Summary: This Pentecost Sunday sermon compares the events of Pentecost and the Tower of Babel.
Pentecost and Babel. New Testament. Old Testament. Two very different events and yet when we compare them we can learn and be helped.
The Genesis’ account of the Tower of Babel tells us that after Noah’s Flood everyone in the world spoke the same language. As the population began to grow people moved to new areas. A group of people moved to the Plain of Shinar. We know it as Babylonia or part of Iraq. There they decided to build a tower that would reach to the heavens. They wanted to make a name for themselves and they also did not want to be scattered to other areas of the earth.
Some scholars think that these people remembered the Great Flood of Noah. Apparently they did not believe that God would keep his word. They did not believe in the covenant of the rainbow. That God promised to not destroy the world again with water. To create a means of escape, they began to build the tower with baked bricks that were sealed together with tar. Perhaps they were trying to build a stationary type of a Noah’s Ark. They may have been trying to outwit God and escape judgment for their sins.
Other scholars think the Babel People thought they could build a tower and reach to Heaven and somehow become gods. To become equal with God. How many lost souls do you know who are trying to get to Heaven in some way other than God’s way? No one comes to the Father except through faith in Jesus Christ the Lord. Remember Adam and Eve were misled by Satan that they would become like God. Part of the judgment that God allows sinful humans to endure is to allow them to become their own gods. On our own man is never good enough, powerful enough, smart enough, creative enough, loving enough, holy enough…to become a god and save himself.
Before the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, Pentecost for the Jews was a time to celebrate God giving the Law to the Jews. The Law on tablets of stone. Pentecost for the Christian is a time to celebrate God placing the Holy Spirit into the hearts of believers. Pentecost was the beginning of the church age. There is the “BC Pentecost,” that Jews still celebrate today. Today, we enjoy the “AD Pentecost,” where God, through the work of the Holy Spirit, writes His law of love in our hearts. The Holy Spirit enables man to keep Jesus’ new command to love our fellow humans as Jesus loved. It is helpful to look at the differences between the good and the evil, the spiritual and the earthly, the godly and the ungodly… Let us look for a while and compare Babel and Pentecost.(Before that, should we sing “Happy Birthday to the Church?”)
I. BABEL DISPLAYED THE SPIRIT OF ARROGANCE AND PRIDE. PENTECOST DISPLAYED THE POWER OF LOVE.
The Babylonians were so proud that the Lord said they thought that they could do anything that they wanted. He destroyed the tower to remind them that He was sovereign. They wanted to become gods. At Pentecost the 120 in the Upper Room wanted to become like Jesus. From that time till now, the church has been characterized by love.
II. BABEL DIVIDED MEN THROUGH LANGUAGE. PENTECOST UNITED MEN THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT PROVIDED GIFT OF LANGUAGES/TONGUES.
The Babylonians were using their common language to empower themselves and to escape the judgment of God. Today, there are hundreds of language and dialect groups on the earth. On Pentecost the Holy Spirit enabled the early church to speak in the languages of all of the people who had come from all over the ancient world to celebrate Pentecost.
The language of the Babylonians was being used to build an earthly kingdom of crafty, evil men. The languages of Pentecost were used to tell the world that Jesus was the Lord, the Messiah.(The languages the Believers spoke were real languages. See verses 4,6,8,11.) Believers spoke in languages that all could understand and explained that the Promised Holy Spirit had been given to all who would believe. They told the crowd of the need for them to believe in Jesus.
III. BABEL BROUGHT CONFUSION. PENTECOST BROUGHT PEACE.
Our world is filled with people who are confused about the truth. Many are trying to teach our children that there is no real truth. Jesus said that he was the way, the truth and the life and that man can only come to God on God’s terms. Those terms include belief in, faith in Jesus. He promises a peace that the world does not give. The early church and we live in a world that is full of war, unrest, confusion… In the heart of a Christian is a peace that passes all understanding.