This I think may seem like a controversial title and I want to go on to make an even more controversial statement.
At this time of global crisis, and lets be honest I could be writing that from any year or decade, the backdrop of unity is often shared. It feels like trying to catch a rainbow or see a unicorn. A lofty goal but impossible. Yet your never going to look bad calling for peace between all of mankind. Nor are you going to look bad working towards this. Yet you probably will find yourself frustrated. The reason for that is because whose version of unity will we unite around?
In our society at this moment there are a great deal of competing voices for there version of a better world. Many of the contradictory to one another. Here in the UK a well known American born evangelist, the son of a truly famous one, held a mission in order to share the good news of Jesus Christ. To advertise the event in a northern sea side town the organisers paid for the word 'Hope' to be put against the town buses. Yet not long after various organisations went to the High court to have the law forcibly remove these advertisements. All they said was hope, not hope in Jesus or even you can only have hope in Jesus. Why did they cause such offence? The answer is because even in one simple word there can be a divergence of opinion. It may even surprise you to know it wasn't just secular but also some Christian groups which protested against the use of this word. When whole communities can fall our over the meaning behind just one word then the hope for world wide unity and peace.
The very Christian answer to that is the only way world wide unity and peace can be brought about in mankind is with Christ. Paul appropriates this idea and uses the imagery of a body in 1 Corinthians 3. The body works together and it cannot expel any part of it because it is different. Yet the important point about the body, a subject covered in so many of the Epistles, and which Colossians 1:18 tells us
And He is the Head of the body, the church, who is the Beginning, the First-born from the dead, that He may be pre-eminent in all things. Colossians 1:18
As our body is directed by our brains, so the body of Christ, the church, is directed by Christ. This direction is the point of the famous Psalm 119:105, your word is a lamp to my feet; it is the meaning behind building in the Spirit and not the flesh; it is the point and purpose of the Church which is used, not because it has to be but because Christ choses it to be, the active body of Christ. Friends we quite literally are sent to be Christs hands and feet to people. Yet there is not a more diverse group than the world wide church. Revelation 2 to 3 confirms that we are often very different in our lives and outworking's. Yet what we do have in common is that we all have known sins forgiven as we have all journeyed, no matter the colour of your skin, the culture of your nation or the language of your tongue, through the door of repentance that is Christ Jesus, our Good Shepherd.
Many of us may have experienced times in church where that kind of unity doesn't feel like it is there at all. The first of the churches written to in the book of revelation had the same problem. In fact the book of acts shows us the church having that problem. This is not ok but it is to be expected when we see the Kingdom of Heaven and mankind come together. When we read of the coming kingdom, the Millennial reign of Christ. Which the prophet Micah describes as a time when swords are turned into ploughshares and peace and mercy reign. At the end of this time, after 1000 years of perfect government and the devil bound so there is no evil influence, even then Revelation 20 tells us men will rise in rebellion against God and declare war. It seems that on this earth peace between all mankind will never endure, not even in the perfect Christ led kingdom.
However what this does do is encourages us to look forward to a time when the church will be unified and peace between all men will exist. Revelation 21 and 22 describe this to us but only in part. It describes it only in part because it is such an unseen idea that it is hard to imagine. What we have to remind ourselves of the glory of these end of days and the coming new Heaven and Earth is that much of it will seem the opposite of what we deem as the usual. We live in a world of violent disagreements, tribalisation and xenophobia. That is when I remind myself that the natural world is in chaos and that the actual way it should be is that the lion will lie down with the lamb rather than my current expectation that it would eat it.
Therefore when all is put together then we must conclude that peace between mankind will only come When the new heavens and the new earth have been brought forward. this is at the end of all things the great confirmation which will usher in the fulfilment of Genesis 3:15, where our only desire is Christ. Yet that consummations, which is a marriage bed term, infers it is not a dictatorship of slaves who must serve God or die. Rather it is a kingdom of friends who chose to be in a kingdom but can only be there because Christ made a way. It is a consummation because we will become one with Christ, filled with His glory. It is in fact a call of a unified kingdom of peace built upon an intimate and intense relationship with our Lord and Saviour. Paul tells us this is the mystery that even he struggles to get his head around. Also it is an image and not an actual consummation by which we should sully our relationship with Christ
What all of that shows you is peace is a long way off and it is surrounding a very specific view. The view that Jesus is Lord and we must give our lives to Him in order to be secure in Him. This in a fractious world means our job, much like Noah's before the outpouring of the flood, is to save people from it by encouraging them into a relationship with Christ. In fact the ark is a type of Jesus, by which we run into it and we are saved. The ark was covered in tar and pitch, to which the Hebrew word Kapher is from the root kopher meaning atonement. Here we see a type in action but also how the Lord saved the righteous once He will do again (just not literally as).
