by Ricky P. Chelette, Executive Director
The story of the tower of Babel is one of those ancient biblical texts, too familiar, and rarely fully understood. If you’ve never read it, give it a read. It can be found in Genesis 11:1-9. Here’s the gist of the story: After the flood that destroys most of humanity over their wickedness, faithful Noah and his family begin the repopulation of the earth at the command of God. You would think that after being witness to such raw power and catastrophic devastation (the flood), every succeeding generation would have trembled at their inclination towards evil and embraced obedience to God – but life is rarely that linear or straightforward.
But despite Noah’s great story of salvation and redemption, the sin-sick reality of our Adamic condition continues to shine through humanity’s existence.
Like our father, Adam, we continue to believe that we have a better way of doing things than simply trusting in God’s instruction. Rather than obey the commands Noah’s family received in 9:1 (the very same command Adam and Eve received in Gen. 1:28), Noah and his descendants decide not to scatter but to gather in one localized clan. You can’t fill the earth if you are not spreading out throughout the earth.
It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to 21st-century readers, but God saw beyond their disobedient actions to their sinful hearts and His bigger plan for redemption. He always does. Though they had labored and built a fine city with a tower reaching towards the heavens, this was not what God commanded of them. As they built, their pride grew. They, like Adam and like us, believed the praise of accomplishment was greater joy than the pride-crushing obscurity of obedience.
In an act of great mercy, and within His salvific plan or redemption, God spared sinful man annihilation and confounded their language, forcing them to do what He had so kindly commanded them to do. Soon the earth would be filled with various tribes and tongues who would, upon His return, eventually praise the name of their Redeemer.
The brilliance of God’s scattering ensured that one united clan, indwelt with Adamic sin, would not be able to snuff out the message of redemption. A remnant of God’s faithful would always prevail. Eventually, the message of the gospel would be fully revealed in Christ for a final chance for salvation to all who would, by faith, entrust their lives to Him. Out of confusion and chaos, He brings order and redemption.
What is God asking you to do? How have you resisted Him? Are you working for Him or against Him? Thank Him for His grace and patience with you and decide today to follow Him wholeheartedly.