The Stumbling Ones Who Need Humility
Shortly following the departure of Noah and his family from the ark, God blesses Noah and his family, but also God instructs them to “be fruitful and multiply, and [to] fill the earth” (Genesis 9.1, 7). However, in just two chapters proceeding, we will see a group of people who will be in sharp opposition to God, by directly disobeying His commands of being fruitful, of multiplying and of scattering across the whole earth.
At the time of Genesis 11, “the whole earth used the same language and the same words” (Genesis 11.1). The people are seen to be making bricks in verse 3. Eventually this leads to their desire to construct a massive tower that “will reach into heaven” (Genesis 11.3-4). The two reasons behind their desire is to “make for [themselves] a name” and to not have to scatter, or “fill the earth” (Genesis 11.4).
This is in opposition to God's commands to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 9.1). These people are extremely prideful in their actions for two reasons. First, they have disobeyed God and are thinking their ways are better, thus putting themselves above God. Second, they plan to construct this tower for their own fame and “name,” not God’s or for His glory (Genesis 11.4).
So what does the LORD do in response to this disobedience and pride? “[He comes] down” to see the tower they built (Genesis 11.5).
A quick side note: Notice that it says the LORD had to come down to see the tower. This tower was supposed to reach into heaven, but the image is painted of God coming down just to see it. This displays how much higher God is than we are, in our thoughts, ways, ideas, everything.
Once He comes down, He confuses their language (Genesis 11.7, 9). This results in the people having to stop working on their ambition, and instead they scatter. This is what God had originally intended and instructed them to do. Even though they were trying to be rebellious, God forced them to obey His will. As we see “the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the earth” (Genesis 11.8-9). God’s will was going to be and was accomplished.
So why am I writing to you about this story of people from thousands of years ago? Well, because we have received similar commands. So will we act in disobedience as they did or will we obey?
In being disciples of Jesus, we are also to be fruitful (John 15.8) and be a sower of the seed (2 Corinthians 9.10). Being a sower of the seed is spreading God’s word which will multiply God’s followers and fill the earth with His people. So will you bear fruit for God and scatter the seed? Or will you be like Babel and not listen to God? Not listening to and not following God’s commands results in punishment. The people of Babel had their languages confused and had to scatter. If we do not obey and bear fruit, we can expect to be cut off and thrown into the fire (Luke 3.9).
Disobeying God was not the only issue with the people of Babel. They had a major focus on pride and building up their own name, instead of glorifying God’s. They wanted to selfishly make a name for themselves. As Christians, we cannot have the pride they did. We must be focused on ‘making a name’ for God by continually giving Him all the glory, praise, and thanks. We should be found proclaiming His name and singing His praise, not our own (Hebrews 2.12). We must drop our pride and completely live for Jesus so “that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in [us], and [us] in Him” (2 Thessalonians 1.12).
In the tower of Babel story, the people should have been glorifying God, not themselves. What will the Lord find you doing? The people disobeyed God by not scattering, and so He scattered them. If you do not obey God and humble yourself, God will humble you as it says that “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow… and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2.10-11). So will you humble yourself and recognize Jesus as Lord, or will you have to be humbled by God?
Just remember God is in complete control. From the time of creation to the story of Babel, there was one language. People disobeyed and did not recognize God, so He made multiple languages. People have strayed from God and are not praising Him. But at judgment, all will be speaking one message, that is, all will be confessing that Jesus is Lord. All the tongues that God created will be in unison to form one message: a message of obedience and recognition of the sovereignty of Jesus.
So, will you humble yourself or will you have to be humbled? Decide quickly, for the Lord is coming.