Let’s begin by reading Genesis 11:1-4, “AND THE WHOLE EARTH WAS OF ONE LANGUAGE, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” Now, let’s back up and read the verse in question. Genesis 10:5, “By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; EVERY ONE AFTER HIS TONGUE, after their families, in their nations.” Why are different tongues mentioned before the Tower of Babel in chapter 11 where we just read that THE WHOLE EARTH WAS OF ONE LANGUAGE?

Genesis 10 gives us the generations of Noah’s sons: Ham, Shem, and Japheth. In order, we have Japheth’s family in verses 2-5, Ham’s family in verses 6-20, and Shem’s family in verses 21-31. We then read in verse 32, “These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.” It is verse 25 that offers the solution to the mystery before us. That says, “And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; FOR IN HIS DAYS WAS THE EARTH DIVIDED; and his brother’s name was Joktan.” This shows us that the information about Noah’s family was given in hindsight…the writer was looking back at the lineage of Noah and each of his sons! So, what we read in verse 5 where different tongues were mentioned were in reference to a time that was AFTER the Tower of Babel that we read about in chapter 11.

This tower, and the people’s desire for this tower was offensive in the eyes of the Lord. Let’s read Genesis 11:4, “And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” Let’s notice a few points.

  • THEY SAID – There is no record of these people consulting with the Lord about building this city and tower. They ‘reasoned among themselves’ as to their actions, so we see what was done was done independently of the Lord. The Lord’s desire is that all our reasonings include Him. We read in Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD…”
  • LET US BUILD A CITY AND A TOWER, WHOSE TOP MAY REACH UNTO HEAVEN – How sad, that even back then, men had a desire to reach heaven by their own devices. They would WORK their way to Heaven. Let’s read Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” NOT OF WORKS! The way to Heaven is not found in our works, rather it is found in faith in the FINISHED WORK of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.
  • LET US MAKE US A NAME – This is a clear attempt of man to be exalted among others. Rather than exalt and rejoice in the name of the Lord, they desired a name for themselves. Only ONE NAME should be exalted. That name is the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 2:9-11 tells us, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

In order to stop this evil plan of men, the Lord confused them by giving them different languages. They could no longer work together because they could no longer understand each other. How evil was this plan of sinful men. Today, men continue to try to reach Heaven apart from faith in the Lord Jesus. The Lord tells us emphatically in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Have you trusted in Him as your savior? (248.8)