THE SOURCE OF BABEL
The first issue of division was Babel. The source of Babel was the tree of knowledge. If Adam had not eaten of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, it would have been impossible for his descendants to build the tower and city of Babel. According to the record in Genesis 3, Adam partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. As he ate of this fruit, the tree of knowledge actually entered into him and subjectively became part of him. The record of Genesis 4 indicates this. In this chapter we see hatred, murder, polygamy, and the invention of weapons used for war. Genesis 6 reveals a worsening of the situation. Man had become flesh (v. 3), and "the wickedness of man was great in the earth" (v. 5). Furthermore, as verse 11 declares, "The earth also was corrupt before God; and the earth was filled with violence." When God looked upon the earth, He beheld its corruption, "for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth" (v. 12). As we all know, God judged that corrupt generation with the flood. However, not even this judgment caused man’s nature to be changed. According to Genesis 11, man even dared to fight against God. In Genesis 11:4, they said, "Let us build us a city and a tower..and let us make us a name." In seeking to make themselves a name, they rebelled against God. The issue of this rebellion was division and confusion. This was Babel, the first result of division. As a result of the rebellion at Babel, mankind was divided.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF BABEL
The division at Babel involved idolatry. Some historians believe that inscribed on the bricks used to build the tower and city of Babel were the names of idols. Joshua 24:2 says, "Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods." This verse indicates that before Abraham was called of God, he served other gods in the land of Chaldea. This means that he worshipped idols. Hence, the division of mankind at Babel involved idolatry.
We see from these chapters in Genesis that division includes such negative things as hatred, murder, polygamy, war, corruption, rebellion, and idolatry. The issue of this all-inclusive element of division was firstly Babel with its division and confusion. The significance of Babel, therefore, is division and confusion.
THE ONENESS OF GOD’S PEOPLE
Although it was necessary for God to give up the created race, He did not give up His eternal purpose with man. Instead, according to His mercy, He appeared to a member of the Adamic race, Abraham, and called him out of his environment. In this we see God’s election. As we pointed out, in His selection of Abraham God acted according to His nature of oneness. For this reason, He selected one man, not a multitude of men. God charged Abraham to leave his country and his kindred and to go to the land He would give Abraham and his descendants.
Eventually, under the Lord’s blessing, Abraham’s descendants, the children of Israel, numbered in the hundreds of thousands. After the children of Israel made their exodus from Egypt, they entered into the good land, the land God had promised to Abraham. According to the book of Deuteronomy, God commanded them not to exercise their own choice regarding the place of corporate worship (Deut. 12). Rather, they were to humble themselves before the Lord and accept His choice. By honoring the Lord in the matter of the place for corporate worship and of accepting God’s choice of the unique place, the children of Israel were preserved in the oneness. According to God’s choice, the temple was built on Mount Zion, and three times a year God’s people were to make their journey there. The Holy of Holies in the temple built on Mount Zion was the center of oneness of God’s people. This center was the place of God’s oracle, and it preserved the oneness of God’s chosen people.
(The Genuine Ground of Oneness, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)