Summary: Let me get this straight. GOD LOVES UNITY, MY CREATIVE ABILITIES AND ENTERPRISE! He made me like this. So what is the big deal with stopping the tower of Babel being built?
Genesis 11 – Part 4 – UNITY AND CREATIVITY AT WHAT COST?
What interests me in this passage is that God saw the unity of the people (Genesis 11:6), who had a single purpose and a single language, the ability to plan things and execute them efficiently and effectively, tremendous creative enterprise and expertise, talents, leadership etc. In short – everything that we have today in our nation. Yet He saw those things as bad!
All those things are held up to be wonderful things that we should have in a Church! What are You saying, Lord? I guess the emphasis that I must always keep in mind, Lord, is that doing impossible things is OK if I am under Your authority, but attempting to operate out from under the umbrella of Your grace will be thwarted in the end!
Let me get this straight. GOD LOVES MY CREATIVE ABILITIES! He made me like this. So what is the big deal with stopping the tower of Babel being built? And why do it by dividing the languages and separating people all over the world? It gives rise to racist overtones. Only in this case it is dividing people on the basis of languages, not skin colour.
In Genesis 11:4 (NLT) it says “Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.””
THE REASONS FOR BUILDING THE TOWER WERE
1. to become FAMOUS as a city in the ancient world, and
2. avoid and REBEL against God’s command to “fill the earth”.
Basically that’s a mix of pride and evil, but it’s no different to mankind today.
WHAT WERE GOD’S REASONS IN DESTROYING THIS TOWER BUILDING ENTERPRISE?
Genesis 11:6-8 (NLT) says “Look!” He said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other. In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city.”
At first glance it looks like God suffers from insecurity and doesn’t want anybody doing things that might threaten Him. His reasons seem unreasonable. What is wrong with people being united, speaking the same language, and being able to accomplish anything they set their minds to do? Even if they were excluding God in their plans and efforts, it isn’t as if that was something new! And it is still true! People still exclude God.
BEING UNITED. Why was this wrong? The only reason I can see is that they were uniting in order to stay in one section of the world. God said “fill the earth”. That hadn’t been done yet. Until that command was fulfilled, uniting in order to stay in one place was not going to happen. We all go on about “unity in the Church” but unless it’s unity for God’s purposes, then it’s useless, and as in this case, downright evil in it’s intent.
And look at the unusual way in which God deals with this situation. He confuses their languages. Why not just send an earthquake and destroy the tower in a gaping hole in the earth? A bit of drama! A miraculous disaster has a way of getting the attention of people, although, come to think of it, the flood obviously didn’t do that. It seems to me that the tower wasn’t the main issue. God doesn’t even mention it. He’s more interested in them filling the earth at this stage for their future survival. The tower doesn’t get destroyed. It just doesn’t ever get finished.
SPEAKING THE SAME LANGUAGE. What is so wrong with that? Nothing, as long as it was not being used to unite them against God’s command to “fill the earth”. I know a policeman who jokes about the way policemen say things, like “Nothing to see here, move on please!” God didn’t force them to move on and “fill the earth” like He had commanded. He simply made it difficult for them not to. So this wasn’t a racist decision. Dividing people into language groups simply spread people over the earth. It’s still one race, many languages. Nothing wrong with language. It’s just how I choose to use my words and what I communicate in terms of my intentions and the direction I give to others.
NOTHING THEY SET OUT TO DO WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE FOR THEM! God is not insecure! When I originally read this I thought that God was afraid they could accomplish anything generally - “all things are possible” only in this case without God! Because of their unity and single language they can accomplish anything at all! But I don’t think that this is what is being said. He is more concerned with what they had “SET OUT TO DO” specifically. He is saying nothing of what they have determined to do will be impossible for them – ie concerning staying in one place and attracting the infamy of defying God. This is specific and not applying to all things.