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A Tale of Two Cities

November 1, 2020 Speaker: John Bell Series: Genesis

Passage: Genesis 10:1–11:26

Big Picture: While Adam and Eve aspired to become like God (Gen 3:5), the inhabitants of Babel/Babylon seek to establish themselves as supreme not only on earth but in heaven as well (Gen 11:4). Uniting to make a name for themselves, they attempt to build a tower that will enable them to access and control heaven. Babel/Babylon typifies two contrasting aspects of human existence: (1) the capacity to achieve great things and (2) the arrogance of those who have turned away from God. Although God intervenes to halt the Babel/Babylon project by scattering the city’s inhabitants throughout the earth, the human ambition to construct an alternative, godless city remains. Babel/Babylon typifies every social enterprise that seeks to exalt the creature over the Creator. From Genesis to Revelation, Babel/Babylon features prominently as the symbol of humanity’s attempt to govern themselves without reference to and in defiance of God.

  1. The Table of Nations
  • Japheth’s descendants (10:2–5)
  • Ham’s descendants (10:6-20)
  • Shem’s descendants (10:21-31):
  1. A Tale of Two Cities: Babylon and Jerusalem (or: The Whore and the Bride) (11:1-9)
  1. The Genealogy of Shem (11:10-26)


  • This sermon owes a debt to T. Desmond Alexander’s “The City of God and the Goal of Creation”

More in Genesis

October 25, 2020

God's Covenant with Noah

October 18, 2020

Noah's Flood: Salvation and Judgement

October 11, 2020

The World Before the Flood