Genesis 10-11 Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

The Dispersion of the Peoples

Genesis 10:1-11:9

Membership in the church. 2 key passages

2 Cor. 12 “12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many.”

-We all have a part to play, integral member of the church

Heb. 13 “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

-Who are your leaders? And who will I give an account for when I stand before Jesus?

-Walking into a church building doesn’t make me a Christian or a part of the church. (walking into the Target Center doesn’t make me an NBA player, wearing a jersey doesn’t make me a football player)

-How long does someone need to come to a church before they’re “a part”? 1 week? 1 month? 1 year? 

-Think of membership like an embassy. 

-Church isn’t God’s “plan B” it’s His intention to build the church.

-Been popular since I was in college to bash/complain about “the church” as if individuals are not contributing to any problems. This is part of what we’ve seen through Genesis – we’re sinners, all of us. EFCA SOF: “In union with Adam, human beings are sinners by nature and by choice, alienated from God, and under His wrath.” So what do you think happens when a bunch of sinners gather together regularly? Think sin becomes less of a problem, or more of a problem?

-Church is a group of sinners, saved by God’s ridiculous grace, who have covenanted to God and each other to love each other DESPITE the ways we sin against each other. This commitment, despite ethnic, gender, intelligence, gifting  differences serves to demonstrate to the world a picture of God’s love for them.

-Also provides a different level of 2 things: support and accountability.

-Support: OSB prays for all our members, we all need each other to function properly according to 1 Cor. 12, you can know that no matter what happens you’ve got a family who will come around you

-Accountability: we’re not meant to survive alone. None of us can! I’ve had people here tell me when I say something too careless in my messages, I need that! I’m a sinner too! This means we’re going to be better together – God saves us individually, but then calls us/draws us into a new family.

-What does this have to do with Genesis? Great question! Generally what happens when people come together is sin gets amplified, that’s true in cities, in apartment buildings, and yes, even in the church. So what’s the solution to living near people? Great question, let’s take a look at today’s text!

READ/PRAY

  1. The Table of Nations (10)

At this point in human history, we’ve got 8 people left on the face of the earth: Noah and his wife, 3 sons and their wives. 

-We know that book is meant to serve as the introduction to the entire world and explain how things got where they were, specifically how Abram came to be, and then culminating in God’s chosen people, the Israelite nation.

-Thus, the purpose of this whole chapter is to describe the various nations that would have been surrounding Israel when Moses was writing this, centuries later. Longman: “This ‘genealogy’ is really a primitive linguistic, political map that reflects realities of a later time.”

-Showing what the world/cultural ideas were thousands of years ago

-First son listed:

  1. Japheth (2-5)

-14 names listed here

-Don’t treat this like ancestry.com or geneaology.com the way we think of it today

-Names are here to make a point, each name is in for some reason, not necessarily every single person in the line

-Notice this line focuses primarily on sea-towns, or “coastland peoples”

-Second son listed:

  • Ham (6-20)

-We all remember what happened to Ham last week! If you weren’t here, Ham looked upon his father Noah’s nakedness and dishonored him.

-Has the biggest group with 30 names/groups

-His descendants primarily go to the southern side of the Mediterranean

-Again, most likely signifying that these were the most impressive people (line of Cain, seed of the serpent) and contains most of Israel’s enemies.

-Random excurses on this Nimrod guy.

-No one knows who he is or why he gets the significance he does. We know he was a mighty hunter, so much so that he gets a poem written about him

-Founded many cities that serve as enemies to Israel later on, also points back to Cain, who also “built” cities (seed of the serpent)

-Contrast this idea of Nimrod “building” places like Nineveh and Babel to Noah (and later on Abram) who “built” an altar.

-Also setting the foundation for what we’ll see in the next section, with the tower of Babel

-Finally, the third son:

  • Shem (21-31)

-Last because he’s the one whose eventually child will be Abram, the Father of Israel. His people (primarily) went further east than the other

-26 descendants 

-Combine all the descendants up in these lists, and you get 70. There’s a couple other places in the Bible that pops up again: 

Exod. 1:5 “All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt.” Israel is meant to serve as a picture of the world on a smaller scale.

Luke 10:1 “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two (70) others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.” Similarly, Jesus’ disciples are meant to serve as a picture of the world on a micro scale, and they’re to go INTO all the world!

-and NOW that command is on us, to continue going out into all the world

  • Noah (1, 32)

-To wrap up this “table of the nations,” we end where we began, with “righteous and blameless” Noah. The second Adam who failed just like the first Adam.

-We read this with the knowledge of what happens next, and so would Moses’ first hearers, but we also need to remember that we read this with an eager anticipation of when the TRUE second Adam will come

-There’s a longing/desire to know where we fit in humanity, to enact the right changes, and even to be on the “right side of history” Do you want to know how to do that? Make sure you’re a part of the “seed of the woman” and not the “seed of the serpent” because at the end of all things, that’s the only hope we have.

