At first glance, this story looks like a nod to collaborative and innovative genius among a group of builders. Take note that God Himself comes down to check out this tower! Then God responds in a way that might seem in awe, even threatened. He says nothing will be impossible for them. But instead of stepping back and seeing what they might come up with next, God sets out to confuse their language so they will no longer be able to tackle the impossible. Why would God do such a thing? Well, it wasn’t because God can’t stand when people accomplish things.
Don’t forget that Noah and his descendants were given the mission to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. This required them to spread out and cover the Creator’s planet with testimony of His goodness to each of them. In verse four, however, we see that a conspiracy had formed. New vision was cast – vision that challenged God’s calling upon them. They wanted to stick together and make their names great instead of God’s. In light of this, stand in awe with me at God’s response to this pathetic, yet brazen attempt at overthrowing the God of Heaven.
So, let’s get back to the why. God was not threatened by the tower of mud, nor by the limitlessness of the capabilities of these conspirators. God is Creator and Father. When He saw His people defying His commands once again, He did not lash out in rage. He patiently corrected their course. His people were given a new opportunity to follow Him, the God of Life, to a lifetime of amazing accomplishments, rescuing them, once again from the lies of Satan that would tempt them with greatness and reward them with slavery.
“Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.’ And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.” – Genesis 11:1-9