It has been God’s plan to build His kingdom on this earth since before He ever spoke it into being. From the beginning he has called on humanity to join with him in building His Kingdom. We see this in Genesis 1.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And god said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth,” (Genesis 1.27-28, ESV).
The fall came, and rather than going and subduing the earth, we see that Cain killed Abel, and then was cursed to wander the earth rather than subdue it. Seth comes along, but we saw last week that the people lost their way, intermarried, and became utterly wicked, wicked enough to destroy by a global flood. Only Noah and his wife, his children and their wives survived.
But as soon as they are on dry land, we see the commission go out again. “And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth,” (Genesis 9.1, ESV). In fact he said it twice, “And you, be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it,” (Genesis 9.7, ESV).
But Noah’s descendants have taken matters in their own hand. We can’t know for sure, but it is quite likely that Noah was still alive or perhaps had just died when this takes place. It would seem that the people started off well. “Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, the found a plan in the land of Shinar and settled there,” (Genesis 11.1-2, ESV). We see that they people were migrating. They were beginning to leave from the place they came and started to look for other places. But once they came to the land of Shinar, which is in modern day Iraq, between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers, they decided they’d gone far enough. “And they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar,” (Genesis 11.3, ESV).
Now they are building a city. If we only look here for the background, we don’t know who was the mastermind behind this, but if we go back a little ways, we see that this was the handiwork of a man name Nimrod, Noah’s great grandson. He not only built this city, but others around the area as well. But notice what the people say, because they are not simply just building a city. They want to build a kingdom unto themselves. “Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth’,” (Genesis 11.4, ESV).
Whether they intended to do so or not, the people rejected the commission of the kingdom and instead corrupted the kingdom with their own plans. Let’s build ourselves a city and a tower. Let’s make a name for ourselves. This was not for God’s glory. This was not for God’s kingdom. This was for them. God stated in his commission to be fruitful and multiply over the whole earth, and the people said, “we will not be dispersed over the whole earth.”
So if there is a commission of the kingdom that is ignored, a sin of omission, so that there is a corruption within the kingdom, then God must give correction for the kingdom. Sometimes that a gentle correction and sometimes not so gentle.
And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the LORD said “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth, (Genesis 11.5-9, ESV).
If the people were not willing to do what God had commissioned them to do, He would do it Himself. He called them to go throughout the whole earth, but they would not. So He made it so that they would have to. He split the languages and he split the localities. People of one language went one direction and people of another went a separate. Nations were formed and the earth was filled. God’s plan for God’s kingdom will stand.
Because God’s plan for God’s kingdom will stand, we see that it will also come. In Genesis 11, we see that nations began to form, and those nations were formed because of language. But God wasn’t content with have having nations for nations’ sake. He was about building His kingdom. One kingdom. It wasn’t long before those nations were completely pagan, worshipping false gods and idols.
But remember that this is just the Genesis of the Gospel. It comes into fruition as time goes on. Israel was to be a light to the nations, but they corrupted the plan and kingdom. But that didn’t mean that God wasn’t still at work. He revealed through Micah:
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations will come, and say: “Come let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide disputes for strong nations far away; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not life up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore; but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken, (Micah 4.1-4, ESV)
The nations will be told of God’s teaching. They will flock to God’s mountain to worship Him. This is not just about Jerusalem proper, but the gospel and the Kingdom of God. The nations will be gathered. The kingdom will come to fruition. And we get a glimpse at this in Acts 2.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language…Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God, (vv. 6, 9-11, ESV).
The nations coming into Jerusalem, but more importantly, into God’s Kingdom. As Jesus said, the Kingdom of God is at hand; it was imminent. God had scattered the people at Babel with varying languages making varying kingdoms, was now bringing them back to hear the gospel and build his kingdom. They were to hear the message, believe the message, and take the message. But it wasn’t until they were scattered once again that the message was taken. For a brief moment, we get a glimpse of the coming kingdom. It was an already, not yet kind of moment. It happened, but it will happen again in all its fulness. As we’ve seen, “After this I looked, and behold a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,” (Revelation 7.9, ESV). And then again in Revelation 21. I love this description. Though it is figurative, the point is gotten across. “The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal,” (Revelation 21.16, ESV). First it is a perfect cube; that in itself is significant, but we can’t go into that detail today. It is 12,000 stadia. The 12 indicates completion. The thousand indicates completion. The people of God are gathered. But going back to the tower of Babel, which stretched into the heavens. It was never the size but a Lego compared to the size of God’s kingdom. All of our grandstanding as cities with tall buildings and unforgettable skylines will not compare to the 12,000 stadia city—kingdom of God. If we were speaking of a physical apparatus, we are referring to that which would be over 1,300 miles high. We are talking about 2.6 billion cubic miles.
And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it their glory and the honor of the nations, (Revelation 21.23-26, ESV).