“When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,[Deuteronomy 32:8]
when he divided mankind,
he fixed the borders of the peoples
according to the number of the sons of God.”
The tower of Babel has been mythologized and symbolized as mankind’s collective attempt to achieve technological greatness by building a tower that reached into the heavens.
Some have proposed that they were trying to reach outer space — perhaps creating a bridge to the moon.
Some say they simply were trying flaunt their engineering capabilities by building the highest sky scraper in the world.
But is that what the tower of Babel is really about?
There is tremendous anthropologic significance within the Biblical account of Babel, as it explains the origination of the many different languages, ethnic groups and nations found on the earth today.
There also are theological implications to the Babel account, as it provides the backdrop for our understanding of cosmic geography, the rise of the ancient pagan civilizations, spiritual warfare, the birth of the church at Pentecost, and the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And while all of these things are both fascinating and foundational to our faith and should be discussed in time, I simply would like to try to discover what the tower itself was all about and why the LORD determined it must be stopped.
Here are some things to consider.
Babel represented a Centralized Civilization of Concentrated Rebellion
The two primary driving forces of evil before the flood were …
- Man’s sinful depravity
- The satanic principalities and powers of darkness at work in the world (aka the devil and the fallen sons of God – Watchers – Gen. 6:1-4)
This diabolical combination of evil corrupted all of creation and infected the entire human race to the point that “every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” [Genesis 6:5]. God was grieved and resolved to utterly destroy the earth, purging the evil with a flood and starting over with Noah and his family.
After the flood, the LORD gave Noah and his sons a mandate to multiply — replenish, reproduce, and repopulate the earth. In other words, SPREAD OUT!
“And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth … And you, be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it.'”[Genesis 9:1,7]
God’s desire was for Noah and his descendants to be His representatives throughout the earth. Man was given another chance to be the imagers and emissaries of the Living God. Man’s very purpose was to obey the will of the LORD and proclaim the word of the LORD to the ends of the earth. God’s plan has always been to spread His renown over the whole earth by sending His people on mission to establish His presence in all of creation!
Babel, at its core, was diametrically opposed to God’s plan and purposes. Babel was in direct rebellion to the word, will, and ways of God.
Babel was man’s attempt to create a centralized civilization by concentrating every ounce of rebellious energy against the Most High and build a kingdom of darkness on earth. We see this in their own mission statement.
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]
I do not believe that every person on the earth at this time was part of this centralized rebellion in Babel. As a matter of fact, the texts in Genesis 10-11 imply that many people groups already had spread throughout the earth and established settlements by the time the people of Babel decided to move eastward and establish their own civilization.
The entire purpose for building this centralized city, however, was so that they would not be dispersed and divided and spread out over the whole earth. Men were intent on building a name for themselves and glorifying themselves, not God. This was an affront to God’s specific mandate and a declaration of war against the Most High.
Babel was a Supernatural Temple Complex
We cannot be sure why the people chose the plains of Shinar to build a city and a tower “to the heavens.” One would assume it would have been easier to start such a project on higher ground, but many historians and archeologists believe that Babel was a massive city surrounding a centralized temple complex, including the tower itself.
The significance of Babel wasn’t necessarily its size or its height, but rather its purpose and design. The people of Babel weren’t attempting to build a physical tower into outer space. They were not attempting to reach the stars. They weren’t trying to enter the abode of the gods.
On the contrary, they were bidding the “gods” come down to them.
The tower, which was most likely some ancient ziggurat structure, was specifically designed to create a “high place” for temple worship, where men could commune with the supernatural and demonic powers in the heavenly places. Mountains, or high places, have always been associated with pagan worship as sacred places where the “gods” came down to meet with man. The tower likely was a some type of inter-dimensional portal or gate, creating an opening into the spiritual realm.
“You shall surely destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree.”[Deuteronomy 12:2]
After all, if the rebellious sons of God already came down before the flood to Mount Hermon [1 Enoch], perhaps Babel was man’s attempt to create another sacred high place that created an intersection between the supernatural “gods” and mankind.
Man was seeking occult knowledge, black magic, supernatural power, and vain glory, and Babel was the key to unlocking the door to those ends. Therefore, the LORD had to act before man destroyed himself again with the help of demons.
God’s Intervention at Babel was an Act of both Judgment and Mercy
Apparently Babel was such a threat to the future of mankind and such an affront to God’s purposes that the LORD Himself felt it necessary to come down and intervene in a very personal way. Obviously the LORD, who is omniscient and omnipresent, did not need to physically “come down” to investigate the rebellion at Babel, but the language in Genesis 11 seems to imply that He did just that.
The LORD’s intervention was significant on at least two levels.
- The LORD brought judgment on mankind by dispersing and disinheriting the nations and effectively relinquishing them over to the “sons of God,” who in turn began to lead all the nations astray into pagan idolatry [see Deut. 4:19, 32:8-9, Psalm 82].
- The LORD showed mercy by dispersing the nations and dividing all of the concentrated evil and Occult knowledge and power throughout the earth, which weakened and delayed Satan’s capacity to accomplish his destructive plan.
Babel was a Type of the End Times Kingdom of the Antichrist
Lastly, it is not difficult to make a connection with Babel and the evil empire of Antichrist in the last days. Much like Nimrod’s attempt to build his rebellious kingdom in Babel, the Antichrist is portrayed as doing the same in before the return of Christ. Satan has been working relentlessly through the centuries to regather all the occult knowledge, realign all the forces of darkness, reassemble all the powers of evil, and re-concentrate all the hatred of hell toward God and His people.
For this reason, the great tribulation will be a time of unparalleled wickedness, blasphemy, deception, violence, chaos, and evil on the earth. It will be Satan’s last ditch effort to reconstruct his kingdom on earth, and his vain attempt to exalt himself above God.
It (the Beast) opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. 9If anyone has an ear, let him hear:[Revelation 13:6-10]
10If anyone is to be taken captive,
to captivity he goes;
if anyone is to be slain with the sword,
with the sword must he be slain.
Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints
But just like the fate of Babel, the same satanic Babylonian system at work today will come down under the mighty judgment of our God.
“Alas! Alas! You great city,[Revelation 18:10]
you mighty city, Babylon!
For in a single hour your judgment has come.”