The Tower of Babel :: One language; One speech


Genesis 11:1-9 gives the account what is familiarly referred to as “the Tower of Babel”. It is an account of the “origin of languages” (Genesis 11:9) and answers the question – “Where did all the languages of the world come from?”. But before the world was multi-lingual, the world was unilingual (had one language) with one speech (Genesis 11:1).

Why is it important for us to notice the universal unilingual situation of the world? Searching the scripture gives us some clues to unearth the hidden treasures in God’s design to have the world be uni-lingual with one speech.
First, the whole earth that was repopulated now by the sons of Noah and their children born after the flood (Genesis 10), was of one language, which implied that man could communicate without chaos and confusion with one another. This actually is a testament of  God’s nature, i.e., Our God is a God of order and not of confusion, which Apostle Paul reminds the the church of Corinth(1 Corinthians 14:33).
Second, the universality and unilingual state of the earth, unified all the nations (sons of Noah and their children – Genesis 10:32).
Third, the pattern of God for man is to have a pure language – so that man may call on the name of the Lord and serve him with one consent (Zephaniah 3:9). This is why God says to his people, that he will turn to the people, a pure language (Zephaniah 3:9). Notice, that while the singularity of a language mentioned here suggests that the people would have one pure language restored, for God is omnipotent and omniscient, it is not implausible for every one to understand each other, which is akin to having one language and one speech, despite the varied languages (tongues of men) that exists, as was evident on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:5-12), which is again a testament to the Sovereign omnipotency of God.

Points to ponder:
What is the language you and I are speaking? Is it a pure language – one that unifies all nations, by which, we call on the name of the Lord and serve him only (or) are we babbling about?

Prayer:
Lord, you are in me, your holy temple, and so let my words be few, as I stand in awe of your glory. Let me call on your name, for your word assures that all who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved, and as saved Lord, let me serve you, as a good and faithful servant, bringing glory solely to your name, and not seeking my own as the people in Babel did. Restore in me Lord, your pure language, I earnestly pray.

Genesis 11:1-9 (KJV)
And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
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.
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.
So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
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.

Zephaniah 3:9 (KJV)
For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of theLord, to serve him with one consent.

No more Babel


In Genesis 11 we see that God confounds the language of the people who seek to make a name for themselves as they attempt to build a tower whose top would reach unto heaven. The tower of Babel hence got its name (Genesis 11:9). The etymology of the word “babble” has to do with Babel. In fact even the word Babylon (a rebellious/sinful city of materialistic and sensual pleasures) has its roots in the confusion of speech. The beginning of the kingdom of Nimrod, a mighty hunter from the line of cursed Ham (one of Noah’s son) was Babel (Genesis 10:10). Nimrod in Hebrew means “we will rebel”. People rebelled and the Lord confused them.

But did you know that the Lord has also promised that there will no more Babel? This is in fact the Promise of Conversion wherein God says that He will turn to the people a pure language (No more Babel). Why? Not because they can make a name for themselves, but because they may all call the name of the LORD and to serve him with one consent/accord (Zephaniah 3:9). Eventually, Babylon will fall (Revelation 14:8, Revelation 18, Revelation 19:1-6) symbolically meaning that there will be no more rebellion against God because he will make his enemies His footstool (Psalm 110:1, Luke 20:43) and those who repent and have believed in Jesus Christ, the one true God (John 17:3), will have one language to call on His Name and serve Him. Every knee will bow, every tongue will confess (from every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation) that Jesus Christ is Lord (Revelation 5:9, Philippians 2:10-11). When people repent, the Lord converts them and removes all confusion and doubt.

Point(s) to ponder:

  • If we rebel, there is Babel (confusion).
  • If we repent, no more Babel.

And at the Lord’s appointed time, rebellion will be dealt with and fall – and there will be no more Babel.

Genesis 11:4,9 (KJV)
4
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.
9 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.

Zephaniah 3:9 (KJV)
9 For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.

Revelation 14:8 (KJV)
8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.