And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. (Genesis 10:6~10)
People Who Plan Life without God
I used to simply read the Bible without any thought. I read it once, twice, three times . . . . When people first experience the end of spring, they think, “Why is the weather becoming warmer?” And when autumn passes, they think, “I guess it’s becoming cold again.” But as they experience the seasons over and over again, they naturally see that summer comes after spring, fall comes after summer, and winter comes after fall. When we first read the Bible, it is difficult to sense it, but as we continue to read it, we see the world illustrated in the Bible. In the Bible are the people whom God establishes and the people whom God crumbles down.
If you were going through hardship because of a disease, would that disease still be a problem if Jesus healed it? When Jesus met the blind man, the blindness was not a problem whatsoever when Jesus healed it. Even though you may not have a good job now, or you have nothing to do, or you are going through hardships due to a low income, it is not difficult at all for God to open up a good path for you if He wants to provide you with a good job. It was not difficult at all for God to make David, a shepherd, into a king. It was not difficult at all for God to make Joseph into a governor. If God wants to exalt you, if He wants to sanctify you, it is not a problem at all.
But how do most people today live? They set up plans to do well on their own without God. On their own, they study, search for jobs, make money, meet good spouses, and try to raise their children successfully without God. But one day, things they have never dreamt of happen. Car accidents, which were not in their plans, occur; people go bankrupt; people become divorced; children go astray; people get cancer, etc. Who plans to be in car accidents or to get cancer? When getting married, who plans to divorce or plans that their children will go astray? People do not know what will happen and simply set good plans and work hard believing that things will go according to their plan.
The People Who Built the Tower of Babel and Abraham
As I read the Bible, I saw that there were people whom God blessed and there were people whom God crumbled down.
Genesis chapter 11 speaks about people building the Tower of Babel. At the time, they arrived at the plains of Shinar and said, “This vast plain is great. Let us build a great tower here that will reach the heavens. Let us make a name for ourselves. Let us not be scattered but live here together,” and made plans to do so. However, God scattered them. They were building while God was scattering. How then could it be built? It was impossible. But in Genesis chapter 12, God says to Abraham, “I will multiply thee. I will make you a father of many nations. You will be a blessing. I will bless them that bless you and curse them that curse you.” Although Abraham had no plans whatsoever set up for himself, he became a father of as many children as the sands of the seashore and stars in the sky. Although Abraham did not have such a plan, God bestowed grace and blessings upon him.
Although I Am Small, God Is Great
Before reading the Scriptures, we consider ourselves to be extremely great and mighty while considering God to be small and insignificant. However, the more Scriptures we read and the more of God we come to know, the more pitiful and smaller we become while God becomes greater and greater. Through this, we change into people who flow into the faith of believing in God, rather than in our own ability and effort.
As a pastor, I often think this as I minister: “How could I be most effective as a minister?” I know the answer to this: “I should not do anything, but make it comfortable for God to work in our church.”
I once met the husband of a sister who was attending our church. He, too, started to come to our church, and I spoke to him about spiritual life. He was distant from spiritual life and he was very adamant about his perceptions and ideologies. I thought in my heart, “Would I be able to turn his heart around to Jesus within ten years? What could I possibly say to him to lead him into the faith to believe in God?” After speaking with him, I felt in my heart, “Although this man does not live a spiritual life, he is ten to a hundred times smarter and greater than me. I am no match for him. He is full of knowledge and very clear about his philosophy.”
Afterwards, whenever I had time, I would think of him. I thought to myself, “With what words can I introduce God to him? What can I say to show the vanity of man? What can I say to have him believe in God more than in himself?” However, I gained no confidence. Whenever I would think of him once in a while, I felt burdened and I could not do anything at all.
Once, his wife called me on the phone:
“Pastor, are you busy?”
“No, I’m not busy today.”
“Can you speak with my husband today? He wants to speak with you, Pastor.”
“Really? Come on over!”
