1Now the whole earth had one language and the same words.And:6And the LORD said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech." 8So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.5Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7And they were amazed and astonished, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians--we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." 12And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" 13But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine."
1 Cor 2:
2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
In part 1 of this series we see that from the very beginning, as stated in the Book of Genesis, God intended for man to procreate, fill the earth, and subdue it. Even after Adam’s fall in the garden, God had not rescinded His commands. Had there been no rebellion (Genesis 3:1-7) there would have been no problem in man carrying out God’s directives.
Because they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, man’s usurping the authority of God has been the affliction of the ages. We have become “like God” in knowing good and evil, (Genesis 3:22).At Babel, the issue was not man attempting to access God by building a tower to Heaven. The issue was, and still is, man trying to make a name for himself.
Man wasn’t trying to reach God, he wanted to be God. He became a competitor against Yahweh. The tower, and the city being built around it, are man’s way of stating that he is like the God in the heavens, i.e. self-exaltation (Genesis 11:4) The city is the counterfeit (man’s creation) of the heavenly city, whose architect and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:8-9) When viewed in this light, Paul’s intent in Romans 1 becomes very clear, especially verses 21-25;
“21For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.24Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”
The Fall was thoroughly devastating . Those who teach otherwise are, in a word, wrong.
Imago Dei, God’s image, became man’s re-imaging of God’s image, (See Exodus 32 as to how that manifests.) The serpentine/satanic rebellion with which the serpent tempted Adam and Eve, and into which they fell, permeates all of mankind, and affects all creation. (Romans 8:18-23)By the end of Genesis 11, and going into chapter 12, we see that Abraham was called out of Ur, i.e. Babylon, the land of Shinar, and called into the promise. God had begun the plan of salvation of men, and the reconciliation of all the world to Himself. (2 Cor 5:18-21) I re-iterate, that all the world, it’s cultures, philosophies etc. are contaminated with the taint of Babylon, the city and the kingdom of man.
The question then becomes; how are we, the ekklesia, the “called out”, meant to address the issue of culture?Most of us are quite familiar with the passage cited above from Acts 2. When the Holy Spirit was “poured out”, it was as “divided tongues of fire” The Word of God is represented as fire throughout the Scriptures. Isaiah 6:6-7 and Jeremiah 23:29-40 are excellent examples of the Word as fire, and also the battle of man’s word versus the Word of the Lord. In Rev 8:1-5 we see the angel taking the prayers of the saints represented by the burning incense, and the fire of the altar, (the same fire and altar as the one Isaiah saw, I presume) and mingling them together before throwing the censer to earth, and releasing the trumpets, and God’s judgment, (That is an awesome study in itself.)So the Word of God, and the proclaiming of that Word, are both imperatives in the Kingdom. They are of utmost importance.( Romans 10:17)
God executes swift judgment on the purveyors of “strange fire”( Lev 10:1-3). Let all who have ears, hear.
So the Spirit manifests as “tongues” of fire, i.e. the Word, and the disciples begin to speak in other languages, proclaiming to men of diverse cultures and languages, “the mighty works of God”The evidence of the “baptism of the Spirit” is not speaking in other tongues, per se, it is the proclaiming of the Word of the Lord, the fire of God, to men of every tribe, tongue, and nation. The gift of tongues made this possible.The speaking forth of the Word is the actual language of the Kingdom. Confusion of language is the result of man’s building efforts. Remember that prior to being dispersed, men had one common language. However since they were speaking the words of man, and the philosophies and ideas that those words convey, and not the Word of God, He thwarted the effort.
Pentecost, or Shavout as it is called in the Hebrew, was not only the day of the celebration of the early/spring harvest, the meaning if which was being revealed in the beginning of the harvest of men’s souls; it was also the celebration of the day that the giving of the Torah, the Law, the WORD, was given to Moses at Sinai, and thus to Israel.
The Pentecost of Acts chapter two is the day that the true tower/mountain of God, i.e. Zion, and the true city, the New Jerusalem began to be established in the earth. (Hebrews 12: 18-29:Galatians 4:26)
It is the day that the law was written onto the hearts of men, and no longer on the stone tablets of Sinai. (Ezekiel 26:36;Jeremiah 31:33;John 1:14)
It is the day of the new creation, by which its being called “new”, implies that it has nothing to do with the old. God was “reversing” the effects of the rebellion and the counterfeit kingdom of Babylon, by calling men out of the world and its diversity, and into the true Kingdom, which has one common (heavenly) language and is not of this world. It comes from above. Therefore all who enter it, and proclaim it, are called from above. (John 3:3-8 and John 3:28-36) All things were, and are, being fulfilled. (Matthew 5:17-20) All of this was done, and is being done, not in spite of, but through, a fallen creation. God saves those who rebelled against Him. (Genesis 50:19-20 and Romans 5)
So Paul preached Christ crucified, and nothing else, as that is the language of salvation.The foundation on which the living temple is built are as important as the message. This foundation would include:
1. The Word of God says that the dispersion which produced the cultures and Kingdoms of this earth, was brought about by God’s deliberate confusion of man’s common language.
2. The establishment of God’s Kingdom thereby comes about in the uniting of the redeemed, that is, those taken out of the world, by giving them a common language, that is, His Word.
3. Faith comes from hearing that specific Word.So much emphasis is put on methods and our embracing of cultural diversity that we forget that the King and His Kingdom are essentially and completely foreign, to those who are outside of it.The church must preach the word of God so that men may believe, and then they can express their salvation in the context of their particular cultural setting. God does not redeem nations, tribes, and tongues. He redeems men from every nation tribe and tongue. The redeemed are a remnant, a tithe so to speak, of all the earth. (Isaiah 6:13;Rev 7:9-17;Rev 14:1-8)These first two posts are, as I said, foundational. Our “building" stand or falls on foundational doctrine. (Matthew 7:24-25;1 Cor 3:9-17) My third and final post on this subject, will show how the early church approached the issue of “engaging” the culture, and how that is currently being misapplied in this post modern era.