And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.(Genesis 11:1-9)
It sounded good in theory. All men on earth working together on the same project, towards the same end. A tower and a city to represent a complete world unity. There were no separate nations, or cultures, no language barriers, no competing factions.There was no such thing as ‘diversity’, in fact the unity was amazing and has never been seen since!
All men working together to make the world a better place, or perhaps to make it a safer place for man. Humanity as a productive collective, highly organized and set to one great task, under capable leadership! The whole world was ‘One’!
But God didn’t see it that way.
The Lord Came down to see the city and the tower…That is the LORD condescended to evaluate this work of man, for judgment. He who already knows all things, nonetheless “came down” to see this spectacle from the perspective of a man, shadows of the incarnation and vicarious substitution of out Lord.
It wasn’t good at all that all men spoke the same language, and were engaged in a universal world improvement project, with no differences, cultural or otherwise to present any barriers to them. Man is fallen, therefore the complete pooling of man’s intellect and his strength and willingness to undertake a global project under a one world governance can only lead men further away from God.
Now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do…
Without the above mentioned barriers, there is no stopping man in his elaborate defection from God.When “hand joins in hand” among the fallen ones, unity is their undoing, for they drag each other down to hell. If man could find a way to totally co-operate with all other men, then God would be ‘dead’ to Him, for we would imagine that we no longer need Him.
Let us go down and confound their language…
The only Unity that remains ever indivisible is the unity of the Godhead which is blessed forever. Thus Father,Son and Holy Spirit come down to divide the dangerous unity of fallen man. The single most divisive factor is language. The Lord divided the nations by confounding the languages.
The judgment was an act of mercy, because total human unity is toxic when it is not based upon the only true center, the worship of “he only true God and Jesus whom he has sent”. God will not allow man to so empower himself that he utterly destroys all mankind. No longer would man be allowed to be “as one”.
Paul would tell us centuries later that God divided the nations and even appointed their times and boundaries, that “they might seek Him’.
Obviously it hasn’t always worked out that the majority of nations did seek God, for free will is involved also. But the division of nations was a benevolent judgment, a safeguard against the humanly irresistible power of a globally united humanity with the capability to construct one unique “truth”, equally acceptable and understood by all, with which to counter the Word of God.
So the building project came to an abrupt end, and the workers gathered into their own language groups and dispersed abroad to fill the earth. However, the dream of “making a name for ourselves” has never died out. One of the undercurrents of all subsequent human history has been the attempt to get back to a worldwide unity, to overcome the “Babel Effect” and to complete the humanistic city and the tower.
The earth is littered with pyramids, ziggurats and astrological tower platforms, as a testimony to the universal truth of the story in Genesis 11. From Peru, to Mexico, to Egypt and Babylon, in China,Cambodia, indeed everywhere people have gathered, these artificial mountains have been built. The universality of the zodiac also testifies to the worldwide apostasy spoken of in Genesis.
The symbol of the unfinished tower is the inspiration for the European Union parliamentary building. The United Nations is also an attempt to bring about a world unity.We are approaching the time when through technology, men will arrive at their closest attempt to overcome “the Babel effect” and come together “as one”, in defiance of the very God who once divided us. This seems to be “their hour and the power of darkness” but according to Jesus and the prophets and apostles, it will be short lived.