Noah, and the Tower of Babel

Discovery for Teachers

Noah, and the Tower of Babel

OVERVIEW
DAYBREAK

SOURCE FOR QUESTIONS
Genesis 6:1 through 11:9

KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” (Genesis 6:9)

BACKGROUND

By Noah’s generation, the embers of sin which Adam and Eve had ignited had become a flame that engulfed the whole earth. Chapters 6-9 of our text record that man, who had been created in the holy image of God just nine generations earlier, had forgotten God and become terribly evil in his ways. So devastating was the scope of the sins of mankind that God resolved to wipe out all living things. However, Noah was different. Unlike the rest of the people who walked according to the evil dictates of their hearts, this man walked step by step in faith, a living example to his generation. Though he did not have much of a support base of godly people — only those in his own family made it into the ark with him — the power of God sustained him. Because of Noah’s faithfulness and obedience, God preserved him and his family from the devastating Flood that destroyed all other human beings on the face of the earth.

Noah lived 350 years after the Flood, and chapter 10 of Genesis records the history of his sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. This chapter, a genealogical record of the principal races and peoples known to the Israelites, is sometimes referred to as the Table of Nations.

Chapter 11 details God’s response to the ungodliness that once again characterized human civilization after the Flood. The corruption and defiance of the people in resisting God’s command to “replenish” the whole earth resulted in their language being confounded, and the people being scattered abroad “upon the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:9).

SUGGESTED RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS

  1. In Genesis 6:8, what indicator do we find of Noah’s spiritual standing? What words and phrases in chapter 7 paint a picture of what Noah did to “walk with God”?

    Noah “found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” In chapter 7, we see that “Noah did according unto all that the Lord commanded him” (verse 5). Verses 9 and 16 also refer to Noah’s obedience. Ask your class: How do we walk with God in our day? What role does obedience play for us?

    You may wish to amplify this question by pointing out that Noah is an excellent example of the fact that our own household is our primary and God-given responsibility. Noah’s three sons were born after he began work on the ark, and were more than one hundred years old when the Flood came. The fact that they were present in the ark with Noah indicates that their godly father was not so busy with his assignment from God that he neglected to teach and train his own children.

  2. Noah was not shielded from the negative influences of the world around him. What kinds of obstacles do you suppose he faced?

    Suggestions could include the corrupted lifestyle of the people around him, their ridicule and mockery, the complete rejection of his message, the fact that he had never experienced a flood before so was following God beyond the realm of human experience, and the necessity of continuing in obedience over a long period of time.

    Hebrews 11:7 and 2 Peter 2:5 are supplemental Scriptures you may wish to review with your class as you discuss this question.

  3. Like Noah, as Christians we also face obstacles or hindrances in our walks with the Lord. How can we live in a sinful world without being drawn into it or isolating ourselves and losing contact?

    You may wish to begin the discussion by asking your group to identify things that are hindrances to them or others. Some suggestions could include busyness, certain types of jobs, unsaved family members, some friendships, money, or success. While these are not necessarily evil in themselves, the point should be made that anything we prioritize ahead of God is a hindrance. In addition, anything that encourages conduct contrary to the Word and Spirit of God is a hindrance. Discuss specific ways hindrances can be resisted, such as by being alert to the Spirit, spending time in communion with God, attending church regularly, fellowshiping with like-minded believers, etc.
  4. In Genesis 7:17-24, what details are given about the Flood and its results?

    There were forty days of rain, the waters rose over the mountains to a depth of fifteen cubits, all people and animals died, and the waters prevailed for 150 days. If you wish to expand your class discussion of the Flood, Genesis 8:1-18 provides additional details. Use this question to reinforce that God’s reason for sending the Flood was to destroy all the earth’s wickedness; only those in the ark escaped the fury of the storm.
  5. Noah’s decision to follow the Lord saved him and his family from utter destruction. What does God’s provision for them tell us about Him?

    Though your class may come up with a variety of responses, you should conclude that God is merciful and will always make a way of escape. Though we are not protected physically in every circumstance — the righteous may suffer in body — the Lord will always preserve the soul and will not allow a person to go through more than he can bear.
  6. What was the first action Noah took after he and his family left the ark? What does this reveal about Noah? Genesis 8:20

    Noah’s first action was to build an altar to the Lord and offer a burnt offering. As your class discusses what this action reveals about Noah, they may bring out that no doubt Noah was impacted by the tremendous devastation that met his eyes when he stepped from the ark. Whatever his feelings may have been, however, the fact that he built an altar clearly indicated his respect for God and his desire to please Him. God’s response to Noah’s sacrifice was His promise to never again use a flood to destroy the world, and as a witness to His promise, He gave the rainbow (see Genesis 9:12-17). The point can be made that sacrifice offered by a righteous man in faith is always acceptable to God.
  7. What spiritual lesson or insight most impressed you as you considered the account of Noah?

    As your class offers their thoughts about lessons or insights from the account of Noah, some of the points brought out may include that God is faithful to those who obey Him; that God does not always shield us from trouble, but He cares for us in the midst of trouble; and that obedience is vital in our relationship with God.
  8. After the Flood, Noah’s family was divided into tribes or colonies to settle in different directions, thus replenishing the other regions of the earth. However, as the population increased, they all came together. Ultimately they settled in the land of Shinar, where they determined to build a city and a tower that would reach unto Heaven. Why was it wrong for the people to build a tower and a city? What was God’s reaction to their rebellion? Genesis 11:1-9

    It is apparent that the people’s hearts were set to do as they pleased and not as God had commanded. They wanted fame, saying, “Let us make us a name . . .”, and they wanted security, “. . . lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (verse 4). Their purpose was to secure these aims through human ingenuity and effort. God was left out of the endeavor; there is no mention of Him. God responded to their rebellion by demonstrating that human ingenuity and effort apart from God is futile. He caused confusion in human language, and the result was chaos. The great project was abandoned and the godless society was segmented and scattered.

    You may wish to conclude your class session by contrasting righteous Noah with the godless people who attempted to build the tower of Babel. Noah persevered according to God’s direction, and succeeded in a seemingly impossible task. The people of Babel chose to strive in their own strength, and saw their efforts fail because they did not align their efforts with God’s will and purposes.

CONCLUSION

Noah and the people of Shinar present a picture of the choice facing every individual in our day: will we live and work in obedience to God, or will we choose to resist and rebel against Him and His directives? As we ponder the outcomes for Noah and the tower builders at Babel, the best choice is clear.