I cannot tell you how many times in the past ten years I have gone back to my parents and told them, “You were right”. I am very thankful that I have parents that love me and though they are not perfect (and neither am I) they have given me sound advice through the years. However, as a teenager, I would question their advice or rules. I would sometimes think to myself, “they don’t have a clue about what is going on” and that my own “wisdom” was far superior to what they gave me. I knew better than them, right?
That is the background setting for the Tower of Babel. After the Flood and as the earth had repopulated, the people came together and decided that they would build a city with a tower that would reach to the heavens. They desired to not be scattered, but wanted to bring everyone together in one place, with one goal, with one language and one vision. Maybe they thought that it would be safer if everyone stayed together or perhaps they were motivated by economic aspirations. What we do know is that they wanted to make a name for themselves. Why does all this matter? Because just a few chapters earlier in Genesis, God’s first command is, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it…” Instead of doing what God commanded, they believed that they had come up with a better plan. Instead of going out to fill the earth with people, they wanted to gather people in to fill their own desires. Instead of bringing glory to God with their obedience to His commands, they want to build a tower to the heavens to bring glory to themselves. Surely, they know better than God.
It seems that they had forgotten the Flood and the reason for it. God had promised to never flood the earth again, but that didn’t mean mankind wouldn’t turn to rebellion against God again. So what does God do? He gives them all a different language so that they cannot communicate with one another. They are forced to separate and go their own ways. Some critics of God may say that this is just God being “petty”, but it is actually a saving grace from God. As we read through the Bible, we run into entire nations that are hostile to God’s purposes. Sometimes an entire city will repent and turn back to God. Sometimes only individuals within those nations will repent and turn to God. But there are many examples of entire nations that stand against God and want to oppress or completely eradicate people who follow God. Can you imagine if there were only one giant city in the entire world? What would happen if most of the city rebelled against God? What would the masses do to those who desired to follow God if the majority hated and despised God? In other words, the people of Babel only had an idea of what they thought would be good, but not the understanding of the devastating consequences of that idea. As you make plans for your life, have you sought God through deep times of prayer and Bible study? He loves you and wants what is best for you, but His ways are not always our ways. Will you seek Him to see if your plans contradict His? Surely God knows best.