The Tower of Babel


Revelation 7:9a, ESV

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude
that no one could number, from every nation,
from all tribes and peoples and languages,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb


Genesis 9:1-3, NIrV

1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons. He said to them, “Have children so that there are many of you. Fill the earth. 2 All the land animals will be afraid of you. All the birds in the sky will be afraid of you. Every creature that moves along the ground will be afraid of you. So will every fish in the seas. Every living thing is put under your control. 3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. I have already given you the green plants for food. Now I am giving you everything.


Immediately after making Adam and Eve, God gave his two brand-new people a command. “Be fruitful and multiply!" he said, "Fill the whole earth!” God wanted Adam and Eve to make lots of new baby people until the whole world was crawling with them. But in the worldwide flood, every human had been wiped off the face of the planet (except for the eight people floating in the ark). When Noah’s family finally stepped out of the boat and onto dry land, God repeated the same command he gave Adam and Eve. “Be fruitful and multiply!” he said. “Have babies and refill the earth!”

+ Why did God need to give Noah’s family the same command he gave Adam and Eve?

+ What did God give to Noah’s family for food? (vs. 3)


Genesis 11:1-2, NIrV

1 The whole world had only one language, and everyone spoke it. 2 They moved to the east and found a broad valley in Babylon. There they made their home.


When God created Adam and Eve, he gave them the ability to speak to each other using a language. This means they used the same group of words and sounds to describe the things they saw. The Bible doesn’t tell us what their language was. When they had children, Adam and Eve taught their babbling babies to speak the same language God gave them. And as human beings continued to make baby humans and fill the earth, they passed along that same language to their kids. No matter where you wandered in the world, no matter who you met, everyone spoke using the same set of words!

How is the world described in verse 1 different than our world today?

Where did the people decide to settle down to live? (vs. 2)


Genesis 11:3-4, NIrV

3 They said to one another, “Come on! Let’s make bricks and bake them well.” They used bricks instead of stones. They used tar to hold the bricks together. 4 Then they said, “Come on! Let’s build a city for ourselves. Let’s build a tower that reaches to the sky. We’ll make a name for ourselves. Then we won’t be scattered over the whole earth.”


Do you remember God’s after-the-flood command to humans? “Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the whole world!” As our ancient ancestors moved east, they had a different plan: “Instead of scattering, let’s settle down right here!” What was their bright idea? To build a huge city around a tremendous tower, one whose top stretched all the way to the clouds! This sky-scraping building in the middle of the plains would make it easy for any wanderer to find their way back home. But sadly, it was also designed to keep them from obeying God’s command to scatter across the face of the planet!

What were the people going to use to build their tower? (vs. 3)

What reasons did the people have for building a city and a tower? (vs. 4)


Genesis 11:5-7, NIRV

5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 He said, “All these people are united and speak the same language. That is why they can do all this. Now they will be able to do anything they plan. 7 Come on! Let us go down and mix up their language. Then they will not be able to understand one other.”


When people come together and work as a team, they can accomplish almost anything they put their minds to. But teamwork isn’t such a good thing when everyone is working together to disobey God’s commands! As their tower rose up to the sky, God came down to check on the humans’ building project. And he didn’t like what he saw, not one bit! With everyone speaking the same language, the people were an unstoppable building machine! So God decided to throw a wrench in their evil plans. If he mixed up their languages, there would be too much confusion to do any construction!

What did God say about the people building the city and the tower? (vs. 6)

What did God plan to do to stop their building project? (vs. 7) 


Genesis 11:8-9, NIRV

8 So the Lord scattered them from there over the whole earth. And they stopped building the city. 9 There the Lord mixed up the language of the whole world. That’s why the city was called Babel. From there the Lord scattered them over the whole earth.


Imagine being alive on the day God mixed up the languages of the builders of Babel Tower. One moment, you ask a friend, “Hey, hand me that hammer.” And the next? He’s talking in total gibberish! People suddenly spoke using sounds they never heard before! God’s language-mixing plan brought their tower-building plans to a stop. Instead of building, the workers searched for anyone they could understand (or who could understand them). When they found each other, they grouped together. As a result, these groups scattered over the earth, just as God had commanded them to do.

Why did the people stop building their tower and city? (vs. 8)

The people gave that place a name that means “confused.” What name was it? (vs. 9)


Revelation 7:9-11, NIRV

9 After this I looked, and there in front of me was a huge crowd of people. They stood in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb. There were so many that no one could count them. They came from every nation, tribe and people. That’s true no matter what language they spoke. They were wearing white robes. In their hands they were holding palm branches. 10 They cried out in a loud voice,

“Salvation belongs to our God,

who sits on the throne.

Salvation also belongs to the Lamb.”

11 All the angels were standing around the throne. They were standing around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces in front of the throne and worshiped God. 


Our world is filled with many sky-scraping towers. These big buildings are tens of times taller than the one we learned about this week. Why didn’t God stop these builders like he stopped those building the Tower of Babel? The answer to that question has to do with why the people were building their tower.

God commanded human beings to be fruitful, have lots of babies, and spread all over the earth he had made. By building a big tower and an even bigger city, the people at Babel were saying, “God, we don’t care what you say about scattering! We’re going to stay right here and do what we want!” This sinful attitude is the big difference between the Babel Tower in the Bible and the Eiffel Tower in France.

In the end, God let his people know exactly who was in charge! With mixed-up languages, the builders of Babel had no choice but to abandon their construction project. After finding people who spoke the same new languages as them, they finally scattered around the world. As a result, we live in a world filled with all sorts of people speaking all sorts of different languages. Because of Babel, communicating and working together is confusing and frustrating!

But the Lord God is someone who can take something confusing and turn it into something absolutely amazing! The story of the Tower of Babel comes from the first book of the Bible. But the verses we looked at today come from the very last book: Revelation. In this book, the apostle John wrote down a picture of what things will look like when Jesus returns to earth to set up his forever kingdom.

What does John tell us will happen? Standing in front of the throne of the Lamb (the “Lamb” is Jesus), there will be people from all the groups of the world. There will be men and women speaking all the languages of earth. This uncountable crowd will give glory and praise to God. They’ll worship him speaking and singing in the strange sounds of hundreds of different languages. What a wonderful sound that would be!

The same God who scattered the tower-building sinners of Babel is also the same God who sent his Son Jesus to rescue us. To complete that mission, Jesus died on a cross. With his death, Jesus paid the punishment for our sins, which is a forever, fiery death! And after being buried in the grave, Jesus came back to life on the third day. It was proof positive he had rescued us from sin and death once and for all!

Anyone who believes this good news (that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead) becomes part of God’s forever kingdom. This promise is true no matter where in the world you are, what in the world you look like, or what language you speak. If we believe the good news of Jesus, we’ll be part of that uncountable crowd in the future, giving praise to God in all the different languages of the world!

In the crowd that John saw, how many people were there? (vs. 9)

What were the people saying together? (vs. 10)

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