The Pride of Babel | Genesis 11:1-9

December 1, 2021

Book: Genesis

Scripture: Genesis 11:1-9

Genesis 11:1-9 Now the whole world has one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise, we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 

The Lord said, “If as one person speaks the same language, they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So, the Lord scattered them from there all over the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

After the flood God said to Noah: Genesis 9:1 “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.” 

God’s plan was for them to spread out, fill the earth, multiply, and be fruitful.

When we come to Genesis 11, sure they were increasing but their hearts devised their own ways to prosper. Noah’s great-grandson, Nimrod became a world leader who he rebelled against God’s plan and decided to construct a tower that reached the heavens. Therefore, God in turn confused their language, divided people groups, and scattered them throughout the world.

We are going to take a look at the sin of Babel which led God to do this and therein we find many sins man is still struggling with even today.

I. Sin of Babel

1. Disobedience

1 John 3:4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. (disobedience).

Genesis 11:2 As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. 

After they departed the Ark in what is now Turkey, they traveled South until they came to a place the Bible names as Shinar (present day Iraq) and settled down. Shinar is the area of Babylon when the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers join before flowing into the Persian Gulf. This is well drained and fertile land, and they felt this was good for them. They disobeyed God by settling in Shinar when God wanted them to move on and be blessed.

Most of the time, our thoughts of blessings is not what God’s plans of blessings are in our lives. We may look at our circumstances and surrounding and say “I think this is the place of my blessing.” Your plans maybe good in human understanding but if it is not in line with God’s word and will in your life, it will never be a blessing.

James 1:14-15 But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. (When we reach certain places, the devil will tempt us to settle for the least and take us away from God’s best.) Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

2. Love of security

Human race is fighting for security and the pitfall is that we develop a false sense of security. Genesis 11:3-4 // They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city.”

They wanted to be secure and they found security in their own works, not in what God said them. Listen, they built a city, so obviously they built a fortress around it. If there is a city, there are homes in it. This gave them a false sense of security. So when God asked them to spread, they found their security in building homes and securing their city. By the way now they could avoid being dispersed around the whole earth.

Let me ask you a question: Who is your security? On what things are you trying to secure your life?

Everyone naturally wants to be safe and secure, that is why we buy homes, have insurance, do savings etc. I am not telling these are not needed, but what I am telling is our security is not in the things that we can do for ourselves but it should be on the Lord. One other thing to be noted is that they made their city and tower out of brick not stone. Which is a better material? Stone. This is one way symbolizing man’s trust on his capabilities who himself is made out of clay.

Job 29:18 I thought, I will die in my own house, my days as numerous as the grains of sand.

Job 30:19 God has cast me into the mire, and I have become like dust and ashes.

3. Love for man’s praise

Genesis 11:4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise, we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

They started constructing a tower to make name for themselves. The world even today follows this. People want to build huge homes; governments want to make huge statues and towers for name and popularity. All this is done for gaining man’s praise.

People crave for man’s recognition, man’s praise, man’s approval. Whose approval are you seeking today?

John 12:42-43 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.

Proverbs 27:21 MSG The purity of silver and gold is tested by putting them in the fire; The purity of human hearts is tested by giving them a little fame.

God’s will for human beings is not that we find our joy in being praised, but that we find our joy in knowing and praising him. Many people fall for the sin of being popular and be praised.

4. Cultic Practices

What started out as a small disobedience ended up on cultic practices. The tower of Babel was a religious structure. Most astrological and occult practices have a history and origin back to Babel. Ziggurats were ancient middle-eastern stepped towers. Archeologists believe that the Tower of Babel was a ziggurat at Marduk’s Great Tempe in Babylon. At the apex of ziggurats were religious shrines. These are “the high places” of pagan worship. Marduk was a celestial God. At the top platform of the Tower of Babel was found Zodiac signs. Astrology was practiced in this tower.

