Do You Hear The World's Pride, Fear, and Supposed Hope?

Text: Genesis 11:1-9

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

We Christians have this tendency to look at the plans of this ungodly world and then quickly jump to despair.  In other words, when we look at all the evil in the world, as well as all the grandiose plans of the world, we can easily conclude that the church is about to go to ruin and that ungodliness is about to take over everything.  We say to one another, 

“I have never seen it this bad before.”


“It is getting really bad out there.  I worry for my grandchildren.” 

Dear friends, we Christians indeed look at the world with its evil plans and can easily be given to doom and gloom.  We see the empty pews, we hear the great plans of the world, and we see the rampant evil in the world and conclude that everything is going to hell in a handbasket.    

Now, contrary to what you might think, though, the Old Testament reading from Genesis 11 serves as a rebuke and encouragement to our frantic lack of faith.  Yes, our Old Testament lesson shows us that there is nothing new under the sun.  Furthermore, the Old Testament reading from the Book of Genesis gives us a glimpse into the realm of the world – how the world thinks, plans, and operates.  And so, as we get a glimpse into the world, we realize that there is nothing new – there have always been times like these.  

Consider Genesis 11 again: the Tower of Babel. As we read, mankind had gathered together in the land of Shinar.  There, they planned to build for themselves a city and a tower that reached to the heavens.  It would be a tower and city to make them famous so they would not be scattered across the earth.  

Now, it is important for you and me to slow down and really consider what is going on in Genesis 11.  Consider the words of the people in the land of Shinar, 

“Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower . . . let us make a name for ourselves lest we be dispersed over the face of the earth.” 

Did you hear it?  Did you hear their pride, their fear, and their supposed hope?

Dear friends, it is important to remember that the world is made up of people just like you and me. In other words, too often, we believe the myth that the world's powers are organized, confident, in control, and secure. But in reality, they are not. The world and its rulers are full of pride and fear and have a misguided view of hope.   

You see, when the world has tiny successes, the world becomes puffed up, thinking that it has taken the place of God.  And then, with great self-reliance, the world will have the audacity to think it can do anything it pleases.  Thus, the world becomes blinded by pride as it looks inward to its own accomplishments and so-called power.  …let us make a name for ourselves!!!  

Dear Christians, you must guard yourselves from being tempted to naively believing in the world’s greatness.  Do not be so easily deceived into believing that the world has the corner market on being all-knowing, all-present, and all-powerful.  

A word of caution, though: it is important to keep in mind that it is not sinful to build towers, build damns, reroute water, and all these other great architectural accomplishments.  But instead, it is certainly sinful to do these things if we do them to make our name for ourselves, while thinking that we have tamed nature, secured greatness for ourselves, and taken the place of God.  

There is more to this as well; when the world reaches the pinnacle of its pride, it will typically scorn the church as irrelevant, weak, and foolish. But truth be told, the reason the world often despises the church is that it is afraid. Yes, the world is afraid, and the church is a reminder of God and how tiny the world really is.  

And so, dear Christians, hear this loud and clear: while the world will operate with robust pride, the world is also very afraid at the same time.  Again, consider the Tower of Babel.  They had great confidence that they were going to build a tower to the top of the skies.  They were going to make their name great.  And the reason why?  Well… they were afraid of another great flood.  They were afraid of being scattered.  This is how the ungodly world has always operated. Out of one side of the world’s mouth are huge plans of greatness that are ultimately driven by the world’s fear, and yet, out of the other side of the mouth, the world has plenty of fear.  Just like you and me, the world has its share of fear and hope.   However, even though we fear as Christians, hope will ultimately prevail in Christ, whereas hope for the world will ultimately fail and give way to what they fear the most.  

You may be saying right about now, 

“This certainly is not too encouraging to hear.” 

Ah, but it is, dear Christian!  You see, what we learn from the Tower of Babel is that the world back then functioned with pride, fear, and misplaced hope, and it is no different today. There is nothing new under the sun.  Indeed, as we look at the people of Babel, we see that they had tremendous fear that was covered by smug arrogance and driven by false hope.  And again, it is the same today.  There is nothing new to see in the world today.  

Baptized Saints,  let me ask you this: do you see the world’s pride – yes, you do.  Do you see the world’s fear – yes, you do.  Do you see the world’s false hope – yes, you do.  Is this new – no, it is not.  It has always been this way, and it will continue to be this way until Christ comes back at the great eschaton to make things anew.  

Baptized Saints, let this be a comfort to you.  Our Lord God not only saw the plans, pride, evil, and mischief of Babel but also sees the same pride, evil, and mischief today.  And when God sees all of this, the scriptures says that God ‘laughs’ at the futile plans of the world (Ps. 2:4). In fact, as we heard in Genesis 11, the Lord God is the One that came down to the Tower of Babel and opposed them by confusing their language.  

And so, do not be frightened when you see the world enacting all its plans, and do not be discouraged if the church is persecuted by the world, for the Lord is in control. He laughs at the world’s silly pride and will not only confound the world but will certainly sustain His church.  Indeed, the Lord sees what the ungodly are doing and sees His precious saints in the Holy Ark of the Christian church.  He is in control and will sustain you through this vale of tears to the very end.  

Never forget that the Lord God sustained Noah and His family through the great cleansing of the mighty flood.  He kept the Israelites through the great persecution of the Egyptian nation.  And He will sustain His church amid the Towers of Babel that are built around us this day.  With His divine providence, He may tear these Towers down in our day and age, and He may not.  He may choose to confuse the plans of the world again, or He may hold off.  However, one thing is for sure: He will sustain you and me through His clear Word and assuring Sacraments in this chaotic world full of noise and distractions.  

Consider our Second reading for today very briefly.  In the Book of Acts, many people had gathered in Jerusalem.  As they gathered from many nations, they had many different languages.  And yet, the Lord God undid the curse of Babel – He gave the disciples the ability to speak the Gospel in foreign tongues so that all would know the saving work of Jesus Christ.  And so, right there, on that Pentecost Day, the Lord God broke through the language curse of Babel to sustain His church with the saving message of the Gospel.  The Lord God did not disperse His church or confuse His Church, and He gave His church something better than a Tower – He delivered the message of Christ crucified and resurrected.  

And so, right now, in this sanctuary, as the world makes its plans with pride, reacting in fear while trying to convince itself with supposed hope, you – the church – hear the clear Word of God.  Hear the words of Jesus for you:  

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (Jn 14:27-28a)

In the name of Jesus. Amen.