Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men 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 and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men 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.
There are three desires that define humanity:
1) The desire for acceptance.
2) The desire for knowledge.
3) The desire for something bigger than ourselves. Like God.
When God created Adam, it was in His image. We are a reflection of God, and we are relational. We need each other just as Adam needed Eve. We do not do well when we are alone.
Our first job was to name the animals. Our first command from God was to have children and fill the earth. We are built for discovery.
Even our first sin reveals these desires:
- The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.
We are relational beings. We need community. We need to belong somewhere.
The problem is that when we settle, we deny ourselves the chance to explore and discover new things. Settling means we limit ourselves, and it can limit our view of God.
And when we limit our view of God, our focus goes elsewhere – usually to ourselves – and then we make trouble.
The story of Babel is an interesting case in identity because the people created their own. They all spoke the same language, and they wanted to stay together. Sounds reasonable, right?
Except they were meant for more than that.
Building the tower of Babel was an act of rebellion. It was man saying to God, “Look, we can get along all right without you. Now please leave us alone. We’re going to stay right here, thank you very much. We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”
Okay, I might have stolen that from my buddy Tolkien, but it works.
Humanity was meant for adventure, and adventure means that we have to be okay with a little wandering.
It’s nice to have roots. It’s nice to settle.
But we should never settle for less than the life for which we were created.