Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What Was the Tower of Babel?

The tower of Babel is another issue I wonder about, mostly because of something God says.

In Genesis 11: 4-9 we have the account of the tower of Babel: "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to heaven, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth." But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 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. That 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.

I have heard that one reason God confused their language was because of their apparent resistance to God's will in populating the earth, but I'm not convinced of this mostly because that's not the reason God gives: "If as one people speaking one language they have begun to this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them."

Apparently, left to their own devices, they would have successfully built the tower, and who knows what else afterward.

In current times as English becomes the common language of science and business, we once again see humanity's capabilities at accomplishing whatever it imagines and building towers everywhere. It is only in the past century with the advent of global colonization and the proliferation of universal languages that humanity has once again been able to push the limits of the heavens with towers, flight, space travel, etc. Pictured is the durj dubai, the tallest building in the world, and it's only half finished. It looks a lot like Babel to me.

An interesting correlation to this speculation on my part. If the tower of Babel with the confusion of language represented God's judgement on humanity's use of a common language, what did the day of Pentecost represent? Once again, God deals with language with the advent of tongues:

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. (Acts 2:4-6)

It seems to me that this advent is as much relational to Babel as Christ's sacrifice was to Adam's sin. A redemption of a common language through the Spirit as it were.

Feel free to comment.

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