Reading the Bible is an experience, especially when you actually pay attention to what you read. You find things that confuse you, scare you and upset you. Sometimes you find things that just seem wrong and make you doubt. God also isn’t very quick on the guidance part. It sometimes takes months to get clarity on some things (not on the important stuff, thankfully).
I was reading Genesis 11 a long time ago and the story of the tower of Babel really disturbed me. Here’s an excerpt from my reading note for it:
“I do not believe the story of the tower of Babel. To be frank, it sounds rather ridiculous. The people wanted to build a tall tower. […] They want to do it in order to make a name for themselves and not be scattered across the earth. At least, those were the stated reasons. However, God “comes down” and sees their tower and doesn’t like their actions for some reason. So he gives them separate languages and scatters them. […] How bad can it be to just build a tower? What was the danger – their arrogance? Even if you simply brush this off as another reason Christianity is false, you still need to answer the question if you wish to give it all the respect you give any other literary work. What exactly was it that God did not want them to do? […]”
I attended a dinner yesterday and the pastor gave a little speech on the passage that gave me just a little more insight. God didn’t confuse their language because he was scared of their tower. He confused them, literally dividing them, because in their unity they could do things that he didn’t like. Things that were wrong and harmful and they would have more success because they were united. In other words, what he said.
“The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.”
Or as the Message puts it,
“God took one look and said, “One people, one language; why, this is only a first step. No telling what they’ll come up with next—they’ll stop at nothing! Come, we’ll go down and garble their speech so they won’t understand each other.””
The story of the tower of Babel teaches the importance of unity and tells of God dividing humans because united they could do so much more. And whether they did good or harm depended on how in tune with God’s will they were.