Summary: The story of the Tower of Babel is a sad description of the breakdown of fellowship, of failure in communication, growing isolation and confusion. It all results from human beings failing to live in dependence on God, becoming proud of their achievements.
The Tower of Babel
1 At that time all mankind spoke a single language.
2 As the population grew and spread eastward, a plain was discovered in the land of Babylon and was soon thickly populated.
3,4 The people who lived there began to talk about building a great city, with a temple-tower reaching to the skies--a proud, eternal monument to themselves. "This will weld us together," they said, "and keep us from scattering all over the world." So they made great piles of hard-burned brick, and collected bitumen to use as mortar.
5 But when God came down to see the city and the tower mankind was making,
6 he said, "Look! If they are able to accomplish all this when they have just begun to exploit their linguistic and political unity, just think of what they will do later! Nothing will be unattainable for them!
7 Come, let us go down and give them different languages, so that they won't understand each other's words!"
8 So, in that way, God scattered them all over the earth; and that ended the building of the city.
9 That is why the city was called Babel (meaning "confusion"), because it was there that Jehovah confused them by giving them many languages, thus widely scattering them across the face of the earth.
Gen 11:1-9 (Living)
The story of the Tower of Babel is a sad description of the breakdown of fellowship, of failure in communication, and growing isolation and confusion.
It all results from human beings failing to live in dependence on God, becoming proud of their achievements and determined to be the source of their own security.
That was the root cause of the chaos they brought on themselves.
After the Flood the population had rapidly multiplied at God’s command to Noah to “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth” (Gen 9:1).
The chapter before the account of the Tower of Babel, chapter 10, mentions 70 people showing how God had blessed mankind in its fresh start and confirming His covenant to Noah.
But mankind continued to be a disappointment to God.
One particular group, founded by the legendary Nimrod, who was celebrated as “a mighty hunter before the Lord” (10:9) migrated to what is now known as Iraq.
It became the center of civilization of the ancient world.
Babylon was the high point of human achievement.
Archaeologists tell us that Babylon was one of a number of cities built by a succession of people that lived on the Mesopotamian plain starting around 5,500 years ago.
There developed a tradition in each city of building a temple in the shape of a stepped pyramid, called a ziggurat. z i g g u r a t
Babylon became the most influential city on the plain and its ziggurat, honoring the god Marduk, was built, destroyed and rebuilt until it was the tallest tower.
With this evidence, it’s not hard to believe that the original Tower of Babel really existed although nothing of it remains today.
The people of Babel, lived several generations on from Noah and they had developed technical skills.
The builders of the Tower had gained sufficient architectural and mathematical knowledge to undertake a large construction project.
The Creator God had endowed mankind with intelligence.
This was good and fine; that they were using their God-given gifts.
They had also developed a political focus as a community for we find them saying, ’Let us build.’
But sadly, there was more to it than that, because their spiritual condition was far from what it should have been.
God had allowed this development of mankind, because He had given it the priceless gift of freewill but, because of man’s fallen nature, his leaning towards sin is clearly seen.
The statement “Let us build” is incomplete.
A better translation would be, “Let us build ourselves”.
Their project was theirs alone.
They had left behind the spiritual heritage of Noah and their forefather Nimrod and forgotten their Creator.
They were building according to human wisdom.
It reminds me of the verse; “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain” (Psalm 127:1).
They were like the builder in the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders (Matt 7:24-27).
Jesus highlighted the contrast between the two types when He said that the wise “hears these words of mine and does them”.
The builders of the Tower knew what God’s standards were, but decided they knew best.
We can either build on Him and His teaching, which we will find as solid as rock; or else we can build on any other religion or philosophy that the world offers, and we will find that it’s sand, and in the last day it will bring about ruin.
There is a book entitled “Discerning the Spirit of the Age”.