There was a definite evil agenda associated with Nimrod’s building of the Tower of Babel. It was actually an attempt, among other things, to thwart God’s Plan for man to replenish and populate the whole Earth. The Bible says:
And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. [Gen. 11:4 Emphasis added]
A description of the tower was discovered over 100 years ago. According to this Babylonian description, there was an outer court 900 feet by 1,156 feet and an inner court 450 feet by 1,056 feet. There were six gates that surrounded the courts, and a platform with encircling walls and four gates on each side. Within stood a large building about 200 feet square. Around the base of the tower were many small shrines or chapels dedicated to various gods. In the center of these buildings stood the tower itself in various stages that decreased from the lowest upward each being square. The total height of the tower was 300 feet, the same as the breadth of its base. I want to say more concerning the tower, and God’s response to it in a moment.
I see another possibility here, beyond a desire to thwart the plan of God to replenish and populate the Earth. Notice the word, “Heaven” in verse 4. This is from the Hebrew, shamayim, or the second form, shameh. The second form of this word carries the idea of, “To be lofty, the sky, as aloft, the visible arch where the clouds move.” The Brown-Driver-Briggs dictionary of Old Testament words adds the possibility of this word being, “The abode of the stars.” Since the two words, may reach were not in the original, the idea in the building of the tower of Babel was not that its height would reach Heaven, as in “The dwelling place of God”, but rather the atmospheric or starry heavens. Archaeologists have reported finding ruins at the site with ancient signs of the Zodiac on them. Clearly this was an idolatrous structure dedicated to pagan worship of the stars and planets.
Prior to the confusion of languages at Babel, all people were not only of one language, but one religion as well; and that was idol worship. Following the confusion of tongues at Babel, the people began to scatter all over the earth, and also began to disagree on matters of religion and other issues. Religious denominations, while certainly not wrong within themselves as they can be a tool to take the gospel to the Nations, unfortunately stray from this mission and calling often; and when they do little by little take on the spirit of Babel.
The building of the tower did not get the attention of God as much as did the reason for its building. When God perceived their motives, the Word says:
And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. 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. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. [Gen. 11:5 – 7]
Initially God the Father came down to Earth to view what was being accomplished against His will. He then reported what He saw, and all three members of the Godhead came down to the Earth to bring judgment upon the people. This incident is recorded in one ancient Babylonian tablet that reads: “The building of this illustrious tower offended the gods. In a night they threw down what they had built. They scattered them abroad and made strange their speech. Their progress was impeded. They wept hot tears for Babylon.”
After the language of the people was confused, universal communication was impossible; therefore, those who spoke one language sought out others of the same dialect, and they settled in various parts of the world, as God had originally planned.
This confusion of tongues continued until God once again came down in the Person of the mighty Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2. The Prophet Isaiah had prophesied some 700 years previously:
For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. [Isa. 28:11, 12]
The Holy Spirit enabled the 120 who had gathered in the upper room to proclaim the glorious Message of God’s Grace in languages that could be understood by the listeners. God’s Mercy broke through the barrier that man’s pride and folly had caused to be erected at Babel, in order that every man might hear and understand the glad tidings of Salvation – “the wonderful Works of God” [Acts 2:11].
The question could be asked, what was God’s purpose in speaking through these individuals in other Tongues? I believe, it was to give man, in reality, one language, one hope, one object, and one life! It was to gather men in such a way that they should never be scattered or confounded again! It was to give them a name and a place that would endure forever! It was to build for them a tower and a city that not only could reach to Heaven, but would have its very foundation in Heaven! This mighty Baptism with the Holy Spirit gathered them around the glorious Person of a risen and highly exalted Christ and united them all in one grand chorus of magnifying and adoring Him!
In the book of Revelation we read: After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. [Rev. 7:9, 10 emphasis added]
We see then three accounts of other tongues used in scripture. In Genesis 11, God gave various tongues as an expression of His judgment. In Acts 2, He gave various tongues as an expression of His grace. In Revelation 7, we see various tongues gathered around the Throne of God in an expression of His glory!
It is obvious that Babel ended in confusion, but Pentecost ends in glory! Babel was empowered by the spirit of a fallen man, but Pentecost was empowered with the Power of the Holy Spirit! Babel was the result of man exalting man, but Pentecost was the result of man exalting the Lord Jesus Christ! May the Lord help us, by the Power of the Holy Spirit, to magnify His Power, and as a result be weaned from the spirit and principles of Babylon that are encroaching upon the Church even today!
Something else very interesting and important occurred during the Dispensation of Human Government. After the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel, God split the Earth into continents and islands, during the days of Peleg [Gen. 10:25]. Before this the whole human race was of one language and was centralized in one place on the Earth, which was one great land mass [Gen. 11:1]. Following the scattering of the various language groups, the continents were divided. This explains how all of the races were brought into being, on the different continents and islands on the globe. It would seem that God saw that He could no longer deal with mankind as a whole, so He began to deal with a particular race called forth from Abraham. This began a new Dispensation, the Dispensation of Promise, that we will discuss in our next post.
What was the purpose of God in the Dispensation of Human Government? His purpose was to allow man to prove his faithfulness to the Lord through keeping the Laws given by God through human administration. The Laws were proposed and government established so that man could rule himself, under God’s Guidance, throughout all of the ages to come. Man, of course, failed in this Dispensation as he had in the former two. The events of this period show the futility of human government that forgets God!
This is a sobering lesson to be learned today. When laws are passed forbidding our children to pray in public schools, when the Supreme Court sanctions the murder of untold millions of unborn babies each year, not to mention the attempt to redefine marriage and the family in the name of so-called, “same-sex marriage”; we get a glimpse of the confusion that followed Babel, and the judgment that fell on a civilization that chose to forget their God!
The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. [Ps. 9:17]
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson