“[Men] 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 and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth’… The LORD said, ‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.’ So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. This is why it was called Babel – because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth”
(Genesis 11:4, 6-9, NIV).
God’s first command to humanity was: “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). In other words, spread out across the earth! When people spread out, after few decades, they will speak different languages and creating different cultures (Yes, I watched National Geography on human languages and cultures). Without human intervention, that seems to have been God’s plan all along – to have not “one language and common speech” (11:1) forever but a multi tribes and nations, each praising God in its own way. The Bible has much to say about “every tribe and nation” coming to God.
But in the generations after the Flood, the people had other plans. They didn’t want to fill the earth and subdue it. They wanted to stay right where they were and become great – “make a name for ourselves” – which can be mean as wanted to be like gods. So they began building the great city and the tower that would reach to the heavens – challenging God’s authority and God’s lordship over the people and culture.
God had other plan for them. He confused their language and scattered them from there over all the earth. Certainly, it was a punishment. But it was also a mercy, for it forced the people out of their delusion of self-sufficiency and self-reliance into something richer and more adventurous. It is amidst of our diversities that God want us to unite under one Christ. In this way, God is more glorified when “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9) worshiping God. Beautiful! This is God’s plan. Amen.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.