Identity: City and Tower
The Character Profile
The sons of Shem, Japheth and Ham had been spread out over the earth after the flood. The whole world had one language and a common speech. There was universal communication and oneness. People could identify with each other as well as understand each other.
As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar (Babylonia) and settled in it. It must have been a flat land, good looking and habitable. These men encouraged and agreed with one another to make BRICKS and bake them thoroughly. This is our first encounter with bricks in the Bible. All along stones had been used. Why the bricks? It was because they wanted to build a city with a tower.
They exchanged the raw materials usually used for building purposes. Instead of stone and mortar they used brick and tar. Their mission was to build a city with a tower that "reaches to the heavens." They wanted to invade God's domain. He had made the heavens for Himself and His glory. These men wanted "to make a name for themselves." They wanted to steal the glory, to usurp God's position of authority. God's mission for Noah and his offspring was to increase and fill the earth. Now these guys didn't want to be scattered over the face of the earth, they wanted to fill the heavens.
Man usually gets too adventurous for his good. Here he was disobeying God's command. In Genesis 10 the Table of Nations tells us that the people spread out into their territories. It was not a time of settling but one of spreading.
God came down from heaven to see the city and Tower being built. Since Eden, God had not been found among men. Now He took interest in the goings on at Shinar. What were these men up to? The LORD said, "If as ONE PEOPLE speaking the SAME LANGUAGE they have BEGUN TO DO THIS, then NOTHING THEY PLAN WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE FOR THEM."
God noted that a people with one goal and vision as well as unity were dangerous especially if He allowed them to go ahead and finish the project. Their mission had nothing to do with God so He wouldn't allow it to continue. He then went down and confused their language so that they would not understand each other. This was the onset of tongues/languages. There was need to do this so that when a time came for the Spirit to bridle and control the tongue, then one language of love, of unity, of heaven could be spoken as on Pentecost. There would be a language that would give glory to God as what happened at Pentecost. God is the Author of tongues.
So the LORD scattered them from there all over the earth, and they stopped building the city. The reason they didn't want to leave was gone now. They had to scatter and build up tongues and nations.
What are the lessons?
1. God works according to His Divine Timetable and Blueprint. No one and nothing can disturb that plan. So we learn that He works out all things together for good as He sees fit.
2. God Authors our languages/tongues. He has made us speak the languages we have for a reason so that we can unite and do all things. The reason why we speak the universal language of Christ is that we can build up a city and tower that glorifies Him.
3. God wants to scatter and spread us around the world so that we can preach Christ's gospel. It's not a time to settle but one to spread out all over the land and tell others about a universal Savior. If with one language and as one people we go out with the Gospel, nothing we plan to do will be impossible.