For the more secular in the crowd, ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is the Led Zeppelin song that is played as a waltz for the last dance of the night at a wedding social. For those who have been following my latest series Wonders of the Word it is the story of the Tower of Babel. I have posted here some of the pictures I used in the sermon so that you can get a second look. Found in Genesis 11 it is an incredible story of the people of the earth who all being one language tried to build ” a tower to the heavens and make a name for ourselves.” Recognizing what was going on and in order to stop them, God “confounded their languages and scattered them over the face of the entire earth.”
Anthropologists agree that all the people of the earth have a common ancestry, there are many signs that point towards it. They of course believe that it took 10’s of 1,000’s of years. The people in Siberia Russia look suspiciously like the Inuit of Northern Canada. Was there a land bridge at one time across the Bering Strait between Siberia and Alaska? The scientific explanations end here as there is almost no way to explain how there just happens to be indigenous peoples on every inhabitable body of land on the planet. The Samoan islands had people on them when the Europeans arrived and the islands sit in the middle of the Pacific Ocean 5,000 miles from any continent. God on the other hand can put people wherever he wants. He’s God after all.
The other fascinating thing about the story of Babel is that the evidence still exists today. There are over 30 Ziggurat towers in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq and Iran) where Genesis 11 originally took place. Is one of these the remnants of Babel?
The one near modern Babylon (Babel) Iraq was partially restored by Saddam Hussein in the 1980’s.
What is intriguing to me is that the basic shape of these towers can be found again and again throughout history in places far and away from Mesopotamia. Egypt has 100’s of ‘towers to heaven’ that today we call pyramids.
Central America has them as well. Built by the Mayans and Aztecs they were man-made attempts to get closer to heaven in order to seek the favour of the gods, often with human sacrifices. Notice the ziggurat like stairways on this one at Chichen Itza which was built around 600 BC. Located on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico it is about as far away as you can get from Mesopotamia.
God never claimed He was going to be able to stop man from attempting to build a stairway to heaven. By confounding their speech all He did was slow them down. Every time a people become strong and significant throughout history they seem to want to build a tower to heaven and make a name for themselves. New York City comes to mind.
Or how about the insanely tall Burj Dubai? It is more than twice the height of the Empire State building.
Check out this graph below and then try to tell me that man has ever stopped his obsession with the stairway to heaven.
The buildings are one thing but it is the spirit behind them that is more important… man’s belief that he can get to heaven without God. Today we often refer to it as ‘secular humanism.’ The belief that man is the center of the universe and has no need of God. It is the epitome of human arrogance.
My favorite example has to be the European Union. They haven’t even attempted to be the least bit subtle and yet almost no one took notice. In 1993 12 European countries, concerned that they were having trouble competing on a global scale, came together and established a common economy and currency – the Euro. Today that number is 27 with 4 more waiting to become members. The borders between these countries are open and you can travel between them without a passport. They now have built a common European Parliament building in Strasbourg France. Check it out.
If it looks strangely unfinished, that is not an accident. It is modeled after the AD 1563 painting of the Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel.
Just for fun… a little Photoshop work and this is what you get.
So is the spirit of the Tower of Babel still alive and well today? You be the judge.