An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me…And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon. –Exodus:20:24-26
Let us build us a city and a tower [of Babel], whose top may reach unto heaven. –Genesis:11:4
No two tenets of faith could be more opposed to one another than those presented above.
Nothing could be clearer than God’s rejection of any human effort to buy salvation or His favor. If man is to be accepted by God, it must be solely by God’s grace and provision, not by any human work. Man’s self-effort and self-righteousness are utterly rejected by God.
Yet in defiance we see man’s flagrant repudiation of God’s prohibition against self-effort and his arrogant attempt to build a tower that would enable him to climb by steps of his own making into heaven itself. At Babel we meet the first attempt to build a tower that would enable him to climb by steps of his own making into heaven itself. At Babel we meet the first attempt at a world government united with a world religion. Church and state were one: “Go to, let us build us a city [government] and a tower [religion] whose top may reach unto heaven” (Genesis:11:4). It was a rebellion in the highest form, and will be realized again under Antichrist.
God’s instructions for worshiping Him were explicit. If the ground was too rocky to gather up a mound of earth for an altar, stones could be heaped together—but they could not be cut, fashioned, or polished with a tool. Nor could the altar be elevated. Not one step must be climbed to reach it. There must be no illusion that man could contribute anything by his own efforts to his salvation.