Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:4)
And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech.” (Genesis 11:6-7)
In His mercy, God once again stops humans from going too far. It is easy to read this story with jaded human eyes and think God was worried for Himself. Like the flood, just short chapters before, God takes decisive action, not for His sake, but for humanity’s. He knows that the corruption and evil will continue to grow, spiraling out of control.
Unchecked rebellion against God does not lead to freedom and happiness, but to slavery and destruction.When we seek to set ourselves up as the center of creation, we, too, end in confusion and cacophony. We have been created in the very image of God. No other created thing has been given such an honor – or responsibility. Adam and Eve were given dominion over the rest of creation, not to puff themselves up, but to lovingly care for it. Instead of being content with that incredible role, they believed the lie that they deserved more and better, and that God was withholding the good stuff from them.
The story of the Bible is a story of God reaching down and saving us from ourselves. From our sin and depravity that insist that we are the ones in charge, not God. From the inevitable slavery and devastation that our rebellious actions produce.The Bible is filled with stories of God lovingly redeeming brokenness. We see this again in the story of Babel. Back then, the single language was fractured, scattering the people in confusion. Their feeble attempt to reach the heavens literally crumbles away, the name they made for themselves synonymous with senseless gibbering.
But, in His mercy, God allows us to look ahead, giving us a glimpse of the end of time. And what we find is those same people, speaking a myriad of languages and coming from every corner of the earth, drawn together as one multitude, once again.
Instead of having to work hard, building a tower with brick and tar, striving and straining to reach the heavens, we will be invited to come freely and make our home there.Have you ever heard an orchestra warming up? Trills of the flute are interrupted by blasts of the tuba. The violins add their noise as each is plucked and tuned, the occasional clash of a cymbal adds to the discord and confusion. Only at the ‘tap tap’ of the conductor’s baton does the cacophony resolve into soaring melodies.
In the same way, at the call of our Great Conductor, all tongues, tribes, languages and nations will be gathered before the Throne and before the Lamb. The distortion and confusion will end, and the evidence of our rebellion will be transformed into worship. We will proclaim the Name above all Names, giving Him alone honor and praise and glory.The work has begun. On Pentecost God allowed people from many places to hear Peter’s words in their own language. The work continues as new groups of people hear the Gospel and join their voices in lifting up praise to God. Each day more and more voices are added to the great chorus.
But the work is not yet done. Jesus promised that when it has, when all have heard, the end will come. The end of senseless accidents, brutal killings, of anguish and pain. Do you yearn for that day? The day when every tear is wiped away?
We have been commissioned to be a part of bringing that day to fruition. Will we be faithful? After all, what could be more significant than to be a part inviting others to be a part of that amazing melody?
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10)