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Sabbath: All Nations and Babel — 7 Comments

  1. Ziggurats are a feature of several of the Mesopotamian countries, and there are ruins of about 25 of them. They were quite massive structures and were essentially terraced pyramids Most of them had a square base. The picture above is based on the Spiral Minaret or Ziggurat of the Great Mosque, Samara, Iraq, and is a much more modern structure. It is not typical of the ancient Ziggurats.

    Ziggurats were made of sun-baked mud bricks with an outer shell of kiln-fired bricks. They show evidence of considerable engineering skill. Some Ziggurats were aligned to the true north. That feature in itself indicates a high level of scientific knowledge and mathematical skill. How many of us, without recourse to our modern technology could find an accurate true north? They also knew enough about sun-dried bricks to build ventilation shafts to allow residual moisture to escape. And they knew how to build drainage systems that ensured that rainwater was channelled away from the structure. It is estimated that the largest of the Ziggurats was about 30m (100ft) high.

    Ziggurats were built to honour gods and as protection against evil powers.

    From the perspective on the lesson this week, it is useful to recognise that the builders of the Tower of Babel were highly intelligent sophisticated people.

  2. In Eden, Eve and Adam made a 'bad' choice via failing to make/retain a good choice (eg James 4:7). They exchanged self-renouncing love for self-seeking indulgence and, consequently, exchanged life for death. By the time of the flood, scripture states that all except Noah had done the same thing (Genesis 6:9) - though to a much stronger scale (neither Adam's nor Eve's heart was irreversibly 'set' into the condition described in Genesis 6:5). After the flood that helped 'reset' things, temporarily, humanity again united in making a bad choice to embrace self-seeking.

    Each time humanity embraces a bad choice, God needs to respond to preserve an avenue for those who want to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19,20). But how can/does God respond in a manner that preserves rather than compromises freedom - the hallmark of the more pure form of love possible: love given by freewill choice? Does God do this by imposing judgments on all who make bad choices? Does He do it by exercising His power to have the last word? Do these responses authentically preserve freedom to chose against life?

    I will leave those who are interested to ponder these questions in the course of this week's lesson... and beyond...

    • Definition of word judgment:
      1. ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.
      Synonyms: discernment, acumen, shrewdness, astuteness

      -- an opinion or conclusion.
      "they make subjective judgments about children's skills"
      -- a decision of a court or judge.
      "the Supreme Court upheld the judgment of the Alberta Court of Appeal"
      Synonyms: verdict, decision, adjudication, ruling, determination

      2. a misfortune or calamity viewed as a divine punishment.
      "the crash had been a judgment on the parents for wickedness"

      The definition one uses reflects just how one reconciles the Jesus of New Testament to the God of the Old Testament. Here is a recommendation:

      "God does not stand toward the sinner as an executioner of the sentence against transgression; but He leaves the rejectors of His mercy to themselves, to reap that which they have sown. Every ray of light rejected, every warning despised or unheeded, every passion indulged, every transgression of the law of God, is a seed sown which yields its unfailing harvest. The Spirit of God, persistently resisted, is at last withdrawn from the sinner, and then there is left no power to control the evil passions of the soul, and no protection from the malice and enmity of Satan. The destruction of Jerusalem is a fearful and solemn warning to all who are trifling with the offers of divine grace and resisting the pleadings of divine mercy." ~ 'The Great Controversy', p36

      "They place themselves beyond His protection. He warns, corrects, reproves, and points out the only path of safety; then if those who have been the objects of His special care will follow their own course, independent of the Spirit of God, after repeated warnings, if they choose their own way, then He does not commission His angels to prevent Satan's decided attacks upon them." ~ E.G.White; 'Manuscript Release'; vol 14, p.3

      • Dorothy, those are interesting quotations, what are their contexts?
        I note the first is from the book the Great Controversy which I have found helpful in understanding why the LORD allows us to experience what it is like to live under Satan's rule if we reject the LORD's Principles of Life.
        I discovered that Paul also gives us a summary in Rom 1:18-2:15
        1) God reveals His character
        2) if rejected He hands them over to reap the consequences of Satan's rule for awhile
        3) however at His Second Comming the righteous will be granted eternal life and the wicked will be annihilated/destroyed/cease to exist

        • Good day; thank you for your response.

          the GC quoted from chapter re: 'The Destruction of Jerusalem'
          the MR quote (though should be p2, not 3) is titled 'God's Protecting Power Removed From This Who Refuse His Warnings'.

          Are you asking b/c you think I've taken the quotes out of context by relating them to God's 'judgement' and how people reconcile the actions of Christ on earth w/God? If so, how?

          When I read Rom 1:18-2:15, I see that some of 'man' are sinful in spite of revealed truth and God gives them over to their desires. I see that He is not mocked or fooled b/c He sees the hearts where 'man' see actions. Therefore, His conclusion(s) is correct because 'man' cannot hide true motives from God. I didn't read of annihilation/destruction/ceasing, in these verses.
          However, I agree, we know a final reckoning is coming.

