When God brought Noah and his family out of the ark, he blessed them and gave them the same charge he had given Adam and Eve: “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). It was a second chance at adventure, a starting over.
But the people don’t listen. They are fruitful and multiply, and they eventually put down roots and settle in one place. There, with the prideful intention of making a name for themselves and with an arrogant attempt to reach the heavens, they build a city with a tall tower. Tragically, they’re following in the footsteps of their ancestors—disregarding God, living apart from him and striving to fill the longings in their souls on their own. God is well aware that this will destroy them yet again. Seeing that their unity is leading them away from him, God convenes a heavenly council and decides to confuse their language. He thwarts the building project.
The King’s Heart
God had good plans for his people, maybe even plans for them to build cities and high-reaching towers. Most likely, he had even grander plans—it seems that he wanted them to spread out and experience the entire earth and all of the wonders he invented on it.
God isn’t against us achieving success. In fact, it brings him deep joy. But he doesn’t want us to settle for our own little plans; he wants us to join in on the huge plans that he has dreamed for us. And he wants us to walk through them together with him. He wants to multiply the participation in the joy, and he wants us to experience the heart bonding with him that comes from sharing adventures that are even greater than our minds can conceive. Pure goodness wants others to experience goodness.
The motivation behind Babel happens in us all the time. We forget God’s good desires and strive to meet our heart’s longings on our own. All the while, he is there—dreaming bigger dreams for us than we can ever imagine.
When God gives you instructions, obey him. And when he puts desires in your heart, talk to him about them and watch what he does with them. Trust that he is leading you to goodness that’s beyond your ability to dream.
Thousands of years after the tower of Babel, on the day of Pentecost, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to his followers. When the Holy Spirit filled them, the people who had gathered around them heard them speaking in their own language (see Acts 2:1–11). God reversed the language confusion of Babel.