A global system of nations united in purpose could have been an effective means of fulfilling humanity’s dominion mandate. Instead, we find that humanity’s collective efforts were soon channeled into another act of rebellion: “Then they said, ‘Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world’” (Gen. 11:4).
Shortly after experiencing a global flood that was released to cleanse the earth of its wickedness, humanity again forfeited its renewed opportunity to steward God’s creation in submission to His will. Contravening their charge in Genesis 9:1 to spread out and fill the earth, the people determined to congregate in a magnificent city where, far from being thankful for their second chance at obedience, they chose to honor themselves rather than God.
Romans 1 provides further insight into their mindset and motivations, “Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused” (Rom. 1:21). Because of this, God abandoned humanity to its futile ideas, ultimately permitting us to become enslaved to our passions and desires: “Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness” (Rom. 1:28–29b).
Moreover, God foiled humanity’s rebellious plan by dividing its language (Gen. 11:5–9). The confusion compelled people to spread throughout the world. More importantly, it limited their ability to collectively rebel against God. It was in this judgment at Babel that God established nations defined by language and geographic borders. This is affirmed in Deuteronomy 32:8, “When the Most High assigned lands to the nations, when he divided up the human race, he established the boundaries of the peoples according to the number in his heavenly court.”
Thus, nations were birthed in rebellion, and they exist as a perpetual reminder that humanity’s dominion over creation is derived from the Creator God who reigns as King. As such, all nations belong to God and are subject to His will (Psa. 82:8).
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. Biblegateway.com.