When the Tower of Babel was under construction, human unity had arisen for the purpose of exalting human ingenuity and effort. This was pride! Then God brought confusion and chaos to the project. In doing so, He rescued humanity from the disastrous results that a completed tower would have surely brought.
Thus, God had seen in more than one situation His created order marred by sin. The first and most significant stain sin left, it left with Adam’s and Eve’s sin in the garden of Eden. Sin spread and escalated from that point, until “the LORD saw that man’s wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every scheme his mind thought of was nothing but evil all the time” (Gen 6:5). So God determined He would destroy the earth with a flood—and He did, but He graciously spared Noah and his family and all the animals on the ark He’d directed Noah to build. Yet, even after the flood, people still didn’t “get it.” God rightly recognized human efforts to exalt human ingenuity and progress in the form of a tower as arrogance—and He thwarted these efforts by confusing human language and causing people to scatter worldwide. Would there be any hope for humanity now?
Yes, there would; and it would come from God, not man. God had indicated early on that He would bring an ultimate solution to the problem of sin, for in Genesis 3:15 He stated to the serpent, and to Satan through the serpent, “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” Ultimately, God’s solution to human sin would mean that His own Son, who was part of the Godhead, would come to the earth, live a perfect life, and die to pay sin’s penalty.
Sin had repeatedly brought disaster and chaos to the earth, with the scattering of the people from the site of the Tower of Babel being the most recent manifestation. Against this backdrop, God would call out Abram (later to be known as Abraham) from Ur of the Caldeans and give him descendants who would become a great nation (see 11:31–12:3). Through that nation God’s Son would come to the earth, and in His death and resurrection would be the solution man’s core problem—sin.
We must not fail to notice the setting on the earth when God called out Abraham! Babel and the other ruinous effects of sin provide the backdrop for God’s initiation of His plan to bring humanity back to Himself. This backdrop underscores that the solution to sin comes from God and God alone. People are free to respond to His offer of salvation, but it is God who extends His gracious offer to humanity to be saved. Of course, we see this not only at the point of God’s call to Abram, but also in the timing of Jesus’ arrival on the earth. It is evident in other events as well. Thank God that He can genuinely resolve the horrific mess into which man has gotten himself!