Those who reject the authority of God still desire peace, but it is a substandard form when it doesn’t include Jesus. It begins with the idea that everyone can get along while pursuing individual greatness but eventually faces the impossibility of such an existence without someone to lead the effort. As a result, an opportunity arises for one with the influence and power to unite—or control—all others under the one thing they can agree on: a refusal to be subject to Jesus and the God of Heaven.
There is biblical precedent for this type of widespread egotism and the necessary individual powerful enough to rule over it. Babel was the city, and Nimrod was its ruler. Not long after the judgment of the flood, Babel was built from its inhabitants’ unified plan to avoid future division and destruction. Obviously, they were in search of some kind of peace. Remember, Ephesians 4:14 promises peace as the exact benefit to those who are united under Jesus, but the people of Babel wanted peace on their terms. Much like Satan who sought to exalt his throne above the stars of heaven, the people of Babel sought to protect and exalt themselves into the heavens by building a city.
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 thoroughly. 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. 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.”
Babel was obviously no match for the Lord, but it was still allowed to accomplish some degree of unity and a measure of success. Mankind, marked by sin’s curse of chaos and confusion, had banded together to build a kingdom in spite of God, and likely in defense of future judgment at His hands.
It’s extraordinary that one of the strongest causes to unite people outside of Jesus is their shared opposition to Him.
They had basically united in the nature of Satan and in defiance to God’s prescribed path to peace. In this biblical story, Babel presents a model of the quintessential anti-Christ kingdom, and a precedent is set for those who seek to create a kingdom to challenge God’s sovereignty. Babel was the name subsequently given because of the consequent confusion that God declared upon their coordinated contempt against Him.
Babel comes from the Hebrew word ‘balal’ which means “to mingle, mix, confuse, confound”
So how did the population of Babel manage to come together with a common goal? As we read the previous chapter, we learn that they were led by one, Nimrod, who possessed the qualities necessary to command false peace among men.
*Genesis 10:1, 6-10 (AMPC)
“1 This is the history of the generations (descendants) of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The sons born to them after the flood were:…
6 The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt [Mizraim], Put, and Canaan. 7 The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca; and the sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan. 8 Cush became the father of Nimrod; he was the first to be a mighty man on the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the Lord. Therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord. 10 The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.”*
Shortly after the great flood, Nimrod rose to power and prominence, and scripture describes him as a mighty hunter. Of course, physical might is essential for someone looking to conquer disorder and corral confusion, and Nimrod had to be the mightiest of all the self-willed. He had to have been an extremely impressive figure, and both historical and biblical evidence suggests that he was physically, a giant, larger than most other men. According to the bible, he was the first to achieve this type of power after God’s judgment by the flood, and through his might and influence he was able to convince an ungodly group to collectively establish a nation in rebellion. In the end, through Nimrod and Babel, we see one of the earliest depictions of a kingdom built in hopes of creating a sub-standard, alternative, earthly brand of peace. Jesus once made an interesting statement about this earthly type of peace.
34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
He plainly states that He is not the leader of the earthly variety of peace, and He later explains Himself by saying…
37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
The translation is that peace is not established by blood or any other physically shared attribute. Peace is built in the depths of the heart, on the unity of faith in one, Jesus.
If unity is present but Jesus is absent, the peace of that group is not authentic and will soon expire.
It is worth noting that this first iteration of Babylon did not meet the fate that it could have. The Lord didn’t utterly destroy the city as He would a number of subsequent nations. Instead, He chose to confound their language and disorganize their efforts. It is plausible that at this early stage in God’s overall plan for humanity, this was an act of mercy to prevent certain destruction from worse actions they would have performed in the future. Who knows what other activities may have developed within this group had they been able to build their city?
As time passed, we actually learn what would have likley happened if God had allowed Babylon to survive. The spirit of this group, which is the work of Satan himself, resurfaces in another generation, under the same name and even in the same physical location.
Babel, led by Nimrod, was built in Shinar…
“10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.”
And Babylon, established by its ruler Nebuchadnezzar, was also located in Shinar…
“1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.”*
So, the culture of Babylon is defined by people united in rejection of God and His will, following after the spirit of antichrist. The fullness of its identity is championed by an antichrist figure who is charismatic and powerful enough to deliver a form of peace and security to prideful people. Ultimately, peace without Jesus is no peace at all, and a new testament passage in 1 Thessalonians provides ominous, prophetic words for the future development of this scenario.
1 Thessalonians 5:3 (KJV)
“3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.”
In every future iteration of Babylon, the Lord allows the desires of the people to develop further, and He doesn’t deal with them as lightly. As this scripture declares, sudden destruction will come upon those who believe they have found peace and safety without Jesus. God allows Babylon’s existence for a season, but ultimately brings it to swift destruction.