How tall did the tower of Babel rise? Sometimes I wonder, just as I wonder how much chaos was strewn when God disrupted languages. Imagine: families, friends, maybe even spouses, suddenly couldn’t understand each other. In a single moment, all of their achievements crumbled to dust; with the remnants an unfinished tower as a haunting reminder of what they had done.
If you’ve never been to Israel, I highly encourage you to go. It truly makes the bible come to life in ways that you never experienced before. One of the things that happened to me during my visit was to explore the ruins of a fort. This fort must have been mighty and impressive when it was standing, emphasis on when. As I stood on those ruins, I could not help but think how powerful—how certain—the people behind those walls felt. Once they were invincible; now signs hang to warn visitors from venturing into areas prone to collapse. I’ve never seen a more perfect example of pride in my life.
This was a place that gave those defending the area confidence in their success, and in standing in their position they could be confident that their strength would be enough to handle any threat, maybe it would even last forever. But that’s not what happened. Maybe they faced many threats, maybe the fort itself could have gone unconquered, but that fort didn’t keep the country from being conquered; and eventually it’s necessity yielded to time. Despite how mighty it once was considered, it became meaningless.
We can become very confident in our accomplishments, our skills, and prestige; but how easily can that confidence and pride evaporate? I have little doubt that all of us have heard stories of great men falling from the peak of their power never to rise again. Take Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, for example. Nebuchadnezzar was essentially the ruler of the world; true he hadn’t conquered everyone, but he was essentially the supreme super-power of his day. When Nebuchadnezzar looked at his kingdom, he attributed his success to himself, and God struck him with madness for a time. After his insanity, Nebuchadnezzar sung a different tune:
“And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation” (Daniel 4:34).
One of the things that I try to remind myself whenever I start to become confident in my situation is that it can all be gone tomorrow. I may work hard, but without the Lord’s will I struggle in vain. Recognizing the Lord’s authority and blessings gives us both gratitude and humility; and perhaps, encourages us to work in our lives to worship Him. Maybe if that had been the purpose of Babel, it would be standing today.