Genesis 11:1-9; Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:1-47; Romans 8:1-39
Bringing Us Back into His Fold
In the Old Testament is an account that goes back to ancient times – way back. It is the building of the Tower of Babel, that event in which men tried to make a monument to their collective selves. They thought they could make it reach all the way to heaven. God came down and judged the arrogance of men by confusing their language and thus scattering them over all the earth. It was really a sad occasion. The flood had only occurred a century or more before, and already man was up to no good. But God expected as much, for after the flood, God said, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21, emphasis added). So man was only acting according to his nature – his sinful nature. So they (that is, we) were scattered abroad over all the earth – separated, isolated, alienated from God and one another.
The rest of the Old Testament is the story of how God was bringing us back into fellowship with Himself, and back into fellowship with one another. It involves promises made to Abraham, Moses, David, and the prophets. They were finally fulfilled in the person and work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It was his sacrifice on the cross, foreshadowed in the Old Testament sacrifices, that reconciled God to us and made us acceptable before Him.
But there was one more step. The third person in the Trinity was now to begin his work, a work we partially described on Ascension Day. Acts 2 describes his coming, fulfilling the promise that Luke records from the Prophet Joel. The Holy Spirit fell upon those disciples (about 120 of them, Acts 1:15) and they suddenly began speaking languages they previously did not know. Jews who had gathered in Jerusalem from all over the “world” heard these Galileans speaking their own languages. What did it all mean?
It meant that the event that happened at the Tower so many millennia earlier had been reversed. Instead of speaking different languages and not being understood, now we were speaking different languages and understanding one another. Instead of being scattered, we were now being gathered – gathered into one family again – the family of God. The plan of redemption was fulfilled as the Holy Spirit came to work saving faith in the hearts of men so that they would believe in Jesus. The Book of Revelation shows us what we now wait for. The gift of the Holy Spirit in our hearts is our guarantee or down payment, our foretaste of that for which we wait. He binds us together in love, sanctifies us, and makes us ready for our heavenly dwelling. Our God has conquered Babel through the Spirit. Hallelujah!
The celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost closes the Easter Season. From this point forward in the Book of Acts, the disciples (learners) become apostles (sent ones) who go out and preach the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost world. Let it be the same for us. May we now take the message of salvation to our neighborhoods, knowing that the Holy Spirit goes before us. I doubt that Peter thought three thousand people would come to saving faith in Christ Jesus on that one day. Perhaps God will do great things through us as well.
Of course, Easter Season is never over. Every Sunday is Easter Sunday. Every Sunday is the opportunity we have to worship our risen Lord and Savior. And we are Easter people – people whose lives have been forever changed because of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. So although the Church provides “seasons” for us to observe these holy days and times for our instruction and edification, we should allow the work of these seasons to follow us all year long as we meditate on the majesty and mystery of the work of God in our salvation.
Praise be to the Father who sent His Son for our salvation; praise be to the Son who reconciled us to the Father; and praise be to the Holy Spirit who leads us to the Son that we may be reborn and adopted as children of the Father. May the God of peace be with us and grant us to draw ever closer to Him through Christ Jesus our Lord and thereby closer to one another. To God be the glory. Amen.