Genesis 11: Babel

“The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.”  This is one of the most intriguing verses in the Bible.  Some say the Tower of Babel was an attempt by mankind to build a bridge or stairway to heaven, perhaps as a means of escaping future catastrophes like the flood or even as a means of waging war on God.  Those are just theories, of course; the only hint Scripture gives to their motive is what they (presumably their leaders) said: “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”  

God had commanded them to spread out–to multiply and fill the earth.  He never intended for Noah’s descendants to remain in one place.  Yet mankind was already in rebellion again, refusing to obey God’s command.  “Make a name for ourselves” sounds pretty ambitious–and humanistic.  Funny how millennia later, mankind is still in love with itself and humanism is the theme of art, entertainment and philosophy.  

Well God took care of the problem; He confused their one language and used their linguistic divisions to break up the party and get mankind to spread out.  I think of the internet today as the “one language” of mankind.  Knowledge of good–and evil–abounds and is at our fingertips.  How long will God let it go on, I wonder?

But this chapter concludes with a man of faith who, like Noah, caught God’s eye: Abram, a descendant of Shem from the city of Ur–not far from where the old Tower of Babel stood.  I always enjoy reading the life of Abram or Abraham.  Any man dubbed “a friend of God” by God Himself is worth studying.  I’m looking forward to a fresh look at his life.

Reading: Genesis 11