The Advent Collective is a new daily reflection drawing from Bible passages that are commonly read in this season of Advent. Our hope is that it will help us to grow as we live out our faith in the everyday moments of life.
It’s Day 3 of the Advent Collective, and today our Bible reading is Genesis Chapter 11.
I’m sure many of you love a good David Attenborough nature documentary. It’s hard to choose a favourite from the many series that he has done……however, I always like the episodes that tell of the amazing journeys and migrations that some animals make, all in an attempt to return home.
Like female green turtles who travel 1000 miles from the coast of Brazil just to lay their eggs on exactly the same beach of Ascension Island where they themselves hatched out. Or Atlantic salmon, who swim hundreds of miles upstream, against strong currents, to spawn and ultimately die, in the same river that they were born in.
The call of home is such a powerful force of nature, that animals will go to extraordinary lengths, using all their strength and skill, to make this homecoming journey.
As humans, we are no different.
It’s why the Christmas classic, ‘I’ll be Home for Christmas” remains so popular. It’s not just festive sentimentality; it resonates with a deep spiritual desire within us.
We just want to get back home.
Ever since Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden, there has been a longing in the heart and soul of all mankind to return home. To return to that place where everything is very good, and we can live with God.
On the surface, this is what we see happening in Genesis Chapter 11.
The people say, “Come, let us build a tower that reaches to the heavens.”
The desire of the people of Babel to return home to God was not inherently bad, but no matter how many bricks they made, no matter how many floors and staircases the tower had; people could never complete the journey to Heaven by themselves; their hard work, ingenuity, and skill would never be enough.
The sin that had entered the world in Eden meant that Heaven and Earth were now separated – a tower could not bridge the gap, and trying to fulfil this yearning for home in their own strength, would only lead to disillusionment and disappointment amongst God’s people.
And so, God came down from Heaven to intervene, and he scattered them.
Now, unless you are an architect, or have a child who plays with Duplo; you may not actually be building a tower right now. You might well be thinking, “What on earth has this got to do with me?”
Well, I think there is one very simple, yet very powerful, question that all of us need to ask ourselves after reading this passage……’What is my Babel?’
That deep longing to be at home with God again is part of what it means to be human. But what happens is that we try and fill the gap in our soul with the wrong things, or we attempt to complete the journey in our own strength.
Maybe it’s securing a promotion, buying a house with a bigger garden, chasing relationships and sexual intimacy, using drink or drugs to feel better, travelling the world and living for the next holiday, or just always aiming to achieve those dreams that you write in your bullet journal?
What are the things that we look for to give us happiness, satisfaction or fulfilment?
What’s our Babel?
Whatever it is, the message of Genesis 11 is that none of these things are the perfect solution we are looking for, they will all leave us feeling empty and let down. None of them will lead us home.
This could be a somewhat depressing place to end this reflection.
However, Advent is a season of hope and a season of promise.
Thousands of years after Babel, God looked at the people of the earth, and He saw that they were still struggling and battling to find a way home. People were seeking to fulfil the longings and yearnings of their hearts with all sorts of things, other than God himself. God knew they could never complete the journey back to Eden by themselves, and so he came down from Heaven to intervene once more.
But this time he did not scatter the people, instead he sent a Rescuer – someone who would gather his people in, draw them to himself, and help them to complete the journey back to the living as God intended them to.
And the sin that separated Heaven and Earth would not be bridged by a tower, or human endeavour. The gap would be filled by a cross, upon which the Rescuer would die. Through his death, God’s people would have the promise of being able to return to Eden once more, and to live with Him forever.
And so, just as the Angel Gabriel had said, Mary gave birth to a son and she named him Jesus – meaning the one who rescues and saves.
Advent is a season when we remember that God went to extraordinary lengths to bring us back home.
As we move into a time of reflection now, ask God to show you what your Babel is. Ask Jesus to come and meet with you, and to fill the deep longings of your heart.