Human Intellect versus the Light of Christ.
By: Paul Thompson.
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 upon the face of the earth."
People tend to dismiss the story of the Tower of Babel [Genesis 11:1-9] as a primitive tale to explain the differences in human speech throughout the world. Their notion is superficial. The Lord opened this scripture for me in a wonderful way:
The people, rather than scattering over the earth, as God commanded, begin to gather on a plain. They take mud and fashion bricks, and attempt to plan and construct, with their own minds and hands, a building reaching to the skies. A short cut to Heaven, making a name for themselves, and taking power and glory themselves. God sees this, and knows that if they continue in this way, no great thing - however good or evil - will be impossible for them. They will usurp and then forget divinity. So God causes them to lose the means of cooperation, a common language, forcing them to divide and scatter, as he had previously commanded.
This is the fate of those who worship the human intellect and have no place in their lives for God; all their plans, how ever well intentioned, will fail. The mud brick is the symbol of artificiality in this story, as it is in the later story where Pharaoh makes the Children of Israel produce bricks without straw.
The contrasting symbol is stone, part of God's natural creation, of which are built the holy edifices of the Old Covenant.
In the New Covenant, Christ can undo the scattering of the people of Babel, by filling his followers with his Holy Spirit, so that they can rush out and proclaim the kingdom, and be heard by each listener as if in his own language. In the New Covenant we have neither brick nor natural stone, but living stones made into a great spiritual temple; all those who still their minds and spirits and surrender to Christ, are united in worship, in purpose, and in understanding.
When I consider this miracle, I remember the story of the tribal Chief in America, who refused to have the words spoken in Meeting for Worship translated, so that instead of trying to grasp their intellectual meaning, he could hear "where they came from".