The Power of Babel
Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men 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.” So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth. (Gen 11:1-9)
It seems from the narrative in Genesis that this tower being built on the plain in Shinar must have been something of magnificence. There is no reliable record of how many people actually inhabited this area, but the number must have been more than just a few. It is also quite obvious that this people group must have possessed skills in architectural design and construction. Now, it might be tempting to draw the conclusion that numbers and knowledge were the key to this society’s accomplishments. However, while those things were certainly a secondary advantage, they really were not the “secret of their success.”
What really brought this company of people to such a high level of accomplishment was unity. They were many in number but one in thought and purpose.
Ultimately, Scripture tells us that God put a stop to their prideful plans. However, this small snapshot of world history shows us just how powerful unity can be, either for good or for evil. It is interesting to note how God halted the building of this tower. He did not wash it away with a flood or reduce it to ashen rubble with a violent strike of lightning. The earth did not open up and pull the structure into its rocky abyss. No, God dealt the decisive blow to this situation with division. He inhibited their ability to communicate and cooperate and progress came to a screeching halt. Without unity, the skills and resources of these people became essentially useless. There was incredible power in their agreement and much was being accomplished. However, in their disagreement things quickly took a dive into disaster.
This principal still holds true in the 21st century. Unity is still the key component to gaining ground in any endeavor. Nothing of significance has ever been or ever will be accomplished in a setting of widespread discord. Regardless of the vast resources that a community may possess, they all fall subservient to the bonds of unity.
Unfortunately, the devil is well aware of the power of unity. That is why division is one of the most utilized tools in his arsenal. There is nothing he likes more than to stir up a little dissension among God’s people in hopes of derailing progress in the Kingdom of God. He works diligently to spark disagreement anywhere he can. He knows that when people individually and people collectively get in agreement with God, “God things” happen, and he doesn’t want that. No harmony, no headway.
That is why we are so strongly encouraged in Ephesians 4:3 (AMP) to “Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of (and produced by) the Spirit in the binding power of peace.” Paul isn’t being passive and nonchalant when he urges us to be eager and strive earnestly. His intent is that we take unity seriously and go to great lengths to keep it intact. It matters. Down the road and over time, the small points of difference that existed amongst the people of God are not likely to even be remembered, but even if they are, they will in no way be able to trump the incredible feats that God accomplished through a body of people who agreed to agree with Him and each other.