- They become proud of their technological achievements: “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” (Genesis 11:3).
- Proud of their new technology, they think they have a better plan than Yahweh’s plan of dispersion: “Come, let us build ourselves a city” (Genesis 11:4).
- Successful in the physical realm, they think they are capable of attaining spiritual knowledge: “Let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens” (Genesis 11:4). Notice that they are not proposing to reach the heavens physically by the height of the tower (they are on a plain, and if they wanted to reach the heavens physically, they would have begun their construction on the top of a mountain). They want to build a temple or ziggurat that would serve as a point of access to the spiritual realm. In other words, instead of dependence and submission to Yahweh’s revelation, they believed they were capable of gaining and discovering spiritual knowledge on their own.
- By their technological and spiritual achievements, they hope to gain the attention of future generations, regardless of Yahweh’s glory: “Let us make a name for ourselves” (Genesis 11:4).
- Their pride grows to the point that they contradict God’s law: “Lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4).
But human beings continue to resist. Despite the difference in languages, men will repeatedly try to gather everyone under one humanly-inspired government and spirituality. Throughout the history of the Bible they will build enormous cities like Nineveh, then Babylon, then Rome that will use their military, economic and spiritual power to swallow all of the nations of the earth into one… and meanwhile, persecute Yahweh’s faithful remnant who await a city constructed by Him, where Yahweh Himself reigns in righteousness. (Hebrews 11:13-16; Revelation 21:2-3).
Nevertheless, while the nations persist in rebellion and the book of Genesis changes its emphasis from the international view of chapters 10 and 11 to a concentrated attention on just one family in chapter 12, Yahweh never forgets the nations. Very soon He will tell Abram, “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). As the centuries of the Old Testament slowly pass, Yahweh is preparing a place for the promised descendant who, after His resurrection, will declare, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). He will unite all nations, not by technology, nor by economics, nor by a self-glorifying religion but by the crucifixion of Jesus Christ: “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility… that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace” (Ephesians 2:14-15).
While Yahweh’s plan will concentrate on one family and nation in the rest of Genesis and the following books, keep in mind that He never forgets nor disregards the nations. Instead, He continues to govern them in righteousness and includes them in His plan to reunite them in submission, obedience, worship and peace in Jesus Christ.