The Apostasy…Genesis 11 pt 1

And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.  And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.  And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.  And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.  (Genesis 11:1-4) 

Genesis 11 takes a closer look at events alluded to in the previous chapter, ie the references to the rise of the tyrant Nimrod, (whose name means, “Let us rebel”), and to Peleg, of whom it was said that in his time the earth was divided. The cause and nature of that division is the subject of chapter 11.

At this time the tribes of Shem, Ham and Japheth had not yet spread out over the earth, as God had commanded them to do,  rather it seems that they  banded themselves together in the city named “Babel”, which is interpreted as “gate of the gods”, in the land of Shinar, in southern Mesopotamia. The word ‘Shinar ‘ means ‘casting down’.

The apostasy, which involved virtually the entire population of the world, centered around three things,

*A city– The city was already built, of course, Babel, Nimrod’s capital. It became the focal point for the universal rebellion against the God who told them to go out and to subdue and fill the earth. They would not spread out, nor would they pioneer to subdue the earth. Rather, they would collectivize, joining hand in hand to live on their own terms without God.

Like their ancestor Cain, who founded a city after slaying his brother, naming it Enoch, ie “inauguration”, the city Babel became the “new beginning” of life for the united world away from the God of Shem.

* A tower- Central to the new, world uniting city, was a tower, “Whose top would reach unto heaven”. There are several plausible theories about the meaning of the tower. Some say it was a safeguard against the possibility of another flood. As if the priests of Babel were saying, “This time some of us,(the elite) will survive, by seeking refuge on top of the tower. We can’t ever allow the God of the flood to wipe us out again!”.

Another theory, one that I find most plausible, is that the tower was a pyramid or ziggurat, which elevated a platform for priests to better observe  the planets in order that they might practice astrology.

There is a third theory, that the Tower represented heaven. The Ancients would create their own symbolic cosmological ‘heaven’ on high platforms, so that through ritual performance, man would be in control of what happens in heaven and subsequently, on earth.

The truth could be any one of these or any combination of them. The effect was that man would be in control of his own life, and to be the one to define and create  his own destiny. Shem’s God wouldn’t be needed anymore, nor would he have to be feared, now that they had the unity and technology to make their own way.

* A name-Underlying the tower and city building project, was the deepest  reason for the apostasy, for they would ‘…make a name…’ for themselves. This is another way of saying that they wanted to be independent of God.They wanted to re-define themselves in terms of their humanity, and to divorce themselves from the God of heaven, Shem and the flood.

The fact that God named Adam, and calls men by their names, implies His dominion over them. The object named belongs to the one who named it. There is accountability also, for the namer defines the named. When God allowed Adam to name the animals, He was giving man dominion over them.

The city and Tower building project was a revolt against God, a rejection of accountability to, and definition by the Creator of the universe. At that time man was absolutely united, in rebellion and repudiation of God. All spoke the same language and virtually all had adopted the rebellious mindset.

In order to accomplish their goals, the leaders set out to utilize technology and to organize labor, to mass produce bricks, and to harvest bitumen for mortar for the project. Nothing would be spared in this monumental undertaking, all men worked together in a remarkable spirit of unity.

The making of bricks, ie artificial stones, all uniform, to the same standards, sizes and weights has a symbolic meaning in scripture. A Stone represents truth, thus the Ten Commandments are etched into stone tablets. Bricks are man made, and represent falsity. The Temple was made of stone, not brick. Pharoah forced the children of Israel to make bricks.

Bricks represent man’s technology to make his own world. The conformity of bricks as opposed to stone seems to be a good metaphor for the man made unity, the one size fits all, no distinctions, multi-cultural world we are constructing, in which no one is “right” or “wrong”, nothing is distinct, All is one.

Isn’t this what we in the modern world desperately want? Isn’t the idea of all men communicating, and working together in one common cause, one of our highest ideals? How many popular modern songs have pined for an ideal world in which we all ‘love one another’, and work for the common good, and in which there are no separate nations, no wars, no barriers, nothing to keep men apart?

Haven’t we always wanted to “teach the world to sing in perfect harmony“? To Imagine a world “As one”, in which there is “nothing to live for, or to die for'”? How different are God’s ideals from man’s! Our Saviour has told us “…that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God…”.

At the height of the idyllic world unity project, God himself “…came down…” out of concern for man, to see for himself this project and to determine the best course of action to utterly destroy it.





