Identity and the Tower of Babel

The Tower of Babel.

The account in Genesis 11:1-9, at first glance seems to be about humans trying to stick it to God. They’re prideful and seek to build a name for themselves and to build a tower that will reach to the heavens. Their audacity and the Lord’s subsequent humbling of them seems to be at the crux of this account.

However, this might be more about identity. Our Hebrew reflection said to think about identity as we meditated on this passage. And I see it. The people were trying to establish a NAME for themselves. Their NAME, their renown (see Gen. 6:4), is what they would be known for, their identity. Why are they building a tower? So that they would be known. They needed to do it before they were scattered. So they gathered to build. In direct opposition to God’s explicit command to spread over the earth and fill it (Gen 9:7), the people gathered. To make a name for themselves, rather than identify with God’s plan for them. So God helped them along, confusing their languages and scattering them about the earth.

Where do I get my identity? Is it from what I do? Am I foremost a student? A youth minister? A personal assistant? Am I foremost a Christian? A boyfriend? A brother? A son? A friend? These things, by themselves aren’t necessarily bad things. But if I place them before God’s calling on my life, then I’ve lost my true identity.

What is my identity? I am a loved, adopted son of God (Romans 8:15).

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