Every human being is essentially the same. We long for our lives to be filled with meaning, significance, and purpose. We want to change the world. We want to be noticed, recognized, and loved. At some point, we may lose those ambitions and settle for a quiet life in Tibet, but most people continue wishing they were well known, well loved, and filthy rich. So, we do stupid stuff in order to attain these shallow goals. In one way or another, we all want to erect a tower to ourselves (a guy named Donald comes to mind).
After a massive flood, God “reboots” humanity with eight people, fresh off the boat. After several generations the entire human population of the earth resides (at least mostly) in one place, speaking one language. They build a city with a large tower in it, called Babel. They want the same things we want: to be noticed, loved, and highly regarded. You know…like Kanye.
These people speak as one voice, as if they were God (also like Kanye). God says, “Come, let us make man in our image.” These people say, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its tops in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”
There is nothing wrong with building a city, but why build a tower to the heavens? The answer of course, is in the next statement: “Let us make a name for ourselves”. These guys are filled with pride and want to be praised for their accomplishments. There is no acknowledgment of God. In fact, they make themselves out to be God. It is worth noting that God gave them what they wished for. Thousands of years later, millions of people know about the tower of Babel. They certainly make a name for themselves.
These people reject God, who created a great big planet for humanity filled with beauty and fantastic surprises for those who would explore it. Exploration is like an Easter egg hunt, and these guys in Babel found one egg they really liked and stopped hunting. Can you imagine how sad that makes a loving Father? He’s filled the earth with good gifts. He doesn’t want us to settle for just one!
God’s reply to humanity’s pride is always the same: take them down a peg. Pride is a sin. It leads to relentless cut-throat competitions and one-upmanship. In this case, we don’t see where this ancient tower-building culture is headed, exactly. We are told that “nothing will be impossible for them.” Why is that a bad thing?
Well, to answer that question, one need only to look around. We now have a place we can go where there is essentially one global language. It’s called the internet. Barriers to global communication have been nearly obliterated (thank you, Google Translate). I can know up-to-the-minute information on any major news event in any place on planet earth with a few key-strokes and mouse clicks. We are Babel. I’m sorry to say that all of our advancements and endeavors have not produced world peace, ended poverty, or cured cancer, but we did create “Pokemon Go”. That’s almost as good as those other things.
Believe it or not, I fear what might happen if we accomplish even one of those “big three”. The world will abandon God and we will praise ourselves for solving our own problems. We will have made a name for ourselves. Humanity will become its own God. The Lord will not allow our godless tower to remain. He does not share glory with idols.
Marshall McLuhan, the prophetic media genius of the 20th century, predicted what we now see happening. He coined the term “global village”. He also told us it would be violent, and give rise to a new form of tribalism. We’re talking about an ideological form of “Clash of Clans” that threatens to tear our world apart from the inside. Mcluhan’s predictions were WAY ahead of their time. For more of his amazing quotes, check out Brainy Quotes: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/m/marshall_mcluhan.html
All of this is to say that nothing should surprise you anymore. Shootings, war, corruption, Donald Trump, viral videos that make no sense, smart phones that raise your children for you, augmented reality video games…it all makes sense when the tower is built and we speak with one language. When nothing is impossible, when nothing is sacred, when nothing is universal except our ability to communicate…then every good becomes possible, and every evil is explored. Every random bit of nonsense is expressed. Nobody has the authority to define good and evil, because everyone wants to define it for themselves. We are not merely a house divided. We are a house shattered into millions of bits. This tower cannot stand. We all end up feeling like losers because we all end up feeling alone. The Global Village hates itself.
Humanity needs hope. Our hope comes in the next chapter of this epic story. God calls someone out to correct our course. He summons a “favored one” named Abram to restore humanity. Abram is humanity’s new hope. God doesn’t call down and say, “Help me, Abram, you’re my only hope.” Instead, he begins with a command, “Abram, go to the land that I will show you…”
The principle is universal: God won’t let our story end in despair. This is as true today as it was six thousand years ago. We are not alone.