The Mercy of Failure
by Pr. Dave Mann
It is a great gift when a fellow worker in the kingdom shares with you a treasure in the Word of God that was hidden in plain sight. So, it was when I read an article by Jon Bloom. He, no doubt, was inspired by another. So, I continue the chain by handing on to you some key thoughts from Genesis 11.
The Mesopotamians had one aim: to make a name for themselves. God was not present in their plans, only their own greatness. Sound familiar? The Word of God is a mirror, with a revealing reflection of ourselves. Like an ancient people, we too can have an exaggerated desire for our own glory.
But here is how God, in his mercy responded to the Babel-onians pride. Genesis 11:5 -“But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.” It is curious that God is described as coming down to view what people had built. Ironic isn’t it, that what people think is a huge achievement, the Lord must stoop to see? “It’s the anthill achievements built in the sidewalk cracks of his creation.”
And so, the Lord has a Trinitarian conversation: “The LORD said, 'If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.' So, the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.” (Genesis 11:6-8)
Make no mistake. God was not threatened in his supremacy by collective human ingenuity. Rather, God knew what the city builders did not know – that prideful sin would wreak devastation if human pride were allowed to progress unimpeded.
We know the history of what human inventions can bring – pain and destruction. There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death (Proverbs 14:12). It is simply the mercy of God that keeps us from reaching the totality of our human plans, whether those plans are developed in antiquity or in the modern era.
“We often do not know what we are really building when we embark on our achievements. We often aren’t aware of how deep, pervasive, and motivating our pride is. We often are blind to how much we cherish the glory of our name. But God knows. And in mercy, he confounds us, impedes us, and humbles us. And it is all mercy.”
Merciful Father, thank you that your hand has held us back from achieving all of our goals. Let your grace select our advancements and our failures, keeping us in a humble relationship with your gracious will – in Jesus’ name, Amen.