And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth…. (Genesis 11:6-9)
According to a recent Gallop poll, almost 80% of today’s Americans see the United States as more divided than united. Every day we are inundated with media reports of political, racial, socio-economic, religious, sexual and environmental strife. Every person is pressed to decide on all these issues whether they will be “us” or “them”.
Divisiveness is also the norm beyond our nation’s boundaries. The European Union is unraveling. Rival Muslim sects war more against each other than they do people of other faiths. Each year brings another people group seeking to secede from its nation and form its own nation.
In the midst of all this dissension, there are voices that cry out for working together, but nothing seems to change. One reason for this may be that these cries for unity often really mean, “Come unite with what I believe and I want”. But there is another more fundamental reason.
Only God can unite what God divided.
We forget sometimes how effectively the Bible, including the Book of Genesis, reveals the truth about mankind.
In Genesis 1, mankind (both male and female) received our assignment from God to fill the earth and have dominion over it (but not each other). In Genesis 3-4, we sought independence from God, fell into sin, and entered the time when man would seek dominion over, first, woman, and then our brother. In Genesis 6, sin had matured into such total wickedness that God had to “reboot” mankind with the flood.
In Genesis 9, God gave Noah and his family the same assignment to fill the earth that had been given earlier to Adam and Eve. But in Genesis 10, Nimrod was born and became the first “mighty warrior”. He established dominion over other men with a kingdom in the land of Shinar. And in Genesis 11, with all people sharing one language and culture, Nimrod’s kingdom decided they should build a great tower to heaven, make “a name for ourselves”, and not be dispersed over the earth as God had commanded.
God knew a united mankind could accomplish anything on earth they purposed to do. He also knew that as long as mankind remained disobedient and independent from Him, their united achievements would be a disaster for all of creation. (Jeremiah 17:5-9; Romans 8:18-23) So God divided mankind through the confusion of their language, causing them to disperse across the earth into what became different tribes, nations, races and cultures.
Scripture does not explicitly say so, but the God who divided mankind also clearly knew that in their continued state of sin, these different cultures would still seek dominion over each other. But empires of a divided humanity would always be short-lived. (Matthew 12:25) And God had a plan of restoration that would begin in Genesis 12.
God covenanted to bless all of the nations of the earth through Abraham. (Genesis 12:3, 22:15-18) This covenant pointed forward through Isaac, Jacob and the Hebrew people to Jesus Christ. (Daniel 7:13-14; Galatians 3:8-9) It is only through Jesus that God could solve mankind’s two great problems.
First, as Lamb of God, Jesus enables mankind to be reconciled to God as new creations, no longer independent of God and bound in sin, and no longer living for themselves. (2 Corinthians 5:14-21)
Second, as Lord of heaven and earth, Jesus reunites mankind with each other in the one Kingdom that will stand forever – the Kingdom of God that is being restored on the earth. (Matthew 6:10; Revelation 1:6)
All disciples of Jesus are called to be one Body, with one Lord, one Father and one faith. (Ephesians 4:1-6) We are the chosen race and holy nation, a people for God’s own possession. (1 Peter 2:9) We are united by the one Holy Spirit, who dwells in each of us and speaks all of the languages of earth and heaven. (Acts 2:4-11)
As a people called to be united in Christ, it is imperative we do two things we are not presently doing well.
First, never let any other form of identity divide us, be it political affiliation, race, or nationality, because all of those things are rubbish compared to our united relationship in Christ. (Philippians 3:4-16) And if we look, the Bible contains a “platform” that can effectively address all our nation’s problems.
Second, remember that our attitude toward non-Christians is never to be a condemning “them” and “us”. We are to love and value them like God does, praying for and blessing them, and witnessing the truth and love of Jesus so that they too may be reunited with God and with us. (Matthew 5:44-48; Romans 12:14-21; Matthew 28:18-20)
It bears repeating. Only God can unite what God divided. He needs our cooperation.
God bless you, and God bless our community.