Genesis 10:8–12 (NASB95) :
8 Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he became a mighty one on the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.” 10 The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11 From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah, 12 and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.
A few observations here about Nimrod:
1. He was, apparently, good at certain things. Certain extra-Biblical sources put him in charge of the Tower of Babel, and the text itself gives you the idea that he was quite the city organizer.
Not only that, he’s quite the hunter. The name of Nimrod is one of the first names to become “proverbial:” people use him as an example for succeeding generations. His hunting is legendary.
2. As with all legends, Nimrod’s fame exceeds his evidence. Taking Mosaic authorship for granted, Genesis is the closest writing to Nimrod’s time, and it’s at least 1000 years later than Nimrod’s life. Everything else about him comes even later.
So, Nimrod gets credit for a great many things. First of all, as mentioned, he gets credit for at least originating the Tower and City of Babel. Some scholars accredit him as fully building these cities and even structuring the fundamentals of empire in those areas.
One or two sources even give Nimrod credit for helping hunt out and destroy the remaining great beasts that threaten mankind. They go on to tie Nimrod to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Now, I’m a young-earth creationist and think that dinosaurs are a bit of a problem---there’s some reasonable answers, but I’m not super clear on them. However, picturing Nimrod hunting a T-Rex is more than I can pull up.
3. There’s even more read into Nimrod’s motivations. He’s blamed for atheism, polytheism, idolatry, and other bad philosophical/theological stuff. He’s just generally considered bad.
Now, I’m not going to try and rehabilitate Nimrod’s reputation. I have two reputations to be concerned with: the reputation of the Lord Jesus Christ and my own. The goal? Not destroy the former one because the latter is inadequate.
Instead, I want to consider Nimrod’s life and my own. Nimrod left behind a reputation as one who accomplished things, but no record of his faith, commitment, or life as a worshiper. Nothing except cities built and hunting effectiveness.
If he were an American, we’d praise him as a manly-man: strong, perhaps ruthless, prosperous and outdoorsy.We’d ask him to speak at our church men’s events, perhaps. After all, he’s a Bible character!
But what did he really leave behind?
A legacy of ambiguity. Earthly results that haven’t lasted---or is Ninevah’s economy really rocking these days? Oh, it’s not really there anymore, is it?
All of the great legacy we think we may leave on this earth, all of the good that we do, the bad that we do, the things we build, the wild animals we hunt down and kill, guess what?
It amounts to nothing. History remembers even the great ones vaguely and imperfectly. What was most important to Nimrod? Maybe he made cave paintings or developed risotto. Maybe he long-jumped 32 feet. We don’t know, do we?
So, what do we do? Despair? Give up?
No. We focus on what’s in front of us. We do what we know needs to be done right. Be faithful in the little things, attempt the great things, and do it all to please God and not man. Why? Because God will remember. Man won’t. God is eternal and limitless, but man? We’re not. We’ll forget. Our grandchildren’s grandchildren won’t remember our names or what we did. But our children will know now that we spent time stressing about our legacy that we could have spent reading to them.
Learn this lesson from Nimrod: let your legacy be small but unambiguous. Strive to be clear about who you are: a follower of Christ in all things. Even if you’re never a mighty hunter or a founder of great cities and empires…whatever you do,
Don’t be a Nimrod.