The three of us sat down. I had nothing to say. So I opened the Bible and began to read a verse to him. But I was so surprised to see that he was not the same man I had met twenty days earlier. His heart was completely open. “Wow!” He looked like the same man, but his heart was not the same in any way. “God loves this man! God is pleased with this man receiving salvation!” I thought. That day I thanked God as I saw him receive the forgiveness of sins and return home with joy.
“God, thank you so much. Since I do not know how to witness and lead people well, you did everything. God, you already finished everything so that I only needed to speak a few words.”
Who Is He?
There is a preacher named Philip in Acts chapter 8. Philip met the eunuch from Ethiopia and it was so easy for him to witness. The Ethiopian eunuch was an officer in charge of the wealth of the queen of Ethiopia. He had much money, authority, a high position, and lacked nothing, but he came all the way to Jerusalem because he was yearning for something and was leaving empty-handed. It takes one month to ride a chariot from Ethiopia to Jerusalem and another month to return. He came all the way to Jerusalem because he was searching for something, but he was so frustrated at heart because he had gained nothing. Then, in the shaky chariot, he had opened a scroll of the Bible and was reading Isaiah chapter 53.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
The eunuch had a question in his heart as he read these verses.
“Who is ‘he’ that Isaiah is talking about? Who is ‘he’ that he bore our sins? Who is ‘he’ that bore all my grief and sorrow? Who is ‘he’ that was wounded for my transgressions and bruised for my iniquities? Who is ‘he’ that was chastised and striped instead of me? Who is ‘he’ upon whom the Lord laid all our sins?”
As the eunuch read the scriptures, he was very curious as to who “he” was. “Since Isaiah wrote these scriptures, is he talking about himself, Isaiah? Or is he talking about someone else?” There was no way for his frustration to be relieved in his heart.
Right then, Philip ran to him. The Bible says that Philip ran. It must mean that Philip was running alongside the moving chariot when he asked the eunuch a question: “Understandest thou what thou readest?” Normally, when a high ranking person is reading and someone asks such a question, the man would simply think, “Who does this guy think he is?” and say, “Let’s go faster. Let’s keep him from following us.” But since the eunuch was so frustrated, he answered, “How can I, except some man should guide me?” and asked Philip to board the chariot. As soon as Philip boarded the chariot, the eunuch asked what he had long been curious about. “I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? Of himself, or of some other man?”
It was so convenient for Philip to preach. His heart was already prepared, was it not?
“He whom the scriptures speak of is Jesus. Have you not heard recently of how Jesus of Nazareth was crucified in Jerusalem?”
“Ah, him! I heard about how he had no sins yet was crucified.”
“He is the one Isaiah had prophesied of hundreds of years ago. He is our Lord.”
The eunuch so easily received salvation. While going on their way, he saw water and asked Philip, “Since there is some water here, may I be baptized?”
“If you believe, then you may.”
“I believe that Jesus is the son of God and that He is the Lord who died for our sins.”
The two men got off the chariot and Philip baptized the eunuch.
Brick for Stone
It is so easy to witness like Philip. I pray from time to time. At times, in my prayer, the Lord leads me amidst the prayer. It is difficult when I try to do it, but when the Lord does it, the prayer is so easy and peaceful. When I prepare a sermon it is so difficult, tiring, and I do not know what to do. But it is so easy and peaceful when the Lord prepares it. Even in washing sins away, it is impossible for me to wash sins away, but it is easy and peaceful if the Lord does it.
God knows that we are filthy, dirty, and evil human beings and does not leave the responsibility to us. He wants to completely take over all of our problems and solve them. When did we ever ask God to send Christ for our sins? When did we ask for Jesus to be crucified? We did none of them. God, Himself, prepared and accomplished everything for us.
Faith is trusting that God. But people continue to establish and pursue plans that have come not from God, but from their own thoughts. Bricks for stones. In 1 Peter chapter 2, it says that Jesus had become the chief cornerstone and that we should come to Jesus, the living stone, and build a spiritual house like the living stone. The temple of God is built with living stones while Satan builds with bricks. What are bricks? They are made of pressed dirt with certain measurements. Dirt represents man. It is establishing something through the effort, labor, and method of man.
