Babbling before God (Genesis 11) (Pentecost)

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Service Notes

Pentecost + May 20, 2018
  • Order of Service: Divine Service 3
  • Hymns: LSB #497, 650, 702, 631, 503

Theme Verse

Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth. (Genesis 11:9)

Sermon Text

As we come to worship this morning, we see things have changed. The white has been replaced with red. The red signifies God's sending the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles on the Feast of Pentecost. Each year, we mark the end of the festival half of the Church Year with this great Feast. But what makes this a great Feast? Why do we come to Pentecost every year? Why does it make such a difference in our lives?

Pentecost marked the end of the Old Testament Passover cycle.[1] It was the fiftieth day after Passover. It marked the end of the harvest season. It comes to us in the New Testament Church as the fiftieth day of Easter. As Jesus seeks to set everything right side up, our Pentecost marks the beginning of the heavenly harvest. The birthday of the Christian Church.

Pentecost in Acts 2 reverses the Tower of Babel. God confused the languages and dispersed the people from Babel.[2] God brought together people from all corners of the world to hear the Gospel in their own language.[3] God's judgment against man's sinful potential is turned into the proclamation of man's heavenly potential in Jesus.

In the beginning, there was only one people. One language. One family.[4] Everyone descended from Adam and Eve.[5] Everything revolved around the similarity. After the Flood, the similarity remained. Everyone at Babel descended from Noah and his wife.[6]

As they grew, they sought to showcase their glory and unity through the construction and foundation of a large city. A city with a tower with its top in the heavens.[7] Something that would stand the test of another Flood. They would build it to surpass the height of Noah's Flood and to withstand the force of the waters.

But their arrogant pride would be their undoing. No one is righteous in God's sight.[8] Everyone is tainted by their sin. And God would not allow them to proceed with their plans. As He banished our first parents from Eden so that they would not eat of the Tree of Life and be forever in their sins,[9] He confused the languages so that the work would stop.[10] If He hadn't confused the language, the city and tower would be “only the beginning of what they will do.”[11] With only one language, nothing would be impossible for them.[12] Now, with the multitude of languages that exist, everything has become difficult, if not impossible, to achieve with others. Many times even with the same language!

After confusing the languages, God dispersed the people throughout the world.[13] They grouped themselves by those whom they understood. So the Hebrews went with the Hebrews. The Germans went with the Germans. And so forth throughout all the many languages we have today.

They started with one single point of origin. Mount Ararat. Where the Ark landed. As human population began to explode once again, they moved west.[14] Finding a suitable place in the land of Shinar, several of them wanted to make a name for themselves.[15] The name they made for themselves came from the punishment they received. The city was called Babel because of the babbling they couldn't understand. Not being able to communicate, they left the city in the middle of construction.[16] Just as also all our works are left undone when God's judgment comes along.

But God doesn't leave us without recourse to His mercy. He actually commands us to find recourse in Him. To seek Him where He can be found.[17] He commanded the Jerusalem Temple to be the place where the devout and faithful from every nation could come and worship Him. Three times a year they were commanded to gather.[18] And that's what we find at Pentecost. Devout men from every nation were gathered for the great Feast of Pentecost.[19]

The Apostles themselves were in Jerusalem by Jesus' command.[20] Before Jesus ascended, He told them to stay in Jerusalem so that they could receive the Holy Spirit. They were commanded to not absent themselves like Eldad and Medad in the Wilderness.[21] They were to be in one place so that they could receive God's gifts. Just as you are commanded to be in one place to receive His blessings. This one place where you can receive the forgiveness of sins. The one place where He Himself comes to you. The place where His commandment meets His love.

We come together as Church not only because of the commandment. We come together as Church because of the love He shows through His gifts. The first gift is His presence. He doesn't hide His face from you.[22] In fact, His face shines upon you.[23] He gives you peace with God.[24] He comes to you and makes His home with you.[25] He dwells in your heart and soul. Prompting you to live a godly life in His Spirit.

On the first Christian Pentecost, God sent the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles with a loving proclamation for the gathered people. He sends the Holy Spirit among us so we may speak the same loving proclamation to those God gathers in our lives. God sends only one message. The forgiveness of sins through Jesus' cross.[26] Through Jesus' cross, God the Father gives ear to your pleas for mercy.[27] He takes all your guilt away. He makes you wholly and completely His.[28] He calls everyone to spread this message.

As a loving heavenly Father, God wants everyone to hear and learn about Him in their own native language. The Holy Spirit sent tongues of fire so the Apostles could do just that on Pentecost.[29] The Holy Spirit does this so that “everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”[30]

You are called to proclaim this salvation. But God doesn't send you out unprepared. He has given you the Holy Spirit so that you may have the proper words.[31] Even if you think you will only babble. God uses your babbling to spread His love. We babble before God even in our prayers. But the Holy Spirit “intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”[32] The Holy Spirit speaks through your babbling.

The Holy Spirit has begun the heavenly harvest. This is the great message of Pentecost. God brings the dispersed people together to hear His Word. To know His love. To praise Him in all the many languages we have today, knowing that we are truly one in Christ. Amen.

References

  1. Leviticus 23:15-22
  2. Genesis 11:9
  3. Acts 2:5-11
  4. Genesis 11:1
  5. Genesis 2:18-25; 3:20; 4:25-5:5
  6. Genesis 10
  7. Genesis 11:4
  8. Psalm 143:2
  9. Genesis 3:22
  10. Genesis 11:9
  11. Genesis 11:6
  12. Genesis 11:6
  13. Genesis 11:9
  14. Genesis 11:2
  15. Genesis 11:4
  16. Genesis 11:8
  17. Isaiah 55:6
  18. Exodus 23:14; 34:23; Deuteronomy 16:16
  19. Acts 2:5
  20. Acts 1:4; 2:1
  21. Numbers 11:26-27
  22. Psalm 143:7
  23. Numbers 6:24-26
  24. John 14:27
  25. John 14:23
  26. Acts 2:22-36
  27. Psalm 143:1
  28. LSB #702.1
  29. Acts 2:8
  30. Acts 2:21; Joel 2:32
  31. Mark 13:11
  32. Romans 8:26