Fresh from a global disaster, humanity rallied together to rebuild. On level ground, they built what was to be a beacon of hope, strength, and new vision. They reasoned, perhaps, that they wanted to build this new beacon so high that not even the torrential floodwaters that had recently ravaged the globe just a few generations ago would not be able to reach the top.
And so there, on the plains of Shinar, humanity built the tower of Babel.
This demonstration of unity for humanity was seen by God in a very different way. Instead of the optimistic beginning of a new chapter, it was the return to the same demonic rebellion against Him.
In the garden he had commanded Adam and Eve to spread out their descendants over the face of the earth in order to extend the boundaries of his great garden over the entire planet. And here was humanity, clumped up in one part of the planet, committed headlong once again in the wrong direction.
In order to prevent another catastrophe from developing, God decided to intervene sooner rather than later, and confused the languages of humanity. Better for humanity to be divided in their rebellion than united in it. In confusing their languages, God did achieve the scattering of Adam and Eve’s descendants over the globe – but He also allowed for warring dominions, spiritual powers, and demonic principalities to gain control over the various people groups of Earth. And for generations demons and spirits have had a field day in deceiving and corrupting the various human cultures.
Whether the Norse paganism of ancient Scandinavia, or the terrifying animism of Africa, or the millennia long reign of Hinduism over India – there has been no shortage of spiritual deviations corrupting and deluding mankind’s knowledge of God or themselves.
But with Pentecost, God speaks words that go on the offensive, breaking down the wall of hostility that has fractured the world since Babel. The demonic forces and spiritual powers that have all carved out kingdoms for themselves, at humanity’s expense, are now subject to a cosmic invasion.
Not only is God reaching these people in their native tongue, but he is sending a message: the Holy Spirit is about to liberate every nation from the power of the devil (Col. 1:13-14), those near and far (Eph. 2:17), not for the imperialistic unity of Babel (Gen. 11), but in the beautiful diversification of every tribe and tongue gathered in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 7:9).
God’s Word has gone on the offensive, and we have all witnessed his unstoppable advance through history and the world.
Pastor Ryan Lunde