WEBSTER’S TWENTIETH CENTURY DICTIONARY, taking a cue from our text, defines “babel” as “a place or circumstances in which confusion of sounds is the predominating characteristic”. Babel is the result when people abandon the relationship God has established with us and put all their faith in themselves and in their basest desires.
God was watching more than apples. To hinder their misuse of the talents and abilities God had given humanity when He created us in His Own Image, God confused their language and scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth. Like Adam and Eve in Eden, the human race in the land of Shinar was using God’s gifts to challenge God and His Word and to give themselves the worship and praise that rightly belongs to God.
We are living in an age of human achievement when the spoken word can carry THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST to every nation on the face of the earth or unleash all the anti-Christian and pseudo-Christian babel so prevalent in a 21st Century world that often wants to leave God watching the apples while people create their perfect world with their definitions challenging the Presence and Word of God where the only morality is whatever feels good and believing taking away tools destroys evil.
In sharp contrast to the babel builders’ in GENESIS 11 is the Holy Spirit empowered world of ACTS 2.
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind — Have you ever watched the wind roar through the forest or across the fields and marveled at how forcefully it dislodges and tears away the dead leaves and branches — naturally cleaning out the debris to make room for the new life - as the Holy Spirit did in those Pentecost followers gathered in that upper room in Jerusalem — as the Holy Spirit does in your life and mine! Like a rushing mighty wind, The Holy Spirit came and swirled away the life-suffocating debris of unbelief and sin and made room for life — full temporal and eternal life in Christ - sweeping through to enlighten and equip us to recognize God for Who He is and our behavior for what God created us to be -- to recognize Jesus’ ability to conquer temptation and sin and to liberate us for life. Jesus – God among us as the vulnerable flesh and blood Christ - lived the perfect human life for us to follow and then offered that same Perfect Life as the Perfect Sacrifice for our sins. And then rose from the dead to proclaim the victory He's won for us.
Like a rushing mighty wind, it filled the whole house where they were sitting. — how abundantly the Divine Force ever flows! Scarcity is never a valid description when the Holy Spirit’s enlightening and empowering Force is unleashed in human hearts, minds, and souls. That Power which soared into the upper room to birth and empower the Holy Christian Church was not a one-shot event. That sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind cannot be heard here this morning — but The Holy Spirit’s Enlightenment and Empowerment of us to be Christ’s Church has never been stronger.
Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. Again, no one was left out of the Gospel Power which the Holy Spirit gave to everyone gathered in that upper room — and which the Holy Spirit continues to pour into the entire world and universe directly and individually into each one of us willing to accept the enlightenment and power it brings.
Tongues are at the heart and center of communication — proclaiming words of love or hate, words that hurt and words that heal, words to speak the truth and words to deceive. The tongues on Pentecost in that upper room were tongues as of fire — fire to burn away unbelief’s confusion and sin’s impurities and to leave only the Ultimate Truth of the Word of God — fire to fuel and empower the Church, and every individual member of it, to be faithful to that Word and to live it and proclaim it.
Those followers of Jesus gathered together in that upper room were blessed by The Holy Spirit with temporal and eternal enlightenment and empowerment beyond anything this world’s inhabitants could possibly know and experience without The Holy Spirit.
How could those people gathered in the upper room that Pentecost morning keep it all to themselves? They couldn’t.
Immediately they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
In GENESIS 11, God silenced babel by confusing the tongues of unbelievers - scattering them throughout the world. In ACTS 2, God’s Followers began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Through The Grace of God and Empowerment of The Holy Spirit, God’s Word is spread to all people everywhere.
Within a single generation, members of The Holy Christian Church carried The Gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire then-known world.
And that flow of The Gospel continues to inundate our own 21st Century world - giving the water of eternal life to all who are open to receiving it. No word has been translated into more languages than the pure Word of God in THE HOLY BIBLE.
In the midst of a world filled with babel, Jesus calls us and The Holy Spirit enlightens and empowers us to be The Holy Christian Church knowing, living, and proclaiming the pure, unadulterated Word of God.
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH PASSES ALL HUMAN UNDERSTANDING KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS – OUR CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD AND SAVIOUR – THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE. AMEN.
May 20, 2018
Dr. Kurt Borows
Pastor, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Catawba