“Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky…”
Genesis 11:4 NIV
In elementary school, my friends and I thought we were so clever. We were intrigued by those who could speak fluent foreign languages of any kind. So, when we went out in public, maybe to the mall or the grocery store with our parents, we would pretend to talk to each other in our own “foreign” language. Of course, our conversations were filled with made-up gibberish that none of us could really understand, but that was all part of the fun!
I might ramble off, “Queste, ala transla chatta boom boom”.
Perhaps my friend might happily reply with, “Choo hoo esta mama mia consta levian!”
We could banter back and forth like this for hours and no doubt, we thought it was absolutely hilarious.
However, what we most enjoyed was watching the confused expressions and puzzled glances spurred our way by countless bystanders and customers who heard us carrying on in this manner. No one ever verbally confronted us, but I’m sure in their minds, they wondered what in the world was going on and what was wrong with us? People were perplexed by our jumbled, topsy-turvy language that was complete nonsense to them.
When thinking about my childhood antics with friends, I was reminded of the story from the Bible about the tower of Babel. This narrative takes place after God had destroyed the earth by the flood in the days of Noah. The Lord had promised that He would never again destroy the earth by floodwaters and had issued the command to be fruitful, multiply, and repopulate ALL the earth (Genesis 9:7).
The people who inhabited the earth all spoke the same language and had migrated to the east, where they settled on a plain in the land of Babylonia. Being prideful and full of disobedience, the people came up with a game plan to build a great city with a tower that reached far into the sky. They wanted to make a name for themselves and become famous, thus securing that they wouldn’t have to leave the land.
The people were so stubborn and prideful they thought they could make it on their own, forgot about God, and wanted to construct a name for themselves by building a great monument in their honor. And possibly other factors led to the people’s resistive attitude such as they grew to love the land of Babylon. Maybe they really enjoyed each other’s company. Or perhaps they were just comfortable where they were and were afraid to take the next journey. No matter the reason, they were disrespectful and disobedient to God’s command to disperse all over the earth.
And so the Lord judged the rebellious people by coming down and confusing their languages so that the people could no longer understand one another. Can you imagine the mayhem that was felt when one person tried to speak to another but could no longer decipher the words to make sense? I am sure there were many bewildered looks and huffs of frustration darted at each other as complete chaos erupted in the city. The people’s words vibrated, danced, and echoed just like before but now the speech was unintelligible. It all sounded like a bunch of jibber-jabber as it bounced off the brick walls of their beloved tower of defiance.
So the people became irritated with one another and scattered all over the world. This marks the beginning of different languages and cultures as people traveled to new lands and developed their own customs. The city was abandoned and named Babel as the word means confusion in the Hebrew translation.
Pride and greed led to disobedience, confusion, judgment, and being scattered. I’m prompted to think about my own life and relationship with the Lord. Am I building “towers to the sky” in my own life? Am I building monuments of arrogance to call attention to myself and my achievements? What things am I placing in higher esteem than my relationship with the Lord? I know God wants more from me just as He did from the people at Babel. I truly cannot have peace within my heart unless I am humbled, giving complete submissiveness to Him.
My prayer is that God will dislodge those bricks, the ones of pride and anything else I’m honoring before Him, one piece at a time, until the tower comes crashing down. As the dust settles, I pray God molds me to be more obedient so that I cannot be compared to the rebels of Babel. More than anything I desire a humble, serving heart that glorifies the One to whom I owe everything.
Perhaps you, too, have started building a tower in your own life? What are you putting before God? What is taking first place, first priority in your life today? Are you being obedient to God’s calling on your life, living in His will? Let the Lord free you of the confusion that is the inevitable result of any union that leaves Him out of the equation. He can give you peace as you humble your heart before Him in repentance, thus crumbling any vain monuments in your way.
Let’s strive together to be different than the rebels of Babel!
Have a great, blessed week that honors Him,