Although we live in a seemingly civilized age, there has been a steady increase in racial violence in our culture. This should grieve us but not surprise us. This is the echo of Babel where God confused the languages of the people (Genesis 11).
God had created Adam & Eve in his image. These first humans were to be God’s representatives in the world. They were to manage his creation. God had been overt with his instructions. They were to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. In other words, “Spread out and reflect my image throughout the earth!” But in a great act of human pride and defiant rebellion, the people gathered together. They built a tower as a symbol of their power and ingenuity. They wanted to make a name for themselves. This was a destructive path. And God, in his mercy, struck a blow to their pride and confounded their plans. He confused their languages and they separated into various language groups around the world.
Today we celebrate Pentecost—the birthday of the church (Acts 2). Pentecost was the fulfillment of the Jewish Feast of Weeks. This was an agricultural feast. The first sheaves of wheat were brought to the temple courts and offered as a praise offering to God. This signaled the beginning of a great harvest that was coming. At Pentecost, three thousand individuals responded to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the church was born! This seems like a large number. But the point is that this was just the first sheaves in what would be a great harvest of souls.
But Pentecost provides a unique contrast to Babel. We are told that the Jewish people gathered in Jerusalem “from every nation under heaven.” They were filled with the Holy Spirit and they were able to speak in other languages. The language barrier that separated them was removed. In the newly formed church, we see a glimpse of God restoring humanity to its original condition.
God has removed the hostility that exists between people (Ephesians 2:15-16). God’s intent is that, through the church, his manifold wisdom will be clearly seen (Ephesians 3:6-10). May we live in such a way that the world will see hope beyond Babel.
Photo credit: http://www.vance.af.mil/News/Photos/igphoto/2000085670/