Can you picture this group of migrants discovering an area rich in resources and saying to one another, “Why should we keep going? This place looks great. Let’s just stay here.” It seems like a logical choice, but it’s one that directly defies the expressed will of God — He had commanded them to scatter in order to fill the earth.
Even worse than their refusal to go where God called them to go (the ends of the earth), they decided to build a tower to reach the heavens. Essentially, they decided to go where God had not called them, to climb to the throne of God. It isn’t hard to deduce the inspiration for such a desire. Isaiah tells us of Lucifer in Isaiah 14:13:
“For you have said in your heart:
I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.”
So God confused their languages. He caused division among them which made them unable to work together to complete their project. It forced them to separate because they could no longer comprehend one another.
But isn’t God a God of unity?
Yes and no.
God desires unity. But not for unity’s sake.
God desires for us to be unified in our worship of Him, not unified in defiance of His Word. Not unified in sin.
The world proclaims peace through tolerance of anything except the worship of God and reverence for His Word.
Jesus said, “ Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.” (Matthew 10:34-36)
God's desire for us is for our good and His glory, but when we are unified in defiance of Him, neither of those purposes are achieved. The tower of Babel teaches us that God will undermine our efforts when those efforts are directly contrary to His Word, detrimental to our souls, and dishonoring to our God.