The Tower of Babel

Genesis 9:1

Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. (NIV84)

After the judgment by water God commanded the survivors to spread out across the earth and fill it with children, but…

Genesis 11:1–9

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar [later called Babylon] and settled there.

3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 6 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. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth. (NIV84)

Mankind did not wish to obey God and spread out across the whole earth. Instead he wanted to build for himself a man-centered society. He didn’t want to be subject to God’s whims and punishments. Man saw himself as being capable of controlling his own destiny. This story from Genesis is an expression of man’s belief in himself.

The first thing we see in the text is a statement about the common language of all men. This statement was not made for them, but for us today. This is an important thing to note. Please understand that pretty much the whole Bible was written for us today, and not so much for peoples of the past. God’s plan for man is soon coming to a major junction. The Lord is soon coming to do away with sin. The Bible was written to give us understanding and warning concerning what is soon to come upon us. This is huge. This is huge on the order of Noah’s flood.

Looking back at the text we see that man moved east to build his city. When the Bible gives us a strange detail like that we need to look into it. East is the direction that God comes from. The sun symbolically represents God and it rises from the east.

Ezekiel 43:1–2

Then the man brought me to the gate facing east, 2 and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory. (NIV84)

The significance of man going east to build his city is that he is setting himself up as god. He is saying that he doesn’t need God, and that he can build a society for the betterment of man.

Genesis 11:3

They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. (NIV84)

They used brick instead of stone, do you see what this is saying? This is a clue for us to understand. Man used something that he could build (brick) instead of something only God can make (stone). And he used tar for mortar. What an odd detail. Tar. Instead of mortar. Why not use mortar? Tar is a petroleum product. And petroleum is a big part of man’s city.

Genesis 11:4

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” (NIV84)

This statement is most illuminating. To understand it you need to understand that some of the words carry special spiritual meaning. First word that you should note is the word city. The word city in this context is not just a literal city, but rather a society.

Revelation 21:2–4

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (NIV84)

Here we see that the “Holy City” actually represents Heaven, the place of God’s abode (also see Hebrews 11:16). Many times in the Bible the word city is used to mean a society.

The word heavens in Genesis 11:4 above is special too. Whenever the word heaven is plural it refers to the atmosphere of earth (first heaven) and also outer space (second heaven), and may also refer to the place of God’s abode, (third heaven). So when we see that man wants to build a city with a tower that reaches into the heavens it is talking about a city, a society, that rules over the earth and the stars in the heavens. Man wants to be master over all that he can see. He wants to be a good and just master, dispensing wisdom for all. To see this vision in film look at the Star Trek franchise. Man, having overcome his prejudices and self-destructive tendencies, zipping about the galaxy setting things to right; coming down out of the sky as teachers and as peace keepers; like God. Man sees himself as being like God and not needing God for himself. That is the dream.

A tower also has a special import as a symbolic word. Towers in the ancient world were built for defense. A city with a high tower was a city well protected from its enemies. This is why the starship Enterprise has awesome weapons. We can defend ourselves from those that oppose us.

Man knew what God commanded that he do, but in direct rebellion man built his city to make a name for himself, as it says above, that would also protect him from God.

Today in the world we see man doing everything he can do so that he doesn’t have to rely on God. He builds damns to prevent floods and irrigate crops so that too much or too little rain is not a problem. Man builds armies and weapons of war to protect himself from enemies that may attack. He builds hospitals and other infrastructure to make for a healthy and long life. Anything and everything that man can do to take care of himself he does, so that he doesn’t have to rely on God.

The last thing that you should take note of in this Genesis 11 story is the name: Babel. Look at this next passage from Revelation.

Revelation 18:10

Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: “ ‘Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!’ (NIV84)

This city that is destroyed in Revelation is the same city that man started building in Genesis 11.

