BUC 9 June 2019
The Tower of Babel
- Aim to avoid being scattered
- despite being told to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth”
- wanted crowd support, not God’s
- wanted conformity not the freedom of independence God gives
- Jack Horner syndrome: “…what a good boy am I”. Wanted to make a name for themselves. That is, pride.
- Wanted to show they could get to heaven by their own efforts.
God looked down, came down: “is that the best you can do?”
Confused their efforts and their languages.
Some comment that this does not look good for other human efforts to set ourselves up in some form of unity without God.
UN, Democracy, Uniting Church…? Each a nice thought and worth a go but never fully successful; need to be realistic about the way humans get on with each other!
- God came down to earth again: God with us; Emmanuel; the incarnation – the Word became flesh in Jesus.
- Purpose: forgiveness for our pride, idolatry, sin -> opportunity for unity under King Jesus.
- Sent the Holy Spirit who worked in Christians so their message about the great works of God, especially in Jesus, was understood by hearers no matter their origin or language.
- The gift of the Holy Spirit brought a unifying, non-discriminatory gift to Christians: sons, daughters…
- Each of us with special, unique and precious gifts so each of us as individuals fit in as useful members of the one body of Christ.
- Not even having different languages stops the sharing of the good news of Jesus Christ. Christians have historically made the biggest contributions to language translation so they can evangelize.
- The violent sound of rushing wind and the tongues of fire were amazing events described in only this chapter; people speaking in languages they did not know is reported again in later chapters of Acts and over the years ever since.
- There were 2 reactions:
- Many of the people in the crowds in Jerusalem heard the disciples speaking the message not in their native Aramaic or the common language of Greek but in their own, individual language and thousands were saved and added to the number of disciples.
- Many others heard the disciples babbling and assumed they were drunk – an assumption apostle Peter rebuffed.
- Some: the disciples were gifted to speak in languages they did not know so people heard the message/others: the people understood what was said, ie the Holy Spirit gave them the ability to interpret what they heard.
- 2 Corinthians 14 explains that the gift of tongues allows the speaker to speak to God and they are edified by doing so. However, it is of no use to hearers unless someone has the gift of interpreting tongues.
- What the disciples were telling people and what people were hearing was their message: “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved”
- Just as some not only heard the message of God’s mighty work in Jesus they also understood it because the Holy Spirit empowered them to understand, have faith and respond.
- The ongoing, unifying common blessing for Christians is the Holy Spirit in and with them
- We are not made slaves, but rather free
- The Holy Spirit does not make us fearful or timid but rather gives us power, love and self-control (2 Tim 1:7)
- He assures us we are children in God’s family with a wonderful means of communication with God.
- My spirit cannot communicate with your spirit nor your spirit with mine, so we never really understand each other’s thoughts, feelings, needs and desires.
- But God’s Holy Spirit, being in and with us, communicates closely and personally with our spirit assuring us that as adopted children into his family with Jesus as our brother we will inherit with him all that he will inherit
- We have some living to do, some suffering to experience before we will come into our inheritance but in the meantime we have a close, personal, eternal and comforting relationship with our heavenly father; Abba! Daddy! Father!
- And we share this wonderful, unifying bond with our brothers and sisters who, like us, have been adopted into God’s family, knowing we are inheritors, co-inheritors with Christ of all the wonder of his kingship over all and of his glory.