In Genesis, why does God confuse the language of the tower of babel?
Genesis 11:4-8 (NASB)
They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” The LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. The LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city.
So often we run across scripture that befuddles us. Many times in my Christian walk I’ve looked at something in scripture and wondered, “What the heck is going on?” Sometimes, unbelievers will take these kind of scriptures and try to use them to refute our faith. This can happen to the detriment of newer believers. In fact, I have heard people who have platforms use scripture as a means of trying to destroy our faith, but to one who understands, the error is easily seen. We must always remember, if something doesn’t seem quite right it probably isn’t, and if it’s God it will always prove out. Sometimes we need to just give it time.
The account of the Tower of Babel is one of those. Why would God want people not to communicate? Well, there are a few reasons for this, which we can find in the Bible. To begin with let’s back up to Genesis 9:1. It’s says, “And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.’” What’s interesting here is that this is the same command given to Adam.
The first reason we have is failure to follow instruction. God doesn’t not give commands arbitrarily. He has distinct purpose in them, just as He has distinct purpose in mankind. This is why it is so important to find out what God’s plan is in your life. God commanded man to fill the earth. In the beginning of Genesis we see why. God intended man to subdue the earth, to make it like Eden. Man however had his own plan and when you get to Genesis 11, man is fully intent on implementing it.
The second thing we see is the danger of a corrupt heart in a creation that was made for authority. Genesis 11:6 (NASB) tells us, “The LORD said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.’” The fact that God created man with innate ability should not be lost on us. God gave man the ability to rule and reign, be creative and build, and also to think for themselves. We see all through the book of Acts the benefit of this. However, like so many things in life, good can be manipulated and used for evil. God will not allow this to go on forever.
So many people use their freedom in Christ to do ungodly things. They take God’s long suffering and grace and build their own kingdom. We see this being played out in Genesis 11 and we see God deal with it. Our lesson in this is to constantly be reminded of God’s desires for us. God isn’t looking to destroy man, He is looking to employ him. When man becomes useless, there is need for reset, an intervention of will.
As a pastor, as a Christian, I have seen this scenario play out too often. People get distracted by the life they are building and then wonder where the Lord’s blessing is. His blessing is not found in man’s plan but in His. His plan isn’t hard, it starts right here in scripture. Whenever God passes judgement on a people it is accompanied with the idea of Him being grieved. What grieves God is disobedience. The fight of faith is truly a fight of obedience.
God has intended mankind to be of one heart, speaking the same language. When it is used for good, God will empower it to work miracles. When it’s used in pride, the Lord will shut it down. Let’s be diligent to fulfill His plan in our lives. Let’s learn from this example and be blessed instead of confused. Clarity of mind is a godly thing and an indicator that you are on the right track.