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Shelah lived thirty years, and became the father of Eber. — Genesis 11:4

The Curse Upon Absolute Power

Unity. Oneness. Don’t those words conjure up positive emotions in you? The Scripture says, “How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1). Christ prayed that we might be one, as He and the Father are one: “I have given them the glory which You gave Me, that they may be one even as We are one” (John 17:22). It would seem that unity is a goal toward which we should strive.

Yet, between the account of the Flood and the calling of Abraham, this anomalous chapter, Genesis 11, reports the attempted building of the city and tower of Babel. The
inhabitants of the world were of one speech and one language at this time. They lived together in one place and in one accord. As one, they worked toward the single goal

they had in mind: the construction of Babel. Though this is the greatest example of unity to be found in the Scriptures (even among the twelve apostles, there was Judas), we read that God came down and broke up the whole thing.

Some of you may find that totally inexplicable because it seems to violate a basic principle of human living: unity. The only unity, however, that will ever succeed, be acceptable to God, and benefit man is the unity of the Spirit.

The unity of Psalm 133:1 and John 17:22 clearly refers to a unity of people whose hearts have been changed. Without the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, hearts unrestrainedly incline toward doing evil. Such hearts can only unify around plans that are antagonistic toward God’s own perfect plan.

Notice that God said, “Now nothing that they propose to do will be impossible for them” (Genesis 11:6). If you do not understand the spiritual message in that statement, just turn back a few chapters in your Bible and read, “The Lord saw that… every intent of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was continually only evil” (Genesis 6:5).

It is ever true that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The story of Babel sheds light on that principle, showing us the potential for evil that can occur when a world of unregenerate people join together, with their one mighty task being to frustrate the plan of God for this world.