At that time God confused their language and put a temporary stop to the building of the city, but man has never for one second forgotten his dream of independence from God. For the past 100 years or so man has been in high gear coming together with the common language of business and trade, English, building a global economic system through which all nations can work together to finish the city that was started so long ago. Biblically speaking this city now goes by the name of the Harlot of Babylon.

Please understand that today there are three major societies in the earth. Babylon, the rebellious city of man, is only one. God and his people make up another city. And Satan and his followers make up the third. These three cities have been on earth from the fall of Satan to this day. God’s message from the beginning is that only his city will prevail. It is not that God will wipe out any competition, it is rather that sin will destroy the others. The moment Satan rebelled he was doomed. The moment man rebelled he was doomed as well. However, God designed the universe in such a way as to make it possible for God to save man from his folly.

2 Samuel 14:14

Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. (NIV84)

The thing to understand in this is that the very nature of God is eternal. God is sustaining. He is the Author of Life. Love builds up and tends and waters and saves. Sin, on the other hand, by its very nature is consuming. To break away from God is to put yourself in the center. When you are in the center you become like a black-hole. You then suck the life out of everything around you. This is the inevitable outcome. Selfishness draws into itself. Don’t think that God is at the center of existence either. God’s energies are not self directed. He is the sustainer. His energies are outward directed. God is love and love always looks outside of itself to help others. That is what divine love is; that is what God is.

When we envision God as being the worshipped one in the center, we are only projecting our own thinking on him. When God wants you to worship him he wants you to worship the real him, the outward-directed, life-sustaining, giving One. When Jesus Christ came to the earth he was not recognized for who he really was, because the leaders of the world projected their expectations on the Bible’s prophecies. They were looking for what they expected. They did not know the true God, and so they didn’t recognize him. Now, my friend, you know that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, so look carefully at him and see the true nature of God.

Matthew 26:52

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. (NIV84)

World War II was a battle between Satan and his people and the Harlot of Babylon and her people. It was a fulfillment of this Scriptures.

Matthew 24:7

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. (NIV84)

The kingdom of Satan was trying to take over the world, and the kingdom of man opposed him. In this exchange the kingdom of man prevailed, but this will not be so in the next exchange.

Revelation 17:16

The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. (NIV84)

The beast represents Satan and his people, and the prostitute represents the City of Babel, or Babylon. Satan wants to control the world but he can’t do it as long as man is organized. He will destroy the economic control of the world in the hopes of picking up the pieces for himself. That is his plan.

Today, many of God’s people are confused and deceived and are currently within the great prostitute of man’s city.

Revelation 18:4

Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; (NIV84)

Come out of her, my people… Come out of her. Stop believing in the dream of man’s supremacy. Stop believing in the Star Trek dream. Humble yourselves and let the love of God fill you with his power, the power to rebirth you into an existence inside of God. The City of man is persuasive. She promises wealth and for a time delivers, but the cost is too high. God’s way is the only way, and we must forget our self and bury ourselves in God.

In the end sin will burn itself out and be no more. Anyone that believes in sin will be destroyed by it. God is calling out to you…

Matthew 11:28

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (NIV84)


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One Comment on “The Tower of Babel”

  1. L Says:

    I have never quite seen Genesis 11:1-9 in this manner before.

    So often when we read the Bible we graze over these types scriptures and never really put any thought into them. It’s not that we purposely skim over them, but we do in hopes to find some other ‘great’ truth that seems more relevant or suitable to our lives.

    The way this small, seemingly unimportant scripture is explained in this article is wonderful. God’s Word is awesome! What a beautiful insight that’s expressed here. In the end, it all boils down to how loving God is and how He longs for man to know Him; really know Him.

    God is not some tyrant high up in the sky longing to snuff out mankind at whatever whim He feels. He longs, desires and gives us so many opportunities to choose Him, if we listen, observe and obey…

    God is love and longs for all of us to seek Him. He longs to fill us with His life so that we may truly Live.

    “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8 (NIV)

    “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
    2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

    Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35 (NIV)


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