After the Great Flood, the survivors and their offspring began to repopulate the earth. Since they all spoke the same language, they gathered themselves together in the land of Shinar and united around a common purpose which was to build a great city with a tower whose top would reach into heaven.1 As the story continues in Genesis chapter 11, verses 6-8, God was displeased with what was going on so he decided to “confuse” their language and scatter them across the entire earth. It’s always been interesting to me as to why God was so displeased with a building project. I’ve heard it explained many times that God stopped construction on the tower because it was intended to be used for astrology.
While the astrology explanation has some merit, it is unlikely that it was the primary reason since the occult continued to flourish, as it has to this very day. I believe the real reason can be extrapolated from what we are told in verse 6 of the same chapter in Genesis, that they were one people; and so, unless God confused their language and scattered them abroad, there would be nothing that would be impossible for them to do2 including the building of a tower which could reach into heaven!3 Therefore, I submit that the real reason was twofold, the first was to establish the nations and the second was to impede the advancement of knowledge which was reserved for the latter days.4
There are some who would argue that the word “heaven,” translated from the Hebrew word shamayim (Hebrew NASB Number: 8064), could also be translated as “sky.” In fact, shamayim is translated as “sky” fifty times, but is also translated as “heaven” one hundred and ninety-one times and “heavens” one hundred and fifty-one times. Besides, wouldn’t it be redundant to say a tower that could reach into the sky? As far as I’m aware, except for the foundations, towers are generally built to reach great heights.
So, on the plain of Shinar, Nimrod built a city called Babel along with a tower that goes by the same name. But that was then…now man is attempting the same feat again; but this time, instead of Nimrod building a tower anchored to the earth, NASA’s building a heavy-lift rocket that can be launched from the earth. Could it be that Genesis chapter 11, verse 4 was intended to have a prophetic meaning for our time as well?
On May 25, 1961, President Kennedy delivered a speech before Congress in which he implored the nation to take the lead in space exploration. This is the same speech in which he spoke the now famous words, “First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”5 President Kennedy did what all good leaders do, he inspired those around him by giving them a vision. And as we all know, that vision was to land a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. Because President Kennedy made his vision a national priority, NASA was able to make it a reality when on July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong set foot on the surface of the moon. One man, one vision—a vision that mobilized an entire nation.
Now let’s fast forward to 2014, where we see that the political landscape has changed dramatically. Unlike President Kennedy who lobbied Congress for more money and resources for NASA and the space program, President Obama seems determined to undermine the nation’s space exploration program by cutting NASA’s budget.6 Nonetheless, despite budget cuts and lukewarm commitments from politicians in Washington, NASA is moving forward with plans for manned missions to Mars. However, given the lackluster support for the space program here at home, NASA has adopted a radically difference approach for making it happen and that is to partner with commercial interests and foreign governments. According to The Global Exploration Roadmap, twelve countries will be part of the space exploration community.7 Included in the twelve are the U.S. (represented by NASA), Russia and the Ukraine—rather strange bedfellows given the current situation in Eastern Ukraine at the moment. And, if you take the language used in another NASA publication seriously, the intent of the Mars missions will be not only to explore the planet but to eventually colonize it as well.8 It’s no surprise that TV shows like Star Trek are so popular.
In conclusion, I’ve presented for your consideration, my proposition that future manned missions to Mars and the building of the Tower of Babel are in some ways analogous. Is it possible for man to someday live and work on Mars and to progress from being “Earth-dependent” to becoming “Earth-Independent?”9 I believe the answer is a resounding “Yes.” Will it happen? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Greek-Hebrew dictionary references are from The New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2014 Gerard Sczepura
Gen. 11:4 NASB ↩
Gen. 11:6 ↩
Gen. 11:4 ↩
Dan. 12:4 ↩
“President Kennedy Speech – Man on the moon,” Presentation Magazine, accessed June 15, 2014, http://www.presentationmagazine.com/president-kennedy-speech-man-on-the-moon-7508.htm ↩
“The Obama Legacy in Planetary Exploration (Op-Ed),” Mark V. Sykes, Space.com, January 04, 2014, http://www.space.com/24157-obama-legacy-in-planetary-exploration.html ↩
“The Global Exploration Roadmap.” PDF file. International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG) http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/files/GER-2013_Small.pdf ↩
“Pioneering Space: NASA’s Next Steps on the Path to Mars.” PDF file. NASA (2014). Accessed May 31, 2014. http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/files/Pioneering-space-final-052914b.pdf ↩