The People Had a Mind to Rebel
Two weeks ago, in our devotional on March 25, 2005, we considered the Israelites in the book of Nehemiah who, after the will of the Lord was revealed to them, united and "had a mind to work". We noticed how their unity, focus, and desire to work, led them to do much good in the sight of the Lord--even under hostile conditions! This was good, and the people of that day have provided us with a perfect example of unity coupled with obedience.

Make no mistake friends, unity is certainly commendable, and it is something for which we should all strive. Scripture provides numerous exhortations regarding unity:

Having considered these admonitions regarding unity, we must keep in mind that just as people can unite to do great things for the Lord, people can unite to do wicked things in the sight of the Lord. Because of this, we should not allow the fact that people are united to be the sole factor in determining if what they are doing is right in God's sight. Further, we should never unite with those who work contrary to the will of God just for the sake of unity. "You shall not follow a crowd to do evil..." (Ex. 23:2). We should all realize that the work being done must be in accordance to God's will. Just because a group of people unites to work together does not mean that their work will be acceptable to God. To prove this point, let us consider the events of Genesis 11.

In Genesis 11:1, we read, "the whole earth had one language and one speech." This of course was after the global flood and after God had told Noah and his family to "be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth." (Gen. 9:1). However, instead of following God's instruction to "fill the earth" , Noah's descendants united together and openly rebelled against the Lord, saying in chapter 11, verse 4: "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth." Notice that the people had a mind to rebel. This was not good, and the people at Babel have provided us with a tragic example of unity coupled with rebellion.

So what happened? God saw that the people were united in their disobedience, and, because of the people's united rebellion, God divided the people. He confused their language and "scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth" (Gen. 11:8). Noah's descendants learned that "the way of the unfaithful is hard" (Prov. 13:15). The people's unity may have allowed them to build a city and a great tower, but it was all for nothing as their sin separated them from God. Even though they were united and working together, the people were not right with God.

I have heard that archaeologists have found ruins on the banks of the Euphrates River near ancient Babylon, which is believed to be the tower of Babel. Over the years, bricks have been removed, and the site is now a pit as deep, perhaps, as the structure was high. What was to be a testament to the glory of man ultimately became a hole in the ground. Truly, the builders left behind a monument but not as they had imagined. It is now a monument to the failure of united rebellion. Friends, unity is desirable as long as one is not uniting with those who are rebelling against God's will. May we never be numbered with the rebellious--even if it means we must embrace division.