Say What?


#1

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” (Gen 11)

If all humans sharing the same language work together, nothing is impossible for them, according to God? That sounds like a good thing.

So, as man tries to end war and increase cooperation between peoples, he learns multiple languages and translates scripture and science books into thousands of obscure languages so no one is left out…

Is this all against God’s will? Is it sin to create organizations like the United Nations, which provide a way for many nations to communicate and work together?


#2

:popcorn::whacky:


#3

I wouldn’t think so.

The context of the Tower of Babel was that the survivors of the Flood were minded to stay in that area, rather than spread over the planet as God intended. God changed their speech, so the text says, so that they would disperse.

Human life is now as dispersed as it can ever get and it isn’t going back together.

So I’d say the situation no longer applies.

ICXC NIKA


#4

Agreed. And the current trend is toward further dis-integration, not toward re-integration.


#5

I wouldn’t take the story of the tower of Babel too literally. However, even if it is taken literally, it makes God the author of diversity of language. The people themselves could have taken the time to learn and understand each other, but did not and instead went their separate ways. But I think there is sufficient evidence in the story itself that tells us that it is not literal.

First, it is impossible for man to build a physical tower to heaven (11:4).

Second, that God says that nothing would then be impossible for man to do (11:6), that’s just a blatantly false statement.

Third, that God would actively put a stop to a thing which is and was impossible out of fear or perhaps jealousy that it could or would be accomplished is a ludicrous idea.

So, just my opinion is that it shouldn’t be taken too literally. If it is a sin to create organizations that get various people to work together, than Jesus is the greatest sinner when he created the Church so that all people become one in Christ. Even the gift of the Holy Spirit of speaking in tongues as demonstrated in Acts Chapter 2 seems to reject that idea. So that really can’t be the issue with the story of Babel.


#6

Tower to heaven does not necessarily imply a tower reaching into space; they knew back then that couldn’t be done.

ICXC NIKA


#7

Scripture scholars think that this referred to a pagan tower or ziggurat, which would “reach to heaven” metaphorically.

Second, that God says that nothing would then be impossible for man to do (11:6), that’s just a blatantly false statement.

That’s probably just prophetic hyperbole.

Third, that God would actively put a stop to a thing which is and was impossible out of fear or perhaps jealousy that it could or would be accomplished is a ludicrous idea.

So, just my opinion is that it shouldn’t be taken too literally. If it is a sin to create organizations that get various people to work together, than Jesus is the greatest sinner when he created the Church so that all people become one in Christ. Even the gift of the Holy Spirit of speaking in tongues as demonstrated in Acts Chapter 2 seems to reject that idea. So that really can’t be the issue with the story of Babel.

I think God’s intention was to put an end to a thing which tried to unify people without God, or with a false god. Think of the Communist Bloc for a modern example.

That said, the exact historical kernel of this story is lost to us. However, the idea of a single language from which most (not all) world languages split off is fairly well accepted among linguists (“Proto-Indo-European”), so it’s not a stretch to assume that this incident could be dated to around that time. The deeper meaning is that if a work is not of God, or excludes God; it will fail; “unless God gives the blessing, the builder builds in vain” (I’m paraphrasing here… :))


#8

That reminds me of a friend of mine who has a family bible that’s been passed down to him in the Algonquian language.

It’s physically one of the coolest looking books I’ve ever seen.


#9

I actually think God threw a wrench into their plans with the Tower of babel, mainly because those people were trying to build their way to heaven, in other words, they were trying to reach heaven without God…kind of the same thing we are doing today, but for some reason, God does not intervene in such direct ways anymore.

Who knows, maybe its because God figures we should have learned that lesson from the Babel story, but it looks like we didnt learn too much.

Whatever his intention, there was a reason why God confused their languages, so they would stop doing this…definitely interesting and makes me wonder.

I have a sneaky feeling, when God does return, many many people are going to be shocked at some of things he will consider wrong and what he puts a stop to.


#10

Posted previously:

*“Second, that God says that nothing would then be impossible for man to do (11:6), that’s just a blatantly false statement.”
*

OK. So, based on that logic, how do we handle any of the hundreds of places in scripture that read “The LORD said” or “Thus says the LORD?”

How do we know what He said or if He meant it?


#11

The Tower of Babel is the story of man’s self-reliance vs reliance on God. It points us toward Pentecost and the birth of the Church.

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 scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." (Genesis 11:4)

Mankind tries to reach heaven by his own ingenuity - bricks and bitumen to build a tower with its “top in heaven.” They build themselves a city. It’s about self reliance instead of reliance on God.

Notice also that they try to make a name for themselves. The person who names you in the Bible is the person you serve and the person from whom you get your identity and purpose. God names Adam. Adam names the beasts. God renames Abram to Abraham. Jesus names Peter. The people of Babel try to make a name for themselves - they serve themselves and get their identity from their own accomplishments. The result is that God confuses their language and scatters the people.

***Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech." So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. *(Genesis 11:7-8)

Contrast the scattering of the people in Babel with the birth of the Church at Pentecost.

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. (Acts 2:1)

The birth of the Church reunites man “in one place”, reversing the scattering of the people at Babel. The message of the Gospel reunites man under one common language, the language of forgiveness and love, and they all understand each other again.

And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? (Acts 3:8)

Pentecost reverses the tower of Babel, reunites man under the common language of the Gospel and reorients man to serve and get his purpose from God. Pentecost also reverses the sin at Mt. Sinai when Israel worshiped the golden calf.

*And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses; and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men. (Exodus 32:28)

So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41)*

3000 were lost at Mt. Sinai. 3000 were baptized and saved at Pentecost.

Pentecost is a complete reversal of both Babel and Mt. Sinai.

-Tim-


#12

So both Babel and Pentecost are to be understood symbolically, or metaphorically?


#13

I have no problem with Babel as actually occurring.

As was said, Pentecost was the reversal of it.

ICXC NIKA


#14

:thumbsup:


#15

I believe in translations there are issues. But I recall one referencing they can do anythingbwith their “imaginations” which in the same translation is the wording for the wickedness that God brought the flood for. Essentially He stopped them from congregating in a way that was leading them to be Soddom and Gomorrah and he confounded their tongues rather than wait for their sinfulness to warrant more drastic measures.


#16

In one of Garry Wills’ books in the last couple years, he makes the point that Pentecost was the reversal of the curse of Babel, in which people from different areas understood the preaching of the gospel in their own languages. And, I would add to that, it was God’s will that should happen in the way it happened and for the reason it happened.


#17

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