Many people claim to believe in God, but they themselves stand in God’s position and they try to make themselves clean; they try to make themselves holy; and they try to wash their own sins away. They try to become good, to become faithful, and to live their spiritual lives well. It is because they do not know themselves at all. God knew man from the beginning. In many places in the Bible, God said that there is no good in man. He said that there is no righteousness in man.
There is no petroleum produced in Korea. Thus, Korea spends tremendous amounts of money to buy petroleum. The petroleum needed to fuel all the cars running in Korea, factories, and heaters to keep warm in the cold winter are all imported. If the price of a barrel of petroleum rises one dollar, it is the equivalent to a $100 million cost increase for Korea. Since this was such a huge expense, the Korean government searched every corner of the country for petroleum. Petroleum was not found on land, so they drilled in the sea. They would send off many drilling ships, and drilled at sight one, sight two, sight seven, sight eight, and so on. They invested much money, but petroleum was not found. Ultimately, they arrived at the conclusion that Korea does not produce petroleum. Therefore, Korea no longer spends its money looking for petroleum. It has stopped all of its effort. Now petroleum must be bought regardless of how expensive it is. Korea has no choice because petroleum cannot be found there.
In the same way, there is no good inside us. There is no righteousness inside of us. That is why we must receive the goodness of Jesus in order for us to become good. We must accept the righteousness of Jesus. We must accept God for us to become good.
People foolishly think that if they try to become good and honest, they will become good. That is what building with bricks instead of stones is. People try to educate and give measurements to man, who is a pile of dirt, to make man into something and accomplish something. It seems that something will be achieved then, but the more man is exalted through such means, the more opportunities to receive God become lost. Hence, God crumbles this down.
If God Establishes
In the Bible, there are those whom God establishes and those whom God crumbles down. There are those whom God exalts and those whom God wipes out. David was established by God while Saul was one who was crumbled down by God. Haman was someone God crumbled down in the book of Esther, and Mordecai was someone God established. Esau was someone God crumbled down, and Jacob was someone God established. People whom God crumbles down have nothing work out for them regardless of how hard they try. In the beginning, it seems something can be accomplished, but nothing ever works out. On the other hand, things work out for people whom God establishes no matter what the circumstances are for that person.
Everyone, then whom does God establish? And whom does God crumble down? Genesis chapter 12 talks about Abraham, who was established by God. His life started from God. God told Abraham, “Leave your home, your father’s house, and go to a land I will direct you to.” Abraham’s life began through the plan, will, and heart of God. But most people go forth with their own thoughts regardless of the will of God, and they try, themselves, to be faithful and loyal to God. Living this way is building the Tower of Babel.
Rather than the good from God, the righteousness from God, the holiness of God, the truthfulness of God, all that comes forth from your effort, your labor, and your zeal is the Tower of Babel. God recorded in the Bible that He will crumble all of that down. God crumbles down all things that are of you. God crumbles down that which is not of God, but of man, the Tower of Babel.
Loving folks, are you not building the Tower of Babel right now? “What are you talking about? Me? Build the Tower of Babel?” That is how you may reply, but acting with your own zeal, your own effort, and your own labor becomes the Tower of Babel. That will crumble down. Only the things of God become established. Even in receiving the forgiveness of sin, you must accept that God has forgiven you. Relying on how God has cleansed you is the world of God. But turning away from that and relying on your own effort and zeal is the Tower of Babel.
If you come to know this precisely, you can let go of all that you are trying to do for God and you will look only to God. When your heart becomes one with God, from then on, you are people whom God establishes. If God establishes you, it is not difficult at all for you to stand before God. If God cleanses you and makes you holy, it is not difficult at all for you to become holy and clean. I hope that this grace will be upon you.