One of the most fascinating facets of the Pentecost story, with which we are pretty familiar, is it’s link to the story of the Tower of Babel. In fact, the story of Pentecost is almost the exact opposite of the Babel story.
In the beginning, God had given one command over and over again to His people: Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth. His call was to scatter themselves all over the earth and in so doing, make a name for God throughout the earth. One group, however, decided against this plan and so they joined together in a metropolis and stopped their work of scattering across the earth. They grew prosperous and proud, and in their pride, they decided to build a tower, what we today would know as a ziggurat. This tower had a temple at it’s very top, closest to God. This temple would act as a gateway, a place where they could access God. Their control of this gateway also meant control of God, and if they so chose they could storm the very gates of heaven itself. Seeing this, God knew the sin it would lead to, but in His mercy, rather than simply destroying them, He instead changed their language so they could not understand one another, and so they disbanded, and spread across the face of the earth – God’s original plan for them.
At Pentecost, we find a gathering of people of different languages celebrating God and seeking to make a name for Him. When the Spirit comes upon them, it does to unite their language so they might be drawn together as a community, and sure enough, they do.
God’s plans may change depending on the group of people, the time period, or His own will. But while God’s plans may change, God’s Plan never does. God’s plan is that all humankind might know and follow Him. Whether this is by separating them or uniting them through language, God’s plan remains – to share the message of His love and mercy with all humankind.
What part might you play in this grand plan? How might God be calling you to live it out in your particular sphere of influence?