1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. 4 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 aname, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
There has been commentary about the Tower of Babel, including theories that they were trying to reach heaven to escape any future floods, or to overthrow God, or some other form of insurrection. Now which of those theories, if any, is the actual truth is not to be found in this biblical record. But the following verses do seem to suggest that there was something about their plan that incurred the disapproval of God, such that He felt a need to put a stop to it.
I do see an important allegory in these verses, one that applies to us all today. There seems to be an arrogance in these ancient people where they believe that they could build their own path to the heavens, and trying to achieve perfection by our own power has continued to be a failing of humanity ever since.
Today I see this in the notion that “we don’t need God, because we have science.” There is a belief that our own brainpower will be enough to solve all of the world’s problems and lead us into a perfect Utopia. But that is just as valid as believing that we could build a tower into the clouds and then be equals to God.
Our arrogance all manifests today when we try to earn our salvation. I have known many a Christian that was convinced that if he just tried harder he would be able to overcome his addictions, live perfectly, and make himself deserve paradise. And that is just as vain and ineffective as the Babelites stacking their stones.
We are mortals, assembled from the dust, and all our effort can never make us more than that. It is a hard thing to admit, but we are never going to be enough by ourselves. We only become enough when we are filled with Him.