Today, we will conclude our study on the Tower of Babel by looking at one final aspect: the dispersion. For context, please read the entire passage of Genesis 11:1-9.
Notice the arrogance of man in this passage when he asserts “let us make brick… let us build a city… let us make us a name” (v 3, 4). God responds accordingly by saying “let us go down” (v. 7).” This could be a subtle reference to the Trinity, or it could just be a play on language.
The point is that God is appalled at what these sinful people have done together. It is understandable that each one of them is a sinful human who will do sinful actions, but together their sin is multiplied.
Have you ever been around a group of teenagers with nothing good to do? If one teenager has nothing good to do, they might entertain themselves by reading, or playing on their phone or doing something meaningless while staying out of trouble. But once they get around other teenagers with nothing good to do… uh-oh. That’s when they start daring one another to do stupid things; that’s when they start pushing boundaries and testing limits. That’s when you know that either a trip to the hospital or an explosion of discipline is in the very near future.
And this isn’t limited to teenagers either. In Men in Black, Tommy Lee Jones’ character, Agent K makes the great statement, “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.” Have you ever seen a mob on TV? Of course you have—we are in Baltimore, after all. These people would never jump on cars, smash store windows, or attack police in riot gear if they were alone. But once a group of sinful people get together, sin is multiplied.
Alone, each person who went to Babel knew that God had called them to fill the earth. Yet, once they saw others starting to settle in the plain at Shinar, they figured that it would be ok for them to do it too. After all, don’t we regularly compare ourselves to those around us? “I might know that I shouldn’t do that, but everyone else is doing it, so maybe I’ll just try it.”
In this way, they all rebel against God while working together for their own purposes. God comes down and isolates them into language groups so they can’t do this again. Because they could no longer communicate with each other, they could no longer trade, work together, or even settle minor neighborly disputes. So, they ended up dispersing.
Yet, they didn’t just move a little further away from each other. The language barrier was so strong that they no longer wanted to be near each other, and they ended up dispersing “over the face of all the earth.”
Wait a minute—wasn’t that part of God’s blessing to Noah in the first place? Wasn’t that part of God’s original plan? Do you mean to say that these sinful people were not able to cause God’s plans to cease? Of course.
What man refused to do voluntarily in obedience to God’s command, man was forced to do in accordance with God’s plan.
God always accomplishes His purposes. When He uses us willingly, it is a great joy, but when we are forced to obey, it seems like a punishment—especially if it takes us away from our friends!
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