Astrology is the influence of the heavens on human affairs, worship of celestial bodies rather than the Creator. Some Christians read their horoscopes and look for signs in the skies. It’s a subtle form of Satan worship. The Bible warns against this activity! We are to look to God for our guidance. The Bible calls Him our ‘High Tower.’ What started as a small disobedience ended up in demonic worship.

 II. God’s response to human sin

1. God understands our fallen state

Genesis 11:5 KJV And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men built.

First, notice that he calls them “the children of man,” or “the sons of Adam.” So the sin of man is that even after the fall in the garden, men went back and sinned. Then God sent the flood and saved Noah and his family. It turns out that men are no better after the flood. The human condition is just like it was with Adam and Eve. They will decide for themselves what is best. They think they can even rise up and claim the place of God. This is the story of mankind to this very day apart, always trying to sin by rebelling against God.

God understood man’s condition and came down to see what man was doing. Years after God literally sent his only begotten son, Jesus Christ to redeem man from his Adamic nature of sin. So God understands your sinful ways.

 2.God watches man’s folly in pain

Genesis 11:5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.

The author mocks the tower by saying that God had to come down to see it. Here the people are building a tower whose top is in heaven. God is telling, “I cannot see anything from heaven, let me come down and see what they are making.”

Of course, God can see everything everywhere. But here the Bible is showing man’s pride in his little achievements.

When man sins, boasts, finds false security, and disobeys, God looks at the foolishness of man’s ways and is pained. God gets any joy from it, he is pained when we sin.

Psalm 1:6 For the LORD watches the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

III. Consequence of man’s sin

Genesis 11:6-8 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language, they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.

1. Confusion

2. Scattering

3. Division

4. Failure

This real lesson just teaches us that apart from God we cannot do anything. In contrast to this chapter I want you to look at Genesis 12. In Genesis 12, God called Abram out of the same wicked generation and promised him that God would give him everything the people around are seeking.

Genesis 12:1-3 // The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. (In Genesis 11:1-9 people have chosen a land which was not God’s plan, here God telling Abram that he will show him a land to settle in. God knows our desires and he knows when to give it.)

“I will make you into a great nation, (In Genesis 11 the chapter people wanted to build just a city. God says, “If you obey and follow me, I will not only give you a city, I will make a nation out of you”) and I will bless you; I will make your name great (They build to tower to gain a name, God said if you follow me, I will make your name great), and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” So, Abram went as the Lord told him.

The irony here is that everything that man needed and wanted to do by himself in Genesis 11 in Babylon, God gave it to a man who obeyed him. Every of the promises were fulfilled in Abraham’s life.

What is God looking for?

Trust and obedience

Genesis 15:6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

Genesis 26:4-5 I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and did everything, I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions.”

Abram did not have any quality for even making his own house for they were barren. Obedience to God takes away human limitations. God said I will make your name great. In Babel man wanted to make a great name for themselves.

But God establishes the name and fame of a person who obeys and follows him.

We find this principle in the life of Jesus.

Philippians 2:8-11 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Therefore, God has a plan for each person’s life. The only way you will find the greatness of God is to trust and obey him.

The tower of Babel is often called as the tower of pride or rebellion against God where God confused and scattered his people. However, God is not a God of confusion or division. God did it because of man’s sin. Finally, God in his greater will use these different languages and people groups for his greater glory.

If in the tower of Babel God dispersed people. Therefore, In the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ on this world, and thereafter his sending of the Holy Spirit, God gathered people at one place. If in the tower of Babel God and divided languages, in Pentecost God made the languages known and understandable.

The final glory of these languages and people groups are seen in the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Revelation 7:9-10 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

It was the spectacular sin on the plains of Shinar that gave rise to the multiplying of languages that ends in the most glorious praise to Christ from every language on earth.


In conclusion, are you willing to trust God’s ways today? His ways are always the best. Ask him forgiveness for our disobedience, false sense of security, and self-praise. Finally, commit your desires and plans into the hands of God. He has planned amazing future for you in Christ Jesus.