When The Lord Comes to Visit

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.  They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”  But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”  So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel – because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.  Genesis 11:1-9  NIV

In Genesis 11:5, it says that the Lord came down to see what the sons of men were doing.  Of course, we know that God is all-knowing and all-seeing.  So why would He have to come down?  Matthew Henry’s Commentary gives a very good explanation of this chapter.  It is so theologically deep and covers way too much for me to be able to expound on it here.  (For those who want to study this further, the link is below.)  The Lord didn’t just come down to “hang out” with the people.  He already knew what they were doing, but as a result of them trying to do things on their own and without the leading of God, the Lord came down, “Before he gave judgment upon their cause, he enquired into it; for God is incontestably just and fair in all his proceedings against sin and sinners, and condemns none unheard.” [1]

I believe that the Lord wants to have fellowship with man.  Just like in the beginning when the Lord would spend time with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, God desires fellowship with His creation.  But on this occasion in Chapter 11, the people were attempting to build a tower that would reach to the heaven in order to build a name for themselves.  When the Lord saw the works of their hands, He said that if the people continued to work together as one people, then nothing would be impossible for them to do.  He, of course, did not mean that they would be stronger than God.  If the people accomplished this act, then they would continue living in sin, giving God no thought or room in their lives.  With one language and united in the revelry of a sinful lifestyle, they would have had no reason to fill the earth as God had intended.  So God confused their language to cause the people to scatter throughout the earth.

We are not told if the Lord revealed Himself to the people or whether or not He talked with them.  It seems, though, that the people were not aware of His presence for they continued to work on the tower even after He came down.  However, He did observe them and carried out His plan for their lives.

This passage says several things to me:

  1. God wants to be involved in our lives. He sees every act that we do, knows every thought and intent of our hearts. Good and bad. Sometimes He meets with us to bless us with His mighty presence, but sometimes He confronts us with our sin so that we can repent and have our fellowship with Him restored.
  2. He knows what is best for us. If the people had continued to build the tower and as God said, tried to do everything on their own, they would not have learned to rely on God. Sometimes we need to be faced with our shortcomings to realize we can do nothing of real value without our Lord.  “He has performed mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.” Luke 1:51 NIV
  3. Even when we are not aware of Him, He is fully aware of us. He watches over us and orders circumstances around us for our own good. It may be confusing to us, but makes total sense to God.

As believers, we have the awesome privilege of having God living inside of us all the time.  We still at times, though, try to do our own thing and fail to listen to the leading of the Spirit.  When God visited the people in Shinar, He came for the purpose of confusing their language because of their sin.  That was a lasting change to the world because it led to the development of all the different nations.

At other times, God visits us by allowing His presence to become so real, it feels like He is standing right there in the room.  That’s the kind of visit from the Lord I long for.  His presence is always within me, but at those times when His presence is all around me, that’s the best visits of all.  My hope is that when God chooses to “visit” me with His presence, it will be for the purpose of fellowship and not to confuse my plans because they were not initiated by Him.


[1] Accessed 3/25/15: https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/matthew-henry/Gen.11.5-Gen.11.9

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