29 Jan 2016
In Genesis 11, there was only one language spoken by all people in the entire world. The people used their communication skills to pridefully build a “tower of defiance” (Tower of Babel). Thus, God saw this as not good, and confused their languages to restrict evil. It would have unquestionably led to the separation of nations and cultures, along with traditions, habits and differences we has in different cultures. God would likely have realized this, and saw this as an acceptable price to pay in order for us to keep from plunging further into evil. It is ironic then, that God chose only one people group to be His “Royal priesthood and Holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). However, I don’t think it is as cut and dry as that. Don Richardson, in his book “Eternity in their hearts”, goes to great lengths to identify the originality of the Creator God present in a multitude of nation’s historical records and mythologies. The Chinese have their story of Gun-Yu, who “…controlled the floods…” The Inca’s have their “Great Creator God Virachocha”, and Egyptians had their sun god “RA” (which could have been a perverted version of the Creator God) – but they also God a direct opportunity to repent through Moses’ repeated warnings…
As more of the mythology of cultures are uncovered, I would bet they would reveal a remnant of the original Creator God in them (although they may have chosen to discard it at some point along the way). Don Richardson goes into a lot more detail, but more radical idea is found far into the future. In Acts 2, there is a very climatic event that shifts human history forever. This could quite literally be the restoration of the intimate relationship we had in the garden with God! Acts two records men “…all together in one place…” (Acts 2:1, NASB). This was the indication of the Holy Spirit filling them, and “giving them utterance…” (2:4)
This is significant (not only because the Holy Spirit had come as Jesus had promised), but because it was during a time when people from all the surrounding regions were present in Jerusalem, it was the celebration connected with the Exodus of the Jews out of Egypt, and God giving Moses the 10 commandments on Mt. Sinai. It was a pilgrimage celebration, and so markets would have likely opened up widely. In any case, Acts records that there were “…men from every nation under heaven…”. Jews were long disconnected with the intimate relationship God had with man in their long and rich history. But they were faithful to their traditions. So they were present when God touched men sensitive to His touch. They heard these men at a very intimate state in their lives – during their prayer and meditation with God. But this prayer was different. Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Arabs, and Romans. They all heard the enthusiastic worship of men receiving the promised Holy Spirit for the first time in their very own mother tongue! Egyptians were hearing in Egyptian, Romans were hearing it in Latin, Arabs were hearing it in 1st-century Arabic or some form of Persian.
I find it incredibly refreshing to consider that what God began as a restrictive measure in Genesis 11 was unrestricted in a place of intimacy, in a place where the content was exalting, exhorting, and communally-building. Most importantly though, It was done not out of pride, but out of humble appreciation for their Lord. God restored the most prominent element of relationship, beginning with Himself and people, but then with people of all cultures! I have heard of stories of people talking with people from other cultures, and the people understand them in their native tongue! It is the most natural kind of miracle, and one God would want to do if the need called for it. I would bet that at the creation of all things, we will share more then just one language, but language is the key to relationship – so just restoring one language to all people will connect us on *so* many levels! When a people are joined in language, community can form. The church is powerful because we are united. Language is shared among the people of God in terms of divine intimacy. We are linked to our Father God, and thus, He wants to link us to each other in heart and mind (and eventually, I think) in culture!