By Pastor Jerry Donovan
God blessed Noah and his descendants as they moved out of the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled down. They decided to build a city and a tower that reaches Heaven. When God saw what they were doing he realized that “One people, one language; why, this is only a first step. No telling what they’ll come up with next, they’ll stop at nothing!” God went down and garbled their speech so they would not understand each other and scattered them from there all over the world. That is how it came to be called Babel.
We know that a major influence of Acts 2 is a Pentecostal faith-language highlighted by, “As they were all together in one place…4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” God’s spirit made Pentecost happen. The Holy Spirit appeared to the eyes as tongues of flames of fire, and sounded like the rush of a mighty wind to the ears.
The many “known” languages undid Babel’s tower story. The day of Pentecost reminds us how we were before God brought us together. Certainly the disciples “were all together in one place.” But they were like “sheep which have no shepherd” Beyond this, the twelve and other random followers were mostly afraid, confused, and paralyzed by not knowing what to do next.
Up to now, the Spirit of God had been with the disciples, but now He took up His residence in them (John 14:16). This marks an important turning point in the Spirit’s dealings with people. In the Hebrew Bible of The Old Testament, the Spirit came upon men, but not as an abiding Resident. Beginning with the Day of Pentecost, the Spirit of God indwelt people permanently.
He came to stay. We are indwelt by God’s Spirit the moment we are saved, but to be filled with the Spirit we must study the Word, spend time in meditation and prayer, and live in obedience to the Lord.
It is widely believed that one purpose of the gift of tongues at Pentecost was to proclaim the gospel to people of different languages simultaneously. An unknown writer has said, “God gave His law in one language to one nation, but He gave His gospel in all languages to all nations.”
The point of Pentecost is the transformation of the disciples, the dispirited lot who ran headlong from the trial and crucifixion of their Lord, into being bold proclaimers of the “great deeds of God.” The resurrection of Jesus has made possible the transformation of the disciples who in turn will make possible the transformation of the world.
Suddenly this haphazard group of believers, teetering on the edges of unbelief or at least having little confidence in what God’s future held for them, experienced something extraordinary. They understood one another. No other force could unite a group this diverse as the Holy Spirit did that day of Pentecost.
The same is true I suppose today too. Only God’s spirit can unite people like us. Peter closes the quotation from Joel with the promise that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. This is the good news for all ages, that salvation is offered to all people on the principle of faith in the Lord.
Come to worship Sunday 10:30 am in the garden at the Methodist Church at the corner of 4th and Crockett Streets.