The Setting

Today's Bible reading: Genesis 11:10-32

The story of the Tower of Babel and the family tree of Abraham set the stage for what follows.  Human pride tries to scale the heavenly heights which belong to God alone.  Instead of confessing the Name, humankind wants to make a name for itself.  It wants unity and power for itself.  There is a tragic irony in the statement that God has to “come down” to see this little “pimple” on the plane.  Yet the greatest tragedy is that unity in pride ends in disunity – in the scattering of the nations.

After this, we find the genealogies of Noah's three sons Shem, Ham and Japheth … and we learn that Abraham is from the line of Shem.  But - as so often seems to be the case in the Bible - an impossible situation is standing in the way of God realizing His plan.  Abraham receives repeated promises of a son … yet his wife Sarah is barren – she has no child.  The stress of this fact is so important that it is pointed out even before the Bible starts talking about Abraham himself.  Sarah's inability to conceive a child figures so prominently in future events – it really is the gateway to the Abraham stories.  It is always in the face of human impossibilities the divine grace sets to work.

Prayer: Thank you, O Lord, that you never abandon Your people, that they may hold fast to the hope of everlasting life.  Amen