And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (Gen. 11:4)
After the flood, the world began to be repopulated. The Genesis account reveals mankind possessed a presumed wisdom. They thought unity would prevent the problems of the previous age. Perhaps they sought to avoid the division between the families of Seth and Cain. However it may have been, there was a determination to make a new world. The tower’s purpose was to memorialize themselves. . . “a name for ourselves” and maintain unity. . . “lest we be scattered. . .”
“And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” (Gen.11:6) This was God’s perspective over the descendants of Shem, Ham, and Japheth. We get a sense of their great potential, unified identity producing unified efforts. Yet, God saw something our ancestors could not; “. . . now nothing will be restrained from them. . .” They possessed the attitude of “The sky’s the limit.” Mankind would have succeeded into a world of hubris; an unreal world where the underlying condition of sin would have been ignored. Imagine a society of superficial cooperation with men and women moving farther and farther from God. God saw their desire for fulfilled potential blinded them from their need to embrace their Creator, the One who brings true fulfillment. God saved man from himself through the induction of languages.
The languages of Babel brought optimum conditions for man to search out God. Languages demonstrated their perceived dream of unity was empty. Instead of exercising good will to reestablish communication, the people separated from one another. This absence of unity was an impediment to growth. It needed to be understood. God provided a reality check for the builders of the tower. The reality was/is sin. Because of sin they separated. It is because of sin we tend to distrust those with whom we cannot identify. The happy dream of a brotherhood of man without God was/is false. They (as well as we) needed to understand there could be no unity because of sin in their lives. Languages corrected mankind’s course by giving the opportunity for humility, to see the problem of sin and the need for God. From this the individual may repent and learn to walk with God.
The descendants of Shem, Ham, and Japeth were stripped of their unity for the sake of a better plan – “. . .by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.” (Gen.10:32)
Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah. (Psalm 9:20)