Insight for the Day

Making a Name for Yourself

April 16, 2024 Robert Wolgemuth—Editor

And they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky. Let’s make a name for ourselves; otherwise, we will be scattered throughout the earth.” (Genesis 11:4)

Wouldn’t it be great to be famous? I mean, really famous—to regularly have your photograph on the Internet or on TV and to have folks recognize you when you travel? Wouldn’t it be fun to drive into a big city and see your name on a billboard or at the top of a skyscraper?

And the money! You’d get paid lots of money just to show up to events. Your local Ferrari dealer would give you one of those lightning-quick Enzos just to stand around the showroom a couple of times a year. I’m getting fired up just thinking about it.

Life was getting a little mundane and ordinary for Noah’s descendants—up every morning, off to the fields, home for lunch, off to the fields again, back for dinner, a few hours with the family, a good night’s rest, and back at it again. Not a lot of status here. No bright lights. No pizzazz.

So a group of men got together and decided it was time to make a name for themselves. “Enough of the straight life,” they must have grumbled. “Forget this faithful employee, man, husband, and father stuff. Let’s go do something epic so that everyone knows who we are. Then we’ll really be something.”

And because most men like to build things, they started constructing a tower. They wanted people to see their superstructure for miles around and be impressed, realizing what significant, creative, and daring entrepreneurs they really were.

Think about what it may have been like on the first day of construction. All the blueprints had been approved, the materials were in place, and the proud workers were ready to go. But no one suggested that, before they began to build, perhaps they ought to ask for God’s permission or blessing. It’s probably safe to say that they ignored God while they were drawing up their plans. No invocation to start building. “God will understand,” they may have said to one another in their strategic planning meetings. “After all, this project isn’t about Him; it’s about us. We’ll get back to Him when we’re ready to build something religious.”

But God stopped the project. He created incredible confusion by giving these arrogant men different languages to speak. No longer could they work together. Cooperation became confusion. They couldn’t even ask one another to pass a tool or go fetch a box of nails. What had begun as a project to make these men famous turned into an everlasting monument to conflict, failure, and shame—Babel. (A perfect name for this fiasco, right?)

Genesis 28 tells us about Jacob, who traveled on an overnight trip to meet his wife. He spent the night under the stars, and God visited him in a profound and life-altering way. The next morning, Jacob carefully took the rock he had been using as his pillow and stood it on end as a memorial to God’s glory and faithfulness. And this simple tower—Bethel—became an everlasting monument to God’s presence and leadership in the life of men who are willing to humble themselves in His presence. Bethel was a building project to honor God. A place, if you will, to make Him famous.

What are you and I building today: a Babel or a Bethel? Who will be honored? And what should we expect the outcome to be?