Genesis 11:6-7 and Human Potential

tower_of_babel4Many people get bogged down as to whether or not Genesis recorded actual, factual history.  Good, well-meaning and God-loving people exist on both sides of the issue, and because it has become such an issue there are many people who will simply ignore anything that is said by people on the opposing side.

This passage in Genesis transcends that issue, though, because it is a theological statement about human potential:

And the Lord said, “There is now one people and they all have one language. This is what they have begun to do, and now all that they plan to do will be possible for them.  Come, let’s go down and mix up their language there so they won’t understand each other’s language.”

Notice what God says here.  When we are united, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish.  We see this in history to a smaller degree.  When the United States entered into World War II almost the entire country was united in a single cause and that cause was accomplished.  Yet even then there was evil interspersed within it, as modern historians would be quick to point out the Japanese “relocation camps” on the West Coast, the segregation of the service and Tuskegee Experiments.   This is because, for all of our unity, there are still significant divisions between humans.

God provided the solution to this issue, though, in Pentecost.  Acts 2 records the first time the Holy Spirit dwelt within the Church.  One of the signs of this new era was that all the language divisions, in place biblically since this passage in Genesis, were overcome.  Everyone understood the message at once.  Babel had been reversed.  Humanity would, from this day forward, be united in a new mode of being, a new nature.  Paul picked up on this idea in Galatians 3:28 when he wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Now, for Christians, we are one in Christ, and there are no longer any divisions.  There is nothing separating us from one another if we are truly in Christ.  And in Christ together, there is nothing we cannot do.  The greatest threat to the established, fallen order of things in the world is a united body of believers in Christ.  But we must be careful.  This is not unity for the sake of unity, reducing things down to a least-common-denominator version of Christianity or some moralistic platitude like, “we should all love one another and accept one another, even if it means radically reinterpreting parts of the Bible to make things more palatable to some people for the sake of unity.”

No, true unity in Christ is a unity of believers who have been transformed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and are being conformed more and more into the image and likeness of Christ.  God transforms us into holy beings, and as long as we are travelling along with God in that transformation, being changed grace by grace, glory by glory, we will be united with each other.

A Church like that can do wonders.

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2 thoughts on “Genesis 11:6-7 and Human Potential

  1. Great comments regarding the potential of human beings striving together toward a common objective. Indeed, the abilities of people to produce outcomes beyond the sum of our parts is incalculable. This is even apparent in the animal world. A draft horse can typically pull 600-750 lbs. of weight, but yoke two together and they can pull 2,200 lbs. of weight. The thing that gets me is how God must be grieved over how much ministry is typically performed through ministry silos, rather than through cooperative efforts. Could this be a tactic of our enemy, Satan?

    Dr. Michael Ewert

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    • I completely agree, Michael. When we try to do it all alone we may accomplish some good, but how much more for the kingdom could have happened when we depended upon our mutual giftedness in the Body!

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