Babel: Confusion and the Scattering
But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth. (Genesis 11:5-9)
Note that the LORD came down to see the city and tower. Most certainly He could see what was happening from heaven (Hebrews 4:13), but came down so the populace could see that He had been watching. Indeed, He had been watching. He is always watching.
The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. (Proverbs 15:3)
What God observed troubled Him. The human rebels of Babel had done it again. They’d found a way to completely eliminate God from their lives. Instead, they were worshiping the host of heaven. Their unanimity in this was dangerous; their common language gave them creative capacities they could one day use for wholly evil purposes.
Therefore God imposed the judgment of the confusion of man’s language. (When trying to explain the present profusion of languages, one has to consider this event. It is the origin of the almost 7,000 languages spoken today.)
Unable to understand each other, and having been scattered throughout the whole earth, the human race was divided … as linguistic and geographical unity suddenly came to an end.
This was merciful and gracious on God’s part. Had they continued in their intended course of action, man’s world would have devolved into a world without God, a world without purpose, a world without faith, a world without hope. It may have even been a world without a Savior. With no Savior, there could be no forgiveness, and all would experience the second death. Adam’s death, passed on to all, would have been permanent.
Here is a major redemptive result of the confusion of languages and geographic dispersion … there would be specific language groups with their own unique cultural and linguistic features.
“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’” (Acts 17:26-28)
Thank God that He stopped the madness of Babel!
For Further Review
1. God is watching, His eyes see everything. What should the believer’s response be to this fact? How about the unbeliever or pre-believer?
2. Summarize: what are the merciful benefits of God having confused human languages and scattering mankind throughout the earth?
3. What advantage does this create for the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ?