The Babel Principle

Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder_-_The_Tower_of_Babel_(Vienna)_-_Google_Art_Project_-_edited By JUSTIN GRAY

In a recent blog post, I wrote that God wants to give you a platform. But I have a confession — I left something important out of that post.

The Tower of Babel as a Platform In chapter 11 of Genesis, Moses tells a story about Noah’s descendants attempting to build a great tower that would reach the heavens. That tower would have been the highest “platform” created by man at that point in history. These people had the talent, the ingenuity, the resources, and most importantly the unity to make it happen.

But as you probably know, God intervened with their plans and the tower they began was never completed. In verse 4, we find their reason for building the tower and God’s motivation for stopping them:

“Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”

Here’s the issue: the tower was about what they wanted, not about what God had planned for them. They wanted to build high and make a name for themselves (a platform); but God wanted them to build wide and cover the earth.

Building High vs. Building Wide Noah’s descendants thought that if they created a higher tower, they would be able to create a bigger platform and distinguish themselves as a people. They were probably right, but that wasn’t how God wanted them to build. God’s original instructions to humanity were to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” not “make a name for yourself and build the highest platform possible.”

God started civilization over with Noah and his family, but that did not mean he had changed his mind about how he wanted humanity to build. In the same way, God may have given you a fresh opportunity to exercise your musical gifts and creativity, but that does not mean he changed his mind about the platform he has for you.

What’s Wrong With Building High? Building high is typically about being more visible, and therefore, really more about us and our goals rather than God's. But beware of building a high platform; you as well as others are more likely to fall.

Building wide on the other hand ensures a stable platform capable of withstanding great pressure and sustaining progress. The migration of Noah’s descendants was essential for spreading God’s purposes throughout the world. He wanted a wide platform capable of establishing his plan for all of humanity.

So am I against recognizing hard work, innovation, and accomplishments? No way. However, God promises us that we will be exalted when our time comes (Matt 23:12). So we shouldn’t worry about building a higher platform so the world can honor and see what we do. Those who diligently and obediently serve him will always ultimately be raised up in honor and authority.

Will you build high or build wide? How difficult is it for the next person to stand on the platform that you are building?