Monuments and memorials have existed for thousands of years. Many statues or images have been erected for the purpose of memorializing or etching into history the remembrance of a specific figure or event. For example, the Statue of Liberty which is located on Liberty Island in New York City is a symbol of freedom and democracy within the United States. Its institution into its current resting place provides meaning to many of its onlookers, and even to many Americans who view it as a nationalized symbol. Other monuments throughout the world hold their respective meanings to their population. However, it is important to distinguish between an artifact that is designed for remembrance, and one that signifies idolatry or idol worship.
In the passage of Genesis 11: 1-9, it is the account of the “Tower of Babel” that has been recorded. In this scripture, a population of people decided that they would come together to build a large tower that would reach the Heavens. At that time in scripture, the world had not yet diversified into various languages, ethnicities, and dialects. The scripture says in verses 1-2:
(NIV) “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.”
Verses 3-4 says:
(NIV) “They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 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.”
It is important to note that there was a level of pride and self-glorification which occurred in the population that attempted to build the tower. It was in their humanity that they desired to make themselves at the very least, equal with God if not greater. The aim was to construct a tower that would elevate themselves as a people, which is analogous to idol worship. They were operating in direct defiance against the Holiness and supremacy of God.
However, notice what it says in the next verses:
(NIV) “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.”
In these verses, the Lord sees their activity and He makes the conclusion that the population of people are unified in their quest to seek their own glory. Also, if you look at the language that God uses, He is speaking in the plural sense when He says, “Come, let us go down”. This is because the Holy Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) are all present at the same time. At the end of this, God separates the language of this population in order to disband their unity. To be in a state of confusion and disunity was their punishment for seeking self-glorification and for practicing idolatry.
(NIV) “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.”
The point to be made from this passage is that God reigns supreme over everything that is within existence. In our sinfulness, we are proud because to be proud is to deny that someone has more authority than you do. It was satan’s pride that caused his ultimate demise when he was removed from his position in Heaven. He desired to be like God as Isaiah 14: 13-15 records. Satan’s punishment was not only being removed from Heaven, but it was to be cast down into Hell along with others who chose to follow in his path.
Pride is an element that is rooted in our sinful nature because it is pride that creates within us a desire to be praised, adored, and placed on a pedestal. That is what God despises – a proud and haughty heart that refuses to worship Him. In Psalm 8 verse 1, the songwriter David says, (ESV) “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.” God’s name is majestic which means, His name is to be praised by all of creation.
When you look at our society today in a global sense, idolatry and self-worship dominate our sphere. If you turn on your television, you will see many examples of individuals who praise their own names, and seek their own glory. It may be in the form of ascending into political greatness, leading the world in sports as an athlete, or gracing the red carpet with your presence as a celebrity. However, in reality these are the very individuals that are lacking the most peace. It is because of their self-glorification that they will never find true satisfaction. In addition to this, God does not tolerate any human being who puts themselves within an equal footing.
Just as those who were building the Tower of Babel found themselves rejected and dispersed, God has essentially done the same thing to humanity today. Societies that are seeking social order, have found themselves in chaos and confusion because of the refusal to acknowledge God as supreme. Even in America, there are a myriad of social, economic and governmental issues that has found its roots steeped within the active participation of idolatry. Various statues and monuments have been erected worldwide – some with the intent to memorialize, and others with the intent to worship.
Those that worship or seek to be worshiped as a god, will always find themselves at odds with the one and true God whose name is majestic. Humanity has always had an opportunity to turn from its self-worship and wickedness, to declare that the only one who is righteous is God Himself. He demands that we worship Him because there is no one greater than He. Of course, with such a demand, God desires we do so willingly because when we do, we are loving Him by choice.
However, if we choose the opposite which is a rejection, then there are negative consequences. It should be clear that no one nor anything will ever rival who God is. He will not allow any group of people, or their actions to bring any sort of glory that is outside of God the Father. To do so is to erect an idol in the face of God almighty which is what many continue to do today. Every single time this occurs, a nation mourns and finds itself in turmoil.
The one and true God desires to be known through a relationship with Jesus Christ. To know God is to love Him, and to also experience His glory. There is nothing like the presence of a God that surpasses anything you could ever experience. Do you know and understand the supremacy of God? If not, then you have an opportunity to know Him by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. God wants you to know Him and experience His presence. When you do, you will see just how supreme God truly is.