WHEN THE HOLY SPIRIT CAME
"There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then, when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongue being spoken, they were thunderstruck. They couldn't for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, 'Aren't these all Galileans? How come we're hearing them talk in our various mother tongues?'" Acts 2:5-8 (The Message).
The Bible is a unique book! Written by more than forty people of all walks of life over a period of 2000 years, it is a whole and tells one story. Approximately 2000 years before this event on the day of Pentecost, the entire human race spoke one language and lived together in one area. From one couple, Adam and Eve, they had multiplied and become many tribal groups.
They had become so wicked that God destroyed them with a universal flood, saving only Noah and his family and pairs of animals and birds of every species to repopulate the earth.
His instruction was that they multiply and fill the earth. There were three major tribes, descendants of Noah's three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. Instead of spreading out across the globe as God intended, they decided to establish a rival religion in defiance of God. They built a ziggurat at a place later dubbed Babel, which meant confusion.
God knew that they would do anything to defy Him if they stuck together. The only way He could force them apart was to confuse their languages. They separated into their tribal and language groups when they could no longer understand one another. From that moment they moved farther and farther apart until they inadvertently had done what God wanted them to do, to fill the earth.
In their rebellion and sin against God, in whose image He had made man to be one with Him and with one another, they lived in conflict and war from that time onwards. It was the coming of Jesus, who brought reconciliation to God and man through His death and resurrection that made unity possible. What happened on the day of Pentecost was the beginning of the reversal of Babel.
Jerusalem was full of pilgrims from every part of the Roman Empire which was the civilised world of their day. Passover and Pentecost were the great draw cards and Jerusalem the hub of their religious festivals. There must have been a babble of dialects, in spite of Greek being the "lingua franca" of the time.
Into this scenario came the unifying power and presence of the Spirit of God who had left man at the beginning when Adam and Eve decided to go it alone. In a mysterious and miraculous way the disciples, who had been together worshipping Jesus, were speaking in all the dialects represented in Jerusalem.
The people were astonished and even more so because most of the disciples were from an outskirt province --Galilee -- and spoke with a distinctive accent which gave them away. They were despised by the Judean Jews because they were far more liberal than their Judean counterparts and influenced by their non-Jewish neighbours.
The unthinkable had happened. They were able to understand the speech of these Galilean peasants who had never learned their languages. How did that happen? The answer is God! He did it as a sign to the Jews but, even more than that, He reversed what had happened at Babel.
The time had come to reconnect alienated people to one another because the reason for their alienation had been removed. Jesus prayed for the unity of all believers which would be a powerful witness to His coming from God. Now it was happening. Babel was being overturned because Pentecost had happened and is still happening every time another person embraces Jesus as Lord.
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