This post is a bit longer than usual, but I looked back at several of the posts from last year when we studied Genesis in depth and loved a few of the points from there, so I'm recycling a few of them.
We see very quickly, our today's passage, that sin was in no way drowned in the flood. The earth may have been renewed, but it was the same old humanity. Sadly, the tower of Babel incident likely happened only 100 years after the flood - Noah's family would still have been alive. People who lived on the ark and witnessed God's judgment were still around, giving first hand testimony to the consequences of rebellion against God, and still mankind chose to reject Him.
There are several things we can take away from this passage.
First - man's ideas can never thwart the purposes of God. The people didn't want to scatter across the earth, but God made it happen anyway. When we live our lives in resistance to God's plan, we will only encounter frustration and failure. God's plan will prevail no matter what - we get to choose if we are blessed as we go along with God's plan, or if we are frustrated as we vainly struggle against it.
Second - we should not strive for unity at any cost. Rather, we must strive for purity and obedience to the Word of God. Yes, we are called to be peacemakers, but peace must never be achieved at the cost of purity and holiness. True unity can only happen in Christ, but it's this exact unity that immediately causes a division between the redeemed and the unredeemed.
Third - all of humanity's communication problems stem from this incident, and this gap can only be bridged by Christ, and ultimately only when we begin eternity with Him.
Fourth - Superficial relationships and activities, even "good" ones, will never satisfy us. We need to remember not to be only considered with church building projects or programs, but to pursue right relationship with God and with each other.
Fifth - We must only place our faith in the Word of God, not on anything man-made. Only work which is done for the Lord and in His strength brings lasting satisfaction.
Sixth - Much of what we do is a testament to our insecurity, of thinking that God's will is dependant on our faithfulness instead of His, or that our salvation is based on our works, that we are fearful of the unknown to come after this life, of trying to secure God's blessing by serving or doing more.
In our introduction to Abraham we see that, though God calls him and though he is known as the patriarch of the faith, he was a flawed man in need of grace just like us.
When God called him to leave his land, his family, and his father's house, and go to a land God would show him - he didn't obey right away. In fact, it seems to be Terah's decision to move from Ur to Haran (Genesis 11:31), and it took until Terah's death for Abam to leave Haran (Genesis 11:32).
Abram believed God would give him land, a seed, and a blessing - but he didn't trust God for the means to get there. He thought he had to help God out a little along the way. This is never the case! God always provides the means - but it doesn't mean it will be an easy path.
Our faith fails when we believe our God to be too small. Abram didn't believe that God was greater than Pharaoh, or greater than the famine. The way to increase our faith is to increase in our knowledge of God and deepen our relationship with Him. Abram didn't have a Bible to help him with this, but we do. We need to use it!
God never puts us in a situation where we must sin. Abram though lying was his only option. He likely hadn't considered Pharaoh wanting Sarai for himself. He likely thought one of the other Egyptians would be interested in this eligible maiden and he could delay any engagements until the famine was over and they could leave, all while keeping Sarai under his roof and protection. It likely seemed like a small white lie and surely ok under the circumstances. But we serve a God who is able to deliver His people no matter what the circumstances without resorting to sin.
There are no short cuts to godliness. Abram went to Egypt in order to bypass the test of famine, not realizing that God's tests are designed to develop and increase our faith, not destroy it. Abram sidestepped the famine and got Pharaoh instead, and then God led him right back to where he got off the path. We can't sidestep God's plan for our lives. We may be able to delay them, but always at a cost to ourselves or those we love. God's purposes are never thwarted by man.
Sin has short term rewards but long term pain. Abram gained wealth from his time in Egypt but everything he gained in Egypt came at a cost. It was because of his great wealth that Abraham and Lot eventually had to separate, encouraging Lot to desire the riches of Sodom. Among the servants he received from the Egyptians was Hagar, and we all know how well that situation turned out.
Thankfully, when our faith fails, God's faithfulness doesn't. God protected Sarai, prospered Abram, and brought them back to the Promised Land where they were supposed to be.