God likes to tie His story together in nice, neat packages - from the first Adam to the second Man, from the bronze snake raised up on a pole to the Son of Man hung on the Cross, from Eden to Heaven, and so on. The other day, a new one struck me. It's one I hadn't heard before, anywhere, and so I thought I'd share.
From Babel to Pentecost.
Follow me here: early on in the book of Genesis, men got together and decided they could build a tower to heaven, a staircase to the skies. So they set about the work and because of their common language, things were going very well. This worried God, not because He didn't want His people to come to Him but because thinking the heavens were the only thing made them miss the incredible gift of the earth that He had created for them. If God had wanted man in the heavens, He would have put them there; He put men on earth for a reason. It's all part of His revelation.
So as the story goes, God confused the languages of the workers and made them speak in different tongues. They could no longer understand what the others were saying, and this put a stop to this crazy work they were trying to accomplish. And then all the nations went their own ways with their own tongues and God went with Israel and they spent the next several thousand years clashing.
Fast forward to the resurrection of Jesus. God has finally made a way to reconcile man to the earth (to the Creation) and to Himself (the Creator). Notice that Jesus does not promise the thief heaven, but only paradise. Jesus walks out of the grave and down the road to Emmaus and spends the next few weeks making appearances here and there before He is taken away.
Then the Holy Spirit comes and descends upon the people and something amazing happens - they start speaking the story of God "in every tongue," which is recorded early in Acts. The people, Luke tells us, were surprised to hear the apostles speaking in their languages; they were astonished to hear the story of God spoken in their words. Finally, all the peoples of the earth had a way to understand.
See, this is God returning to the story of Babel. The people had been trying to build a tower to heaven, a way to get to God, and now that God has made a way, He's returned the language to the people so they can work together - every nation, every tribe, every tongue - to tell that story. It's not a story any more about man's coming to God. No, now it is the story of God's coming to man.
The very God who confused our tongues now sets them afire with His testimony. Amazing!
All of a sudden, man has what he always wanted - a way to get to God. Every man, from every nation, all telling the same story. All working together to spread the message of the Messiah. All talking about the same thing again and finally, able to understand one another's language.
That's one of the things that's so cool about being part of God's church. It doesn't matter if I'm in the modest auditorium of my home church, in the sanctuary of the church down the road, in the stadium of the megachurch across the country, in the house of the church leader in Ecuador, in the public park of the church in Ghana, in the living room of the elder in Belarus...we're all speaking the same language again and building a pathway to God by sharing His story. That's what God has done for us, by putting His story in our mouths through the Holy Spirit.
Every nation, every tribe, every tongue....