Last week, we saw how kingship began at Eridu/Babel. Did God punish Babel by confusing the languages? Words like punishment or judgment are not mentioned in this account. The Flood was a punishment for violence. A world of people died. No one died at Babel, certainly not as a result of speaking different languages. Languages only made it more difficult to organize projects. God’s supernatural creation of languages was not punishment but mercy.
God explains the problem in Genesis 11:6: “and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” God specifically says that they are beginning to do something and that the continuation of it would be the problem. God doesn’t say what it is. They have a plan in their imagination and God knows what it is. God stopped them as they were getting started, but He didn’t stop them completely.
God’s mercy means that He could judge us and doesn’t. God could have killed everyone at Babel that had wicked plans, and that would have solved the problem. But God doesn’t want anyone to perish; He want to give them freedom to repent (2 Peter 3:9). Do you recognize that God has shown you mercy? Do you extend mercy to others who have done you wrong? Mercy is a part of godliness.
Not only did God show mercy to those who would eventually become abusers of humanity, but He also showed mercy on those who would be abused. Language differences became a huge deterrent to quickly enslaving much of the world. It would be hundreds of years before Sargon the Great could unite the kings of the Near East, and that would not hold together long.
Mercy means withholding judgment for a time, but judgment eventually comes for those who don’t repent. The word for Babel and Babylon are the same. Babel that received mercy around 2250 BC will eventually be judge as Babylon the Great. The rotten fruition of Babel is described in Revelation 18:3:
“For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.”
Beware of success that hurts others. Fear God when you imagine doing evil. Trust God to show mercy and judgment at the appropriate time.