The story we’re studying this week is in the Book of Genesis. After God “reset” the world and humanity in the story of Noah’s Ark, people spread out and multiplied. It was a fresh start, but the good times didn’t last long.
11 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar.4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 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. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused[a]the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
Are towers a terrible sin? Now, even from Ajax, I can see the CN Tower in Toronto, standing tall. God didn’t come down to destroy it mid-construction, or any other tower. It doesn’t seem like building towers is the problem in this story – it’s something else.
As usual, it’s the intent, the motive behind building it that is at issue.
The human race, unified and speaking one language, should have been a beautiful thing. God created the human race to be that way (and much more) in the Garden of Eden. Humans had a close relationship with God, their creator. It was to be a true, loving relationship, which meant he had to give us free will, a freedom to love him back or not.
God gave us free will, which we humans used to try and usurp him. Humans (as we explored a few weeks ago) wanted to be and know what God knew, instead of just knowing God. We ate the fruit of the one tree God said not to eat, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Humans were trying to steal God’s wisdom, instead of receiving it like a gift when God offered it.
We have the same problem here at the Tower of Babel. God gives humanity a second chance, and starts over with Noah’s family. And just a few generations later, humans are full of themselves again, trying to make a name for themselves, and trying to rival God. They try to build their world up – to the heavens – which have always been a symbol for where God resides. Symbolically, the human race hasn’t stopped trying to replace God. Now we’re trying to climb up to him, show him who’s boss, and “make a name for ourselves”.
But from god’s perspective, it’s tiny. He actually has to come down to earth to see it.
Question: What do people build today as monuments to themselves?