Genesis 11:6-7 “And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”

Have you ever had something really confusing happen in your life? Maybe there’s something like that going on right now. You were happily going on your way and all of a sudden, something happened that threw (or is throwing you) for a loop. The result can be anxiety, anger, and questioning such as “why is this happening to me?” This was the case at the interesting story of the tower of Babel. The people were just doing their own thing, as they were telling each other “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 (Genesis 11:4).” Notice that just doing their own thing was the whole problem. It was all about “let us build” and “let us make us a name.” It was all about us, and nothing about God. God’s reaction is very interesting as He says, “now nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to do.” In the NIV version it says “nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” It’s as if God is rubbing His hands and fretting about what they’ll do next, as if they’ll be out of control with no way to stop them. Obviously, this isn’t the case, since God is in complete control of everything. You see, the Lord was concerned that there was a problem in their thoughts, their imaginations, which would ultimately lead to their destruction. An earlier similar situation regarding man’s ungodly thoughts occurred right before he destroyed everyone except Noah’s family with a flood. At that time, the Bible says “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5).” At Babel men were following the same pattern, with their thoughts again evil, excluding God. And at Babel God demonstrates His gracious restraint by confusing their language – and thus their thoughts – so that they would not continue on the same path on which they had been in Noah’s day, at least not so quickly. Another interesting place in which God brought confusion into a situation was with the wicked prophet Balaam, as he continually tried to curse the Lord’s people and “was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. (2 Peter 2:16).” There’s much more to that story in Numbers 22-25. Long story short, God sometimes brings confusing situations into our lives to restrain sin, to graciously restrain us when we may be headed into destructive situations, sometimes brought on unwittingly by our own actions as we fail to acknowledge God and His will for us. Perhaps that’s why God reminds us in Proverbs 3:5-6 to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

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