The New World Order. One world government. Human history has seen a succession of universalist empires come and go. These have all had one ethic in common: an ambition of universal rule over all human life.
In the ancient world, a succession of such empires followed hard upon the heels of the other. They were the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Alexandrian, and finally (in the sequence) the Roman Empire.
In the Christian Era, we have seen the Islamic Empire, the Third Reich, and the universalist Communist empires. Comparatively, the last two, modern manifestations have fortunately been relatively brief and ended as spectactular failures, notwithstanding the devastation they wrought upon the earth in their relatively brief lives.
Also in the modern world we have had ersatz universalist empires―a kind of coalition of the willing. These have included the United Nations―a crazy kind of bureaucratic global federalism designed to decommission the nation-state by successive delegation of state's powers to an international bureaucracy. The United Nations is a sick joke, a parody of probity, a cesspool of corruption, malfeasance, and pettifogging―where the naked ambitions of super-bureaucrats run wild.
A second example has been the universalist claims of the Roman Catholic papacy. These claims and aspirations have appears to have waned in recent decades, but maybe they are just awaiting more favorable climes, before they recrudesce with new vigour and aggression. At its worst, the historical papacy was a kind of ecclesiastic doppelganger to the modern, secular United Nations―with equally disastrous characteristics and results.
A third example of modern ersatz universalist pretensions is the belief that history has stopped progressing with the development of modern liberal western democracy, that mankind has reached its apotheosis, and that the entire world will now be conformed to the ideals of a modern, secular democracy. This has belief has expressed itself as the Manifest Destiny of the United States―to be in the vanguard of the masses (one is tempted to say, “proletariate”)―and make the world safe for democracy.
All of these universalist pretensions and aspirations―and there are many more―have one thing in common. They are all echoing aftershocks of the first one-world-universalist-empire. They are all variations and permutations of a regressive, back-to-the-future move. They all walk after the spirit of Babel. They all represent―to one degree or other―an attempt to unite mankind again under one universal rule, which, as Tolkien so graphically portrayed, is the ultimate satanic seduction:
One Ring to rule them all
One Ring to find them
One Ring to bring them all
And in the darkness bind them.
Genesis 11 records the attempt and its aftermath. Firstly, a connection is revealed between the use of one tongue or common language and the aspiration to build a tower that reached to the heavens and a city that united mankind into one. The new human race, descending from Noah, reached the point where they established a united consensus of purpose―facilitated largely through their having a common language. “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach the heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name; lest we be scattered over the face of the whole earth.' (Genesis 11:4).
This, it seems to us, is the satanic countermove to the Lord's establishing the institution of the civil magistrate to punish murder after Noah's Flood. Since the antediluvian “every man doing what is right in his own eyes” was now forbidden and would no longer be tolerated by the Lord in history, and since the civil magistracy was given to prevent this occurring again, Unbelief rode the opposite pole, and rode it hard. The countermove was to create a super-state, a super magistracy that would bind mankind into one entity by force.
This universalist, totalitarian city would have produced as much evil as the period of lawlessness before the Flood. As we have seen, in the postdiluvian world, which is the world as we know it today, evil was to be prevented from assuming regnancy in the world. It was to be restricted, controlled and governed. The Tower of Babel was mankind's attempt to shuffle off God's restraint, replacing no-governance with totalitarian super-governance. The potential for evil implicit in this move is conveyed in Genesis 9: 6,7 where the unity of purpose of fallen man, represented and made possible by a common language (and culture), would lead to a removal of all restraints upon evil once again: “Behold they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.” In other words, the Lord reveals that in their unity, there would be no restraint upon their evil and what it would produce.
Thus, the Lord confused the common speech into a multitude of languages, so that people could no longer understand one another. This then resulted in a scattering of mankind over the earth and a decentralisation (and consequent) weakening of the forces, ambitions, and aspirations of evil. To this day, all attempts to create a universal language (Esperanto, for example) have failed. All attempts to deny the integrity and validity of nation states, people groups, diverse cultures, and diverse languages have eventually failed. All fulminations against patriotism, love of people group, tribe, or nation-state have been brought to nothing. No world-empire has succeeded in achieving and maintaining one-world-government.
