Genesis 11:1-9 describes a key event in Old Testament history. The time frame is two generations after Noah and his family exited the ark into a world washed clean. God told these eight individuals it was now their responsibility to repopulate and govern the earth: As for you, be fruitful and multiply; populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it (Genesis 9:7). Noah’s rescue was a second chance – a do-over.
Unfortunately, while Noah and his family received a fresh start, they still carried the fallen human nature inherited from Adam, and this began showing up with clarity in Noah’s great-grandson’s lifetime. Nimrod was the son of Cush, who was the son of Ham, who was the son of Noah. The Bible describes him as a “mighty one on the earth,” a “mighty hunter before the Lord.” Of note, the beginning of his kingdom was Babel (Genesis 10:9-10).
You’ve probably read the story of the Tower of Babel. Nimrod’s people gathered in the plain of Shinar to settle and decided to combine their efforts and skills to build a tower “whose top will reach into heaven.” This was not simply a desire to build a skyscraper. Listen to their reasoning:
They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4).
I see two problem issues with their plan. First, it was centered on “self.” They wanted their name to be glorified; they desired to build something that would bring honor to them personally and to their reasoning, would be a way to live protected, sheltered lives. The idea of building a tower that would “reach into heaven” also smacks of a works-oriented theology – the premise that they could climb their way to God. Secondly, their plan was in direct opposition to the instructions God gave to Nimrod’s great-father, Noah. He specifically commanded them to populate the earth. They were not to “huddle up” but to “spread out.” The flood had reshaped and renewed the earth, but God’s original plan for mankind to cultivate and subdue it had not changed (Genesis 1:26-28, 2:15).
Did Nimrod’s plan succeed? Well, no. God intervened personally to stop the building by confusing their languages and scattering the people abroad.
A good takeaway is to examine our lives for what we are “building.”
Are we spending our time, energy, money, and talent on creating monuments to ourselves or are we building God’s kingdom?
Are we focused on living protected, secure lives or willing to risk everything for the sake of the gospel?
Are we obeying God’s clear commands, or following our own plans?
A “Nimrod mentality” can be subtle, even in those of us who are in full-time ministry occupations. We can become more concerned about “building something great” than a daily surrendered walk with the Lord. God is not interested in our towers! He is more pleased with our heart-felt devotion and commitment to His glory, not ours. May we avoid the spirit of Nimrod and let God build our lives into His image alone.