Beresheet (Genesis) 6:9–11:32
This week, we read the story of Noah, which I have written on in previous years. I want to focus this specific blog on some key verses that I believe are crucial for us as we seek a deeper understanding of this Scripture portion.
As we know from this famous account, God was fed-up by man’s rampant evil and wanted to “reset” His entire creation. Noah was chosen by God to be the one through whom God would accomplish this, through building the ark, and surviving the flood so that life could begin anew on the earth. At the end of the story of the flood we read:
Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.
Please notice a small, yet key point here: the first thing Noah did was to build an altar and offer sacrifices to the Lord. Once again, we see the need for a blood sacrifice as an atonement for sin, but also as a way of worshipping God. Another important point in these verses is that man’s heart is evil from his youth. This is important to understand, since as we continue to read the story, we read of the famous account of the Tower of Babel:
Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. And it came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. And 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; lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.
It’s incredible to me to see how even after the devastating flood, man still did not turn away from sin, but instead sought to exalt himself through constructing a tower, in order to make a name for himself and be in a position of control — i.e. an idol to worship! As we can see from verses 8 and 9, the consequence of this evil act was confusion and disunity. This is a very interesting part of our story since, from this point, God confused the languages of the whole earth as well as scattered the people. This leads me to a possible connection to the incredible occurrence in the New Covenant in Acts 2:1–12:
And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were bewildered, because they were each one hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and marveled, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs — we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.”
I want to suggest that this amazing account, which took place during the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot), connects to the account of the Tower of Babel. If in ancient Shinar, God confused the languages of the whole earth and scattered the people, then in Shavuot, we find that people from all over gathered together to worship God in unity, and that suddenly the Holy Spirit caused all those who scattered and spoke different languages to understand the words that were spoken!
Is it possible that during the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot), God redeemed that which took place in Babel thousands of years prior? Furthermore, is it possible that we find yet another amazing indication that people and languages were created for Him, to worship Him and to build His Kingdom? I suggest that yes, this was yet another moment of redemption as a result of Yeshua’s ultimate and final work of atonement.
I am so thankful; I hope you are, too.