One hundred years after the great Flood, the world had set a new course for the future. The sons of Noah had parsed out the world for colonization. Each of the tribes had decided on the lands into which they would migrate and settle. Beginning with the closest territories, they would later breach the initial borders as the regional populations grew. With the table of nations established (Genesis 10), the future looked bright.
Plans, however, often go awry, as the Bible records in Genesis 11. Almost before the outward expansion began, these same people lost their faith in God and revised their colonization plan. Fearing the world more than God, they asked themselves, “Why should we venture into distant and unknown territories and leave the security of the known world?” In addition to safety issues, they reckoned “the more the merrier” when it comes to social life, so why not engineer a plan to stick together? Why not form a regional social club?
The proponents no doubt extolled strongly the alleged virtues of the plan. This task proved was easy because, as descendants of Noah, all Flood survivors spoke a common language. They concluded a common communication platform would better enable them to express themselves and to love one another. This would also provide a disincentive for malcontents to move further away from the group.
In addition, God had blessed them with a convenient and hospitable location in which to settle. They identified the plain in the land of Shinar, just to the east, as a central meeting point. This area was a large, welcoming expanse with plenty of space to contain them all. It fit their model perfectly. It was also a fruitful plain, able to support their present numbers with abundance and presumably to accommodate the anticipated growth in their population.
This revised plan, however, fell outside the will of God. God wanted them to disperse gradually into the land He had given them (Joshua 18:3), but they considered themselves wiser than God. They decided to settle together in one body and to bind their relationships in the most convenient place.
Forming this ad hoc congregation was a big mistake spiritually. Instead of faithfully enlarging their borders by departing under the divine protection God had promised, they decided to huddle together, thinking they could fortify themselves in their own strength. Whereas there is usually strength in numbers, the ad hoc Shinar Social Club angered God and rebelled against His direction.
These clueless rebels failed to realize they were declaring war on Heaven by staying together in what they considered a smart city. They overlooked the challenge it represented to God’s authority and His power to protect them. As with most sin, one transgression leads to another and they magnified the transgression. At Shinar, they decided, “Let’s build ourselves a city and a tower”, thinking this provided both safety and a way to get close to God by reaching to the Heavens with a monument. God’s will for them, however, was to disperse and trust His care and provision. By banding together and building a tower out of pride, they both insulted His authority and put their safety at risk.
History has shown that city builders were typically not the men of best character and reputation. These were men who held selfish agendas and focused on their own gain, not God’s. Tents had long served God’s faithful as dwelling places, but these men wished not to honor God; rather, their goal was to further their own aspirations: social, economic, and otherwise. Thus, cities were built by those who were willing to rebel against the will of God.
God, who is always in control, often allows men to carry out their sinful plans. In His cleverness, however, God frequently reverse engineers the sin and punishes men with it. If they want a social club, God allowed them to have it, at least for a season. However, no sooner did these men complete the city and the tower than God gave them unexpected and disruptive ways to socialize. God put in their mouhts multiple languages so their social merriment could be magnified by the diversity of tongues. After that, God scattered them over the face of the whole Earth, just as He had wanted all along.
It is normal for God to love diversity. He also has a plan for how His various expressions of diversity should be carried out. When we rebel against His plan, He is forced to take control. God demonstrates repeatedly in Scripture how the more we trust in Him and follow His will for our lives, the better our social life will be.
The quality of our social life depend not on the size of our social circle, but on our the relationship with Him. Ask yourself today – Who’s most important in your social circle and does your social circle honor God? If the answers are not “God” and “Yes”, make the necessary adjustments immediately so that God does adjust your world for you.
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