28th July 2017

Staircase to Heaven 

“Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves;
Genesis 11: 4 (NIVUK)

The Tower of Babel sounds a very fanciful idea. Did it really happen? Is it just part of myth and folklore?

If we were to study the archaeology of the ancient Near East, we’d see that the Tower of Babel fits well into the historical context of the time. Ancient Mesopotamian cities would often have a “ziggurat”, a central, multi-tiered tower which spiralled upwards, getting narrower as it reached towards the heavens where the gods lived. There would typically be a shrine at the tower’s summit, where priests would lead worship and offer sacrifices. A famous example is the ziggurat of Etemenanki, which was dedicated to the god, Marduk. The idea was to build a staircase to heaven, to get closer to the abode of the gods. Later, in the biblical accounts, we read of Jacob, who dreamt of a ladder on which angels descended from, and ascended to, Heaven (Genesis 28:12).

In the story of Babel the desire is to go up to God and thus the people would “make a name” for themselves, but what they did not expect is that God would come down! “Come,” said God, “let us go down and confuse their language” (Genesis11:7). An undercurrent of biblical truth is that God comes to us, and this is realized first and foremost in Jesus Christ.

Of course, the only link between heaven and earth is Jesus Christ. Matthew records the words of Jesus: “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.” (John 1:51).

It is Jesus who is the way to Heaven. 

Eternal Father, thank you that you sent Jesus to us and that he provided a way for us to be with you forever. In Jesus’ name.

Study by James Henderson


About the Author:
James Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland.

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You are welcome to attend any of our local congregations in the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.church under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

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