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Sermon18 Gen11-13 Guide

Gen 9:18-11:9 recitation verse Gen 11:9

The praise and honor and glory be to our heavenly Father who seeks true worshipers who worship Him with the Spirit and truth.

In Greek mythology, there’s a myth about “Icarus”. Icarus was the son of the master craftsman Daedalus who lived in ancient Greece and also was well known for his work at the palace of King Minos of Crete as accomplished sculptor and architect. One day when Minos' wife, Pasiphae, had fallen in love with the Cretan bull and given birth to the Minotaur, a creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man, Daedalus built a labyrinth, a maze-like structure to house this creature. But, when Theseus came to Crete from Athens and killed the Minotaur with the help of Ariadne, Daedalus helped them to escape from the labyrinth to leave Crete. So, when King Minos knew this, he was outraged with Daedalus and imprisoned Daedalus and his son Icarus in a tower above his palace in Knossos. While Icarus quickly became restless, since he was very adventurous, Daedalus devised a plan to escape by making two sets of winds which was made of feathers glued together with wax and taught his son Icarus how to fly, yet warning him not to fly too high close to the sun, which would cause the wax to be melt, or too low, which would cause the feathers to get wet with seawater. And then the time came, they together flew out of the tower for the freedom and left Crete. However, Icarus soon forgot his father's warnings and started flying higher and higher, until the wax started melting under the scorching sun so that his wings were dissolved and he fell into the sea and drowned. This Greek myth gives a lesson about the human desire to fly, yet to be careful of human greed. By the way, today's passage also shows that Noah and his three sons, who survived from the flood judgment by God's grace, began to multiply on earth again, but sometime later, their descendants rebelled against God to build a city and a tower saying “we will reach to the heaven, making our name in the world and may avoid being scattered.” I hope we would like to go datils of this story and learn from it together.

1) Now, passing through the story of the flood judgment on the primitive era in Genesis chapters 6 to 9, along with the story of preservation covenant with Noah, his descendants, and the living creatures that were survived through the ark, Noah's sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, started again to spread across the earth, accompanied by God's grace. But there happened an incident that Noah, who was a righteous and blameless man of his time and walked with God, made a mistake to sleep in naked in the tent, being drunken after drinking wine from his vineyard. When Ham witnessed this, he told his two brothers, Shem and Japheth so that they covered their father’s nakedness with a garment, walking backward not to see it. But when Noah knew what happened after awakening from his drunkenness, he blessed Shem and Japheth, while cursing Ham's son, Canaan. There are various interpretations as to why he cursed Canaan instead of directly cursing Ham for his wrongdoing, but I suggest that Canaan was cursed since he was responsible for making Noah's mistake known to the entire family and also I suggest that the curse upon Canaan should be understood as a prophecy of future events rather than a direct curse.

2) And then, in chapter 10, the descendants of Noah's sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, are recorded. First, verses 2-5 provide an introduction to the 14 descendants of Japheth. There is no specific mention of their accomplishments, but it states that they lived in the "coastlands" which we believe to refer to "Asia Minor and Europe." Among the names recorded in the genealogy, Gomer, Magog, Meshech, and Tubal are mentioned in Ezekiel 38:2-6 as strong armies from the north who will attack Israel, while Madai is introduced as a nation which will attack Babylon in Isaiah 13:17 and 21:2, forming one of the pillars of the Persian Empire, residing near the Tigris River and the Caspian Sea. And Tarshish is mentioned as the place where Jonah tried to flee (Jonah 1:3) and also is referred to as a port city where Solomon's ships embarked in 1 Kings 10:22 and is generally known as a port city in Spain.

3) Moving on, verses 6-20 introduce the 30 descendants of Ham. Cush refers to the northern region of Ethiopia in the middle-eastern Africa, while Mizraim refers to Egypt. As Cush and Put were mentioned together in Ezekiel 38:5, it is likely that Put refers to a region of the north-eastern Africa, specifically known as Libya. Canaan is the land where the Israelites would later settle, and in the current passage, various clans are recorded. One particularly notable descendant of Ham is Nimrod. After the flood, Nimrod, a son of Cush, built cities in the land of Shinar, including Babel, Erech, Akkad, and Calneh. He established the first kingdom and eventually formed an empire that reached Assyria. In the Haggadah, Nimrod is depicted as the figure who built the Tower of Babel and led people to rebel against God, as his name means "to rebel against the high one." His life seems to combine the life of Cain, who built cities to make his name and that of the Nephilim, who engaged in murder and warfare before God. Nimrod's construction of cities in Babylon and Assyria, we can infer that during Nimrod's time, the descendants of Noah lived together in one region.

4) Moving forward, verses 21-31 record the 26 descendants of Shem. Shem's descendants were primarily located in Mesopotamia and the southern Arabian Peninsula. Particularly, Shem's great-grandson Eber whose name means "to cross over" is known as the ancestor of the Hebrews (עִבְרִי). Eber had a son named Peleg, which means "division" since the division of languages and the dispersal of people to the earth happened in his time. However, from the fact that the incident of Babel tower was written after chapter 10 ends with the descendants of Eber's second son, Joktan, and the story of Abraham starts after chapter 11 ends with the descendants of Peleg, we can imagine easily how Peleg and Joktan lived.

