If you've ever taken matters into your own hands and raced ahead of God only to find yourself on the wrong path, the Tower of Babel reminds us that although God cannot and will not tolerate sin, He is gracious to redirect us and to help us rediscover His path, the path of life. Join us on the blog as we consider what happened at Babel and what it means for us today.
I used to sell make-up—the dumbest decision of my life.
After graduating college, I was excited for the job I was sure to find, a place to display my new knowledge. Instead, I found my life unchanged except for the addition of a lot of free time. I was sure God wanted me to use my intellect to succeed in life, so when those opportunities didn’t come, I felt confused. In a hurry to find a way out of my discomfort, I joined a makeup sales team—despite the fact I couldn’t sell water in a drought. Without consulting God, I chose a path I thought would bring me success. At a time when I should have been concentrating on where God was leading me, my focus drifted. I wasted time, energy, and money on an endeavour I didn’t prayerfully consider.
God had called me to glorify Him first. Psalm 115:1 helped: “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory.” I could have picked a dozen different paths within His will, but I chose one that meandered outside it. He called me to glorify Him, but I chose a path that glorified myself.
In Genesis 11, we see a united people also intentionally choosing to glorify themselves. This is no meandering path; it is an expressway headed directly away from God. In Genesis 1:28 (and 9:1) God says, “‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.’” This is God’s clear command for humanity. But in Babylon, the people throw off God’s instructions and decide they know better. They desire to settle down and build an empire, reaching for the pre-eminence that belongs to God alone. In direct disobedience to God’s command, they stay put and create idols out of their own wisdom.
Rebellion is not unique to the Babylonians, however. It has been man’s default position from the moment Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in hopes of becoming like God (Genesis 3:4-7). And we’ve all got a bit of Jonah in us, moving away from God when His command feels uncomfortable (Jonah 1:3). When we rebel, God has the power to bring us to a full stop, disciplining us with mercy and grace, giving us a chance to change our path.
In Babylon, “the LORD came down” (v.5), intervening and confusing the language of the people and scattering them to various locations. Their plan to stay put and glorify themselves is outright disobedience deserving of swift judgment. Righteous God could wipe them from the earth, but instead He graciously blocks their sinful path and mercifully disperses them. His intervention redirects the Babylonians, giving them an opportunity to reflect, repent, and return to His will.
Like the Babylonians, God moved me to a new town, providing a pocket of time to reflect on my choice to sell makeup and to change my path. Like Jonah in the belly of the great fish, our rebellion is often easier to spot when we are removed from the distractions of everyday life. And like Adam and Eve, when we step back onto the narrow path that leads to the heart of God, He lovingly forgives and welcomes us to walk beside him again.
Returning to right relationship with God is only possible because of Jesus. He paid the price for our rebellion, the ultimate act of grace, making a way for us to be near to a Holy God. God’s redirections are meant to draw us back to the path He chose for us, for His glory and our good. Our willingness to be redirected is evidence of a growing faith, another gift of grace to our rebellious hearts.
Is there anywhere in your life that you have stepped off the path God has for you? Take a moment to repent, then invite the Lord to intervene and redirect your steps—for your good and His glory.