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.” – Genesis 11:4
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. – Acts 2:5-6
In Genesis 11 there is an odd story that at first might seem out of place, considering the other stories around it. This event takes place many years after the flood, since the earth has been repopulated. However, the people again have turned their backs on God. This is a theme presented throughout Genesis and the Bible: man’s failure. In this account, mankind has not spread out over the earth as God wanted. They have settled in an area and decided to make a great name for themselves (not God). They are going to build a great city and a great tower that reaches to the heavens. This city would become Babylon, a city which causes great problems for God’s people.
God is not pleased with the building of this city and tower, so He comes down and confuses their languages. Now they are unable to communicate with each other, and their projects fail. The earth now has different languages and the people gather with those who speak a similar language to theirs. The world becomes divided by nations and languages.
However, just as the theme of man’s failure runs through Scripture, so does the theme of God’s redemption. In Acts chapter 2 the nations and languages are gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Weeks, also known as Pentecost. The Disciples are gathered and the Holy Spirit comes upon them and they begin speaking in other languages as the Spirit enables them. The Disciples begin to preach the Gospel – the Good News about Jesus Christ – to all nations, and thousands are saved. The message of the cross is unifying the division that goes back to Genesis 11. Revelation 7 looks toward the future and describes every nation, tribe, people, and language standing before Christ and worshipping Him. What an amazing story of redemption this is!