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Chapter 12 – Another Attempt at Forbidden Fruit

          The intensity of God’s wrath and the extent of His judgment must have been a frightening spectacle to the fallen angels—even to Satan who does not frighten easily. This smashing blow to his plans was an utterly unforeseen disaster. The world lay in ruins; all of humanity was wiped out with the exception of one family: and great numbers of angels now suffered bondage in chains in the lowest hell. Satan must have been impressed—but not for long. His hatred of God knew no bounds. He would not rest until the challenge was raised again. But his insolence exceeded his restraint.

          He still thought he could win but to do so he had to unite all of humanity under himself. Before the flood he was only intent on making the entire human race unclean through contact with demons, thus preventing the conception of the promised seed. Now he saw that such a fleshly approach was a mistake because man’s will was not involved. But if he could secure the allegiance of the entire human race, not through the attraction of lust, but of their own free will and mental assent, then God would have to deal with it on a different basis than He had at the flood. God could not vindicate Himself by merely squashing those who chose to follow Satan if they did nothing else contrary to natural laws. Satan knew that directing man’s worship and will to himself could be done—but how? He had plenty of time to think.

          Satan saw man was curious. He was also proud. That trait had come across especially well through Adam’s fall. So, rather than appeal to the flesh, Satan would now appeal to the intellect. Man was curious about the future; he was curious about the spiritual realm; and especially curious about hidden knowledge. He wanted to be able to unlock the secrets to controlling his own destiny. As for pride, man’s tendency was toward self-aggrandizement: making a name for himself and grasping for power. Man would worship whoever or whatever could fill those desires, and Satan intended to be that god.

          Satan failed to note three problems with his plan.

1.      The attempt to secure the allegiance of Adam and Eve at Eden had not worked.

2.      Man’s will, when not given to God, is mostly directed at his own self-interest.

3.      God was wiser than he and quite capable of upsetting his plans in some unforeseen manner. (Yet, pride does not bow before one who is greater, nor can it imagine not being able, ultimately, to prevail.)

Satan would teach man hidden knowledge, forbidden knowledge that would give him such power that the very coming of the Deliverer could be frustrated.

Genesis 1:14 tells us the sun, moon, and stars were placed in the visible heavens not only for a distinction between the daytime and nighttime skies, but also to serve for signs, for seasons, for days and years. Verse 1:16 says the sun was made to give light during the day and the moon at night. Psalm 104:19 also informs us, “He made the moon to show the seasons.” The stars, then , in addition to being part of the lighting of the night sky, were so arranged as to serve as signs. Now a sign is an indicator, a prediction, an instruction, a signal, an omen, a foretelling, a forewarning, a portent, etc. Jesus said in Lk 21:25 that at the time of the end, “There shall be signs in the sun, moon, and stars.” But what signs did God place in the stars at the beginning?

          There are others who have written extensively on that subject so I will not go into detail. We will say only that God wrote in the stars the story of creation; the story of man’s fall and redemption; all future world events; and much, much more that we cannot now imagine. Part of this was instruction to the ancient peoples before God’s word was given to humanity in written form. There was much written in the stars but only a small portion of the meaning of the constellations was revealed to man. The rest was hidden, secret knowledge for which the key was not provided nor, at that time, intended to be.*

          At Babel, Satan planned to reveal to man the key to understanding the mystery written in the stars. If he had been able to do so, men could have so bonded together as to achieve anything they chose. They would have discovered the workings of the atom even to the point of nuclear energy; uncovered the secret of how to use the movement of electrons (electricity); solved the mysteries of genetics; provided transportation for themselves, even to the moon and planets; realized the fabrication of powerful weapons. In short, the scientific age would have dawned thousands of years ago at Babel instead of a few hundred years ago in Europe and America.

