Modern Babel

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” 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.”

Genesis 11 v1-7

In the Babel story, God saw what humans were doing, building themselves a city, reaching towards the heavens, and seeking to make a name for themselves. And what, under other circumstances, might be understood to be a good endeavour – an expression of our creativity – was not, because of what lay at its heart.

I wonder how similar that is to our current days? A cogent case could be put together that we have reformed Babel over the past centuries; that we have built ourselves a new tower, not of bricks and mortar this time, but of multinational organisations, companies, economies, military, social and other forms of cooperation. Of an internet that spans the globe, connecting us all, and allowing us to communicate and trade instantaneously. Of instant translations that again allow us to understand each other. Why, with a casual click, we can access a webcam feed on the other side of the world! Everything is more immediate and interconnected, as a new Babel city is formed.

These are not inherently bad things, any more than cooperating in building a tower was inherently bad. But its purpose is defined in its heart. And I believe that once again it is about setting ourselves up as gods, reaching to heaven, and making a name for ourselves, without a creator to bother our sensibilities.

As before, this will not end well – the blood of innocent millions sacrificed in the name of ‘choice’ and the blatant greed and inequality of our world testifies against us. These amongst many other wicked things that our culture tolerates and promotes, towards which we are so often blind.

For sure, there are still good things in our world. But they are not the facets of a beast-state increasingly built with ourselves on the throne. Without God, our best efforts to build a civilisation will always descend into a blaring hell.

I was recently sent this link, talking about this very subject in 2001. So, these are not new thoughts. But, as we are shaken up, perhaps the essence of our modern Babel is becoming a little clearer. We have been ripe for a mercy judgment for many, many years, which as hard as it might be, is better than allowing the encroaching darkness free reign.

Here is the good news. Despite all this, and whatever is mankind’s heart to build, the Lord will always have the last word.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Proverbs 19 v21

We should be thankful for that grace and kindness!

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2 Responses to Modern Babel

  1. Dinie says:

    I sensed the present times and the Tower of Babel in March of this year. Sometimes there seems to be almost a triumphalism of humanities achievements, yet why with all the negatives: pollution, extinctions, climate problems of sea level rise, warming waters, extremes of weather? I hadn’t thought about the effects of our world-wide interconnectedness via the internet, so thank you, and that is another reason for us to wake up and open our eyes. We must ‘Be still’ (Ps 46), and pray asking for help and forgiveness.


  2. Peter says:

    It’s the interconnectedness that I think makes things different from the proceeding centuries. Indeed, we wouldn’t be in the current situation if it were not for that.

    Be Still is something I’ve had a lot recently – it’s not up to us to take the driving seat on a lot of this.


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