Do you ever wonder what God is up to in your life? At times, does God’s action (or inaction) make no sense? The whole tower of Babel situation in Genesis seems to fall into this category. What was harmful about building a tower and a creating a city big enough to hold everyone? Isn’t God about community and unity? Why, then, did God confuse their language, so they couldn’t communicate and separate them from one another? It’s confusing.
There are three things in this passage that explain God’s confusing actions.
Their doubt – The bricks they formed to build their tower were made of the same material Noah had used to make his ark waterproof. Even though God had promised that he would never again destroy the earth by a flood, they needed a back up plan, one of their own making to insure their safety – waterproof bricks. They didn’t trust God’s word.
Their disobedience – As Noah and his family left the ark God gave the commandment for them “to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:1) But these people did the opposite, they decided to settle down and build a great city so that they could all live together. After all, there is safety in numbers. God said, “fill the earth”, they said, “no we’re going to huddle together.” They trusted in their own devices to determine what was best for themselves, forgetting God’s commandment.
Their ego – They wanted to make a name for themselves by building a tower that reached to the heavens. Weird. Who were they trying to impress? So far, they were the only people on the earth. The only other being around was God. Maybe they were trying to impress God. “See God, our tower enters your heavens, we can reach you through our own efforts.” They were concerned about their own reputation and believed they could manage their relationship with God.
So, when life seems confusing or the situation you are in seems senseless, or when your efforts are confounded, consider this: Are you doubting God’s word? Disobeying God’s word? More concerned about your interests than God’s? Relying on yourself for protection or guidance? If so, confess it (which means admit the truth), repent (which means turn around and go the opposite direction), and thank God for his mercy and promise.