Hopefully you know the story of the Tower of Babel: early in Genesis, the people decide to build a tower to reach the heavens. God sees this and causes their speech to become confused, then disperses the peoples of (now) different languages across the earth.
As a kid, I found it all pretty random. Perhaps they were getting a bit big for their britches, but surely these folks didn't really think the tower would reach heaven, so...what's the harm?
We aren't given a lot of context on these people—the entire story takes only 9 verses—but we know they wanted to reach the heavens and make a name for themselves. It doesn't sound so bad on the face of it, and it's easy to paint God as rather mean for stepping on the ant hill, as it were.
But look at what God says:
"Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them." Genesis 11:6, ESV
This seems a strange comment. Does God express this because he now fears man? Examine what we know of God from the rest of the Bible—surely not.
When we realize this, it is possible to see God as not stepping on an ant hill, but as a loving parent correcting a child who has just learned to walk. Such a child might find it fun to speed down a steep hill on still-shaky legs, but that doesn't make it a good idea—and through history we know that not all man proposes to do is good.
As humans in a mostly-civilized world, we are fascinated with the things we have built—be it the Astrodome or Trump Tower, the Internet (thanks Al Gore) or the iPad—but mainly, we are fascinated with ourselves.
Consider the sheer amount of perfectly posed and filtered photos (often selfies) you see on Facebook. Just like the people of Genesis, we often try to build something perfect of our own accord—and when we fail at that, we try to at least broadcast that illusion for others to perceive.
Media and merchandise of all types bombard us to the point of sensory overload, promising to fulfill our selfish desires and pointing our thoughts back at ourselves.
Sounds harsh, huh? Moment of transparency: I love things. Love to collect stuff, modify stuff, find out the best of the stuff and get rid of the rest (so I can afford to buy more stuff). You'll find some of that right here on 2BitGeek.
Doesn't sound so bad, but when I pursue stuff to the exclusion of pursing Christ, attempting to be fulfilled by stuff instead of by Him, it is the same sin as Genesis 11.
Don’t get me wrong. I'm not anti-progress or anti-technology (or anti-stuff); after all, here we are on a website that I built to share my own thoughts on the world wide web.
But as humans, a created people, we need perspective—and that persepctive is looking up at our Creator, not down on what we’ve accomplished from the top of Babel.
“Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly." And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth." And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech." So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.”