The Tower of Babel

Regular reading of the Bible will in time result in enlightenment, giving you that special perception & understanding beyond normal circumstances. The stories & events depicted in the Old Testament are often reversed, reiterated, repeated or redefined in the New Testament. By applying this parallel concept facilitates the interpretation of the Bible & greatly enhances its dramatic impact upon the reader.

Man’s quest for the sky has its roots in the Tower of Babel.

Babel’s founder Nimrod the Hunter (Gen. 10:8-12), a “king of Shinar”, was a ruthless conqueror with ambitious political aspirations. His name “Nimrod” means “let us revolt”. Genesis 10:9-12 shows that Babel was the first of many cities that Nimrod established.

In Genesis 11: 1-9, we learn that up to this point in time the whole world had one universal language – a common speech for all people. The people by then had become skilled in construction and decided to build a city with a tower that would be “a stairway to heaven”. By building the tower they wanted to make a name for themselves and also prevent their city from being scattered.

God frustrated the efforts of the builders at Babel before they reached the point of no return. God thwarted their plans in His benevolent omniscience.

God came to see their city and the tower they were building. He perceived their intentions, and in His infinite wisdom, He knew this “stairway to heaven” would only lead the people away from God. He noted the powerful force within their unity of purpose. As a result, God confused their language, causing them to speak different languages so they would not understand each other. By doing this:

  • God thwarted their plans. He also scattered the people of the city all over the face of the earth.

  • Some scholars believe that this marks the point in history where God divided the earth into separate continents.
  • The people were building a monument to themselves, to call attention to their own abilities and achievements, instead of giving glory to God.

The Tower of Babel is extremely significant to the epic of the Bible. The story is much more than God indiscriminately interrupting an insignificant building project. The Tower of Babel marks the origins of the nations of the earth.

The modern word “babbler” referring to an incoherent individual has its roots here in the Tower of Babel. Since they could not communicate with one another, tempers flared and immediate anarchy resulted. Each person completely unintelligible in their speech to the other, culminating in utter chaos.

A parallel can be drawn between Genesis 11:1-9 and a significant event found in the Book of Acts.

In Acts 2:1-4, on the day of Pentecost . . . All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. When the resurrected Christ sent the Holy Spirit to the disciples it confirmed that the “stairway to heaven” sought by the ancients had been established. However, this gateway was not accomplished by human initiative or effort but by the supernatural power & grace of God. The timing & purpose were of God’s determination, not of the people. The Book of Acts details the marvellous accomplishments by the Christians empowered by the Holy Spirit.

And not only were their spirits united, but the language barrier was broken. The disunity initiated by the scattering at the Tower of Babel has begun to be reversed and this time God gets the glory.

Nowhere in the entire passage referring to the Tower of Babel is there found the slightest indication that the builders considered God’s will in their plans. The Bible goes to great lengths to confirm God’s disdain for society’s self-ruling ecumenical pursuits. The Psalmist writes of God’s intervention into the affairs of humanity:

“The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.” ~ Psalm 33:10. This is simply to say that whatever man proposes, God disposes.

Will the mistakes of the Tower of Babel be repeated by the present generation? Reaching for the sky or global domination amounts to the same thing!

2 thoughts on “The Tower of Babel

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