Many people are familiar with the story of the Tower of Babel. At the Tower the people attempted to build a structure that would reach heaven. God frustrated their plans by confusing their languages, making it impossible for them to complete their task. The inspired writer of this story in the primeval history of Genesis may have had in mind the ziggurat tower of the Esagil in city of Babylon.
The people said to one another that they should build a tower with bricks to the top of the heavens (the dwelling place of God) so that they could make a name for themselves and not be dispersed over the earth. The Lord responded by saying to his heavenly council (angels) that they should go down and confuse the language of the people so that they could not do what they intended. As a result, the people were dispersed over the earth as they feared. What happened was exactly what they wished to prevent; they were dispersed on the face of the earth.
The themes of this text have rich meaning. Our reaching to the sky challenges the sovereignty of God. There are plenty of examples of this pride today. Many wish to live their lives without the limits God has set. Society has stretched beyond the safe limits God has imposed.
A confusion of tongues persists, not only in the many languages of earth, but also in the inability of humanity to communicate in the way of understanding. Many voices wish to be heard but do not want to hear. Today with an ever-present media we hear much chatter but little wisdom. We on this planet earth are a confusion of tongues. This situation is a sign of the Fall of humanity into sin.
We are not patient to hear and slow to speak. We wish to do the speaking so that others may hear our wisdom that is not wisdom. We do not wish to hear the foolishness of others; or, for that matter the wisdom of others.
In so many ways we continue to build our towers to the sky. Our pride has gotten us by the throat. We transgress the limits God has set for us. He limits us not because He is jealous of us or threatened by us, but because He knows it is best for us. When we transgress these limits, we get into a lot of trouble in every area of our personal and cultural life. We must not play God. God is the only genuine divine actor.
As witnesses and apologists we must patiently listen to others and clearly speak. We must sort out and address their religious confusion. These things require self-reflection, prayer, study, and a humanity that is based on Christ’s teachings. Without this discipline we do not only lose credibility with others in our witness and defense but our very selves as faithful disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Michael G. Tavella
June 20, 2020