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Read: Genesis 11:1-9

Why does the Earth have so many nations, cultures, and languages? That’s the question that the story of the Tower of Babel tries to answer. Warning: depictions of God before Genesis 12 often seem very strange to us.

Human nature is proud, sometimes even prideful. Remember: the original sin was that human beings wanted to be “like God”. That quest for power, prestige, and control is deep within us. Enter the Sumerians. They built huge pyramid-like structures, called Ziggurats, that looked like stairs ascending to Heaven. Are these the ancient structures that Genesis speaks of in the Tower of Babel? The ruins of the ziggurats are in Ur, the place where Abram and Sarai were from. Did Abram and Sarai bring with them this ancient campfire tale, telling it to their people?

So, the people of Babel get the idea to build a tower to Heaven. Then they will be able to climb it anytime and visit God. They will be able to walk right in and meet with God face to face. The idea excites and unifies them; they begin working on this common mission. God gets wind of the plan and goes down to take a look (v.5). God becomes very concerned. Here it is from the Bible: “5 The LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. 6 And the LORD said, “Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore it was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.”

Do you really think that God was afraid of human accomplishment or potential? God wants people to understand each other and work cooperatively, right? Frankly, I long for the time when people seek to understand each other and learn to work together for the good of all. I think God wants that too. This story has a primitive view of God; Jesus came to show us clearly the true nature of God. Can we hope and work to end human divisiveness, or must we continue living in Babel?

Shalom,
Pastor Rob Nystrom