Christianity and the Secular City

MEMORY VERSE: “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” —Romans 12:2

GENESIS 11:1-8

THIS portion of the lesson tells the story of the building of the tower of Babel—or the attempt to build it. The Bible states that “the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.” This was evidently the language that was brought over from before the Flood. This was but a short time after the Flood, and there would seem to have been no untoward circumstances that would cause some of the people to invent and adopt another language.

The account, on the other hand, does not state that all the people of earth took part in the migration into the “plain in the land of Shinar,” where the attempt was made to build that great tower which was to reach to heaven. It could well be that Abraham’s forebears were not a part of this, and did not therefore have their language changed (see chapter 10).

The confusion of tongues was an effective method to prevent the various families of men from understanding each other and thus from organizing ambitious schemes, which for the most part would have been contrary to the purpose which God is outworking in the earth. The possibility that the Hebrew people were not involved in this confusion of tongues would not change this situation.

The stated purpose in the building of the tower was not to glorify God, but rather to make for themselves a name, lest they should “be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” It was to be a symbol of unity, and a rallying place for the people; but the Lord changed this by stopping the work and confusing their language to prevent the people from further working together.

The plain where this was attempted was “in the land of Shinar.” This was the ancient land of Babylonia, and from this we get the name Babylon, which city was built by the Babylonians, and the word comes down to us through the Bible as signifying confusion, arising probably from the confusion of tongues.

But this word Babylon also carries the meaning “gateway to God,” originating perhaps with the stated purpose concerning the tower of Babel which was intended to reach unto heaven. And these two meanings are related, for the major confusion symbolized by mystic Babylon in the Book of Revelation is the confusion which throughout the ages has existed between the worship of the true God and the worship of false gods—whether they be false teachers in the church or otherwise. True, there is much other confusion in the teachings of mystic Babylon.


There is much in Zechariah’s prophecy relating to the rebuilding of Jerusalem following the captivity, and this is evidently one of those references. The prophecies of the Bible forecast a New Jerusalem which will come down from God out of heaven “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Rev. 21:2) An angel explains to John, the Revelator, that this holy city is in reality “the bride, the Lamb’s wife,” referring to the bride of Christ in heavenly glory with her Bridegroom.—Rev. 19:7

While there is joy in the city described by Zechariah, nevertheless there are old men in the streets, as well as children, which makes it very much a city that belongs to the dark night of sin and death, during which the whole human race is growing old and dying.

JOHN 17:15-18

Meanwhile, during the Gospel era, while sin is still abroad in the earth, the Lord cares for his people, not by bodily removing them from the world of selfishness and pleasure-madness, but by giving them his Holy Spirit and in other ways providing for their spiritual needs.

These are sanctified; that is, set apart to God and to his service by the truth of his Word. Those who are obedient to the truth will be protected from the contaminating influences of the world and worldly Christians; and as they go out into the world to minister the truth they will be acceptable ambassadors of Christ.


What is one of the main lessons we get from the tower of Babel?

What Jerusalem is Zechariah speaking of in our lesson?

What is the influence which sanctifies Christians?

Dawn Bible Students Association
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