“Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.”
— Genesis 11:9
Have you ever visited a foreign land and tried to get directions from a native? Perhaps you’ve felt the relief of finding someone who speaks a tongue you both know. Or perhaps you’ve experienced the uncertainty and confusion of getting nonverbal directions from someone who doesn’t speak your language.
All that confusion began with the Tower of Babel. Until the time of the Tower of Babel, all people spoke the same language. Because they could understand each other, they could collaborate to build a spectacular tower that would reach the heavens, a tower intended to be the center of civilization.
People of all civilizations have built magnificent towers, but the builders of the Tower of Babel caught God’s attention. Why? Because of their motive for building this tower: making a name for themselves. The builders of the Tower of Babel didn’t want to build the City of God; they wanted to build the City of Humankind. All was for the glory of humanity, for dominion over others, and for the glory of self. God recognized that because these people had one language and were united, they would accomplish not only this project but also anything else they decided to do. So God intervened. The problem, God said, was that the people were unified. That has a strange ring to our ears. Why? Because we’re always told to seek unity, not division. And yet God divided these people. He saw their unity and decided it could mean only harm. God knows that the heart of humankind is sinful and that the unity people create among themselves always inclines toward evil. So God confused them. He diversified their speech and scattered them.
But in Christ, all curses are reversed, including this one. On the Day of Pentecost, what do we see? People speaking in tongues previously unknown to them. Through the Spirit of Christ we discover a unity that is holy and good. We see people from all nations, tribes, and languages uniting in Him, the head of the Church. Are you experiencing confusion and division between yourself and someone else? Perhaps you’re not speaking the “same language.” You’re experiencing the impact of our fallen nature. But you also know where the remedy comes from—Jesus Christ. Invite His Spirit to bring unity between you and others today.