

1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

3 They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."

5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 6 The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."

8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel —because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

10 This is the account of Shem.
Two years after the flood, when Shem was 100 years old, he became the father of Arphaxad. 11 And after he became the father of Arphaxad, Shem lived 500 years and had other sons and daughters.

12 When Arphaxad had lived 35 years, he became the father of Shelah. 13 And after he became the father of Shelah, Arphaxad lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters.

14 When Shelah had lived 30 years, he became the father of Eber. 15 And after he became the father of Eber, Shelah lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters.

16 When Eber had lived 34 years, he became the father of Peleg. 17 And after he became the father of Peleg, Eber lived 430 years and had other sons and daughters.

18 When Peleg had lived 30 years, he became the father of Reu. 19 And after he became the father of Reu, Peleg lived 209 years and had other sons and daughters.

20 When Reu had lived 32 years, he became the father of Serug. 21 And after he became the father of Serug, Reu lived 207 years and had other sons and daughters.

22 When Serug had lived 30 years, he became the father of Nahor. 23 And after he became the father of Nahor, Serug lived 200 years and had other sons and daughters.

24 When Nahor had lived 29 years, he became the father of Terah. 25 And after he became the father of Terah, Nahor lived 119 years and had other sons and daughters.

26 After Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.

New International Version
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Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other. (Genesis 11:7)

What is behind God's actions here? Is He jealous of man? Is God threatened after all by this tower of mud and slime that these men have built? Does it mean that He is afraid that men will master all things and that He cannot any longer control them so that the very foundations of the universe will be threatened by these inventive ones? No. That is the way people want to read this. Forever we have been telling ourselves that we can do anything we want, if we want it badly enough! Therefore, we don't need God; God is optional in human life.

It is true that God admits that humans can do things if they put their minds to them. They can do seemingly anything, but what about be? That is the question. You see, there is a fatal flaw in people's thinking. What do they actually purpose or propose to do? The final answer is to glorify themselves—to be God, in other words. God knows that people are incapable of this; they are creatures. The very forces they think they can manipulate to accomplish their aims are forces that are part of their own lives that they did not make and upon which they continually depend. Therefore, human beings are incapable of being the gods they attempt to be.

Remember the story of the boy who hired himself out to a sorcerer to be his servant and to carry his water for him? Like all boys, he looked around to find some easier way of getting the job done. One day when the master was away, he prowled around among the sorcerer's magical paraphernalia.

He found certain books with magic words in them. He learned a few of these and tried them out on the broom. To his amazement, he found that he could command the broom to carry water in buckets. He sat back, opened a magazine, and read while the broom carried in the water, bucket after bucket. But after a bit he detected a little moisture on the floor. To his consternation, he realized that the tubs and basins were all full, and the broom was still carrying in the water. He arose and uttered the magic incantation, but the broom kept on carrying in the water. As it began to rise around his ankles, the boy panicked. He didn't know what to do. He cried out every magic word he knew, but nothing worked. Soon the water rose around his neck, and he began to cry out in anguish, realizing that he hadn't learned enough. He was saved at the last moment by the return of the master, who cleared up the whole situation.

That fairy tale reflects the same truths as the Tower of Babel. Human beings, in their inventiveness, think they can master the earth. But the very solutions they work out become the bigger problems that they can no longer manage. The whole vast scheme of things eludes them; they are not able to put them all together. Thus, for the human race's sake, not because God is afraid of them, but for their sake, to protect them from themselves, God says, Let us go down and confuse their language. Let us stop people from destroying themselves from the face of the earth, because they are not God enough to handle it.

Lord, in Your grace You humble me and keep me dependent on You. I confess that I am not You, and I cannot do what You do.

Life Application: In spite of incredible progress in communication technologies the world is as divided as ever. Are we God-playing trying to make God optional with our self-inventiveness?

We hope you were blessed by this daily devotion.

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