"The Eagle Has Landed"
Mankind’s Greatest Accomplishment
On December 24th 1968, the men on board the Apollo 8 mission, Bill Anders, Jim Lovell, and Frank Borman read from chapter 1 of Genesis while orbiting the moon.
Then, on July 20th, 1969, when Apollo11 landed on the moon, Niel Armstrong said, “Houston, this is Tranquility base here the eagle has landed.” And with those famous words perhaps one of mankind's greatest achievements had been accomplished.
But before Niel Armstrong would step out of the door, Buzz Aldrin celebrated communion in the lunar lander. He brought along bread and wine and a small chalice given to him from his church. He also had a 3x5 index card with passages from John 15 written on them. NASA did not allow him to broadcast communion, probably due to a bit of backlash over the Apollo 8 incident, but instead chose to broadcast a moment of silence.
Then Niel Armstrong stepped on the surface of the moon and said, “One small step for man, and one giant leap for mankind.” And he was right this was one of man’s greatest achievements up to that point, and still may be today. So we wonder, Is there anything man can’t do?
The Lord said that there was no end to what humans could achieve, thousands of years ago, in the book of Genesis, chapter 11.
The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.
This verse is from the passage about the tower of Babel. It was the scripture passage we read earlier. Certainly from the earliest times humans were capable of achieving some pretty huge accomplishments.
Lets start this morning by backing up a few verses and see what is going on here in Genesis chapter 11. But first let’s begin with a word of prayer.
Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
Up to this point we have seen a good creation descend deep into sin and God decided to rid the earth of evil by sending a great flood. Noah and His family was saved. Noah’s descendants began to increase, and the world population expanded. However, here in chapter 11 something goes wrong.
The Problem-Part 1
“...they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.”
Genesis 11:2, says “...they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.” What is the the problem of that we wonder? It goes back to the Covenant God made with Noah in Genesis 9.
Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.
Then God blessed Noah and said be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. Part of the blessing God gives Noah is to fill the earth. Instead of enjoying the blessing and filling the earth, the people decided to stop at the plain in Shinar. They take was supposed to be a blessing, families, and land and spreading out, and they squander it, for there own purposes.
This command to fill the earth is actually rooted back in creation. God filled the various parts of the earth, He filled the sky with the stars and birds, He filled the waters with the fish, and He filled the land with the plants and animals. Then God made man and woman-IN HIS IMAGE, and he blessed Adam and Eve and he said, in Genesis 1:28
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
See, God could have filled the earth with mankind himself, right? He could have created people over here, and people over there, and he could have filled the earth with his image bearers Himself if wanted to, but instead, rooted in creation, and re-established with Noah is this idea that as part of the blessing God gives to man is for man to partner with God to fill the earth with the image bearers of God. SO that they can reflect the glory of God.
Instead ,mankind decides to stop. They decide to not fill the earth., but to huddle in and remain tight as a single group. Who needs the rest of the world we are just fine right here on our plain of Shinar.
Whenever we walk outside of--and apart from--- the blessing of God, ---problems happen. This still happens to people today. God gave us the blessing of His word, and His instructions for life, and when we decide to not use the blessing that God has given us, not used the option to stay away from from temptation, to not use the way out of sin that God provides, that is when the descent into sin begins.
For example God has given mankind a sacred covenant of marriage where a man and woman can enjoy each other in a sexual relationship, this is a blessing, but when we decide to take sex outside of that blessing God has given, that is when there are inevitable problems.
The problem get’s worse.
The Problem-Part 2-Theft
The people are not enjoying the blessing, they are going to need something to do, so...
They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.
So far, that is not a problem. There is nothing wrong with work. Work was intended in the Garden, work is fine, creativity is fine, human achievement is not sinful. Once they stopped focusing on and enjoying the blessing of God, they start focusing on themselves. The most important thing, is not in what they are doing, but why they are doing it. Sin takes hold the motivation of the heart, and when that is off, there is sin.
Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
So-that we can make a name for ourselves. Their motivation is all wrong, their heart is focused on themselves. God wants people to make His name great. God is ok with a City. In fact Jerusalem will be the city that bears God’s name. This city they want to bear their name.
Part of who God is, Part of God’s character is to display or reveal himself to the world. God displays himself to the world, through creation-the heaven’s declare the Glory of God, or the whole earth is filled with His glory. God does things to make His name known, not the name of someone else. The prophet Isaiah recorded some of God’s words concerning His name. in Is 48:9-11
For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to destroy you completely. See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.
God says for my own names sake. Isaiah wrote this long after the Tower of Babel, but this is God’s character being demonstrated here. The people here were trying to steal God’s name-God’s reputation God’s glory, for themselves. Saying look how great we are, look at what we can achieve.
However, they would not even be there, They would not have even have the ability to settle in the plain of Shinar, had it not been for God who saved Noah and His family in the first place. They owe their ability, their achievement to God Almighty not themselves. They are trying to steal that from God.
What God Intended.
What God had intended is that Husband and wives would have children. They would raise these children to be image bearers as well. These image bearers would then go out, into the world and have more image bearers, creating more people in the image of God, filling the world. It is what God intended.
These image bearers would then bring glory-not to themselves but to God. These people would bring glory to God.
Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.
God intended that humans would tell other humans-God is great. God intended that human achievement would make God’s name great. God intended it is not about us, it is for His glory.