However I would be wrong if I was to suggest that peace between all mankind would not exist. This is where I am going to make my controversial statement. For that peace is not one we should seek after for it is one the Lord opposed.
We read of it in Genesis 11:1-9 and the narrative of the tower of Babel. Friends it is not a story nor is it the tale of how the world became divided. For this is an after the flood event when all mankind was wicked and devoured one another. It is a narrative of how the world comes into unity around the vision and leadership of a head. Only that head is not Christ it is a world leader called Nimrod. Yet we don't read of him in Genesis 11 we just see the phrase that all mankind came together on a project. It tells us in Genesis 10:8-10 that Nimrod was the lord of Babel and the plain of Shinar where it was built. The location of Shinar would come up again later when another world ruler would build a magnificent golden statue of a dream he had. When the music played everyone had to bow the knee and worship the image. Yet three young Israelite men refused and were thrown into a fiery furnace. This is of course the narrative of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The world ruler of that time was Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, which represents the mystery false religion.
Now before we start diving so deep into these scriptures you have no idea where i am lets just take stock a moment. We read of the Lord visiting the plain and saying in verse 6 that nothing would be beyond them. then in verse 7 the Lord says He will confuse the language of the people so they can no longer be in this kind of unity. That kind of sounds like the Lord has deliberately kicked the feet from under humanity for starting to get a little bit to clever. Some men have come to agree that is what is being said. The European union building in Strasbourg is in fact modeled on a Renaissance painting of Nimrod and the tower of Babel, with the motto we will finish what God ended. So how do we say that the Lord was in the right and the people was in the wrong?
Well ive given you two clues. where they were building and that they were not building around the Lord as head. The big clue is what they were building and how. Why a tower? well it was a massive high structure but not to reach God. It was a high structure built of stone baked and tar for mortar. This building technique would make the tower water proof.
Now i wonder if the penny drops.
The answer is they were building a tower they could rush into just incase God flooded the earth again. They were working in unity against the Lord in order to create a society that neither needed the Lord nor would be subject to the law of the Lord. This is a bad kingdom but more it is a bad unity.
Now you may say, 'well that's a very Christian view'. I agree it really is and if you didn't believe in the Lord then you may see it as more of an interference by the Lord and He should have just left them alone. After all peace is peace. Except it isn't and here is the evidence of why unity built around hatred doesn't last. For when the language was confused then each separate language and group stopped working, not one of them took the project on themselves. I wonder if you noticed that. why didn't anyone of the separate new nations take on this project? well now they didn't just have one enemy anymore, one hate figure. Now all of the nations were competing. Let's be honest, the recent history of the world has shown how we can learn each others languages. So why didn't they? for the same reason. Suspicion of one another so they don't learn each others languages but go back to the same issues as to prior the flood. to the same Xenophobia which consumes. The reason for this is the selfishness of man's fallen nature, our flesh nature, to make sure we have when resources are limited.
The truth of our modern day attempts at unifying the world is that it has tribalised more. In 1945 there were 48 countries by 2020 there were over 262. Unity built around hate, even a unified hatred for God will always be secondary to self. Friends we need to stop in trying to build any kind of unity around accepting cultures and common enemies. Instead we should look to the book of Acts chapter 2 and the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Where we read they were all speaking in other tongues. Here the Holy Spirit brings together in which we learn they spoke and heard wonderful things said of God.
What we can therefore conclude is that the Lord doesn't want peace on earth between all men but a relationship between Himself and all men. The Lord has made the way that all men can come into a relationship with Him. That is through the cross knowing sins forgiven in the act of repentance. As such we unify as a church, not by making our cultures fit but by remembering the act of love we all have in common.