“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; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.’” Genesis 11:4
I don’t know about you, but reading the headline news today can get me quite discouraged. It seems as if the world system is beating down upon God’s kingdom so hard that Christians are sinking into the mass media matrix of secularism. But fear not! God will prevail – a lesson we can learn from history…
Humanity began to regenerate rapidly after the flood. Re-population came quickly because people lived longer back then (Gen. 9:28-29).(1) Many settled in a place called “The Plain of Shinar,” or Babylon (modern-day Iraq). In about 2500 BC, the people began to build a great city in Babel. A magnificent architectural design was being developed to celebrate man’s achievement. Once again, people’s attitude appeared to reflect defiance towards God. Humanity expressed a self-assertive, rebellious attitude against our Maker. In other ancient texts of that time (2), they say people wanted to ascend into heaven to pierce it—that is, to wage war against heaven and God. Also, recall that God had commanded the people to spread over the whole Earth (Gen. 9:1), but they were not obeying, since they remained in Babylon.
The bulk of humanity united to build a city and a tower to prevent people from separating. Idolatry had begun, and Babel became the primary place to conduct self-worship. To remind people of their limitations, God intervened to confuse their single language, and He proceeded to scatter people throughout the earth. The text doesn’t say how this was accomplished, but one thing is clear—God’s divine will is done, regardless of our rebellious will.
Now people were divided into clans, developing various ethnic diversities, as God intended. God likes diversity! God wanted humanity to fill the whole earth, not to stay in one place, worshiping itself. An earth full of diverse people had a better a chance at survival. Keeping one large group together could spell disaster. Imagine a disease or virus hitting one large, single population – there might not be survivors.
The Tower of Babel was a rebellion against God’s divine will, but God would not have it. His will was done, despite the stubbornness of people.
Think Divinely: Let this be a reminder to us all—
God’s will prevails despite humanity’s attempts to thwart it.
- The Biblical record shows a progressive decline in the life span of the patriarchs, from Noah to Abraham. Today, a maximum life span is about 120 years, with the average being only 70–80 years. Prior to the Flood, most of the earth appears to have had a tropical type of environment, which may have fostered extended biological years, but that is speculative.
- Ancient source texts include: the Book of Jubilees; Baruch; Babylonian Talmud; Philo of Alexandria.