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8 Responses to The Apostasy…Genesis 11 pt 1

  1. Sharon Keith says:

    Dear Mr. Randles,

    More and more, I find myself sickened by this world! I’m 65 now and I’ve lived a lifetime with God as my only real friend. The more I study and live, and the more I watch the news and try to understand people, the more I am ready to trade this situation in for another one. The only thing I can figure is that I am expected to run this race with my integrity intact, knowing full well what a failed being I am. I live alone, my work is done, my kids are grown and gone (except when they want some of my social security money). I spent my life’s energies on supporting others only to find now that I can’t rely on anyone for assistance or friendship. The Bible is my one support, and there are those who want to pry it from my hands. But your blog is helpful to me. In all my grief, I just wanted to send you this happy little note to say that your offerings are appreciated. Thank you for making me a little less lonely. I feel better now. Keep up your good work!

    Sincerely, Sharon S. Keith

    Sent from my iPad

    • billrandles says:

      Hey Sharon, you just brought tears to my eyes, thanks so much. (Do you have a church family? There are a lot of empty seats here in Cedar Rapids:>) Keep in touch sister- Pas Bill

    • melanie allsopp says:


      I am also living alone; in my fifties, no children…. We are never alone. The Lord is ever present. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. It is better to trust in Him than in man, in whom is no help, the scriptures tells us. Our help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. He is our keeper and the shade at our right hand. He neither slumbers nor sleeps so He is available 24/7.He has given me a handful of christian sisters with whom I fellowship by SMS email and, by divine appointment, occasional face to face contact. But the Lord is and has to be my mainstay.
      Contrary to what you think, your work is not done. I sometimes feel that myself, but then the Lord orchestrates an event or encounter that demonstrates otherwise. I pray and trust that He will do the same for you.


      Your sister in the Lord

    • sarah o says:

      hey Sharon, I find myself in exactly the same situation and a fan of pastor bill.
      want a penpal?
      Sarah O.

  2. melanie allsopp says:

    Pastor Bill
    Great meditation (as ever). The eternal Word of God speaks just as much of our day as it did then.

    Blessings to you and yours

  3. Fay Dash says:

    Thank you Bill may the Lord continue to pour out His Wisdom and Truth upon you to share with all us around the world. No matter is happening God is still in control and knows all things, and nothing can stop His Mighty plans from being fulfilled

  4. Beloved Sisters in Christ,

    I too am in the same position, where are the Godly men? Where are the Priests? Where are the ‘churches’ who preach Christ? Where are the Saints? There is a famine in the land, as the Lord told us as we get closer to His second coming. You can survive on very little food to sustain you, however you cannot survive without water (living water). You are now in the Wilderness, as was Moses, Elijah, Jesus, John the Baptist, the biblical list goes on. You have had no choice but to seek Him outside the city, outside the camp, but the Lord sent the word, feed them, preserved them for Himself. The only believer, a widow in Zarephath and provided for her, she knew immediately who had arrived, she was preparing for death, but the oil never ever ran out, she gave first all she had to Elijah, she knew God had sent Him, she loved her Lord more than Herself or her son. ‘Lord I have nothing in the house’ – but the Lord will take whatever offering you have for Him, even if it is only tears, loneliness, pain and suffering – offer it to Him with thanksgiving. He knows exactly where His remnant has been dispersed, He provides so that we may have our oil (divine spiritual food) to keep us and feed many until He comes. I encourage you today, the Lord uses evil for good – I have always hated Facebook, but now I use this evil platform to feed the ‘oil’ that I have lived on all the time I have been in Wilderness, I am content for I know He will continue to keep me. Share all you have been given on Facebook, many will go away, but do not worry about this, keep feeding the ‘oil’, the more you give this ‘oil’ the more you will receive. You are to be witnesses, irrelevant of your situation, leave the pity and pain behind, rise up and go forth. God’s word never comes back void, you might not know whose heart it has touched, but one day you will know everything. We do mourn over those who reject the Word of God because we love them so much, especially if it is our family – but go through the pain, Blessed are those who mourn…..
    Jesus has never left me, He sticks closer than a brother, with me day and night, what a blessing to be alienated and totally alone with HIM. Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty – even the angels right now sing this around the throne of God. Never forget the angels, He will give them charge over you, your feet will not slip, your are surrounded by angels who obey only the commands and directive of God Almighty to preserve and protect in your barren wasteland.
    What are you going to ‘feed’ others who come to you in such a famine, they will know which ‘widow’ to go to, God will lead them to you, fill up the jars, it will never run dry, enough to feed the 5000 and more. Do you know how blessed you are to be called to this purpose.

    Godbless you all.

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