Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”
Unity is not an intrinsic good, as the episode of Babel reveals. Humanity was never more together, never more in sync with one another. They were of one culture and one language, and they had one common plan: to build a tower, a monument that would ascend to the heavens. This work, however, was sinful. They resolved to build the great tower in order to keep themselves from being spread across the earth, which was contrary to God’s very command for humanity in Genesis 1:28. They were, therefore, united, but it was a unity of rebellion against the LORD. So He dispersed them Himself, confusing their languages.
The utopic dreams of both secularism and paganism are nothing more than attempts to replay Babel. They envision a gloriously united humanity, but their foundations are premised upon rejections of the created order established by the Maker. They attempt to dethrone and dispose of the Almighty Creator in order to create a harmonious state and unification of the cosmos. Such idolatry cannot ultimately stand. Their plans will be swept away like chaff in the wind, but the Word of the LORD will endure forever.
Thankfully, God is at work uniting us together and to Himself. The arrival of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 is a glorious reversal of Babel, wherein God bridges the language divide yet does so without erasing the different languages. Furthermore, as the early church continued to grow, the Spirit eventually dispersed the disciples throughout the world, carrying the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ with them as they went.
And the work of making disciples of all nations continues still today. Paradoxically, the LORD is uniting His church by scattering His people across the globe with the hope of the gospel for every nation, tribe, and tongue. We are not united in building a tower to make a name for ourselves or any other such work. We are united by faith in the cross and resurrection of Christ and in the hope of His return. This unity crosses all borders and languages until the glorious day when all peoples will praise the LORD. Let us, therefore, reject worldly, doomed, and often sinful notions of unity, and let us strive for the unity found in submission to the King of glory.