Trouble at Babel

Genesis 11:4
“And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”

For many people studying the early chapters of Genesis, the account of Babel is a troubling interlude. We like to concentrate on the Creation Week, and then the Flood, and then let’s get on to talking about Abraham. But before we get to Abraham, we have this troubling account of what all these people who were the descendants of Noah and his family were doing at Babel.

God had given a very clear and brief command to Noah and his family before making a covenant with them. He said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). It is in that context that we need to consider the words of the people at Babel.

“Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:4)

It is not that there is necessarily anything wrong with building a city. But there were a number of things wrong with their plans for this city. The city was to be designed to prevent themselves from being dispersed over the face of the whole earth. This was clearly in direct contradiction to God’s command to them. In view of this rebellious attitude, we also see that there was something wrong with their desire to build a city and a tower “with its top in the heavens”. An attempt to get to heaven by our own effort, without reference to God, is clearly an act of rebellion and led to the disaster which God brought on them.

Prayer: We pray that we might seek Your will, Lord; that we might always seek to do things Your way, and not our way. Amen.

Ref: Hodge, B. (2013), Tower of Babel, (Master Books).

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