The people didn’t do that because sometimes God’s blessing, seems like a restriction, or a mandate. It seems like a bad thing, limiting, not preserving our own well being. They want to make a name for themselves, they want to not participate in what God had intended, and they want to steal for themselves the blessing, they want to bring glory to themselves, for what they have achieved.
So then, God, in His mercy puts a stop to it.
But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
Whether they like or it or not, the Lord will not let them make their own name for themselves, and He will not let them steal their glory, so He goes down and confuses their language and He scatters them.
You know I wonder how far they were allowed, to go were they just about done? Were they on the last floor? Then God comes down and confuses their language. It is like getting fired at the end of a horrible shift right? Like getting fired at 4:55 on a Friday. I’ll let you decide how that played out.
Sometimes we wonder to ourselves how much does this Old Testament apply to us. It is not just an interesting story of where languages came from. People think that to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth was a special mandate to populate the planet. Today, we have plenty of people, and we live under the new covenant. So this really doesn’t apply, but that is not true.
Although we do live under the new covenant, the Noahic covenant never went away. God’s promise to never destroy the earth again by flood still holds true. In case we are unsure if the mandate to fill the earth is still in-force we need to check the pages of the New Testament.
We will start with a passage we studied last month. Matthew 28, 18 and 19 the great commission.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Go and make disciples of ALL NATIONS. That is all those people that were originally scattered. All those different people groups that went out from Babylon, now are to be reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This task would have been overwhelming, and challenging to the disciples, but God gives them a heard start. He gives them a head start by creating an event that reverses the effects of the confusion of the tower of Babel, in Acts chapter 2.
Acts 2 starting at verse 1.
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
The people are again together in one place, like the plain of Shinar, they stopped there-and God again comes down to them.
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
But this time instead of the language being confused, God the Holy Spirit allows understanding.
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?
This time the Holy Spirit-God fills the believers, and enables them to preach the Gospel to all the nations that God had confused in the first place. God does it. For His name-For His glory
The disciples, did not do it. It was not their great idea, or their great method, or planning, but God did it, and he did it so that His name may be glorified, not their name.
And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
See the disciples names are irrelevant. The name of the movement the name of the church is not where the honor or Glory goes. It is God’s name, the name of Jesus that is the name above all name, It is the name of Jesus that every knee must bow.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
It is through the gospel that we are to go out, It is through the Gospel create other Christ-followers or image bearers or disciples, or christians or converts or whatever you want to call them. So that, they may point to God to make His name great and to give Him the glory, so that eventually the whole world will be filled with the glory of God.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
The problem is that we still do what they did all the time.
We go as far as our plain of Shinar, and we settle and we get comfortable, and then we try and make a name for ourselves. We try to steal the glory from God. Churches have methods, and programs, and solutions that carry their church name. Willow creek or Saddleback or Billy Graham. You have heard of the purpose driven church or the various methods of evangelism.
Yet from the Book of Acts it appears that is the gift of the Holy Spirit that provides the ability to go out and spread the Gospel and to bring the glory to God.
The danger is that we wait for our particular upper room experience before spreading God’s gospel. We go as far as our upper rooms, and we gather together in one place, and with a good heart we wait for a miracle before heading out. While prayer and seeking God’s will are important, He made it known in Scripture, He has already given us the Holy Spirit.
Every one who has repented of their sin and who follows the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, has the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the gift of God, and He comes and fills us, and gifts us with the gifts He sees fit for us to further His kingdom.
Let me go back to he great achievement of the moon landing I talked about earlier. There is something I find a bit ironic about that whole thing. These few astronauts wanted desperately to include some faith component in the mission. Perhaps, they had the tower of Babel in mind, I don’t know, in any event they tried to bring glory to God by reading scripture.
What I find ironic is that during one of man’s greatest achievements these men were at great risk of life and limb and carried along God’s word with them. They brought God’s word to place that is impossible to get to. They brought God’s word to place that there are no people.
Now, given that original mandate is for God’s image bearers to fill the earth, here we are 50 years later. We have achieved this great accomplishment to go to the moon, yet the world is still not reached for Jesus Christ. The Gospel still has not been to all the ends of the earth, the planet we are standing on, where the people are.
3.14 Billion Have not heard.
40% of the world has not heard.
Today it is estimated that there are still 3.14 billion people who have not even heard the gospel. There are over 7,000 people groups classified as unreached, bringing a total of roughly 40% of the worlds population has not even heard the gospel of Jesus Christ.
If mankind working together can put a man on the moon....with the aid of God Almighty, with the gifts given each of the believers have in the Holy Spirit, we ought to be able bring God glory and make His name great through spreading the gospel, through this planet.
Brothers and sisters we cannot be content with stopping at our plain in Shinar, we cannot simply retreat to our upper rooms, and wait. We need to begin to earnestly seek the Lord, and how He would have us to bring the Glory of God to fill the earth.
1. Your Home.
2. Your neighborhood.
3. The World.
Start with your corner of the world, your everyday home. Even in your own Home bring the glory of God. Start with those immediately around you. Your family, and close friends. Bring them the glory of God. Make disciples of them. Tell them, how God saved you, and remind them over and over again of God’s Glory.
Don’t end there, when you have reached them-continue to fill your neighborhood. That is your workplace, your neighbors, and YES even your church. Tell one another how Jesus Saved you. Tell one another where you would be-except for the grace of God, tell them how God’s glory permeates your life. Tell them How great God is.
Then continue to fill your world Go to all nations, write checks, support missionaries, get on the web, write words of encouragement, take a mission trip buy a plane ticket. Go out to fill the earth with the Glory of God.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.