          That said, isn't it sin that leads to second death? (Gen 2:17, 3:3; Ps 34:21; Rom 5:12, 6:23; 7:13; James 1:15,16; etc. . .)
          Isn't God the source of life? (Gen 2:7, Job 17:25, Jn 14:6, Act 17:25; etc. . .)
          Is God the same always? (Ps 102:27,28; Heb 1:12, 13:8)
          Could it have been the wickedness of the people that made Moses cover his face when it glowed from being in the presence of God? Isn't it the wicked that call for rocks to hide them from God as Adam/Eve hid from Him after sin? Did God know the mind/heartset of everyone before He put them to sleep w/flood? Would God deny anyone entrance to heaven should they truly repent?

          It is hard to reconcile some actions attributed to God with to Christ's behavior. Yet we're told that if we see Christ we've seen the Father. Is not a good, human parent given negative attributes (by the child) when they're truly working for the life of the child. Are not some treatments prescribed by MD uncomfortable but will lead to the life of the patient?

          To me, the quotes I've used just say that God tries everything to turn our hearts to Him but leaves us to make the decision and therefore reap the consequences: life with God or separation, which is death. The Rom verses adds the fact that God concludes rightly based on our heart/mindset not just our show.

          Thank you for this discussion. May God bless our endeavors.

  3. While it might appear that God’s scattering of the peoples is a punishment, in fact it is also a means of redemption. From the beginning, God intended people to disperse across the world. “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28). By scattering people after the fall of the tower, God put people back on the path of filling the earth, ultimately resulting in the beautiful array of peoples and cultures that populate it today. If people had completed the tower under a singularity of malicious intent and social tyranny, with the result that “nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them" (Gen. 11:6), we can only imagine the horrors they would have worked in their pride and strength of sin. The scale of evil worked by humanity in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries gives a mere glimpse of what people might do if all things were possible without dependence on God. As Dostoevsky put it, “Without God and the future life, it means everything is permitted.”[3]Sometimes God will not give us our way because his mercy toward us is too great.

    What can we learn from the incident of the Tower of Babel for our work today? The specific offense the builders committed was disobeying God’s command to spread out and fill the earth. They centralized not only their geographical dwellings, but also their culture, language, and institutions. In their ambition to do one great thing ("make a name for ourselves" [Gen. 11:4]), they stifled the breadth of endeavor that ought to come with the varieties of gifts, services, activities, and functions with which God endows people (1 Cor. 12:4-11). Although God wants people to work together for the common good (Gen. 2:18; 1 Cor. 12:7), he has not created us to accomplish it through centralization and accumulation of power. He warned the people of Israel against the dangers of concentrating power in a king (1 Sam. 8:10-18). God has prepared for us a divine king, Christ our Lord, and under him there is no place for great concentration of power in human individuals, institutions, or governments.

  4. The most complete revelation of the character of God is in the life of Jesus Christ. Yet, He is also the Jehovah of the Old Testament, and therefore we cannot ignore His dealings with people before the incarnation in order to understand His character. The story of the Tower of Babel which we are studying this week, demonstrates the very personal interest God takes in the events on this planet. He saw that if he allowed the tower builders to succeed in their plans, they would soon overpower His faithful followers extinguish the faithful line. They were in high rebellion against heaven, both in disobeying the command to scatter and repopulate the earth and also in disbelieving God's promise that He would not send another world-wide flood. Evidence appears to indicate that they were idol worshipers so very soon after the flood.

    It seems clear that in this incident, God did not just leave the people to reap the natural consequences of their sin, which is death. (The "natural consequences" are eternal death, and they often leave notorious sinners to live long lives and commit great evil, such as Lamech who boasted that he murdered a man for insulting him. Gen 4:23. Although the Bible does not list the lifespan of the people of Cain's line, the genealogy of Seth and his progeny tells us that people lived almost 1000 years.)

    As the Bible records it, the righteous often suffer and sinners prosper, even though, the general rule is that serving God results in blessings. (Ps 37:7, Ps 73:3) But in this instance, God dramatically intervened to thwart the plans of these rebellious people. Just this morning I read this:

    Had [the men of Babel] gone on unchecked, they would have demoralized the world in its infancy. Their confederacy was founded in rebellion; a kingdom established for self-exaltation, but in which God was to have no rule or honor. Had this confederacy been permitted, a mighty power would have borne sway to banish righteousness—and with it peace, happiness, and security—from the earth. ...
    ...In mercy to the world [God] defeated the purpose of the tower builders and overthrew the memorial of their daring. In mercy He confounded their speech, thus putting a check on their purposes of rebellion. God bears long with the perversity of men, giving them ample opportunity for repentance; but He marks all their devices to resist the authority of His just and holy law. From time to time the unseen hand that holds the scepter of government is stretched out to restrain iniquity. Unmistakable evidence is given that the Creator of the universe, the One infinite in wisdom and love and truth, is the Supreme Ruler of heaven and earth, and that none can with impunity defy His power. Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 123

    I really recommend the whole book as extra reading for this quarter. You can read it in Kindle format as I do (for less than US$1.00), or you can read it for free at EGWwritings.org or in the EGW app, and, of course, you can read the paper version as well, as I have done several times. 😊


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