Babel Babel – Genesis 11:1-9

laugh-300x295 (1)     Do you like to laugh? You should definitely read the Bible. I don’t mean that in the sense that the contents are laughable or ridiculous. No, the contents ought to be regarded with the highest amount of respect, for they are the very Word of God. Rather, if you like to laugh, you should read the Bible because it is filled with accounts of irony, satire, incongruity, and hilarious plot reversals.  Not to say that every page, chapter or book is filled with hilarity, but when we think of funny, we shouldn’t count God out.

God has even chosen to make us laugh a little during very sobering moments or in the midst of very somber realities. Take the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1-9 for example. As one of the crowning moments of humanity’s folly, we sought to establish our identity (“let us make a great name for ourselves”) and our security (“lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth”) by means of our ingenuity and power, drawing God down out of the heavens to bless us (“let us build a city with a tower with its top in the heavens”). This was stupid and also very disrespectful. Let me explain. The city and tower made up an ancient religious complex. The city was where God was supposed to live, and the tower was a ziggurat. A ziggurat was like a pyramid, which at the top it had things like food and perfumes that would entice a needy God to come down and live among the people – bringing with her all the goodies from the heavenly dimension. The problem is that the only true God doesn’t need food or incense. He doesn’t need anything because he made everything, and he made everything because he wants everything to know what it is like to live in dependence upon such a divine, holy and personal Father.

It begins to get funny when the tower that the people thought reached the heavens was so short God had to come down to see it. After a thorough investigation, which is one of God’s habits (compare with Genesis 3 and 4), he perceives that this willful ignorance of God’s true character will not lead society in the right direction. He frustrates their plans by confusing their speech, and they earn their name – Babel. That’s right: in setting out to make a great name for themselves apart from God’s wisdom and power, they earned the name of “Confusion.” To top off all of this irony and plot reversal, the name in Hebrew sounds like the babbling of some crazy man. This stuff is supposed to make you chuckle.

Ziggurat at Ur in Iraq

Ziggurat reconstructed in Ur, Iraq

So when the world is getting you down and you think everything will always go from bad to worse, remember that God will have the last word. When you are watching the nightly news and beginning to feel that anxiety crawl up your neck, turn off the TV and let out a long and enjoyable “BLBLBLBLBLBLB,” knowing that God will have the last laugh.

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