Summary: Seven lessons we can learn from the story of the Tower of Babel.
BASIC BIBLE STORIES
The Tower of Babel
(Genesis 11:1 – 11:9)
What can we learn from the story of the Tower of Babel?
1. Man NATURALLY disobeys God
Genesis 8:21 says, “…the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.”
Psalm 51:5 says, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”
These verses and more speak of the truth of God’s Word, demonstrated by mankind’s continued disobedience to God. In Genesis 9:1, Noah and his sons were told to fill the earth. Two chapters later, we read of men deciding to STAY in ONE location, in complete DEFIANCE of God’s command. Even after the Flood, not very long ago, the people had forgotten that God hates sin, and that God judges sin. This did NOT deter them then, and it doesn’t deter us now. Today it is the same: we can try to clean up ourselves with morality, but we are ALL naturally inclined, polarized to SIN. Unless God moves in us, unless one has been changed by the transformation of the Gospel, no one will naturally choose GOD.
2. God has the RIGHT to punish us
Not long ago, we had a look at Creation in Genesis 1. Since God CREATED ALL things, and since that is GOD’s record of the events at the beginning, we must agree in faith that GOD owns EVERYTHING and has the right to do what He wants with it. Now that may sound scary if you are prone to sin, and it IS scary if God were inclined to EVIL, but GOD is NOT evil, nor is He inclined to it. The Bible tells us that God is GOOD, He is MERCIFUL, and He is GRACIOUS, which means that he is NATURALLY benevolent and NOT capricious. However, we must understand that along with being benevolent, God is a JUST, FAIR, and HOLY God not to be played with. Therefore, in response to sin, to be JUST and FAIR, and uphold His HOLY name, God must punish sin. This is why there was a Flood before, and why there will be another judgment in the future.
3. There is NOTHING God cannot do
Genesis 11:9 says, “Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth.”
Quite simply, God changed the languages of the people! He did what had not been done. The Bible says in verse 11:1 that the whole earth was one language and one speech. After some years, man still spoke one language. God changed all of that in a word. In a moment, the Lord changed the language from one to many. A process that may have taken tens if not hundreds of years was accomplished by God in a moment.
4. God will accomplish His WILL
Genesis 9:1 says, “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.”
And again in verse 7, “And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.”
However, we read in 11:8 “So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.”
Although chapter 11 recounts the “will of man,” at the Tower of Babel, it fell before the “will of God.” God said replenish the earth, and that is exactly what happened. Whether by mankind’s choice or through God’s providential working, it did happen. It is the same today. God has declared to us the present and the future, and it is happening and shall come to pass, with or without our assent as humans. God will directly or providentially accomplish His ordained will.
5. Confounding the languages was an act of MERCY from God
Question, consider “country folk” and “city folk” for a moment. Country folk tend to be stereotyped as being innocent in their thinking, naïve, and to some extent more God-fearing. Contrast them with city folk, and you can see quite a difference in thinking and behavior. Country folk tend to be more relaxed while city folk tend to be more uptight and stressed. Country folk do not understand the evils of the city, while city folk often do all manner of evil. When people are confined to a city, the evil imaginations are multiplied.
People in less sparse surroundings such as the countryside seem to have less concentration of evil imaginations. The imaginations are still there no doubt, but they are not as collected as those in the city. A second point, is that when more people are together, there is more money to be made, more power to be gotten, and more false teaching to be believed by more people. Thus, God confounding the languages at Babel was an act of mercy in order to retard the immediate development of wickedness en masse at such an early stage. Later in Genesis we will cover Sodom and Gomorrah. Still in Genesis, not long after the Flood, we read of such wicked cities. How much more if the Lord had allowed man to begin city life at such an early stage? One lesson to learn: where people are concentrated in large groups, there will be greater variety and concentrations of evil present.