A Tall Tower, Born and Raised in West Philadelphia

Genesis 11:1-9 (NIV)

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel —because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

First off, I wonder what it is like to be scattered by The Lord. Did he literally pick people up and move them, or maybe he flicked them off the tips of his fingers like a persistent booger? Who knows? But, he definitely spread the people out, and confused their languages so they could no longer communicate.

Why would he do that? I mean, you have this group of people, working together to pursue grand, and common goals and then God comes down and says, no, don’t do that. It seems like a really mean thing to do. It seems like he is just flexing his God muscles and making up new rules as he goes along.

Or, is he doing it out of love and protection for his creation?

I probably don’t know enough to attempt to explain this, but here goes…

Lucifer the angel decided he wanted to be top dog and recruited a third of the angels in heaven to pick a fight with God. Lucifer the angel, and his army, lost. They were cast down to Earth and trapped here until such time when the final battle occurs and they are obliterated forever.

Woah!

But, while here, Satan (no longer an angel – at least not one of heaven) is given dominion over the Earth. He is allowed to mess with God’s creation to a point. He can prod us, temped us, and woo us to follow him. So, God gives Satan dominion over the Earth and gives us free will. Satan tempts Eve. Adam and Eve fall to temptation and are cast out of the garden.

Now, Satan and man are temporarily sharing this space.

Man – the people, decide to spread out. They move in groups. The make small villages, towns, and then cities. They learn to work the land; to manipulate the land to grow more crops and feed a growing population. They learn to build, and build bigger and better homes, buildings, and temples. They work together to do all this. Something can happen, however, when a people are united. Satan can tempt the masses. He can spread an idea through a group of people – call it a mob mentality. People can unite for good, or they can unite for evil. The unification of people is not good or bad, but what the people do once unified…well, that can be amazing or disastrous  Take the South during the Civil war, for example. There was a group of people unified, working together for purposes that history would define as ignorant, and wrong.

I’m still not making sense.

In our story from Genesis, the people unite to build a tower. That seems harmless enough. The tower itself is not a bad thing, but their reasons for building the tower are questionable. They want to make a name for themselves. They want the rest of the world to notice them. They want to glorify themselves. This is where things get tricky.

God scattered the people and confused their language so that they could no longer work together to glorify themselves. He knew they were giving into a temptation that was unholy, unrighteous, and could potentially lead down a path to destruction. He scattered them to set boundaries; to show them where the line was, to protect them from certain danger.

I love my son. I don’t want to see him get hurt and if I see him wandering into a roadway without looking, I am going to grab him and yank him back away from danger. The road is not dangerous, the oncoming traffic isn’t evil, and his choice to walk across the road is not a sin, but when those three things happen together – well, I don’t even want to imagine the potential results.

Likewise, the tower is not dangerous, people uniting is not evil, and building a tower is not a sin, but God, our father, could see the danger in that combination and moved his people to safety.

And, as a result, thousands of years later, we get to watch a funny video like the one below that exemplifies just how confused a people can be when we have multiple languages in the same world. I know, I know – this was the really long way around to simply introduce a YouTube video.

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