Genesis 11:1-9 Man’s Continued Rebellion and God’s Gracious Response

Genesis 11:1-9

Man’s continued rebellion and God’s gracious response to restrain rebellion



Genesis is loaded with answers to why we are the way we are, and how we got to where we are, and it is loaded with theological and. therefore, practical insight.


Our task is to mine it out and apply it.


Fathers, I want to encourage you to proactively grow in this effort. Let’s strive to pass on a theologically sound legacy.


The discipline of theology is the Chief of all disciplines that must inform all others.


We are all theologians. The question is whether we are good ones or sloppy ones.


Theology is always happening. How we think on God determines how we live, and it affected the Babylonians in our passage today.


We are either making decisions as imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1) or we are making decisions divorced from the knowledge and imitation of God, which is an applied theology, practical atheism.


What do we see? What does it mean?

10:9; 11:1-4 – Mankind in inclined to a rebellious heart that distorts the knowledge of God.

The rebellious heart is the Babylonian heart.


Nimrod, Ham’s grandson, whose name means rebellion, founds the kingdom of Babylon that will continue the rebellion we see unfolding in Genesis.


Babylon is viewed throughout the whole of Scripture as the antithesis of godliness (Judah is carried captive to Babylon, Revelation 18 refers to the city of the Antichrist’s rebellion as “Babylon”.)
What do we learn about the rebellious heart?


  1. The rebellious heart distorts the knowledge of God. 11:4a

The Babylonians were theologians, and their false doctrine led to their practice of temple building.


The Babylonians were famed for their temples called “ziggurats”.


They viewed their foundations as being laid in the underworld and their tops reaching into the heavens.

Babel has multiple meanings, and one is “gate of god”, and with their temples reaching tall heights, Babylon considered itself closer to “god” than anywhere else on earth.


These temples sought to provide a place for the “gods” to eat, sleep and receive their worship lest they pay the people back with some catastrophe.


The problem? Their theology was demonically false, codified at the tree when Adam and Eve were deceived by this demonic doctrine that they can be “gods”.


So, these false “gods”/idols are projections of people with superhero status assigned to them.


They are amazingly human, and therefore their worship reflects human needs.


  1. The rebellious heart seeks its own fame. 11:4b


  1. The rebellious heart seeks to push back against God’s purpose. 11:4c

See Genesis 1:26-28.



  1. Don’t be surprised by man’s tendency to distort the knowledge of God by reading onto God our own selves.
  2. Don’t be surprised by man’s tendency to ignore sound theology and indiscriminately embrace terrible theology.
  3. Don’t be shocked at man’s tendency to rebel against God’s word.
  4. KNOW THIS: Theology affects practice whether you are aware of it or not.
  5. Pursue theological soundness and accuracy.


11:1-9 – God mocks the Babylonian’s false teaching.

Genesis 11:1-9 is a satire of man’s attempts to be “god” and thus make “gods” in their own image and then trying to placate them by reaching into their realm.


REMEMBER THE AUDIENCE: Moses wants his people to not be have their doctrine trashed by Babylonian theology.


Babylon was famed for its temple tower or ziggurat, whose foundations were in the underworld and whose top was in the heavens. No, says Genesis, so far from reaching heaven, Babel’s tower could hardly be seen from there—the Lord had to come down to see it (5). Babel (also)[1]means ‘gate of god’, and Babylon considered itself closer to god than anywhere else on earth. It regarded itself as the religious, intellectual and cultural capital of the ancient world, the showpiece of human civilization. ‘Rubbish’ says v 9, Babel does not mean ‘gate of god’ but ‘confusion’ or ‘folly’, and far from human wisdom, Babylon’s ruined ziggurat, shows human impotence before the judgment of God. Put in modern terms the building of the city and tower may be seen as a human bid for self-achieved security on the basis of technological progress. ‘Man proposes, but God disposes.[2]


  1. God came down not because he didn’t know, but to mock their false teaching.

The God of the bible is the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful Creator who has determined the beginning from the end. He’s not “open” to alternative endings in which the enemy wins, maybe.


Moses is, in essence, trash talking the false notion that man can reach and manipulate God.


In essence, it’s like Moses saying, “You think your temple reaches God? It’s so inadequate God had to come down just to see it.”


They are like, “Our tower reaches the gods.” God is on his hands and knees to get a close look, and he’s like, “Aww, that’s cute…and tiny.”


Psalms 2:1-4 (ESV) Why do the nations rage

and the peoples plot in vain?

2 The kings of the earth set themselves,

and the rulers take counsel together,

against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,

3 “Let us burst their bonds apart

and cast away their cords from us.”

4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;

the Lord holds them in derision.



  1. God’s mocking of and sarcasm toward false teaching is to instruct his people on the folly of bad doctrine not a license for his people to mock or be sarcastic toward others who are not in truth.
  2. 2 Timothy 2:24-26 sets the tone our engagement.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 (ESV) And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.


11:6-9 To restrain the propensity for evilthat will come from bad teaching, to exalt his fameand see that his purposes are accomplished, God confuses the languages and scatters the people into nations.

God accomplishes his purpose in filling the earth by confusing language and causing nations to move throughout the earth. 11:7-9

  1. Linguistic and cultural barriers are constant reminders of the curse of sin and man’s

man’s rebellion against God.

