God creates the first language barrier. Man has again begun to replenish the earth but he only wants to do so as a group. God wants them to spread out to fill the whole earth.
It has been at least 100 years since leaving the ark and four generations. People have increased in number and in purpose. The story of the flood isn’t a distant memory but a part of their recent history. Its story is told and retold on a regular basis. I’m assuming that it is used to correct disobedient children. “Remember what happened when the Lord was displeased with man? He sent the flood. He promised no to send another flood to kill ALL flesh but He also is able to deal swiftly with disobedient children. He knows what you are doing and He is not pleased. You better straighten up right now!”
The mountain wasn’t the most hospitable place to stay after the flood so people began to leave it in groups to find a better home. We are told they found “the land of Shinar and settled there” (verse 2b). I would assume this was a very fertile plain and had everything they desired. Plenty of water, temperate climate, protection from animals, space to grow, and resources to build with. I wouldn’t doubt that word was sent back to anyone who had settled in different areas along the way as to how nice this new place was. I wonder if Noah wound up here. Is this where he planted his vineyard? Probably not the same vineyard we heard about earlier.
Here, in mass, the people decided to “make a name” for themselves. I had been taught as a child that they built the tower so they would never have to fear being wiped out by flood again. But that is not what I’m reading here. I see them wanting to make a monument to their own ingenuity. They want to prove how awesome THEY are. They were going to reach into heaven and show God how impressive they were. They decided to make the first skyscraper. Not because building up was required for space saving, but to impress God with their abilities. “You aren’t the only one who can command in both kingdoms!” They wanted to be like God. We know how that worked out with Lucifer.
God sees what they are doing and how far they have come since the flood, and since creation. He knows that there is trouble on the horizon if He doesn’t step in again. This is NOT to say that God wants us to be simple like the animals but that He wants us to remember who the Creator is and who His creation is.
Man would no longer recognize his need for redemption. Man was happy with his state. He wasn’t paying attention to the piece that was missing; that living soul that died in the Garden. I’m sure they still worshiped God but they weren’t as concerned with pleasing Him as they were with elevating themselves to His status. They were trying to fill the “God shaped hole” in themselves with their own accomplishments. BOY does that sound familiar!
When God stepped in He didn’t take away their knowledge, nor did He put an end to all man’s dreams and ideas. What He did instead was decrease the pool of minds that worked together on their ideas. Yes, there was still much man had to learn but now he would go about it at a slower pace and in smaller groups.
He put a real separation between groups. Man broke up into small groups of understanding. Not technological understanding but linguistic understanding. I wonder how many languages were born that day. Enough that this huge community now set off in different directions and abandoned what they had been working for. There were no “translators” to bridge the languages gap.
So many people today try and elevate their own lives to the height of God. They think they can be SO successful that they don’t need God. I’m here to tell you right now that there is NO SUCH PLACE. No height we can get to. No achievement we can make. No award we can win. No place, no how, no way to fill that “God spot” apart from Him. We are made in His image and to be in a relationship with Him. We NEED Him! Our very molecules crave intimacy with Him. When we put ANYTHING else in His place it doesn’t work. He actually saved man from a HUGE disappointment and destructive path that day.
Father God, thank You for keeping me from getting “too big for my britches.” It honestly doesn’t matter how much I learn or earn. It matters what our relationship is like. The rest needs to flow out of that relationship. YOU help me with my lessons. YOU provide for my needs. When I put YOU FIRST. Then everything else falls into place. NO, it doesn’t all fall into place easily, but NOTHING works at all without You. You are the “edge pieces” to my puzzle. You are actually more than that. You are the design of the puzzle. The picture I use to guide me is what to place where. It only works when I follow the design stamped onto my whole masterpiece.
Not MY masterpiece but the Master’s piece. Thank You for letting me be Your work in progress. I look forward to seeing the completed design from Heaven. I doubt I will see it all from where I stand, but thank You for showing me the little snippets along the way. They are what keeps me going and reminds me to depend on You. A lesson learned that day at Babel in spades! I would have loved to see their faces as the language barrier was dropped firmly into place. One minute all is working out their way and the next they can’t even understand one another enough to ask where the bathroom is. I wonder what lessons they took with them on that day into their new “small group” lives.