I’ve been blessed by some great emails in the past few days. They have provoked me to share something.
God created all that is. The Bible is parabolic about the mechanism, but we are given the image of someone who breathed His own life-force into it. He spoke it into being, and speaking requires breath. It is all a direct manifestation of His will, so it’s only natural that the whole thing reflects His divine moral character. In many ways, it is a revelation of who He is.
Thus, everything in Creation acts according to His character. It is not inert; you can’t bring to bear on Creation something you dreamed up outside of divine revelation, and expect it to work. The only hope you have of participating in the blessings of Creation is to interact with it according to God’s divine moral character. Again, it’s alive and not static, and it is all a manifestation of His character. It resists what He doesn’t like, and embraces what He does like.
We were designed by the same process as the rests of Creation. However, we have a purpose within Creation that allows us to fellowship with Him. Doing so demands that we first embrace His character; we must be like Him, as He intended. You cannot fellowship with Him from outside of that. So we are wired to know His will and to embrace it. But at some point we chose our own path.
The Fall is a narrative of things that took place outside this realm of existence. It’s not possible to relate the events literally, so symbolism is assumed from the start. We are in this realm because we rejected His revelation, and that means an inherent blindness about reality, AKA Creation. We are wired to embrace His truth, but we are free to reject it. And we do reject it instinctively, and that’s why we live in a place that is most certainly not Eden. This is not where God wanted us to live. We can’t have the joys of Eden without leaving this world.
So we are outside of Eden and God took the time to reveal how we are to live here. If we can embrace what He says about this world, then we are in a position to reenter the world for which He made us. The path back to Eden is embracing His revelation. We are designed to long for Eden, for fellowship with Him face to face.
As a manifestation of that, we long for fellowship with His Creation, all the other life that He created from the same stuff as we are made. That includes other people. However, that communion is not possible outside of His character. Over the centuries since leaving Eden, we have dreamed up a lot of ways to get what we long for, but can never have, because we keep trying to get it outside of the path back to Eden.
The path back to Eden means that we sacrifice all that we imagine we can have in a false communion. Eden means pushing aside the obvious benefits of coming together to build great things without God. That’s where the Tower of Babel story comes in: We cannot congregate and centralize on human terms. God makes it impossible, though it may appear a good idea for a time. It’s a work of grace on His part to make human peace impossible without first making Him the center of things. Otherwise, we could never leave this world and get onto the path back to Eden.
God’s view is eternal; our view without Him is limited to human memory. We have to embrace His view or we cannot really see anything that matters. We’ll end up chasing things that won’t get us any closer to Eden. We’ll build more Towers of Babel, things that only appear to draw us together, only appear to give us great things for this life. And then, when God is ready, it all comes apart in conflict. It cannot work.
How did the US build its Tower of Babel? We can sit all day describing how Anglo-American culture works, and how it seeks worldly things. And it got them, but those things never satisfy. And as long as all the other cultures we have abused to get those things are corrupted to long for those things themselves, they can never escape the trap of chasing the next Tower of Babel. All they can do is tear down the crumbling Anglo-American Tower of Babel, perhaps on the way to another. Humans cannot centralize righteously outside of God’s character.
So the proper symbol for life in this fallen realm is to live in tents, dispersed over a broad landscape in tiny little tribal households. If we are so blessed as to embrace revelation, we will think in terms of covenants to hold those households together. Nothing else can bring cohesion, and even then, it works only on a small scale. We can dream of the City of God in Heaven, but that’s not here in this life. There will never be a City of God on the earth until this fallen existence is redeemed. That is, when Christ returns to restore all things, then we will see that the Garden of Eden is not a wild place, but a cultivated park attached to the mighty castle of God.
That castle is also His Temple, built of living stones — you and I after redemption.
We should never expect peace and harmony that brings us all together in one place in this world. We are utterly incapable. The best we can hope for is a peaceful coexistence in separate communities with our different cultures and languages. We have to do things God’s way. The only way to avoid conflict is to stop trying to build a Tower of Babel. That requires a living hope from the Holy Spirit.