Monday, April 23, 2012

The Tower of Babel: God's Purpose - Genesis 11:6-7 Bible Commentary

And the Lord said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech." (Genesis 11:6-7)
The early Babylonians were united in both their construction project and their sin. But their unity did not last.

God had decided to break them apart.

Good Unity And Bad Unity

Unity can be good. As believers, we are all part of the body of Christ. Although we have different roles, we are designed and called to be unified in Him.

Unity, however, can be misused, and that's what happened at the Tower of Babel. The early Babylonians did not seek to unify themselves so that they could love God more. Instead, they unified themselves around their hatred for God.

Because of their rebellion, God decided to break them apart. His reasoning was that if He allowed the early Babylonians to continue, the Tower of Babel would be "only the beginning of what" they would do. Therefore, He would disperse them and confuse their language, thereby restraining their sin. No longer would they be able to gather under one banner in rebellion against Him.

Disunity Brings War

Different languages produce different cultures. Different cultures create different nations— nations which often compete for the same resources. Such competition can easily turn violent, especially among nations that speak, look and live differently. In short, one of the main reasons nations go to war is due to the existence of nations. If people were not divided— if disunity did not exist, war would not come.

What if there were no wars? What if people never raised the sword against their fellow man? The outcome would be unity.

But unity around what?

Would people be united in their love for God? Probably not. Instead, they would be united in their opposition to God. They would not raise their swords to oppose an approaching army, but would raise their swords together to threaten the King of Kings!

Disunity Stalls Human Progress

If humanity had been united from the Flood on, human society would have advanced faster. Language would not have been a barrier, therefore ideas would have spread faster. Technologies would have been invented earlier.

But that, apparently, was not God's plan for this fallen world.

Although there are advantages to living in a society as advanced as ours, there are some bad side effects. Most notably, there are now more ways to sin than there ever have been. New technology might help us get things done faster, but it also creates new temptations.

Disunity Resulted In The Nation Of Israel

So far I've explored two of the consequences of the dispersion: human war and stalled progress. But there's something else to consider.

If the dispersion had not happened, Israel would not have been Israel.

God chose Israel to be His own nation above all others. How could He have chosen the nation of Israel as His own if there were no nations to choose from?

History is often told as a story of nations rising against other nations. It's been that way for a long time, so we shouldn't be surprised. As Jesus said, such wars "are but the beginning of the birth pains" (Matthew 24:8).

If there is ever a time when you no longer hear of wars— when it seems that the world might finally have entered universal peace— then you can know that the end is nearer than ever. If we believe the words of Revelation 6:1-4, worldwide peace is the first of the seven seals; it is the event that marks the beginning of the unfolding of the judgments described in Revelation.

Peace among fallen, unforgiven men is never as great as it seems. It wasn't great at the Tower of Babel, and it will only be a sign that the end is ever nearer when it comes about again. Until that day, we can be confident that wars will come. Cultures will be offended by other cultures. Misunderstandings will arise, just as they did from day one after the Tower of Babel.

When God judged the builders of the Tower of Babel, He set the stage for the rest of history. Do not be troubled at the warring nature of the world, for God set it all in place for His own purposes.

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1 comment:

  1. Excellent commentary. Thank you.