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Sermon #5207

Babel: the Tragedy of Man

A Sermon on Genesis 11:1-32


Genesis 11:1-32 ESV KJV
Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, 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 had brick for …

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Sermon Description

What is wrong with the world today? Apart from the Bible, one can only speculate about the trouble humans find themselves in. However, with the Bible, one can know the cause of the broken world, as well as the solution. In the Bible, God works out His plan of salvation for His rebellious people. In this sermon on Genesis 11:1–32 titled “Babel” The Tragedy of Man,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches about the Tower of Babel with this theme of Scripture in mind. In this story, he sees the whole essence of the tragedy of humanity. They displayed great ingenuity in noticing the effect the sun had on clay and used that knowledge to make brick. The tragedy of humanity is that it uses its ingenuity to build a life apart from God. Their controlling ideas revolve around trade, pleasure, and security; thus, the city of Babel was built out of pride and self-sufficiency. The tower was built with brick so it would last forever, yet Dr. Lloyd-Jones notes the trace of humanity’s lurking fear in the building of Babel. There was a threat of being scattered because God abhors the thought of His creation building a life apart from Him. Indeed, God came down, destroyed Babel, and scattered the people.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. Men observed that the sun hardened clay into bricks and developed the skill of brickmaking. This shows man's intelligence and ability to make observations, but also his inability to manage himself and live at peace.
  2. The story of the Tower of Babel shows the essence of the tragedy of man. Man is intelligent enough to develop skills like brickmaking but fails to understand how to live properly with God and with others.
  3. The building of cities and civilization is man's way of organizing life apart from God. Cities are built for trade, pleasure, and security but leave no room for God.
  4. Life in the country is closer to God than city life. Country life is more leisurely, less busy, and more dependent on God. City life encourages independence from God.
  5. The building of the tower and city of Babel was man's attempt to build a permanent, self-sufficient civilization without God. They wanted to "make a name" for themselves and reach heaven without God.
  6. Although confident in their abilities, the builders also feared being "scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." Man's pride is often accompanied by fear.
  7. God came down, confused their language, and scattered them across the earth. God will not allow man to build a godless civilization. He scattered them to restrain their sin and bring them into line with His command to Noah to "replenish the earth."
  8. The story shows that man's sin is foolishness. Man cannot defy God. God will destroy man's godless plans and civilizations.
  9. The only way to true unity is through Christ and God, not through man's plans. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit united people across languages and cultures.
  10. We must live under God and rely on His blessing. Otherwise, our lives and plans will come to nothing, just like the Tower of Babel. We must repent of our arrogance and sin and turn to God.

Old Testament

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.