The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9)

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18). The surest path to self-destruction is to believe that you are strong and wise enough to handle anything and everything. The surest path to an abundant life is to surrender your life to Jesus Christ. Today, we shall be in Genesis 11 and learn about a group of people who believed God was unimportant and learn from their mighty fall:

  1. The People. In verses 1&2, we learn about a people who are unified and rebellious. They were unified because they all had “one language and the same words.” They were rebellious because they abused their unity. Instead of using this gift as a means to glorify God, they used it for their sinful pride. For example, as they went east they “found a plain…and settled there.” Notice that there is no indication of prayerfully seeking God’s wisdom. Their pride resulted in them making the first of many foolish decisions that will haunt them later.
  2. The Project. In verses 3&4, the people devise a project that is both foolish and arrogant. They decided to “build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens.” Their reason was that they desired to “make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” This project is foolish because it is in disobedience to God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen 9:1). They did not want to obey God’s command because they believed their project was better. The arrogance on display in this section is breathtaking because they act as if God is unnecessary. In fact, in their arrogance they want to exalt their name over and above God’s name.
  3. The Probe. In verse 5, God’s probe of the city and the tower is humorous and humbling. It is humorous because of the stark contrast between man and God. Here we have a puny group of arrogant usurpers seeking to work their way into heaven contrasted with the Almighty God who is so exalted that He must “come down” to observe their foolishness. The contrast is also humbling because the magnificent city and tower is actually quite scrawny in God’s eyes.
  4. The Plan. In verses 6-9, God carries out a powerful and gracious plan to confuse their language because “nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.” God demonstrates His power when He intervenes to restrain the sinful arrogance of man. This is a gracious act of God because He knows that man’s heart is sick with sin (Jer. 17:9) and that man has a sickening potential for evil that must be restrained. Praise the Lord for the many times He restrains evil around us.

The people in our verses today were foolish because they lived their life as if God were unnecessary and unimportant. The result was that they made foolish decisions that resulted in God’s judgment. The good news is that God is very gracious and patient. For this reason, it is important that you learn from the people in Genesis 11 and not make a similar mistake. So prayerfully ask yourself: Do I live my life as if God is unimportant? Do I make my own decisions and demand that God approve them? Or do I prayerfully seek God’s wisdom? Remember, the surest path to self-destruction is to believe that you are strong and wise enough to handle anything and everything. The surest path to an abundant life is to surrender your life to Jesus Christ.