Why did God get so angry at the building of the Tower of Babel? Did God really think people could have built a tower into the heavens? Didn’t God already know that they would not have been able to do this, due to obvious constraints of resources, engineering, and logistics? So why did God get so angry over this?
The Tower of Babel Incident
The Tower of Babel story in Genesis reads as follows:
And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.
And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
Genesis 11: 3-9
Babel’s Brief History
It is important to note that in Genesis, Chapter 10, we see who founded the city of Babel: Nimrod, whom the Bible refers to as a “mighty hunter before the Lord.”
Nimrod was a particularly powerful leader, who built many of the cities which caused much grief to the Israelites later on. He also founded Babel, which is the beginning nation of what would eventually be called “Babylon.” Babylon, in the Bible, was the city which destroyed Jerusalem in the Old Testament under Nebuchadnezzar’s rule. Babylon is often associated with idolatry, wealth, and is referred to in the Book of Revelation as a political and religious world system in the end times that is corrupt and idolatrous:
And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
Just as Babylon goes on to be very wealthy, corrupt, and idolatrous–we can also see those same characteristics in its infancy as the city of Babel. We see wealth (“let us make bricks and build a building into the heavens”), idolatry (“make a name for ourselves”), and wickedness (by denying God’s command to disperse from the Earth, and instead “settling”).
Why Did God Get So Angry and Change Their Language?
God became angry with the inhabitants of Babel for the following reasons:
- They were being disobedient by settling, when God clearly commanded to “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:7). God does not tolerate disobedience, and this is exactly what the inhabitants of Babel were doing.
- They were being prideful, which is a wicked sin. The text clearly reveals the state of mind of these people “Let us make a name for ourselves.” They were bent on pride, and so consumed by it that they wanted to create a monumental skyscraper to “show off” just how good they were.
- Idolatry. While this passage does not go into great detail concerning the idolatrous practices of the Babylonians, the fact that they wanted to ignore God and make a name for themselves reveals that they were already committing idolatry by worshipping “self.” Some commentators have suggested that they would have worshipped pagan gods of the stars and moon as well.
God does not get upset because He suspects the people of Babel will actually build a tower in to the heavens (the abode of God). In fact, this is only an expression they uttered meaning
that the building would be a very tall building. The word “heavens” in the Bible can refer to the sky, outer space, or the abode of God.
What made God upset is that they are not filling the Earth, were being prideful, and they were committing idolatry.
God knew that they could do much evil working collectively. This is why He utters, “Behold, they are one people, and have one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing they propose to do will now be impossible for them” (Genesis 11:6).
After this, God confounds their languages, which is why we now have so many today. What’s interesting to note is this: When people all had one language, they achieved incredible things very quickly–even the potential to create a building that “reached into the heavens,” all without today’s technology or machinery. But after God changed their language, it greatly diminished their productivity and abilities.
What about today’s time? We live in an age where we now have translators and software that can allow for rapid communication with people of other languages. Language is not as much of a barrier as it used to be, and we are witnessing incredible feats in human history. We have decoded the human genome, made huge discoveries in science, engineering, technology, and more.
What God knew was happening in the time of Babel is once again happening today. As the speech barrier is broken down, man is rising up. God’s words of “And nothing that they propose to do will be impossible for them” is starting to once again come true, as in the time of Babel. That is why wickedness is increasing at such a fast pace. Not only are we accomplishing more, but we too are trying to “make a name for ourselves.” We are trying to worship man instead of God.
Are you ready for the return of Christ? If you died today, are you 100% sure that you’d be saved from God’s judgment? If not, please accept Christ as your savior today. Pray a prayer to God asking for the forgiveness of yours sins, and put your trust and faith in the risen Christ.