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When God made Adam and Eve, he intended something. That is, in making mankind, he had something in mind. He wanted them to be involved in his plans and purposes on planet earth in a particular way. In his commission to them in Genesis 1:28, we hear a four-fold charge:

Be fruitful and multiply–increase in number

Fill the earth–spread out across the planet and inhabit it

Subdue it–exercise appropriate rule over the inhabited world

Rule over creatures–have mastery over all other living things

It doesn’t take Adam and Eve to drop the ball (to put it lightly!). A living creature enters the garden and they capitulate to that creature, the serpent. A few chapters later is becomes clear that the descendants of that first couple have failed to carry out another of God’s charges–they are not effectively subduing the inhabited world.

In each of these moments in time, as we watch the story unfold, God steps in to pick up the slack, to carry the responsibility for the carrying out of his initial commands. In grace he helps the people he has created to rule over creatures and then steps in to ensure that the earth is more properly subdued. (See the two previous posts on “What God Intended.”)

The next turn in the story (after the events surrounding Noah’s day) comes in Genesis 11. Apparently the children of Adam and Eve are taking to heart (to some degree) the first part of God’s original instructions, but they are not giving heed to the second part.

[All the people] 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, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:4)

What are the people saying? “We don’t want to ‘fill the earth!’ We aren’t going to spread out to populate the whole earth. We’re going to stay right here.”

That’s not what God intended. That is not what he told them to do. He made it clear to Adam and Eve and then to Noah and his descendants that they were to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth (Genesis 1:28; 9:1).

What is God’s response to the people’s unwillingness to give themselves to fulfilling God’s call? He steps in to make sure that what he intends to have happen happens.

The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 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, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth. (Genesis 9:5-8)

God takes responsibility for the filling of the whole earth. They wouldn’t do it, so he makes sure it will happen. God will have what he intended. God will ensure that what he calls for will happen. God is doing this because his original intention was and is good.

It is true that we can read the account of the tower of Babel as a sign of God’s judgment against the wrongful desires of the people. But we can also see the grace of God evident in his willingness to ensure what he wants for people will be carried out . . . by his own doing.

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2 Comments

  1. Grace, grace, God’s grace,
    Grace that will pardon and cleanse within,
    Grace, grace, God’s grace,
    Grace that is greater than all our sin!

  2. It is when I forget the that God is light (by nature good), that questions about His working in my or others situations can take on a dark hue…. I forget the rest of the verse, and in Him is no darkness at all. ( 1 John 1:5) When I sence darkness God has not changed, I have just closed my eyes. Lord give me ears to hear, eyes to see, and a heart to obay. I pray this for myself and my brothers and sisters today.


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