Tower of Babel

The Bible in Art: The Tower of Babel

    Click Here for All of Today’s Scripture Reading

Verses for Consideration: Genesis 11:1-9


1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward,they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 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.”

5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 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. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel -because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.



Why do we do the things we do? Why do we work hard? Why do we help others? Why do we give gifts to charity? Do we work hard only to get promotions or to help our employers or our customers? Do we help others so they will owe us a favor or so their lives will be blessed? Do we give to charity to get our names on a plaque or to accomplish something that will benefit others?

Our Scripture lesson shows us people who worked very hard building a tower, but for all the wrong reasons. They did it to make a name for themselves. They wanted to solidify their power as a nation. They wanted everyone else to honor them. They were so obsessed with gaining glory that they defied the will of God: to spread out and fill the earth.

Earning glory for ourselves is a very shallow and arrogant goal. We have done nothing to deserve glory. God is the one who has created us and given us all the gifts we have and all the things we possess. Besides that, we have to acknowledge that we too have stubbornly tried to go our own way, defying God with our sinful words and actions.

He deserves the credit, not only for giving us the things we possess, but especially for sending his Son to take our punishment on the cross so that we might have the gift of eternal life.

Centuries after Babel, the Lord caused Jeremiah to write this exhortation: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me”(Jeremiah 9:23,24). May that be the goal of our lives.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, though Lord of all, you became a servant of all. Send your Holy Spirit to help us imitate your humility. Grant that our highest goal is not to make a name for ourselves but that your name be known in all the earth. Amen.


Title: The Fall of the Tower of Babel, 1547

Artist: Cornelis Anthonisz