          Satan also played upon man’s desire to free himself from God. The knowledge of the severe judgment of the flood was fresh in the mind of every person and, indeed, still remains in the lore of almost every culture in the world today, primitive or otherwise. Man wanted to free himself—to break away from God’s restrictions which forbid unlimited license to sin—but the fear of punishment lay like a blanket over his every decision. Psalm 2 sets this forth clearly, “The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and His Messiah saying, ‘Let us break their bonds asunder and cast their cords from us.’”

          Of course, Satan’s ultimate purpose was not to give mankind scientific toys but to frustrate the purposes of God. Man himself was ready to throw off God’s restraints, if he could; and when man attained power through the acquisition of hidden knowledge he would do everything possible himself to obstruct the coming of the promised seed (the Messiah) so as not to have to be in subjection to Him. Satan was willing to let man center much of his effort on himself in return for his assistance.

          Let us note some pertinent facts in the account of Babel in Gen 11:1-9

1 Now the whole earth had only one language and few words. 2 And as men were migrating in the east they found a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there 3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” So they used brick for stone and tar for mortar 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower, and its top with the heavens; and let us make for ourselves a name, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of Adam had built. 6 And the Lord said “See, they are one people and they all have one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And now nothing they propose [plot] to do will be impossible for them 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language that they many not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel because it was there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth, and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.

          The chief clue to the main issue at Babel lies in verse 4: a verse that has had some difficulty in translation. Most versions add some variant of the words may reach, which makes the verse say, “Let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven.” But may reach does not exist in the original, nor does whose. The verse says, “Let us build ourselves a city, and a tower, and its top in [or among, or with] the heavens.”

          Whatever else, they were not trying to climb into heaven as I was taught in childhood. They were not so primitive or naïve as to think they could walk up into heaven by means of a tower. The local mountains were doubtlessly higher than anything they could build so if they were attempting to ascend into heaven, why not just climb a mountain? No, they were after something else and the key is still in verse 4. Hebrew frequently leaves out words as understood that we would be sure to include in English. Many languages do this, often making it difficult for us, even after learning the language, to understand what is being said because of our inability to intuitively supply missing words that to a native speaker are clear. What is given in Hebrew is “And its top with the heavens.” Not whose top, or with its top, but, and its top: indicating there is something distinct about the top apart from the rest of the tower.

          We must, then, discover the purpose of the tower. As already said, it was not a kind of ladder into heaven, nor was it merely a monument to the glory of man. They were not building the tower as a rallying point to remember and return to after scattering throughout the earth. No, they were attempting to use the tower as a means of keeping together and not scattering all over the earth. Only by keeping together and cooperating could they achieve their purposes: evil purposes proposed to them by Satan of gaining mastery over all of nature and over God Himself (if such were possible). This could be accomplished only by receiving the key to the hidden knowledge in the stars. Therefore the tower was to be used as a stellar observatory and as a place of worship. As they worshipped and delivered their wills to Satan he would, in turn, imbue them with the secrets of heaven. That such secrets do exist is made clear in verses such as Mt 13:25, 1 Cor 2:7, Col 1:26, Rom 16:25 and others.

          With this knowledge, the ancients of Babel could gain mastery over the world and frustrate the purposes of God, even to the thwarting of the coming of the Prince who was to crush the head of the serpent. WE might note that the name Babel, though meaning confusion in Hebrew, is a play on the original name of the place: Babel (Babylon) meaning Gate of God; because there, with the contrivance of Satan, mankind attempted to enter the very gates of heaven and seize forbidden knowledge.

          Now to finish with the part of verse 4 which says, “…and its top with the heavens [not heaven].” We have some basis for assuming the verse should read, “Let us build for ourselves a city; and a tower; and its top with the knowledge of the heavens [or, written with the knowledge of the heavens].” The tower, in addition to being a place of worship and an observatory, was to serve as a repository of the secret knowledge gained: the record of the meaning of the placement of the stars being inscribed at the top of the tower. By this they would make a name for themselves and leave a permanent record of their newly gained knowledge for future generations.