  1. Linguistic and cultural barriers also remind us of the mammoth task of the Great


  1. Linguistic and cultural barriers also define for us “mission” versus “ministry”.



  1. The fall and man’s rebellion will not stop God’s purposes. His is not “open” to alternative endings!

God will repair in salvation what he scattered due to sin. Zephaniah 3:9-11; Acts 2:6-21


  1. What God scatters he will bring back together with the powerful gospel of the kingdom rule and salvation of Jesus Christ.

Colossians 1:13-20 (ESV) He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

The Preeminence of Christ

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.


  1. We can confidently engage the world with the gospel of the kingdom.


[1]Parenthesis mine.

[2]Gordon J. Wenham, “Genesis,” in New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, ed. D. A. Carson et al., 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 69.


The darkness of what sin has done and the light of what God will do

The darkness of what sin has done and the light of what God will do

Genesis 9:18 – 10:32

Dark: What sin has done.

Light: What God will do.

Darkness: What sin has done.

Exposition: What do we see? What does it mean?

9:20-21 – Noah, made right by faith still wrestles with the curse of sin.

  1. There is only 1 hero in Scripture, and it’s the Lord himself.
  2. We don’t hold up the character of the bible as heroes or ethical examples.


  1. Even the most holy and most powerfully used by God among us wrestle with sin and will fail.
  2. We must lean on the good news that God didn’t save Noah or us by our good works in the first place.

9:22-23a, 24 – Ham sins by publicly and shamefully dishonoring his father.

This public shaming is indicated in 23a when the two other brothers take “the” garment and cover up their dad. This was Noah’s garment that Ham has brought out to put on display. No English translation does this justice. They all translate the definite article as an indefinite article.

Three options:

  • Ham was reveling in his Father’s drunken and uncovered state.
  • Ham did something sexual to his father.

(NOTE: A similar thing happened to Lot with the actions of his daughters in Genesis 19:30-38)

B1. Language of seeing one’s nakedness indicates unmentionable things (see

Leviticus 18; 20:17).

  • Ham did something sexual with Noah’s wife (his mother).

The text is not super clear except that verse 24 indicates Noah is aware that something is not right, and that indicates that its beyond simply being drunk and naked.

This article was helpful by Dr. Rabbi David Frankel:


  1. Honor Father and Mother

Why? God is the reason behind Exodus 20:12 (ESV) Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.


Ephesians 6:1-3 (ESV) Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”


  1. 9:23b Strive to be like Shem and Japheth who cover over our parent’s little failings.


  • 9:25 – Ham’s sin has far reaching consequences…Canaan will suffer from his father’s sin.

Why Canaan? Noah, prophetically, detected in Canaan what he had seen in his father. He was already walking in his dad’s footsteps.

Exodus 20:5-6 (ESV) You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.


  • Noah prophetically sees his people’s future nemeses in Ham and his son’s sin.

Genesis 10:6-20…Babel…Sodom…Gomorrah…

Leviticus 18 describes the Canaanite’s awful practices…uses the word “nakedness” 24 times.


  1. Kill sin! Sin never works out for our good. Sin will wreck an entire family line.

Romans 8:12-13 (ESV) 12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

  1. Sin does in fact affect our children either genetically or habitually. So, seek repentance not a way to hide, cover and continue sin. Our children will reap what we sow.
  2. Sin doesn’t have any brakes. Sin will continue to produce more sin and lead to further rebellion 10:6-20

Egypt (Shem’s descendants will be enslaved in Egypt), Canaan (Shem’s descendants will have to fight Canaanites), Babel (Ham’s descendants will carry on the rebellion at Babel), Sodom and Gomorrah (Lot will be harassed in these awful places).

Light: What God will do

9:26 – The Lord exalts himself through Shem

  • The language subordinates Shem to the LORD, thus exalting the LORD as Shem’s

God with whom he was in covenant and walking in relationship with.

  • Shem’s blessing was not in “being blessed” rather than “cursed” but was in being the

LORD’s object of affection and mercy.

  • God unites his name with Shem, and thus God’s reputation rides on how he deals with

Shem and how Shem honors the LORD.

  • God’s worship is the great end in his blessing and advancing any redeemed human.


  1. If we are in Christ, there is no further “blessing” needed. We have the riches of heaven!

Ephesians 2:7 “…the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

Ephesians 3:8 “…to preach to the Gentiles (Ham’s folks) the unsearchable riches of Christ.”

Philippians 4:19 “…God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Colossians 1:27 “…the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Colossians 2:2 “…to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery which is Christ,”

  1. If we are in Christ, we carry his name and reputation.
  2. We are called in Christ to be worshipers who give God glory!


9:27 – The Lord blesses Japheth by including him in Shem (this is where we see a gospel work) and his descendants will come to the LORD (See Isaiah 66:19-20)

  • Japheth gets to be included in the blessing of Shem…that is he gets to be included in

knowing the LORD and finding his blessing in the LORD like Shem AND through

Shem. Shem is a vehicle for Japheth and the nations knowing the LORD (Isaiah 19:23-25

even looks forward to some of Ham’s family coming to faith.

  • Shem does not save, but Shem’s ambassador role is real, and it points us to our

ambassador role in taking the gospel to others that they may be saved and included in our blessing in Christ.


  1. We get to be ambassadors for those outside the faith coming into the faith because we carry the good news.

Romans 10:13-15 (ESV) For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”