5) And then in chapter 11, the incident of Babel Tower is recorded. This incident occurred approximately 100 years after the flood, in other words, within just three generations after the flood. This rebellion seems to have been instigated by Nimrod, who held power in the Mesopotamian region at that time. When the descendants of Noah had migrated southward from the northern Ararat Mountain, eventually reaching the land of Shinar and settled there, Nimrod constructed major cities such as Babylon and Assyria. During this time, Nimrod built a city and a tower using bricks and bitumen. The incident occurred when a) they attempted to build a tower reaching the heavens, b) wanting to make a name for themselves, and c) seeking to avoid being scattered across the earth. Trying to build a tower reaching the heavens was as an act of pride an attempt to reach God's domain. And wanting to make a name for themselves paralleled the acts of Cain before the flood, who desired to elevate his own names alongside God's name. And seeking to avoid being scattered across the earth was an act of rebellion against God who commanded to "be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it," as Nimrod's name, composed of "Nim" (meaning "high") and "rod" (meaning "to rebel"), reflects his intention to rebel against the Most High.

6) However, in response to these acts of rebellion, God did not remain silent this time. He intervened, after observing their actions and recognizing that since they were one nation with one language, such events could continue to occur in the future. So God confused their language, causing them to be scattered throughout the earth. This testify human corruptedness even after the flood, as it is written that the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth. The phenomenon of people communicating in tongues during the Pentecost event, when the Holy Spirit descended, was a sign that in the kingdom of God, the confusion of languages will be unified again, allowing people to communicate with one another. And also from the fact that even the punishment of scattering by God actually became an opportunity for people to multiply and thrive across the earth, we can see God's sovereignty and grace even in this.

7) Through today's passage, we would like to learn few things after the meditation. Firstly, among the descendants who started anew from Noah, we find Nimrod, who shamelessly displays the characteristics as Cain's descendants. This fact confirms total depravity of humanity as Gen 8:21 says that "the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth". It also affirms that the transformation of human sinfulness cannot be achieved through common grace even it is increase a lot after the flood. Ultimately, we, human beings, need God's grace and should always walk in humility. Secondly, through the incident of Babel Tower, we discover the endless human greed to exalt one's own name. As Cain, the first murderer, leaving the presence of the Lord, built a city, tried to make his name in the word, similarly, during the primitive era, many people sought to exalt their own names but ended up in ruin. And even among the descendants of Noah, we see a similar greed to exalt their own names. But after remembering the fact that wealth, prosperity, and honor are given by the Lord (1 Chronicles 1:12, Proverbs 22:4, Ecclesiastes 6:2), we as the descendants of Abraham, to whom God promised to make his name great should live the life that exalts God's name and then God will also exalt us. Thirdly, we need to reflect on the matter of communication. I mean, through the incident of Babel Tower, we see that the confusion of languages was a consequence of human arrogance, as they sought to reach the heavens, and their rebellion against God's command to replenish the earth. Here, we not only recognize the importance of a unified language for communication but also understand that the purpose and intention behind such communication are even more important. Because if the unified language led us to the rebellion against God, then it would be better for languages to remain divided and unable to communicate. The same principle applies to the unity of the mind. While unity of mind is important, it is even more crucial to have good purpose and intention behind that unity and how we should act. I pray that we may think about whether each of us seeks to exalt God's name or our own name and what we truly pursue through unified communication. And may we all strive to live in a way that pleases God, seeking His will in our lives.

Key Questions as Small Group Activity

Q1 "Babel" was understood by the Akkadian as the "Gate of God," while for the Hebrews, it meant "confusion," yet phonetically, Babel carries the meaning of "meaningless chattering." Therefore, the incident of Babel Tower was perceived by people as an attempt to build a "Gate to God." However, for the Hebrews, it was an event where the languages of the world became "confused" as a result of God's punishment to the human rebellion. But, from God's perspective, it was an incident that humans were merely babbling in their own ways. Our lives are also similar. As Proverbs 19:21 states, "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand." I hope we may reflect on our life to think about how our thoughts and actions plans appear in the eyes of God, rather than focusing solely on our own thoughts and the thoughts of others. I hope you may share grace each other while sharing your thoughts.

(Through this question, I hope we can live the life to focus on God rather than other people or our own thoughts. As team members share their diverse experiences and thoughts, please listen and empathize with them, occasionally asking why they have such thoughts. I hope it will be a time of active listening and empathetic conversation with team members.)

Q2 As we observe in today's passage, when God intervenes, we are reminded that our lives can be transformed to align with God's will. No matter how much we receive God's special grace as human beings, if we do not follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit and align ourselves with His will, we will not be able to accomplish anything. After reflecting on our own lives and examining if there are any areas where we prioritize our own will, we share our thoughts and experiences with one another and have the opportunity to share grace.

(Through this question, I hope that we realize even as redeemed Christians, if we rely on our own thoughts, will, plans, and abilities, we will achieve nothing. Instead, I hope we can live a Spirit-filled life, seeking God's will. As team members share their diverse experiences and thoughts, please listen and empathize with them, occasionally asking why they have such thoughts. I hope it will be a time of active listening and empathetic conversation with team members.)

Love you. Thank you. God bless you.

Prayer Note

Dear ( God’s attribute which you found Today ) God!

Thanks for ( something you received through the sermon or even during the week )

Praise, gratitude and glory be to You, Lord!

Today, I realized my sin (pains) that ( the sin God reminded through the sermon ),

please forgive (or heal) me and help me not to repeat ( the sins you recognized ).

I learned that ( something you learned through the sermon )

Please help me to live in that ( learned way of life )

I pray in ( Jesus’ attribute you find ) Jesus’ name. Amen.


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