Tower of Babel

Lee DeYoung

READ : Genesis 11:1-9

So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth . . . (v. 8)

When I taught in Lokichoggio, I could not recall ever hearing a sermon or lecture about the tower of Babel. So I was initially surprised by the Africans’ intense curiosity about that event: “What language was spoken before the tower of Babel?” “Could anyone still speak that language afterwards?”

The tower of Babel exemplified human rebellion against the Lord. Following the flood, God had commanded Noah and his sons to “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). Yet only a few years later at Babel, the people willfully disobeyed God’s directive, “Let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered . . .” (v. 4). Instead of dispersing to fill the earth as God had ordered, people assembled in a city they had built to glorify themselves. Although their tower was meant to reach to the heavens, God “came down” (v. 5) to see it.

The tower symbolized idolatry based on human ambition. The Lord overruled their defiance in a creative, nondestructive way. By confusing their speech, God actually put them back on track, scattering his people abroad over the face of the earth.


Lord, may your Word cover the earth in every tongue to every tribe and nation. Amen.