THE CURSE: But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth. Genesis 11:5-9
“I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:3
THE REVERSAL OR “FIRST FRUITS”: Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” Acts 2:7-14
THE REALIZATION: After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. Revelation 7:9
Acts 2 depicts a phenomenal scene at the celebration of Pentecost (festival of firstfruits of the harvest) where Jews from all over the world heard the Good News in their own languages about the promised Messiah descended from Abraham. What made this phenomenal was the followers of Jesus had not learned any of these languages they were speaking.
If, as an adult, you have tried to learn another language, you know it’s a long process. An ability to speak another language instantly would be an amazing miracle. In reading this scripture passage, focusing only on that miracle will cause you to miss the Big Miracle.
The Big Miracle is the Holy Spirit’s “firstfruits” of His reversal of the curse against men who attempted to construct the Tower of Babel as a human power center independent of God’s benevolent rule. God’s decision to disperse or scatter the architects of Babel led to the division of language, ethnicities, and race that persist today.
God’s promise to Abraham seemed limited for too long, but the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts began God’s powerful campaign to call all nations and ethnicities to reconciliation with Himself and each other through His Son Jesus.
In spite of human differences that seem impossible to mend, the reversal of Babel continues in the hearts of followers of Jesus worldwide. Furthermore, we have a vision of the glorious hope of realizing one body praising God in multifaceted glory in Rev 7:9.
Are you a part of moving this reality forward? If not, investigate making a friend from a different ethnic background so you may understand their culture better. If they are not yet a believer, pray to find creative ways to expose them to the life-giving Way of Jesus. You may be part of including them in the multitude who gather to praise Him in glory.
By Kathleen Petersen