Cities – the epitome of man

“And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” Genesis 11:2-4

I’ve always enjoyed watching time-lapse videos. What never ceases to amaze me is how much occurs unobserved over time. In my spare time, I’ve tried creating a few short segments of my own. But, as with any time-lapse work, the emphasis in such work is on the word timelots of time. A typical two- or three-minute video could contain as much as ten or more hours’ worth of image captures [not including the many hours of editing work to be done afterward)! That is, only if it is done right the first time; some videos could be the result of several reshoots of the same scene. As a result, someone could end up spending twenty to thirty hours editing the same two- or three- minute video!

Returning to my original thought: As an avid nature lover, I particularly enjoy watching time-lapse scenes of clouds and storms, rural countryside vistas, birds, animals, waterfalls and mountain streams, as well as sunsets and sunrises. But, at the same time, I’ll also gladly watch time-lapse videos of urban or suburban areas and other non-nature material.

Recently, while I was watching time-lapse videos of Dubai (UAE) and Doha (Qatar), as well as New York City, Detroit, and Toronto, God began to point out to me how cities are the epitome of man’s work. Man can’t actually create something out of nothing himself; he can only build or work with what has already been created.

From the tower of Babel in the Old Testament, to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (tallest building in the world as of this writing), man has been continually attempting to meet God by his own efforts.

He will never succeed in doing this, because God is a spirit, and man, in spite of all of his impressive structures, is only fleshly or physical.

City panorama in daytime

I began to compare videos of God’s creation with those of man’s efforts. Then it was easy to compare the tranquility and congruity of God’s efforts as opposed to the dissonance and disparity of man’s. A storm commands much fear and respect and awe in its magnitude; yet the urban landscape inspires much defiance, resistance, and anxiety. Man expends so much effort perfecting something that will not last. There is much boasting and pride, yet, when all is boiled down and refined, nothing of real eternal consequence remains. There is never total satisfaction or peace; man continually has to build and build, always attempting to grow greater, larger, or taller.

“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 16:25).

Man, in his sinful ways, has always had his focus on self.
“Look at what I did.”
“Look at me.“
“Isn’t what I did wonderful?”
I’m going to reach Heaven myself.”
I need nobody; I’m self-sufficient.”
I don’t need God; I’m perfectly capable of managing myself!”
Yet God is impressed with none of that. He views our attempts as nothing more than dirty rags!

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6).

As long as man tries to reach God his own way, as long as man continues with sin in his life, he will never obtain peace with God. He cannot, because God is holy and can never, ever, coexist with sin. If God permitted just one microscopic fraction of a piece of the smallest known item in the universe (there are really no words ever known to anyone to describe this tiny amount) of sin in His presence, then He could no longer be God. That’s how awful sin is to God!

city at night

Of course, man, in his defiance, pride, and self-deception, will continue to build bigger, better, and taller structures and metropolises. Meanwhile, God, in His grace, mercy, and long-suffering, will permit man to do so, until man finally reaches the breaking point of either capitulation or death (prayerfully not the latter). God is not like an evil tyrant, nor a perpetually angry parent. He is not One to set everything in the cosmos in motion and then never interact with it again. He is a loving Father who desires to see everyone with Him in His heavenly home, not being wayward and headed for destruction.

He loves us so much that He sent His only Son to pay the price and make the sacrifice that we could never, ever pay, for all of our sins committed against Him (see the book of John chapter 3 verses 16 and 17).

And the best part is that, due to His love and grace, all we have to do is believe in faith that His Son Jesus died on the Cross for us, and that we therefore have died (spiritually) through Him. As a new creation in Him, we will also be resurrected from the grave like He was. Now we need to let Him, instead of our own sinful self, reign on the throne of our hearts.

Do you want to continue in defiance of God with this hopeless world, and go with it into death and Hell eternally? Or do you want to experience peace with God and life eternally?

–James Pangburn

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