“Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” ( Genesis 11:9)
Wouldn’t it be easier if everyone spoke the same language? Then we could all understand one another! Missionaries wouldn’t have to learn a foreign language when they left for the mission field, businessmen wouldn’t have to use interpreters when they had a business meeting overseas, and we could travel the world and be able to talk to anyone we wanted!
That may sound like a great plan to us, but God had even better plans. It was God Who created languages, and He did it for a purpose. For hundreds of years after God first created the world, everyone spoke the same language, and everyone could understand everyone else. The people became very wicked, though, and did what was right in their own eyes instead of loving and obeying God. To judge them, God sent a great flood to destroy the whole world. After God rescued Noah and his family from the flood, God gave them a command. They were supposed to multiply (grow the family) and spread out all over the world. In other words, they were supposed to scatter around and fill up the world with their children and grandchildren. Earth would be filled again with people who would know and worship the one true God.
Over the next years, Noah’s family did grow, but they did not move to different parts of the earth like God had commanded. In fact, instead of worshipping God the way He wanted them to worship Him (by obeying his commands, for example), they decided it would be a better idea to worship God by building a tower so high it would reach Him up in heaven. Have you ever heard of “The Tower of Babel”? The grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Noah’s family started building this tower and a city of worship around it.
God was angry at their plans to worship Him however they pleased while disobeying His other commands. They had not scattered around and replenished (re-filled) the different parts of the world. They had not taught their children and grandchildren the right things about God and how He expected to be worshipped.
In the middle of this huge construction project, God brought judgment down on it. He decided to mix up the languages. Can you imagine? Maybe you are on a ladder, working on the tower. You ask your second cousin to pass the hammer and some nails over…and he acts confused. He is not joking, either. He really has no clue what you are saying! He tries to answer you, but his words sound really funny to you, and you don’t know what he means. Now, you have known this guy all your life! He is related to you! And suddenly neither of you can understand what the other is saying?
It did not take long for the people to realize something very different was happening, and that God must have been the One doing it. God confused the languages of the people to help them stop doing things their own way and to help them fulfill his command to go out and replenish all the world. As people walked aimlessly around, trying to find someone who could understand them, they naturally divided into smaller groups according to language. These groups gradually split off from the others and moved to different parts of the world. They finally scattered and became the different nations of people we have today.
Wow! Did you know that God had such a specific purpose in creating languages? God has a purpose for everything He does, even in confusing a bunch of disobedient people thousands of years ago. A God Who can create languages is a powerful God! God’s plans are always designed to work things out for His glory and for His people’s best good. If only we would follow His plans instead of doing things our own way!
God is the sovereign Creator, and He can carry out what He wants done, even if people try to do the opposite.
» Am I disobeying what God has shown me He wants me to do?
» Am I tempted to honor God my own way rather than how He wants to be honored?
» Do I need to do a better job remembering that God has a specific purpose in everything He does?