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 God confused their languages so that they could not understand one another. As a result they scattered “over the face of all the earth” (verse 9). The Hebrew word for confused sounds like Babel (see footnote, ESV) and the Greek word for Babel is Babylon! As we have seen in Revelation, Babylon is 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 that having a common language would be ‘only the beginning of what they will do’. Today the world is overcoming the language barrier. The internet provides automated translations; education is world-wide and more people can read and understand basic English: when I was in Russia all the young people at the Bible School appeared to be able to do so.
Here is another 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). This is comparable with today. We should therefore anticipate eventual intervention by God again – 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. I hear that it is built near a fault line, locations prone to earthquakes. Note the prophecy in Isaiah 2:15 that “every high tower shall fall” at the time of God’s judgements. Many high buildings are designed to withstand earthquakes, but not this final one! Have a look at 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.