"Come, let us..."
Joe Neil Clayton
The magic appeal of the cooperation of the many is an adventure with a striking precedent in the events of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1 ff). The descendants of Noah multiplied, and journeyed to the land of Shinar. Then some of them had the audacity to suggest a task to the multitude based on human pride. "Come, let us build us a city, and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven, and let us make us a name; lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth," they said. Such a plan violated the expressed command of God to "be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth" (Genesis 9: 1).
Any plan of man which is destined to contradict a plan of God must be promoted in two ways. First, it must so appeal to the ego of man that it obscures consideration of the wishes of others, including God. Secondly, it must cast doubt on the practicality of the purposes of God, without actually appearing to be anti-God. The promoters of the Tower of Babel instinctively used such tactics to gain approval and participation in their scheme.
Their appeal pleaded for the establishment of a "name," a reputation! Men do not wish just to be known. They prefer to be known in reference to deeds or qualities. The Christian, however, has very little confidence in reputations, as is noted in the reaction of Paul in Galatians 2:6. Some were weaving reputations for some of the Apostles, but that did not affect Paul, who imitated God in showing no partiality to men.
The appeal of the builders of the Tower of Babel, with careful phrasing, planted the negative idea that there was something evil about being scattered over the face of the whole earth. That this idea was the child of the Devil is transparent, when we remember the assertion of Satan to Eve that God was withholding advantages of knowledge from her by His command. By suggesting that the wisdom of men is superior to God's, Satan is merely struggling against the eternal principle, "The foolishness of God is wiser than men" (I Corinthians 1:25). He entraps men in that struggle, and leads them to ultimate destruction under the power of God.
When God observed the plans and projections of the people of Babel, it is interesting to note that He marshaled the overpowering forces of heaven with the same words, "come, let us ... go down, and there confound their language . . ." He saw that their mass pride would carry them to excesses of cooperative endeavor. He could not allow His expressed will to be thwarted. He "scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of the whole earth.
Today, when a politician appeals for the creation of a social paradise on earth, or when a medical organization appeals for the complete eradication of disease (and maybe even death), or when a scientist calls for the attempt to send men to star systems so distant as to be measured in many light years, let no Christian fall for such bait through inordinate human ambition and pride. If God wanted a paradise on earth, what use would he have for heaven? If He wanted no disease or death, he would not have to prepare to "wipe away all tears," would He? If men are to fly to the stars, won't He have to move them closer? In every ambitious plan of man, the Christian must temporize, until it can be seen without a doubt that such plans are not a repudiation of the purposes of God.
No cooperative plan for the church was ever devised out of a satisfaction for God's ways. No missionary society was ever formed by men who respected the plan of God for church autonomy and sufficiency. "Let us make a reputation . . ." has been behind many of the appeals of men today who want to combine where God has distributed. We forget that every inch of "reputation" we acquire, is the loss of a mile of respect for the will of God. At such a loss rate, we can slide into the abyss of destruction at a rapid pace.
As we build our own "Babel" of cooperation, God has confused our language, so that we cannot communicate with one another. We have been humbled through the tragedy of division, and the shock of it has left us stunned. Pray that we do not stay in that condition, but proceed at once to conform to the purposes of God, save thousands of souls, and lay down our burdens in heaven. "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time" (I Peter 5:6).
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 8, pp. 11-12