Genesis 8-11 & Psalm 3

Can we just…can we take a minute with this: “I will never again curse the ground because of man.” After the flood, Noah made a burnt offering to God, and God accepts it, pleased, and, basically, just takes a deep breath, sighs, and says, “Yeah, so that’s the last time I do that. Twice now I’ve cursed the whole planet because humans messed up. They’re going to keep messing up, so that’s enough. No more. No more. That’s it. No more using the whole planet to punish the people on it.” Then he spoke up and talked to Noah about what to do next.

Firstly, that passage just reemphasizes to me that God cares about this whole place, not just us. The rest of it, the plants and animals, aren’t just window dressing. They don’t exist solely to serve us. In fact, we’re supposed to be serving all of them, taking care of it all.

Secondly, seriously as an afterthought, it occurred to me that this is the answer to all those “God sent that hurricane” claims we see on the regular. Pretty sure he didn’t. Pretty sure he said right here that he wouldn’t. Pretty sure that, if storms and fires and natural disasters are getting more frequent, that’s…well, it isn’t the HAND OF GOD.

And then there’s the Tower of Babel. It’s a simple story of people ignoring the command to disperse and populate the earth, and then you have the ‘tower to heaven’ bit. The tower to heaven got a little strange in Sunday School. For some reason, it was often depicted as, like, a tower of Pisa (but not leaning) kind of thing that people were trying to use as a ladder to reach a literal place in the sky. But…like, I could never believe God was actually worried they’d succeed? Even as a kid I didn’t think heaven was a city just past the atmosphere, even if that were a historical belief. So, why was God worried about “nothing…will now be impossible for them?”

Lots of cultures believed high points were where the gods approached Earth, so building a ziggurat to reach God was, perhaps, an assumption of authority. Arrogantly declaring the right to approach him on our own terms. And this was clearly a judgment against the arrogance of man, whether the gathering or the building. Man builds this great thing to meet God on his own terms, and God comes down to the city to watch them like a dad walking up behind his kids while they’re misbehaving. He doesn’t even make the obvious response. He doesn’t destroy the tower, or topple the city. He confuses their language so they can’t talk to each other anymore. He sends the kids to separate rooms. (Is this moment why we can’t trace language back to a single original source language?) Very cool story, very important lesson.

But that one verse still bugs me. “This is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.” All because they can work together in one language. I don’t…I couldn’t find a commentary on this that really explained it. They couldn’t make him engage them on the top of the ziggurat. They couldn’t actually meet him on their own terms. So what? They’d wholly reject him? Declare him unnecessary? We kind of did that anyway. Is this an…explanation of the diversity of language? It just feels…very specific and very vague at the same time. I feel like I’m missing something.

But that’s nothing new.

Anyway, if you have any thoughts or insights about Babel, do share.

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