          It might also be significant to note here that Babylon is recognized as the source of all false and idolatrous religion. It was there Satan taught man to worship not only himself, but also the “host of heaven”: the fallen angels. The higher form of this is the direct worship of fallen angels (demons). The lower form is the worship of idols. But the worship of idols is the same thing since Paul, in 1Cor 10:20 equates the two: “I imply that what pagans sacrifice [to idols] they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons.” Note the prohibition against worshipping the host of heaven in Deut. 4:19.

          God observed what was happening at Babel. That man intended to frustrate the will of God took cooperation. The key to that cooperation was the fact of there being only one language: everyone understood everyone else and there was a high degree of power in that. God remarked that if mankind had now begun to acquire this knowledge and cooperate in its use there would be absolutely nothing they could plan that they could not carry out. There would come another day, in the fullness of time, when God would permit this so that the mystery of iniquity could manifest itself and, at last, be destroyed. “You know what is restraining him now so that he might be revealed at the proper time. For the mystery of lawlessness already operates [in the world]; only just now there is one restraining, until it comes [arises] out of the midst” (literal rendering of 2 Thes 2:6-7)

          Just as at Eden and the flood, we must understand the real issue at Babel. The way Babel is usually presented makes little sense. It makes God out to be capricious (which He is not) and that we must stay out of His way lest something insignificant we do set Him off. In actual fact, everything God does is done out of urgency. Yet the Babel story is presented in thousands of Sunday schools as God getting mad over people building a tower out of motives of pride. No wonder the world can think of God only in terms of hellfire and thunder.

          There are some who teach that at Babel God had commanded mankind to scatter and they refused, choosing rather to gather in the plain of Shinar and build a city and tower. God, therefore, scattered them. But if that were so why was it necessary to confuse their language? Why the statement that if this is what they had begun to do nothing they thought up would be impossible for them? There is something far deeper here.

          So mankind did scatter; and they took their new languages with them. Because of the confusion of language, further cooperation was impossible. Part of the point in scattering humanity over the whole earth was to prevent Satan from gathering them together again under himself as he had done before the flood. But the scattering also meant that man, in his isolated, far-flung cultures, would lose the knowledge of God, retaining only stories, memories, and myths. For now, there was nothing that could be done about it. Man had attempted once again to taste forbidden fruit and the result was, again, banishment. Before the end, God would have to gather them together anew.

          We must bear in mind that many advanced, ancient cultures attempted to understand the heavens as a key to knowledge: Egyptians, Babylonians, Chinese; and, on this continent, the Mayans who built high pyramids from the tops of which they worshiped, offered human sacrifice, and observed the stars. Why this preoccupation with the heavens if there had not been left to them a fragment of lore that in past times their ancestors came close to taping into a source of powerful, secret knowledge hidden in the stars? The resultant art of astrology is a degeneration of what was afoot at
Babel an a continuing, desperate attempt to discover and regain that hidden knowledge.

          Astrology is, of course, a defunct science. God saw to that; and He has now absolutely forbidden us to even dabble in it under pain of damnation. Whatever pattern there once was has been altered. In former times the year was regular: 360 days. Even after the flood the year still consisted of 360 days. But after
Babel the earth was slowed and now a year is a very odd sum: 365 day, 5 hours, 48 minutes, 45.51 seconds—hardly regular. Gen1:14 says the sun, moon, and stars were to serve for seasons, days, and years; but 365.2421934 does not serve well for counting days and years as 360 did.

          Those who engage in astrology today engage in foolishness. Whatever knowledge was once written in the stars is now unavailable by any means. Earth’s clock is no longer synchronized. Those who do pursue hidden knowledge through astrology are now in danger of contact with demons who are all too anxious to impart false information and, thereby, enslave. And there are many in bondage.


*For a full treatment of this subject see Bullinger’s work, “The Witness of the Stars”. Published by Kregel Publications. For further information on the Nephilim, Babel, etc, consult Ben Adam’s opus “the origin of Heathendom,” published by Bethany Fellowship, Inc. Minneapolis.

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