A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

January 1, 2014

Do You See What I See?


     Yesterday, I had the TV on in the background as I perused the various news sites on the web, and just happened to glance up as the newscaster announced that the first New Year's celebration was now taking place.  Apparently it was midnight in Dubai, and fireworks began exploding in this city which has become known as the business and cultural hub of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf region.
     In keeping with its reputation for wealth, self-indulgence and opulence, Dubai sought to set a new Guinness World Record for the most lavish fireworks display.  The display was set to cover a distance of over 61 miles wide and more than a mile-and-a-half high, using over 500,000 fireworks.  Lasting around six minutes, it was certainly impressive, and I found myself mesmerized by the extravagant exhibition.
     I tried to remember what I knew about the central element of the spectacle; the Burj Dubai, the Khalifa Tower.  I knew it was the tallest man-made structure in the world, reaching 2,722 feet into the air.  After some research, I found it interesting to note that the building has returned the location of Earth's tallest freestanding structure to the Middle East, where the Great Pyramid of Giza had claimed this achievement for almost 4,000 years before being surpassed in 1311 by Lincoln Cathedral in England.
     Somehow, man has always equated "building tall" with wealth and power, and been consumed with building structures where no man has been before.  The reason for the construction of Khalifa Tower is no different.  Sheikh Mohammed, the Prime Minister of the Arab Emirates and constitutional monarch of Dubai wanted to put the city of Dubai on the map with "something really sensational".  He succeeded.  At first the Emirate created a chain of islands in the shape of a palm tree, known as The World.. They were even planning on creating the universe in the water.  Dubai seemed to defy the limitations that God placed upon the Middle East, building a ski slope where the weather often goes over 100 degrees, not to mention building the tallest building in the world. The hotels, the restaurants, the fountains and the parks are beyond remarkable, and speak to the wealth and western influences of its burgeoning tourist economy.
     But it didn't take long for my mind to recognize that there was something oddly familiar about the scene I was watching; something about the ostentatious display of mega-fireworks felt ominous and a little alarming.  And then I knew.  It reminded me of the old images I had seen of the Tower of Babel.
     Just like the ancient citizens of Babylon, who wanted to build a tower to the heavens in an attempt to reach God and showcase their own power, the inhabitants of Dubai seem to think their achievements are limitless.  Pride and arrogance have blinded them to the iniquities that come with their vulgarity.  As Brooke Lauren, an independent web reporter noted, "Underneath the country's glitzy fa├žade, there was a dark underside. Prostitution, human trafficking, smuggling, and money laundering went on behind the scenes. The workers that were brought in from other countries to build the impressive skyscrapers and islands were underpaid, faced dangerous working conditions, and were sometimes forced to work involuntarily. Dubai was still a Middle Eastern country, complete with prison terms for rape victims and debtors."
     In the last few years, the shine has diminished from Dubai's lustrous inception.  Real estate prices have plummeted, luxury cars and homes are being sold at fire sale prices, and there is a new law on the books that would punish anybody who hurt the country's reputation or economy with a fine of a million dirham (equivalent to more than a quarter of a million dollars).  Must have something to do with the rumors that the famous "World" islands are sinking, and cockroaches are streaming out of the hotel faucets.
      So just like the Tower of Babel, the shakers and do-ers in Dubai seemed to think that they could accomplish anything they imagined; that nothing was off limits.  Perhaps they even thought they were bigger than God.  Funny how that works, huh?

Genesis 11:4   "And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves...."

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