Whose Agenda?

1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. 3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” 5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” 8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel – because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth. (Genesis 11:1-9)
1 Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, 3 “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” 4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. 5 He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, 6 “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”  (Psalm 2:1-6)
This week is our last week of Start Again daily devotions before we take a break over Christmas and return in the New Year. We are going to spend it contrasting the builders of Babel with Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel. They represent two different ways in which we can start again after our coronavirus crisis, so we are going to use their example to close off 2020 well together and to look forward to how we can start again God’s way in 2021.

On the surface, the builders of Babel look pretty impressive. They are united: they have a single language and a common speech which gets them all on the same page. They are ambitious: they see a big open space at Shinar and decide that it would be the perfect place for them to build a mighty city and a massive tower. They have a clever plan: they have worked out how to make bricks, instead of needing to quarry stones, and how to stick those bricks together using mortar. This represents some pretty advanced technology for their moment in history. The builders of Babel are pretty impressive people!

And yet, they are not pleasing to God. Their unity is a sinful unity that is based around their own agenda. They are like the nations that are described in Psalm 2 – united, but united around the wrong things. God has commissioned them to scatter and to fill the earth, but they decide to build a city to avoid being scattered! God has called them to look up to heaven with humility, but they decide to build upwards to heaven in pride. God has called them to humble themselves and to call on his name but, instead, they lust to make a great name for themselves.

Ironically, in view of this, we don’t know any of the names of the builders of Babel! The Lord frustrates and scatters them across the earth. He does the same to us, whenever we pursue our own agenda instead of his. He loves us so much, and he has such great plans for us, that he will do whatever it takes to bring us back to his agenda.
1)   Thinking about your own life personally, are there any ways in which you have acted like the builders of Babel?

2)   How is your own agenda different from God’s agenda? How can you fully surrender to his agenda today?

3)   Thinking about our life as a church together, are there any ways in which we have acted as a church like the builders of Babel? How can we start again really well together as a church, fully surrendered to God’s agenda?
Father God, I thank you that you have far bigger plans for my life than building things that will not last forever. Thank you that you have called us as a church to build something that will last for eternity. Please open my eyes to the sins of Babel in my own life, and please open our eyes as a church too. Help us to surrender fully to your agenda. Amen.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.
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