Summary: We revisit Babel when we place other things before God, seek other ways to God and trust in our own ambitions
INTRODUCTION: Words are powerful. Words can be negative. They can kill, maim, abuse, and ridicule. Do you remember hearing about the missionary kid (MK) who committed suicide? He wrote a suicide note to his parents saying that he could no longer cope with the abuse of his peers in school. Words can kill. Words can also be positive. They can encourage, comfort, buildup, and support. Psychiatrists have demonstrated that for every negative word given to us, we need at least four positive words to balance its effect on our personality. Words can also be used wrong. When speaking a foreign language, one constantly makes mistakes. Julgamento and jumento in Portuguese, sound almost alike, yet one means judgement and the other means a donkey. You can imagine the bewilderment one would have if he confused the two.
Language is simply the ordered use of words to convey thoughts. Most of us speak the same language here. Some of us, however, know what it is like to speak in a foreign language. How did we come to have over two thousands languages in the world? The Bible explains the cause in Genesis.
Cush was the father of Nimrod, who grew to be a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the LORD.” The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Akkad and Calneh, in Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, and Calah.
Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they 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 and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 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. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
Nimrod was the grandson of Noah. He was a mighty hunter. Apparently with his great skill, he had protected the people from all the wild animals that ravaged the land. He was mighty before the Lord and established cities in his kingdom, one of which was Shinar, where the tower of Babel was to be built. Nimrod wasn’t content to be mighty before the Lord. He wanted to be mighty before the people. He wanted to make a name for himself and his people. They gathered on the plain of Shinar and built a tower. What was so wrong with building a tower? Why did God come down and confound their language? The sin was in their motivation. Whenever men are concerned only with their own attempts at fame, those efforts are doomed to failure. Man has constantly sought a Utopian world where he could control his own destiny. The tragedy of Babel is apart from God, all man’s efforts are folly and confusion.