The Tower of Babel
(or, prophecies concerning the Church)
How, when, and where did the Church begin? Some would say, and I would be inclined to agree, that Adam and Eve were the first members of the Church, after God had clothed them with animal skins (from the first sacrifice?). Although I do agree, I would say further that this was the beginning of the invisible Church (the Body of the Elect, universal), but I believe that the visible Church (catholic) had it’s beginnings at the tower of Babel (Babylon). That said, it goes without saying that the Church was actually appointed by God, in His infinite predestination, before the worlds were formed. As to the how, I believe that God first dispersed His people (elect) throughout the world, in order to “ gather them from all nations where I have driven them “ (paraphrase of Jer. 29:14) .
I got the idea for this paper while reading chapter 5 of The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus, from Anti-Nicene Fathers Vol. 1: to quote; “For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.”
Now you may ask, and I’ll be the first to admit that my thought patterns are a little hard to grasp sometimes; but what does this have to do with the tower of Babel? The thought came to me while reading this passage, that, since it is true, (and I had never thought of it before), Christians have no particular country, but live in whatever country God, in His infinite wisdom, has placed them, that the first dispersion (Gen. 11), although we have no scriptural proof that there were any elect (Rev. 17:8) present at the tower of Babel, but I propose that there were, and that this was the first (visible) step in Gods eternal plan to gather (disciple) His Church.
In the Scriptures, God talks many times of gathering His people, “ from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you”.(Deut.30:3)
Again, “ though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, : (Neh.1:9)
Again, (He calls to the heavens and the earth), “Gather my saints together to Me.............” (Ps. 50:5)
He says in Is. 43:5-6 “ Fear not, for I am with you, I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west: I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!, and to the south, ’Do not keep them back’, Bring My sons from afar, And My daughters from the ends of the earth “ .
Again He says in Isaiah, “ For a mere moment I have forsaken you, but with great mercies I will gather you”. (Is 54:7)
In Isaiah 66 verse 18, He says, “ It shall be, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see my Glory “.
In the book of Jeremiah, He tells us, “ I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.” (A couple of interesting side notes; In the latter part of this verse, God is using Genesis language* ; in the few previous verses of this chapter God pronounces judgement against His shepherds for scattering His flock, then in verse three, He says that He has driven them!)
In Jeremiah 29:14, God says,” I will be found by you, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all nations and from all the places where I have driven you........” There are many more to study and to quote, but these will suffice for now.
You’re probably thinking by now that all these verses have to do with God’s covenant people, the Israelites.
You’re right, of course!
Let me quote you a few more verses from the New Testament. He say in John , chapter 10 verse 16, “ and other sheep I have which are not of this fold.”, and in the 9th chapter of Romans, verse 6, “ For they are not all Israel(ites)* who are of Israel “, further on, in chapter 11, Paul says, “ I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite....” He goes on to point out that God’s covenant people are called by grace, not born of the flesh(John 3:1-6, Rom. 9:7-8).All that said, I fear I digress!
The point I’m trying to make here is that, throughout scripture, God builds His Church, like a good father his children, by putting them through the fire, ( Exodus 1: 8-22, Deuteronomy 9-13, Joshua, Judges, Ruth 1, I Samuel 10-12, and etc, ), by chastising, ( Deuteronomy 8:5, II Samuel 7:14, Psalm 94:12, Hebrews 12: 5-11), and by dispersing and then bringing back His special people to dwell in His land*!
by God's grace ( to be continued ),