-Let’s see how this dispersion began. The genealogy serves as the ending of Noah’s story, then chapter 11 begins with the explanation of how and why this dispersion took place.

  • The Tower of Babel (11)

-This first verse tells us that this is a flashback from the previous verse. Multiple times throughout chapter 10 it tells us each person had their own language.

2

-Shinar. Where have we seen that before? 10:10, suddenly we see why Nimrod was mentioned! 

-Some people have taken this to mean that Nimrod built the tower

-Shinar was the home of Babel back in that same verse, this is focusing in on something that was just mentioned/alluded to back then

-This reads like a technological advancement, like human ingenuity coming to play.

-One of the things that I find fascinating reading through Genesis is how much sin still affects things even through today. How many people would say the world is slowly becoming a better place?

-Looked through a book over the summer titled ‘Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know’ 

-“Since 1820, the size of the world’s economy has grown more than a hundredfold. Over the past 200 years, the world population grew somewhat less than eightfold.”

-As late as 1820, nearly 84% of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty, that dropped to 66% by 1910, 55% by 1950, and 42% by 1981. In 2018 that number dropped to 8.6%, meaning that by 2030 (assuming trends continue) less than 5% of the global population will live in extreme poverty

-Famine’s have essentially disappeared worldwide, except in war zones. “In Sub-Saharan Africa, the average food supply per person per day rose from approximately 1,800 calories in 1961 to 2,449 calories in 2017.”

-Last one: the global tree canopy increased by 2.24 million sq. km (865,000 sq. mil.) between 1982-2016.

-Even when we’re not aware, good things still are happening, God is still on his throne, and His common grace means incredible things will continue to happen

4

-They’re not just building a tower, the tower gets special notice/significance, but this is a whole way of life centered around the tower.

-Some archeological excavations have uncovered temples from this era in human history, would have been what is known as a ziggurat, series of increasingly smaller levels.

-Moses tells us their hopes/dreams with this: the top will reach the heavens (the realm of the gods) they will make a name for themselves so they won’t have to be dispersed.

-One of the commands God gave to His people was to “fill the earth” that means they have to go out and actually go out into filling the earth! 

-We know that’s not the primary/only problem, because one of the things His chosen people do is settlein the Promised Land

-I’ve even heard/read that some people argue that this is why cities are inherently bad/evil. But what they forget is that in the new heavens and the new earth, one of the most distinct features is: a new city, Jerusalem! 

-Let’s admit, there are some unique things about cities that can exacerbate/accentuate the evil proclivities of the human heart, but those tendencies are there without cities! It’s some of what happens when a large group of sinners gather in 1 place! Yet another reason the church is such a unique entity – the one place where sinners can gather together in close proximity and have your sins become LESS of a problem!

-The whole goal/purpose of this city/tower is to build on their pride (make a name for themselves) and allow them to disobey the explicit commands of God.

-This is a theme throughout all of human history. People are still people, sin is still sin, and we are not prone to obedience toward God. D.A. Carson For the Love of God:  “People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.”

-I’ve been listening to the big biography about Alexander Hamilton recently (inspired by the musical) and it honestly just sounds like the guy wanted to build a tower in his image! 

-But we tend towards the same things – wanting to be known/ recognized/ acknowledged instead of trying to be faithful. Another theme we’ve seen is what’s considered success in God’s economy is VERY different than ours!

-That’s their goal, what’s God’s response? Look at vs. 5

-“came down” is worded VERY intentionally. Look how the builders described their “impressive” tower, and God still has to “come down” to look at it. That’s a really good summary of how God views most of our feeble attempts at building a name for ourselves! 

-Scene in Avengers Endgame that encapsulates this idea really well, spoiler alert, but if you haven’t seen it by now that’s not my fault! Thanos, big bag guy intent on wiping out half of every living thing has an adopted daughter Gamora that’s not scared of anyone/anything, attempts to kill Thanos and is still referred to as “little one.” That’s kind of how God views these human attempts to reach him, apart from faith in Him.

-After coming down to see what they’re trying to do, God decides to confuse their language, further complicating human relationships (and confusing them to this day!) They left defeated, unable to communicate, and finally spread across the earth.

-Name is Babel: in Babylonian literature it means “the gate of God” in Hebrew it means “confusion.” Babylon serves as a key city throughout the rest of the OT too, but it gets its start here.

-What in the world does this story mean for today? 

-First, this is the origination of the diversity of languages we have across the world today (side note, just so you’re aware, the Bible wasn’t originally written in English!) 

-Second, this lack of communication is a demonstration of the Fall. The OT has a couple texts that point to a new day coming when language will no longer be a barrier to human relationships. Let’s take a look at a couple:

Zeph. 3:9 “at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord.”

Acts 2 – “Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?”

-Today, God sends us to speak in every language, phrasing, understanding we can to point others to him. Do you speak of Him in every area of your life? What do you think it would look like to not build towers to yourself, but instead point everything to God? How can we as a church ensure we’re not building a tower of Babel, and instead are using every opportunity we have to point others to God?

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