Why did God decide to change the people's language was the question raised as the study examined this particular chapter of Scripture. Looking through the chapter we discover the reason mankind wanted to establish a city and build a large tower was to ensure that they would not be scattered across the face of the earth. It's interesting to note, that their fear was exactly what came upon them. The Bible does not tell us how the people knew that God was intending for them to populate the entire world but we would speculate that this was a direct teaching handed down to them from Noah. Prior to coming to the plain of Shinar the people had been nomadic travellers having left the area where the Ark settled at Mount Ararat.
The decision they made to want to stay together was a conscious decision despite God's direct instructions to the contrary. It is interesting to note that God allowed the building of the tower to be established. It was only when it became apparent that people were going to remain in disobedience that he determined to change their language and scatter them over the face of the Earth.
Within our discussions a number of suggestions were made as to how God subsequently scattered the people. The funniest being that God beamed them to different parts of the world similar to how it would have been done in Star Trek. While the Bible doesn't actually tell us how God moved people to the different areas of the world it seems reasonable to conclude that they made the move themselves. Some people have difficulty understanding why the people would have chosen to separate after their language had changed specially as it is obvious today that we humans have the capacity to learn different languages. The answer to the question however is very simple the spirit that was influencing the people to stay together in opposition to God's will is the same spirit we see in nations today. That spirit creates suspicion and fear of any individuals who it perceives as being different from the Society it is working within. Once the language had changed and every individual family could only communicate with each other then the fear and suspicion this created forced each individual family grouping to seek to isolate themselves thus forming the nation's and cultures that were to dominate the ancient world.
It is interesting in Acts chapter 2 that one of the gifts evident at the coming of the Holy Spirit allowed the disciples to be heard by every nation language and tongue even though these speakers were speaking Aramaic within their own local dialect as Galileans.
'When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers. They were completely amazed. 'How can this be?' they exclaimed. 'These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages! Here we are 'Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!' They stood there amazed and perplexed. 'What can this mean?' they asked each other.'
It is interesting to note that the new Testament does not indicate a repeat of this particular miracles being experienced with any of the other apostles when they were evangelising the Gentile nations..
The subject matter of Genesis chapter 11 now changes to explore the geology of Abram and the main item of interest is the decline of the age mankind is now living to. Prior to the flood Methuselah lived to be 969 years old while Abram's father Terah only lived to be 205 years old.
On a final note the very last verses of chapter 11 tells us that, 'One day Terah took his son Abram, his daughter-in-law Sarai (his son Abram's wife), and his grandson Lot (his son Haran's child) and moved away from Ur of the Chaldeans. He was headed for the land of Canaan, but they stopped at Haran and settled there. Terah lived for 205 years here are and died while still in Haran.'
Terah was heading for Canaan the very place that God would subsequently send Abram to explore as it was to become an inheritance of his descendants. As Abram was not approached by God until after the death of his father it would be reasonable to speculate that God originally called Terah but because of his unwillingness to continue God waited until this individual died before offering the opportunity to his son Abram.
Jesus said "many are called but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:16), here we have an example of those words in action. Terah was called and given the opportunity to go to Canaan with his family but only went so far, he did not finish the journey. On Terah's death, Abram also received the call and showed that he had also been chosen by completing the journey as instructed. Abram is known as the father of the faithful, that is to say, those who will obey God and finish their journey of faith.
William Andrews is a regular Christian preacher/speaker within churches across Northern Ireland. He lives in one of the very few dry villages in Ireland called Seskinore, has been married to Caroline for 42 blissful years and has two daughters Charlene (42) and Rachel (28). The year 2008 proved to be an exciting year for the family as Charlene got married to Dominic in September 08 and they had their first child Phoebe Rose on 30th November 2009. A second grandchild, Ruby Caroline was born on 23rd April 2013. In the middle of the Covid 19 pandemic Rachel got married to Joe on 13th December 2020 and on 18th July 2023 they had a daughter Lydia Niamh.