The day started out like any other. People gathered at the building site to begin the only work they cared about at this point. As they picked up their tools to start, a sound like a violent wind filled the work area. It stunned everyone, stopping them in whatever they were doing. After several moments, the sound vanished, and slowly people began to glance around and laugh nervously, picking up their tools to work once again. But as they opened their mouths to speak to one another, something terrifyingly spectacular occurred:
"Pick up that hammer and get back to work."
"What did you say? What's wrong with you?"
"Quit messing around and get back to work!"
"Are you drunk again? This early in the morning? "
"What did you say? Stop speaking like that!"
"What's going on? WHAT IS GOING ON?!"
As the babble of languages grew louder, panic arose among the people.
"What's wrong with us? Why can't you understand me?"
"Why can't I understand you?"
"STOP TALKING LIKE THAT! SPEAK CLEARLY!"
"WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?!"
Screams rose as friends strained desperately to understand one another. The captains of the work groups couldn't communicate to their teams. The section supervisors yelled and screamed till they were hoarse, but it was all in vain. Nimrod's special forces began to work their way through the crowd beating workers left and right in an attempt to "stop that racket and get back to work!" It was no use. What was clear language between two people the night before was suddenly incomprehensible babble now.
Shem was watching from a distance, and as he saw the chaos grow and the panic take grip of the people, he ran to find his brothers. They found each other at the base of the tower. Shem started to speak to both of them, and a look of horror swept across their faces. It slowly dawned on Shem that they could not understand him, and that they could not understand each other either. All three of them, the pillars of the tribe, the remnant of the Flood, were no longer united in any way. This last connection - that of culture and language - had been severed by what could only have been the mighty hand of God. They stared at each other in shock, at an utter loss as to what to do next.
Eventually groups began to form around those able to communication with one another. It was discovered that lines were loosely drawn around family groups. Old friends looked at each other from across the plain and realized that something significant had shifted. Mankind would never be the same again. Best friends, lovers, branches of families - all of these were torn apart forever. It was a rest of humanity. Nothing would be the same again. Adam had once been in charge of naming creation. Now that oversight was disrupted. Everyone would have their own names for everything. Deception would be easier among those who could not communicate. Speaking truth would be more difficult. If one family or group began to veer off into unrighteousness, it would be very difficult for another family to pull them back. And, of course, they would be able to accomplish far less - which, Shem suddenly realized, was God's mercy. The Lord had done what he had asked - He had stopped the people from their own utter destruction by ending the possibility of the tower. Humanity had its salvation - but once again, there was a cost.
Shem looked back at his brothers. The three stared at one another for a long time. Ham was the first one to turn away. Shem watched his walk, shoulders straightening as he went, back to his family - his power base. He would go on to build his kingdoms. Nimrod would be known throughout history as a mighty warrior and king, but also as one of the first tyrants. Kingdoms would rise from Ham's lineage, but they would turn away and worship other gods. His descendents would be known for their great monuments, but they would be monuments unto themselves, not to the Lord. Their pyramids and ziggurats would be famous - and infamous - throughout the rest of history. The exploits of places like Egypt and Babylon would go on to great heights and notability. Hittites and Canaanites would build empires. Assyrians would conquer the world. Ham's people would flourish, but in the end, it would all be for naught. Ham had turned his back on the one true God, and in the course of time, his people would suffer for it.
Shem and Japheth remained at the tower for a few moments longer, staring at each other, suffering in silence. Then, slowly, a smile spread across Japheth's face. He grabbed Shem and embraced him for what seemed like an eternity. Then he ran off, and Shem suddenly realized what had happened. This was the permission Japheth had been looking for since the flood. He could now gather his family and whoever he could communicate with and take off for unknown lands. His people would go to found some of the greatest civilizations in history. One day his descendants' cultures would be widely accepted as the most intellectual and "civilized" of the world. Empires would rise out of tribal groups, Kingdoms would rise and fall. His people would one day rule the known world from a place called Rome - and then fall just as far as they had risen. The Gentiles would rise in power, but they would always be searching for something from their Semite brothers, longing for something they knew they had lost but never could quite define. One day, God would bring these brothers back together in a spectacular display of grace and redemption.
Shem watched his brothers go in their two different directions. Emotions swirled through him and flooded his heart. He believed this was God's doing and that it was God's mercy. But he could not help but stand and wonder - what was to become of them? What road would mankind take? Where would his brothers' destinies lead them? Was there still time to save Ham's people from the path down which they were headed? Would mankind come to see God for who He was and fall at His feet in fear and trembling? Or would they continue to build to their own glory?Shem never saw his brothers again.
...stay tuned for Part 4!