Wouldn’t it be great to be famous? I mean, really famous—to regularly have your photograph on the Internet and in magazines and to have folks recognize you when you travel. Wouldn’t it be fun to drive into a big city and see your name at the top of a skyscraper or two?
And the money . . . you’d get paid lots of money just to show up to things. Your local Lexus dealer would give you one of those new, lightning-quick LC models just to stand around the showroom a couple of times a year. I’m getting fired up just thinking about it.
In Genesis 11, we learn that life was getting a little mundane and ordinary for Noah’s descendants—up every morning, off to the fields, home for lunch, off to the fields again, back for dinner, a few hours with the family, a good night’s rest, and back at it again. Not a lot of status here. No bright lights. No pizzazz.
So a group of men got together and decided that it was time to make a name for themselves. “Enough of the conventional life,” they must have grumbled. “Forget this faithful employee, husband, and father stuff. Let’s go do something epic so that everyone knows who we are. Then we’ll really be something.”
And, because most men like to build things, they started constructing a tower. They wanted people to be able to see their superstructure for miles around and be impressed, realizing what significant, creative and daring entrepreneurs they really were.
Think about what it may have been like the first day of construction. All the blueprints had been approved, the materials were in place, and the proud workers were ready to go. But no one suggested that, before they began to build, perhaps they ought to ask for God’s blessing. It’s probably safe to say that they ignored God while they were drawing up their plans. “God will understand,” they may have said to each other in their strategic planning meetings. “After all, this project isn’t about him, it’s about us. We’ll get back to him when we’re ready to build something religious.”
But God stopped the project. He created incredible confusion by giving these arrogant men different languages to speak. No longer could they work together. Cooperation became confusion and chaos. What had begun as a project to make these men famous, turned into an everlasting monument to conflict, failure, and shame—Babel.
Genesis 28 tells us about another “builder” named Jacob. He traveled on an overnight trip to meet his wife and spent the night under the stars. God visited him there in a profound and life-changing way. It was a wrestling dream that was so real that it blew out Jacob’s hip. The next morning, Jacob, now a hobbled man, carefully took the rock he had been using as his pillow and stood it on end as a memorial to God’s glory and faithfulness. This simple tower—Bethel—became an everlasting monument to God’s presence and leadership in the life of men who are willing to humble themselves in His presence.
Unlike Babel, Bethel was a building project to honor God. A place, if you will, to make Him famous.
What are you and I building today? Who will be honored? And what should we expect the outcome to be?