Read: Genesis 11

Genesis 11 is the narrative account of the Tower of Babel. What is often overlooked is that this section of the Genesis narrative is significant because it highlights two primary themes that will continue until Christ returns. That theme is of the city of man and the city of God.

The city of man is demonstrated when man, in rebellion against God, seeks to build a tower that will reach heaven. The absurdity of such behavior is noted, but what is more important is the heart attitude of mankind in laboring together to accomplish their goal. Their goal is simple: They want to make a name for themselves, and the tower is an edifice built to their honor and glory. The tower is a symbol of human autonomy. It symbolizes lives in direct opposition to God and submission to his will. That effort draws the attention of God, and he comes to demonstrate his singular sovereign right to rule over the affairs of mankind. He confuses their languages and disperses them over the face of the earth. The other aspect of this narrative is found in the tower’s name. Babel is a term that often refers to the city of Babylon. That city is in violent opposition to the city of God and his people (See. Rev. 17-18).

The city of man (Babylon) references human ambition with no regard for God. Another aspect of this narrative that is important to note is the builders’ goal. They seek to make a name for themselves, but God is the one who desires to be honored. He establishes men. He exalts them. Thus, the genealogy at the end of the chapter focuses on Shem and his descendants. “Shem” comes from a Hebrew root that means “name.” In chapter twelve, we will see God call Abraham and promise to make him great, to give him a great name. That stands in direct opposition to men’s labors without any reference to God.


  1. We are not to draw attention to ourselves but only to the work of Christ.
  2. We are not to make a great name for ourselves. God makes men great through his work.


  1. The issues that led to the building of the tower.
  2. The point of the genealogy in 11:10-26
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