But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 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.”Genesis 11:5-7, NIV
Could it be pride – the arrogance of our age – that has caused God, as in the time of the Tower of Babel story, to once again “come down” and interrupt the affairs of men through a worldwide pandemic?
If one will honestly look at how things have become, the answer could likely be a ‘yes’.
A lot of people would even think that this is some punishment on man’s abuse of his freedoms: exploiting the environment, perverting morals that are inherently written in our hearts and destroying the family, to name a few. Heck, even just as doctors, researchers and scientists are learning about the behaviour – not yet the cure – of this novel coronavirus people are already quick to throw God out the window.
But all this can also be seen as an act of mercy from the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. “While God is not feeling threatened in His supremacy by collective human ingenuity, God may be interrupting us right now because we do not know of the devastation that sin would wreak if human pride were allowed to progress unimpeded,” as explained in an article from DesiringGod.org (When God Mercifully Ruins Our Plans).
“We, who now have the benefit of observing a few thousand years of recorded history, should know better than our ancient predecessors. The technologically accelerated 20th century, and the thousands upon thousands of war dead we memorialize today, bear witness to how much evil can be unleashed when the best and brightest human minds put their heads together to build their Babels,” author Jon Bloom wrote.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.Proverbs 14:12, NIV
“So,” Bloom said, “God confused Mesopotamians’ language and scattered them. And it was a great mercy.” Quoting preacher Jameson Nass, he added, “It was the mercy of God for him to make their lives difficult, mess up their one great aim, and give them what they hoped wouldn’t happen.”
“And God does the same kind of merciful confounding in our lives. And it is far more merciful than we know, certainly more merciful than it feels when we feel confounded,” Bloom explained.
“We often do not know what we are really building when we embark on our achievements. We often aren’t aware of how deep, pervasive, and motivating our pride is. We often are blind to how much we cherish the glory of our name. But God knows. And in mercy he confounds us, impedes us, and humbles us. And it is all mercy. ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’ (1 Peter 5:5). When it comes to his children, God gives us grace in the act of opposing our pride because it makes us humble. For he knows that the more humble we are, the happier we are. The proud will be destroyed (Proverbs 16:18), but the humble will dwell with God (Isaiah 57:15).
“The story of the tower of Babel contains a gospel treasure: Even our disorienting disappointments and failures in making a name for ourselves have redemptive purposes. God loves us and knows what is best for us and in mercy he will not allow any achievement that we pursue for our own glory to rob us of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:8).
“There is no real gain in making our name known. That’s Philippians 3:8 rubbish. The only real gain is Christ. So God mercifully thwarts our pride-fueled plans in order to make us truly happy,” Bloom concluded.
God is drawing us near. It may well be an act of mercy so we don’t fly off to even greater peril and destruction.