The desire to feel important has been described as one of the greatest desires humans have. I think this desire shows itself in many Biblical stories, but especially in the story of the Tower of Babel. After Noah gets off the ark in Genesis 9 God gives a command for Noah and His family to repopulate the earth and to spread out across the entire planet (verse 7). However, in Genesis 11 Noah’s descendants see a nice plain in Shinar and decided to settle there (Genesis 11:1-4), build a massive tower and big city so they wouldn’t be dispersed. Literally the whole point of building the city was to avoid obeying the command God had given them. Genesis 11:4 explains this is why they wanted to create this city, so they could avoid being scattered across the rest of the Earth. They were completely focused on and in pursuit of what they wanted rather than on what God wanted!
Built in the Image of Man:
Not only were they fully dedicated to deliberately disobeying a command God had given them, but they were also rebelling against their purpose that God had given them (and us) during creation. God created us in His image to bear His image. This means we are to live our life in way that represents His greatness, holiness, and power. However, these people, we read about in Genesis 11, were not interested in representing God’s greatness. Rather they wanted everyone to recognize their own greatness and their own power.
Genesis 11:4 says they wanted to build the tower up to the heavens so they could make a name for themselves. They wanted this tower to represent their power, their greatness. They wanted to show how important they were. The Tower of Babel was being built in the image of man. The problem is God created humans in His image as the pinnacle of creation, to show His greatness. When we try to elevate ourselves and show off our impressive accomplishments, to create things in our image, we fail to represent God as His image bearer. So, we must ensure we are living with this fundamental purpose in mind. God didn’t just say He created Adam and Eve in His image, He created all humans in His image, (Genesis 9:6) so we must represent Him proudly, not seeking our own greatness.
God comes First:
This means God must come first in our life each and every day! The people who were building the Tower of Babel stopped thinking about God and what He wanted, and instead started focusing on what they wanted. They elevated themselves over God. Who are we to elevate ourselves over God? We would be no one without Him. We literally wouldn’t exist. So, how can we be so foolish to elevate ourselves over God? We must seek God’s plan for our life which is found in scripture. I am not talking about what job God wants you to have, but how God wants you to conduct yourself in whatever job you choose. God’s concerned with how we live more than He is the career path we choose. God desires us to mimic His holiness (1 Peter 1:15) in all we do. We must understand how it is we can live a life that is holy, or set apart, from the world.
Be Careful What You Chase:
God as our number 1 priority means we need to be constantly trying to grow closer to Him. There are a lot of things we want in life; a lot of these things are good for us and beneficial. However, we need to pay careful attention to the desires we chase, to make sure we are chasing the right things. If God is our number 1 priority we must focus on spiritual matters, having our mind set on things above, and not on earthily physical things that will one day end (Colossians 3:1). Our desires flow out of our mind and the things we are thinking about and experiencing. This is why setting a spiritual mindset is so important.
Have you ever tried to eat just one potato chip? It’s a surprisingly challenging thing to do, you eat one and then you want to eat another, and another, and another. They are so perfectly satisfying but just for a moment. Then the satisfaction ends, and you want it to start all over. So, you eat more potato chips and before you know it the entire bag is gone. Not a very healthy and beneficial thing to do. Yet, it began with thinking about the yummy potato chips, and eating just one or two. Sin operates the same way. It begins in our mind with desire but grows. The sinful action starts small: 1 white lie, cheating on 1 question, 1 picture you shouldn’t look at, and the list could go on and on. All these actions though they seem small and insignificant, in the moment of temptation, they grow and grow. This is why a spiritual mindset is so important. If God is going to be our number 1 priority, we must focus on the spiritual. We must grow our spiritual mindset each day, working to focus on God’s plan for us, so nothing replaces God as number 1 in our life.
Remember Who Makes It Possible:
During VBS I was asking all the children what they had learned. We were talking about creation when I asked, “what all did God create?” One little girl raised her hand and when called on said, with absolute confidence “Cars!” I paused a moment, and responded with something like, “ugh, yeah!” The girl isn’t completely wrong. While God did not create cars in a direct way during the creation week, He did create all we need for cars to function, and He created us in His image (which is where we get our creative juices from, after all, He is God the creator of the universe). This little girl teaches us an important lesson about keeping God number 1 and avoiding a mistake made by the people who were building the Tower of Babel. It’s not about us, it’s not about what we can do, or will do. It’s about God! It’s about what God has done, what He will do, and what He can do.
They wanted a tower to represent their greatness, the result was a tower that represents their failure to elevate God as number 1 in their life. God makes all we do possible, so let’s do everything in a way that bears His image and makes Him proud.