Day 8

The Tower of Babel

from the Genesis reading plan


Genesis 11:1-32, Genesis 12:1-9, Psalm 2:1-12, Luke 1:51

One of the things I love about good storytelling is how certain themes carry throughout a narrative. Most stories track with themes like hope, love, and sacrifice—you can see them in everything from Star Wars to Harry Potter to and everything in between). They run throughout the Bible, too, though they aren’t the only themes. One I always see exploding off the pages of Genesis is the danger of pride, specifically in God’s response to it.

Think about the incident in Babel, for instance. All of humanity united as one, all able to speak the same language and understand one another perfectly—it’s the stuff that utopian fantasies (and Star Trek) are made of. However, what united them was their arrogance and rebellion against God (Genesis 11:4–5). In response, God changed their languages and scattered them, which resulted in them breaking apart into many people groups, no longer able to be united in their false worship. This theme is picked up again in the Book of Psalms:

“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth take their stand,
and the rulers conspire together against
the LORD and his Anointed One” (Psalm 2:1–2).

And when Mary sang her Magnificat (Luke 1:51), she praised God for how He “scattered the proud because of the thoughts of their hearts,” which is something we tend to gloss over around Christmastime when we read this passage.

But like so many other examples of good storytelling, the themes in Scripture don’t standalone. Yes, God despises pride, but His judgment of it is accompanied by something else—a promise, one of blessing and hope. This is powerfully reflected in God’s words to Abram in Genesis 12: “I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” What’s so incredible about this promise, though, is that it wasn’t made to just one man, but to a man who becomes a family, which became a great nation, which then became a family of people from all nations blessing the whole world.

How?

By faith in one Man, Jesus Christ, who lived and died and now lives again for us. He took God’s judgment of our pride upon Himself, and in exchange, blessed us with His perfection its place. Jesus undoes the curse of Babel, and brings people from all nations and all languages and all backgrounds together as one, united not in their pride, but in worship of God.

Written by Aaron Armstrong

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One thought on "The Tower of Babel"

  1. Mark Ordus says:

    Good perspective on the Tower of Bable. It’s always been one of those passages to me like “man, seems like God just got bitter and scattered them because He was grumpy”. But I like the perspective of He was breaking down what united them, because what united them, even though it DID unite them, would be their destruction. Thanks for this!

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