Bible Text: Genesis 11.1-9 (click on link to see NIRV text).
Key Point(s) of Passage: The Tower of Babel is partially constructed, but God confuses their language and people are scattered across the earth.
Memory Verse: “The LORD mixed up the language of the whole world there. That’s why the city was named Babel…” (Ge. 11.9).
Fun fact: We get our word “babble” from the Babel story. People that talk in other languages sound like they are “babeling” or “babbling” to us. In a similar way, the Greeks thought that people from uncivilized countries sounded like “bar-bar-bar-bar” when they talked, from which we get the word “bar-bar-ians”.
Questions for Family Discussion:
You do not have to go through all the questions – pick and choose whatever you feel will work best for your particular family.
1. Preparation – Pray a quick prayer together as a family that God will help you to understand His word.
2. Find an easy to read version of the Bible to read together as a family. The NIRV (New International Reader’s Version) is a good choice for elementary kids. Then if your child is able, help them find the passage in their Bible and read it out loud, while helping with hard words. Or read it out loud for your child.
3. In verse 1 it says there was a time when the whole earth spoke the same language. What do you think the world would be like if that was true? How do you think our world is different now that we have so many different languages?
4. In verse 4 it says they wanted to build a tower to reach the sky. Why do you think they wanted to do that? (Later in verse 4 it gives at least part of the answer)
5. Why did God want to want to mix up their language? (Verse 6 gives part of the answer; one more possibility is that they were arrogant [“we’ll make a name for ourselves”] and that God wanted to humble them so that they realized they needed God).
6. Why were they not able to finish building the city? Have you ever tried doing something that was hard but had to stop because you didn’t have enough help? What was it and what help did you need?
7. Can we build a way for ourselves to get to heaven? That is, do you think we can get to heaven just by trying really hard and working to do good things with other people? (This is a good time to explain that no matter even if we built the tallest building in the whole world, or did more good things than anyone else, that we are all sinners who need God’s grace through Jesus Christ).
Family Activity Ideas
1. Spend time together as a family finding out about the world’s tallest buildings. You could even go visit a couple of them in Chicago! Then talk about all the amazing work of 1000’s of people working together it must have required to build a building like that! Then talk about whether that is the most important thing to God (doing big showy amazing things that everybody can see).
2. Share together as a family about different languages and cultures that your family is familiar with. For example, can anyone say some phrases in a different language? Do you ever eat food from other cultures (Mexican, Indian, Asian, European, etc.)? You could use this week to try a different type of food every night – tacos one night, then chicken curry the next, then Italian meatballs, etc. Then use it as an opportunity to remember that even though God scattered and confused everybody in the Tower of Babel story, He now wants people from every tribe, language, and nation to come together by worshipping God through Christ (see Rev. 5.9).
3. Another fun “Babel” game is to use the Babelfish website (http://www.babelfish.com/) to translate phrases into other languages. Keep copying and pasting the resulting phrases so they translate into other languages. For example, I used this site to translate the phrase “The hairy bear went to the mall with a stinky bag on his bumpy arm” and translated it into Spanish, then copied the resulting Spanish phrase and translated into French, then French to Greek, then Greek to Hindi, and finally Hindi back to English. The resulting phrase was: “A bumpy ride to the smelly bag by a commercial center of hairy bears. ” While you laugh at the silly translations, talk about how that illustrates how different languages like in the Babel story can make communication really hard!