Frank Sinatra was not the first to sing “I did it my way”. It was the song of Satan in the great original rebellion, when, as is repeated numerous times in the account in Isaiah 14, he declared “I will...” For Satan it was all about “my will” rather than God’s will. He said “I will ascend...”(v.13), but God said to him, “You are brought down” (v.15). So in the moment that he rebelled, Satan committed himself to being a loser for all eternity. Interestingly Jesus took the opposite direction. He decided to descend, to submit; and as a result he has been exalted forever (Philippians 2).
But the tragedy is that man got dragged into the rebellion. We too bought into Satan’s temptation that we might rise above our human state and become as gods, pursuing self-determination in matters of good and evil. And ever since, man has been trying to make a name for himself – trying to build a rival city in which he can be on the throne.The city represents a culture, a civilization, a way of life. Will men live their life together in community under God’s rule, or will they try to establish their own kingdom? This has been the story since the tower of Babel (in Genesis) and will continue to be so until the final downfall of the final expression of Babylon (as portrayed in Revelation).
From the beginning at Babel, as high as man ever managed to build, God always had to descend, even to look at it! His throne was not threatened in the least. Even where such rival thrones were set up, his government over them was ultimate, so from the beginning, confusion and scattering have been the result of every attempt to build a rebellious culture. It may take time to happen, and tragically there is much suffering along the way.
Meanwhile, there are those who are on a treasure hunt, searching for the Kingdom of God. Or to use another biblical metaphor, those who are “looking forward to a [different] city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). It’s “coming down from heaven” (Rev 21:2)!