Summary of passages: Genesis 11:1-9: A bit after the world had been repopulated some people moved eastward and settled on the plain of Shinar (Babylonia). They used bricks and tar to build a city with a tower that reaches to the heavens so that they could make a name for themselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.
The Lord saw what the men were doing. He confused their language as punishment to prevent more un-Godly actions. God scattered them over the earth. Babel sounds like the Hebrew word for confused; hence the name “Tower of Babel.”
On the day of Pentecost the 120 were all in one place (presumably praying still and waiting for the gift). A sound like a blowing violent wind came from heaven and filled the house where they were sitting. They saw tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues through the power of the Holy Spirit.
A lot of people in Jerusalem heard this sound and came together to see what was happening. They were bewildered because each was speaking in his own language. They asked, “Aren’t these all Galileans? How is it we hear them in our own language? What does this mean?”
Some made fun of them and said they were drunk.
Peter stood up the with the Eleven Apostles and told the confused crowd: we (the 120 and them) are not drunk. Listen to Joel’s words: God will pour out His Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, the young men will see visions, old men will dream, the servants will prophesy and have the Spirit as well. Wonders will appear in the heaven and signs will appear on earth such as blood, fire, and smoke. The sun will be dark and the moon to blood before the day of the Lord when everyone who calls on the Lord will be saved.
Peter is still speaking to the crowd that has gathered on the day of Pentecost. ”Jesus who performed miracles was handed over to you for God’s pre-ordained purpose. You killed him by nailing him to a cross. But God has raised him from the dead. David himself prophesied Jesus’ resurrection when he said he saw the ‘Holy One’ at the Lord’s right hand and raised him from the dead.”
It’s as if Peter is shouting, “Even though you idiots killed Jesus He is alive!”
Peter says that Jesus now sits at the right hand of God and pours out what we now see and hear. He has received the promised Holy Spirit. David did not ascend to heaven (for a detailed explanation of this see my previous post here. David is in heaven now but not at the time of his death). God has made Jesus Lord and Christ.
The people asked what should they do and Peter told them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus to be forgiven of your sins and receive the Holy Spirit. Everyone of you can receive such a gift. 3000 chose to be baptized that day.
These people were considered the first church. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of the bread, and prayer. They gave to everyone as needed. They continued to meet and eat together and praise God. The Lord grew their numbers daily.
7a) He confused their language.
b) Personal Question. My answer: Just like in Biblical times, God is in control of everything. He’ll put a leader in power He wants to accomplish His goals. He gives, He takes, He rescues, He allows Free Will. Nothing happens without God.
8 ) That person doesn’t approach others in a loving manner. Anger may rule over conciliation. Right won’t win out over wrong like in government.
9a) Speaking different languages can divide or bring together people. Speaking in a different language but with the heart for God can convert others. In Shinar, it divided. In Acts, it converted and brought together.
As long as the heart is in the right place, the words you speak should not matter–especially if God and the Holy Spirit are behind them. Others will understand.
b) Personal Question. My answer: The heart is what matters, not the words. If you love others, your actions should speak louder.
Conclusions: As someone who’s lived in many foreign countries that speak different languages, I know the difficulty it can be to communicate and get what you need to survive. Yet most often when I encountered a native who realized I couldn’t express myself, I was met with nothing but helpful intentions.
I often hear the phrase “language is a barrier”. But it’s not. Because love is stronger.
Throughout history with all the conquerings and movement of people, you will notice an overarching theme: integration and assimilation. The native language mixed with the new language. It changed. Just look at English. Over half of our words are Latin origin. Another 1/3 have Greek roots. The rest is Old English, which is a mix of Anglo-Saxon, Norman French, and the mixture of Celtic, Welsh, and Scottish languages.
Even today, look at the number of foreign words we have adopted from French to Spanish to Italian to Russian. You’ll find it in Webster’s Dictionary.
Language can be a divider. When God wants it to be like in the Tower of Babel. Or when man chooses to let it be.
But with the right heart and Spirit, it’s a uniter. Love conquers all. As does God’s will.