Thursday, May 17, 2007

Humanity in Sin Part 11 – The Tower of Babel

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 6th May 2007 in GRIIS. It was preached in Indonesian and I personally translated to English. Newton Life has it preached in Mandarin with English translation.

Passage: Genesis 11:1-9

What is the Tower of Babel? Why didn’t God allow men to work on the tower? It seems that God was jealous and did not want to bless human works. Is it because God wanted to keep His power to Himself hence He did not want men to succeed? This is the second time we see such an instance in the Bible. The first time was in the garden of Eden where God did not allow Adam and Eve to eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. This is a similar case where it seems that God did not want us to reach a certain enlightenment so He thwarted our plan. But what is the true reason behind this?

The film entitled “Madame Sousatzka” has a very high educational value. It tells of a very strict piano teacher who demanded her best student to practice extremely hard, but forbade him from playing in a concert and making himself known. His parents were very angry with his teacher for preventing their child from gaining a great reputation. They felt that the teacher had a very narrow heart and only wanted glory for herself. One day some people heard the child practicing and were amazed by his skills and felt he was a genius. They offered him to play in a concert without the teacher’s knowledge and they made great preparation for it. The parents thought this was a golden opportunity for their son and accepted the offer without asking for the teacher’s consent. The publicity was very successful as the young man was extremely handsome and talented. He loved to be praised, disliked criticisms and wanted to be popular as soon as possible.

Madame Sousatzka was finally informed about the concert so she went secretly to the concert. Before playing for a concern, one needs to memorize every single note and must not stop playing from start to end. It was initially very smooth and wonderful, but in the middle of the concert, the young man suddenly forgot one note and he stopped, was stuck suddenly and he began to shiver in fear while the concert was still ongoing. Gradually the whole orchestra became a mess and the initial audience applause into ridicule. It was impossible to continue playing. His debut led to his failure.

He was indeed talented and he had an excellent teacher who knew him better than he knew himself. The teacher knew that if the child failed once in his concert, his whole life’s career could be affected. When Madam Sousatzka saw her favorite student stuck during the concert and was not able to play anymore, she was very anxious and lost, because the same thing happened to her when she was young and as a result she could never play in a concert anymore. That was the reason why she insisted on more practice before she allowed her student to perform for the first time.

If young people only want to be praised and get angry easily when rebuked, their future would be faced with great trouble. If we have not succeeded and yet think that we have, we are in more dangerous situation than those who have failed from the start.

When we are forbiden from doing something, do we immediately judge that the person who forbids us is jealous of us and does not want us to succeed?

The Word of God is hard to listen to. We tend to think that God is narrow-minded and had a stingy heart. Many young people think they are great but they have wrong system of values against God and against their parents. The Scripture is too deep and profound for us who often think we are smart. A man who thinks himself smart might not be smart. A man who thinks himself stupid might not be stupid too. But a lot of people think that they are smart and God is wrong.

If God did not allow mankind to build high towers, why do we have so many tall buildings today? There are two things to observe in this passage. Firstly, men attempted to build a tower so high that it would break through the sky. Secondly, they wanted to rival God and bring glory to themselves.

When we do things with wrong motivation, God would interfere. God would be angry with the same thing which is done with the wrong motivation. For instance, God asked Moses to count the number of soldiers and he did, and God was pleased. But when David did so, God was angry and sent a plague to Israel. We need to continue to examine our motivation before God. This world stupefies us. If a pastor has no clear vision and just follow what other pastors are doing, it would not work. One does to glorify God and another does to glorify himself. Reformed believers can work on a lot of things which others could not because they have very strong foundation and the concept of cultural mandate which keep their direction and motivation right – to let the world know that He is the Lord. Christian ethics is the religion of motivation. Each time we do something to glorify ourselves, we are in trouble.

There was a booklet that talked about 3 kinds of people: those who look for fame, those who are famous and those who try to run away from fame. There are a lot of young people who belong to the first category. They are crazy for fame and power, as though they cannot live on with their lives if they do not become famous and powerful. They want to be known otherwise they feel useless. Those who are crazy for fame and power will have low moral values and become money lovers. Jesus Christ said that if we look for our own honor, we are not true. If we do not seek our own honor but we seek God’s honor, we are true. (See John 5:31, 41-44)

If we become famous, it is all right. If we do not become famous, that is all right too. Also, there is no need to run away from fame. It is also wrong to run away from it. If we are known with a good name through the right way, it is a good thing. But if we use our own means to gain fame, God is not pleased with it.

If God did not stop men from their endeavor, men would do a lot of useless things because of their excessive ambition and naïveness. It is impossible to build a tower that break into the sky.

When we want to glorify ourselves, God will destroy our plan. This happened when God scattered the people and confused their language when they were building the Tower of Babel. But when we want to glorify God’s name, God will unite our language once again. This happen in the book of Acts 2, where people scattered all over the world came to hear the preaching of Peter and could understand him. This is the principle of the Bible.


At 3:59 AM, Anonymous nobuseri said...

Hi Mejlina,
How about post this one in Agora Sg googlegroup ? I can't wait to see the kind of response you will get :)


At 4:14 AM, Blogger Mejlina Tjoa said...

Such delight in adding oil to the fire for the sake of curiosity is very evil.

At 3:35 PM, Anonymous nobuseri said...

worried no more. I've left the group.


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