Sabbath School Summary
BY ELDER DR MASIMBA MAVAZA
All Nations and Babel
Memory Text: “Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:9, NKJV).
After the Flood, the biblical account shifts from a focus on the single individual, Noah, to his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The particular attention on Ham, the father of Canaan (Gen. 10:6, 15), introduces the idea of “Canaan,” the Promised Land (Gen. 12:5), an anticipation of Abraham, whose blessing will go to all nations (Gen. 12:3). However, the line is broken by the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1-9). Once again, God’s plans for humankind are disrupted. What was supposed to be a blessing, the birth of all nations, becomes another occasion for another curse. The nations unite in order to try to take God’s place; God responds in judgment on them; and, through the resulting confusion, the people get scattered throughout the world (Gen. 11:8), thus fulfilling God’s original plan to “fill the earth” (Gen. 9:1, NKJV).
In the end, in spite of human wickedness, God turns evil into good; He has, as always, the last word. The curse of Ham in his father’s tent (Gen. 9:21, 22) and the curse of the confused nations at the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:9) will, eventually, be turned into a blessing for the nations.
SABBATH: Since Creation, God’s will has been interrupted by Man’s will. The Antediluvians carried on the sins that led to the Fall. God chose to bless Noah & his 3 sons, specially Ham (father of Canaan) whose name implied the Promised Land, where all nations would be blessed through Abraham (Gen. 10:6, 15, 12:3, 5). By the Tower of Babel, the line to bless all nations was broken (Gen. 11:1-9; 9:1).
SUNDAY: Ham saw his father’s sin a tale to relate to others & he was cursed (Gen. 9:18-27). The sin of Noah echoes Adam’s sin in Eden; eating of the fruit, nakedness, a covering, a curse, & a blessing. He lost self-control, got naked & Ham “saw” him (Gen. 3:6). Unlike Ham, his brothers covered Noah (Exod. 20:12, Eph. 6:2). Amid the curse on “Canaan” was a blessing (Dan. 9:27, Isa. 66:18-20, Rom. 11:25).
MONDAY: The age of Noah makes him a link between the pre-Flood & the post-Flood civilizations. Noah likely heard stories from his father, Lamech, about Adam & could relay the stories to his line prior & after the Flood. Bible genealogy 1. gives history about real people 2. builds a link between past & present & 3. tells the fatal effect of sin (Gen. 10, Luke 3:23-38, see also Gen. 46:27, Exod. 24:9, Deut. 32:8, Luke 10:1).
TUESDAY: Those who lived after the Flood decided to build a city & in it a Tower to take the place of God & unite in one body. God had told them to replenish & disperse (Gen. 11:1-4). Their actions echo that of God in Creation (Gen. 11:3, 4; Gen. 1:6, 9, 14, & 26). Satan led them to build a tower to escape another flood (Isa. 14:14). Nations unites to fight God in Daniel (Dan. 1:2, 2:43, 11:43-45; Rev. 16:14-16).
WEDNESDAY: No man can reach up to God, save through Christ. In the Tower of Babel, we find any human attempt to replace God & declare oneself as self-righteous as folly. While men were going up, God had to come down to them. Only God can save, Jesus indeed came down to us (Gen. 11:5-7, Ps. 139:7-12, 2:4, Luke 1:26-33, PP, p. 123). God confused the builders to stop more evil. He cares for us!
THURSDAY: One aim of the Tower was to stop people from scattering abroad. Their act was an attack on God’s charge for them to disperse, replenish, & subdue (Gen. 11:8, 9, 9:1, 1:28). They sought to use their united power for evil. The fame they sought ended in shame (PP, p. 123). “Babel” means “door of God” & relates to “balal” (means confuse). In trying to replace God (reach His door) came confusion.
FRIDAY: Artisans of the Tower of Babel hoped that their city would be the metropolis of a universal empire. They had disobeyed God by refusing to disperse, replenish, & subdue. The tower was to be a testimony to the wisdom & power of its makers. The men doubted God that He would not again bring a flood. Some linked the Flood to nature & not God. The tower was an escape from any danger.
—Ellen G. White, “The Tower of Babel,” pp. 117–124, in Patriarchs and Prophets.
PP- Patriarchs and Prophets
Canaan- It’s from the verb kana‘, meaning “subdue.” It is through the subduing of Canaan that God’s people, the descendants of Shem, will enter the Promised Land and prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah who will enlarge Japheth “in the tents of Shem” (Gen. 9:27).
Curse on Ham- It is a gross theological mistake & ethical crime to use this text to justify racist theories against anyone. The prophecy is restricted to Canaan, Ham’s son. The Canaanites engaged in corrupt practices (Gen. 19:5–7, 31–35).
Genealogy- There’s a direct link between Adam and the patriarchs (Matt. 1:1-17). The mention of 70 nations foreshadow the 70 members of the family of Jacob (Gen. 46:27) and the 70 elders of Israel in the wilderness (Exod. 24:9). Along the same line, Jesus sends 70 disciples to evangelize (Luke 10:1).
Lamech- He was Noah’s father & was 56 years old when Adam died. He must have told stories about Adam to his son.
SUNDAY- The Curse of Ham
MONDAY- The Genesis Genealogy
TUESDAY- One Language
WEDNESDAY- “Let Us Go Down”
THURSDAY- The Redemption of the Exile
📌 What example do we have from history, or even the present, of the trouble that can come from those who seek to make a name for themselves?
📌 How can we, as a church, avoid the danger of seeking to build our own Tower of Babel? What are ways we might actually be seeking to do this, even subconsciously?