The Tower of Babel

Last week, I was fortunate enough to take a vacation in a place where English was not the dominant language. It got me thinking about why we have so many languages which, of course, brought me back to the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. In this story, the world has one common language and decides to build a tower that reaches to the heavens. As I struggled to communicate on my vacation, I began to wonder whether the world would be better off if we had just one language. I could then speak with people no matter where I went and would be able to know what I was eating (what are “Moules Mariniere” anyway??). But then I had a sobering thought – if we all spoke the same language, it would be much more likely that we would have one world government. And, as we know, absolute power corrupts absolutely. I shudder to think of what kind of authoritarian regime would emerge from a world with one language. Perhaps the Tower of Babel foreshadows what is going to happen in Revelation when the world is under the thumb of the beast (Revelation 13). I think God did us a huge favor by creating a world where power was disseminated, simply through the existence of multiple languages. Moreover, look at the cultural richness that exists because people were dispersed. Think of how the only way to get you to eat mussels is to disguise the name as “Moules Mariniere”.

Associate Pastor Emeritus, Grace Community Church Greg Zehner