1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
6 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.[/b]
7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.
8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
One has to to ask why these people wanted to build a tower of such magnitude. Answer is given in verse 4 -- "to make a name for themselves lest they be scattered abroad". This in my opinion reflects several things...
- Vanity & Pride ("let us make us a name")
- And as Scot noted, this was in-your-face Rebellion against the command to multiple and replenish the earth ("lest we be scattered abroad")
- Self-worship and/or Idolotry (a monumental building that reaches to heaven)
There are Scriptures galore dealing with all of these age-old sins, for "there is nothing new under the sun'. But more importantly, the specific reason I believe God intervened is given in verse 6 -- namely in order to restrain sin.
Consider that the first generations of men lived for hundreds of years, and with such accumulation of knowledge, were capable of great feats. They were not as weakened physically and mentally as are men today; (as I've heard it said, man started out super smart but 'dumbed-down' over time.) Although modern man (in preparation for the end) has been allowed to have an 'upswing' in knowledge'. And as usual, such knowledge is misued -- is used in defiance against God instead of to the glory of God.
When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increaseth: but the righteous shall see their fall.
God has His set times and plans for carrying out His purposes regarding man, salvation, and final judgement. If He didn't restrain sin, things would rapidly deteriorate 'before their time', to the point where I believe we are now headed --great spiritual famine, wide-spread apostasy in the church, lack of reverance for life and the sanctity of marraige, denial of the sovereignty of God our Creator and Savior, .... the list is endless.
God intervenes constantly in the affairs of men, and there are indeed consequences to sin -- for the believer and unbeliever alike. In this instance of the tower of Babel, He forced men to scatter across the earth (which they should have done to begin with) by confusing their language and halting the building of the tower. More dire consequences can be seen at other times in the Bible -- most notably in the great flood, with God starting over with Noah and His family, and the utter destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah.
Indeed, God's first intervention occured with the fall of Adam and Eve, during which God drove them away from the garden of Eden and the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil:
22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
Such misuse of knowlege and power in the hands of men cannot be long permitted, for the hearts of men are 'desperately wicked'.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
God's interventions continue into modern times, although they are more difficult to define and understand because they aren't recorded in the Bible, and we don't have the same vantage point. However, the Bible lets us know one thing for sure... that during end-times, even the coporate church will forsake the true faith and there will be great tribulation such as in no other time in the history of mankind, because instead of restraining sin, God will 'give men up' to all manner of abominations. Yet even then, God in His mercy will 'shorten' the time, lest even the elect perish, and no faith can be found on the face of the earth when He returns.
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.