Genesis – Part 2c: Justice and Mercy – Babel


At first glance the story of the Tower of Babel can seem like a petty act of jealously on the part of God but when we look at it in more detail we can see how it perfect demonstrates a just and merciful creator.



For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story of the Tower of Babel; in the generations following on from the great flood people wanted to build a tower that could reach up to the heavens. This was intended as a challenge to authority of God and also demonstration of the might of man, in particular the power and glory of Nimrod, King of Babylon. During this time it is said the people of the world shared a common language. However, upon discovering their plan to build this tower God came down and divided the people through the gift of tongues. They could no longer understand each other, and from that moment forward humanity was split, scattered and talking in different languages.

“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” Genesis 11:6

Now you could argue that God did this out of spite, he was jealous and fearful that a united mankind would rival his sovereignty over creation. However, that is not the case – far from it. If the whole human race remained united in the proud attempt to take its destiny into its own hands and, by its self-centred efforts, there would be no limits to its unrestrained rebellion against God. Therefore a godless human kingdom would be permanently excluded from the kingdom of God.

This was not God’s intention when he created man, he wanted man to be in a relationship with God living in his kingdom. By dividing mankind through different languages he is actually demonstrating not only his justice (punishing man for trying to establish themselves as equal to God) but more importantly his mercy. By stopping the kingdom on man becoming united he is ensuring that man still have access to the kingdom of God, eventually cemented through the cross. Otherwise we would be destined to die in a rebellious kingdom of our own creation.


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