Every generation builds its own towers.
Some towers are made of brick and steel. Others are structures and idols in people’s minds. All are dangerous when they ignore God’s commands and try to usurp His authority as the Sovereign ruler of the universe.
The collapse of the tower of Babel (aka, the tower of Babylon) warns us of excessive pride and disobedience to God’s clear commands. The sinfulness that caused the collapse of the tower points to our need for a Savior to forgive us of our sin. And the confusion of the languages as a result of the tower not only explains with clarity why there are so many different languages on earth today, but also points to a day when there will be clear communication around the throne of God when for all eternity people from every tribe, tongue and nation worship their Savior.
Here’s the story, as it happened many years ago:
1 At one time the whole earth had the same language and vocabulary. 2 As people migrated from the east, they found a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 They said to each other, “Come, let us make oven-fired bricks.” They used brick for stone and asphalt for mortar. 4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky. Let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise, we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
5 Then the LORD came down to look over the city and the tower that the men were building. 6 The LORD said, “If they have begun to do this as one people all having the same language, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let Us go down there and confuse their language so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So from there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 Therefore its name is called Babylon, for there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth, and from there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
God’s command was clear, but the people ignored it. God had told Adam and Eve, and He had told Noah and his family after the flood, that they were to spread out across the earth, inhabiting the entire earth. From the entire earth, then, there would be peoples who knew God, were enjoying Him and His creation, and were worshiping Him. But the people chose to disobey. The settled in the valley. And this led to the next poor decision.
The building of the tower demonstrated the pride of mankind. The people wanted to make a name for themselves (v4). If they had been focused on God, they would have realized that because of His greatness and goodness to them, they should want to make His name famous. But instead, they looked to themselves and wanted themselves to become famous. Their pride led to destructive consequences.
The consequences were severe. The Lord knew that it was not good for mankind to do what they were seeking to accomplish. In their sinful state, man’s prideful pursuits would lead to much pain and destruction. God took action. He confused their languages, making it impossible for them to communicate. Their confusion led to collapse. The walls came tumbling down. While the falling of the tower was tragic, it was much less tragic than things could have been had the Lord let the people continue in their prideful pursuits. God’s judgment demonstrated His wisdom and mercy.
The fall of the tower points to the need for a Savior. People’s sinful hearts need to be forgiven. Jesus does that. God’s command to fill the earth with people from all nations who know Him and worship Him will be fulfilled. When God’s people surrender to His will, many are sent all over the world with the message of salvation. God gives us skills, intellect and creativity. He wants us to use those gifts to serve others and make Him famous, not to make us famous. When we give Him the glory for our lives, we are displaying the attitude that is good for us and rightly points people to His goodness, His greatness, and His grace.