Genesis 11:1-4 Why God Takes Us to Shinar

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Gen. 11:1   Now the whole earth had one language and the same words.

2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.

3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar.

4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”

God after Noah and his family were delivered from the flood gave them a command to replenish the earth or go to different areas instead of staying together [1]. Sadly they didn’t do a very good job of this during Noah’s life, but following his death the descendants began traveling East.

Then they came to Shinar

I don’t believe the people planned on staying there, but it was so beautiful they just didn’t want to leave. So to make sure they didn’t get dispersed (scattered) everywhere Noah’s family decided to build a tower reaching to the heavens.

Oh wait it gets better…they were going to do it with brick. Not the kind of bricks we have today, but ones made out of mud.

Seriously, they thought they were going to build a tower to Heaven using mud bricks.

How in the world do they not understand how ridiculous that sounds?

It all has to do with their reason for building the tower.

“Lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth”

The people had fallen in love with Shinar, and were going to do whatever it took to stay there…even if it took building a tower to Heaven with mud bricks [2].

It’s real easy to laugh at this ridiculous attempt at self-preservation, but the truth is each one of us have a Shinar. A place or thing that becomes our identity, and we will do ANYTHING to keep it [3].

Over the years I’ve attempted many ridiculous things to keep from leaving a place of comfort or control.

  1. I’ve acted like everything was fine even though I was obviously suffering
  2. I’ve tried to hide my sinful rebellion from God (as if He couldn’t see it)
  3. I’ve found my source of strength or identity in the approval of others
  4. I’ve told everyone I have things under control even though I obviously didn’t

I don’t need to tell you how ridiculous number four is (everyone can tell I need help) but that doesn’t keep me from doing it so many times I’ve lost count. Eventually my mind’s voice can’t be heard because my heart’s screaming “I don’t care what you do, just don’t lose control!”

The Lord brings us through Shinar for a reason though…it’s to show us that all of our plans, schemes, and attempts to grab control are useless.

He wants us to understand in the end it’s easier to build a tower to Heaven with mud bricks than find happiness outside of Christ.

  1. Genesis 9:1  ↩
  2. in my opinion they knew this would fail, but it shows a desperation attempt to get their own way  ↩
  3. Though every person’s Shinar looks different, most of the time it’s a place where we have control (some may call it a comfort-zone).  ↩

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