Hitler boastfully proclaimed a Thousand Year Reich. It lasted twelve years. Those empires that lasted longer ended up collapsing in on themselves by the weight of their own corrupt decadence. In almost all cases it is the diversity of people groups within empires which play a large part in their downfall. Consider, for example, the emasculating effect upon Rome of the marauding barbarian hordes. The Soviet Union dismembered so quickly in the end due to the re-assertion of former sovereign nations and peoples.
The Scripture reflects this biblical view of universal history, when Paul says to the ancient Athenians: “and He made from one every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” (Acts 17: 26,27)
The Tower of Babel and its aftermath provides the template for universal human history. Mankind was scattered around the world, divided, separated, confused, and decentralised. This was a critical divine institution to restrain and govern human sinfulness. It is a wonderful institution of common grace. Those who would want to turn the clock back and rebuild Babel are consequently doomed to fail in the most abject manner.
It is significant that when, in the history of the ancient world, there were four successive universalist empires (Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman) Daniel was given, through Nebuchadnezzar's dream, the Lord's commentary upon and interpretation of this stage of history. The dream had one single huge statue, of which the Babylonian Empire represented the head.
It was indeed a universalist empire, as Daniel acknowledged: “You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory; and wherever the sons of men dwell, or the beasts of the field, or the birds of the sky, He has given them into your hand and has caused you to rule over them all.” (Daniel 2:37,38). In Babylon, the Lord had allowed a partial rebuilding of the Tower of Babel. Daniel's description clearly alludes back to Babel―which, of course, was in the plain of Shinar―the very site of ancient Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar was Babel redivivus. Three inferior empires follow. The last, the Roman, is an admixture of iron and clay; it will not achieve the strength or intensity of unity represented by Babylon. Rome is forced to revert to post-Babel type: “And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of pottery, so some of the kingdom will be strong and part of it will be brittle. And in that you saw the iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, even as iron does not combine with pottery.” (Daniel 2: 42,43)
In this momentous period of human history, God was demonstrating to all who care to learn, that Babel will not be rebuilt. In the end, even the most powerful empires end up being admixtures of iron and clay; they cannot cohere; they break apart.
But that is not all. At this time in history something truly remarkable and unique occurs. “And in those day of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.” (Daniel 2:45). In the dream, this kingdom, represented by a stone made without hands, falls upon the iron and clay feet of the statute and crushes the entire statue. The empires became like chaff carried away on the wind. But the stone, the Kingdom set up by God, became a great mountain that filled the whole earth. (Daniel 2:35).
Thus, the Lord has indeed established the one-world-empire. But it is not man made. This universal kingdom shatters and breaks all Babel-like kingdoms and empires. It is a kingdom filling the whole earth, created and governed by His Spirit, transforming men, cultures, governments, and powers from the inside out. But what of the impediment of divided language? It is here that the miracle of Pentecost is so pregnant with biblical meaning.
Gathered together into Jerusalem at Pentecost were people from all over the known world. They were divided by language. As the Spirit fell at Pentecost the apostles miraculously spoke in their languages. Note how the text emphasizes this aspect most carefully:
Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together,a nd were bewildered, because they were each one hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and marveled saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs―we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” And they continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” (Acts 2: 5―12)
Notice how the text labours the point. Whenever Scripture does this, it intends that we would not miss the significance of what is taking place. It is a loud cry of “pay attention!” At Pentecost, through the miracle of the Holy Spirit falling upon His people, the Lord restored the gift of one language to the human race. But this time, the one language was not mankind united in conspiring to do evil, but it led to the reverse: it led to God's people using all the diverse languages under heaven to speak the same message, with one accord: a declaration of the mighty deeds of God. Thus―in many languages, there is one common, united message. Babel is reversed. The gift of tongues was really the restoration of one common language, through one united heart, bound in one Spirit to the worship of the true, living God. So, the universal empire that would fill the whole earth had come.
At Babel, one language led to one common purpose to evil. God acted to force many languages, leading to a hopeless diversity of opinions, cultures, and views―thereby restraining evil. At Pentecost, with the inauguration upon earth of the New Kingdom―the true One World Empire―the Spirit miraculously wrought the one common purpose to praise and worship God into human hearts, leading to many languages being used to speak the one message, uniting mankind into one common good.
But this is a divine kingdom, not made or manufactured by human hands. It is wrought by the Spirit. It is completely dependant upon Him and His work. It is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.