Acts 2:1-11 – Babel Reversed
…we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.Acts 2:1-11
On the day of the Pentecost, God did a mighty work which reversed the mighty work He had done ages before in Babel. After the great flood, God told Noah and his three sons to be fruitful, to multiply, and to fill the earth (Genesis 9:1). But the descendents of Noah's sons didn't. They did not fill the earth. They stuck together. Rather than move out in families and clans to develop the earth, they clustered together. Instead of seeking their strength in God and His promise of a Redeemer, they sought their strength in human ability and solidarity.
There was only one language. People could communicate well. However, they realized that if they did not take some special measure, their unity would be destroyed as they grew and increased. They decided to build a city with a large tower. Its top would be in the heavens! This city, this tower, would be a rallying point for mankind. It would serve as a symbol of their unity and their human strength.
God foiled their efforts. He went down and confused their language. Suddenly there was confusion. “Babel” comes from the Hebrew word for confusion. God broke their human unity. He spread the people across the earth.
From the many nations He created, God chose one to begin His redemptive work: the Jews, children of Abraham, a descendent of Shem. God promised Abraham that He would make him a blessing to all the nations. Jesus Christ, the King of the Jews, is the blessing. On the day of Pentecost, Jesus Christ poured the Holy Spirit out upon His disciples. They spoke about the mighty works of God in all the languages of the earth.
On the day of Pentecost, Jews and some proselytes from the four points of the compass – from what we today call Iran and Iraq, Turkey, North Africa, and Europe – were in Jerusalem. The languages of the known world were represented. The Holy Spirit whom Christ poured out made the disciples proclaim in all the languages the mighty deeds which God had done through Christ.
God was reversing Babel. At Babel, God divided rebels and scattered them. On Pentecost, God began the work of bringing the nations of the earth together again. In the time of the Old Testament, God restricted His saving work to the line of Shem and especially the Jews. This was in order to bring forth Jesus the Saviour through whom God would once again open His arms wide to the world.
Today the mighty deeds of God are proclaimed in almost all the languages of the earth – in English as well. Christ has taken us up too, in His Pentecostal work. The mighty works of God are spoken of in the English tongue.
Revelation 7 tells us that the day is coming when all redeemed mankind will stand together before the throne of God. We will be part of a great multitude which will defy numbering, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues. Together, in all the languages of the earth, we will sing: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb.” For we do not glory in our human abilities and power. We glory in the Lamb of God and His Spirit.