Why did God break up the Babel project? What was wrong with lots of people working together toward this common goal? Perhaps the problem was that they were trying to “make a name for” themselves, that is, a new identity for themselves, different from their status as God’s human creatures. Building up to heaven, they were trying to become as gods without God. The tower of Babel was a temple for the worship of themselves. God broke up their endeavor because of the harm it would have caused to themselves and to the world.
That city, in itself, was no threat to God above. The Lord had to “(come) down to see the city and the tower that they had built.” God was untouchable, invulnerable, and immortal. But this changed in history, with the Incarnation. The Son of God became touchable, vulnerable, and mortal. He did this not only to save us, but also so that our human nature could be transformed to something greater.
At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came down from Heaven as tongues of fire. He rested upon them and they began to speak in languages that people of any nation could understand. They were temples of the Holy Spirit. They were a holy city, whose foundation is God.
As St. Augustine wrote, the City of Man and the City of God exist side by side in this world. The City of Man is imaged by Babel. The City of God is imaged by the Church. The City of Man is destined for destruction, but the City of God will endure forever.