Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Tower of Babel

Here, in the land of Shinar, we humans want to make a name for ourselves (Genesis 11:4a, English Standard Version here and following). We have no interest in being named by Yahweh and responsible to him. We want to think of ourselves as autonomous in relation to Yahweh, as self-centered rather than theocentric, even if thinking so only binds us more tightly to false Olympian gods.

To avoid being dispersed over the face of the whole earth (v. 4b), to avoid the curse of Cain, we imagine we need only to do as he did and work with one another to build a city or, today, the Global Technological System (GTS). There we may completely ignore Yahweh, construct a whole shared worldview in which we imagine ourselves the measure of all things, and thoroughly subordinate his creation to ours. From there we may even proclaim our towering arrogance by launching rockets into space, thereby imagining we are mocking Yahweh where he lives. 

But Yahweh does not sit idly by and watch us commit collective suicide. [Yahweh] came down to see the city and the tower (v. 5). Yahweh sees it and knows the rejection of him it embodies. Rather than simply destroying this symbol of rebellion with a bolt of lightning, he confuses our language. He slows our ability to work together in our rejection of him and, at least temporarily, we abandon the effort. We made our plans but, unexpectedly if graciously, Yahweh intruded.

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