In Genesis 11 we read, “now the whole earth had one language and the same words” (verse 1) and they said “let us build ourselves a city and a tower … lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth” (verses 3,4). The Creator’s reaction to this is, “Behold the people 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” (verse 6).
So the LORD confused their language so that they could not understand one another. As a result they scatter “over the face of all the earth” (verse 9). The Hebrew word for confused sounds like Babel (ESV footnote) and the Greek word for Babel is Babylon! In Revelation, Babylon is the key word used to symbolise an evil power. It is also interesting to note that the Name of God is apparently very similar in many languages, implying a common origin for this fundamental word.
God said, having a common language would be ‘only the beginning of what they will do’. Now, in this 21st Century, the world is overcoming the language barrier. The availability of automated translations helps this, and so many people across the world speak or understand basic English. We are returning to the days of Babel. Another challenging thought; just before the flood, “the wickedness of man was great … every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (6:5). How comparable is this with today! We should therefore anticipate action by God again – as Bible readers know, the teaching of Jesus and his followers include such predictions.
A ridiculously high tower has been built in Dubai that is 860 metres tall – a modern tower of Babel. Apparently it has been built near a fault line and possibly prone to earthquakes. Note Isaiah 2:15 that “every high tower shall fall” at the time of God’s judgements? How many high buildings are there now in the world? Most are claimed to be built so as to withstand earthquakes! Reflect on what you read in Isaiah 29:5-7 and Revelation 16:18 and similar passages.
Our Psalm reading today states, “The fool says in his heart ‘There is no God’. They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds … The LORD looks down from heaven … to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God” (14:1,2). We pray that includes us and that all who read these words seek after God – and find Him.