Genesis 11:1-9; Acts 2:1-21; John14:23-31
It was several generations after the flood that the people, who all spoke with one voice, decided to make a name for themselves. On the plains of Shinar, the began to build a great city—a tower reaching into the heavens at it center. Concerned at what was happening, YHWH came down to see what the children of man were building.
Now, it has to be an eerily ominous thing when God descends to see what is going on. In the Garden, God was taking His walk in the cool of the day, and asks where Adam was. As if He didn’t know, He asks as if to give the man a chance to reveal and explain himself. Things take a turn for the worse from there. Adam blames the woman; the woman blames the serpent—all three received a curse; to mankind, it is the promised curse of death, which, having now fallen into sin, is something of a blessing: man does not have to live forever under the sting of sin. (cf. Genesis 3:8-19)
In today’s Old Testament reading, God did not have to come down to see what the children of man had built. But His condescending that day resulted in punishment for sin. The people on the plains of Shinar thought too highly of themselves. It’s the same sin of Adam and the woman, who thought that they could be like God—maybe better than God—simply by eating the fruit that He had commanded them not to eat. These people thought themselves God’s equal or superior by the might of their hands and handiwork. “[N]othing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.”
Once again, God’s condescending results in the condemnation and punishment of sin. The people were scattered from Shinar. Their language was confused. One day, neighbors could speak to each other; the next, there was confusion, and neighbors were separated, perhaps they even became enemies. From there, God dispersed the people over the face of the earth.