I love how intricately precise our God is in His redemptive plan. I cannot doubt the love He has for me knowing all the things and people He aligned in order for me to know Him. God is the redeemer of all the things that have gone awry through the fall. Here’s a few things I’ve been learning through the book of Acts and how it coincides with Genesis 11.
And while staying with them he [Jesus] ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
From my New Testament Survey class, I remembered to be looking for Acts 1:8 as a theme for the rest of the book. One of the ways you can divide up Acts is geographically- Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the rest of the world. We can see the expansion of the Church by where it began to spread, through whom, and how.
I continued reading and got to the Day of Pentecost. This was what the apostles were waiting for. Jesus, essentially, said, “Go back to Jerusalem, wait for this promised Holy Spirit that the Father is sending…” Now, I know this story. They were all together, hanging out, probably praying. Then this storm from Heaven came in through the room and everyone had the Holy Spirit fall on them and then they could speak in tongues. Cool. End of story.
Nope. Not even close.
As I was re-reading this, I saw a couple really cool things stick out that I wanted to share because it literally blew my mind.
1. God will plan an outreach without your foreknowledge and do it better than you would have.
The apostles + others just received the Holy Spirit and were uttering in these different languages. They created quite the stir and people from other countries that were in Jerusalem were drawn in. They heard the apostles and other Christians speaking in their native languages. Now, before you’re like, “Maybe some of them were bilingual…”, from what I counted there were 11 nationalities represented. Eleven. I don’t even know what that would be.. Octolingual+1?
Not only are the apostles and other Christians speaking it, they are declaring the glory of God to them. They are preaching the Gospel to people of other languages for the first time. Obviously Romans was written after this, but we see that faith comes through hearing. God’s heart is huge for the nations and for the people in your town, next door and the nations.
Y’all. This was the first international ministry outreach and it wasn’t even done on purpose. Well, God knew and planned it, but it wasn’t planned by the apostles. Peter stands up, preaches the gospel, and 3,000+ are saved.
2. The fact that “speaking in tongues” was the first thing the Holy Spirit did when He came to live in Christians is of great importance in showing the missional heart of our God.
Let’s remember, Genesis 11 and the Tower of Babel. Synopsis: man wanted to make a name for themselves, so they all rallied together to build a city and tower that took them up to Heaven. They essentially, wanted to be gods and make a path to Heaven for themselves. So, God did the only loving thing a Heavenly Father would do and caused them to all speak different languages.
Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come,let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 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.
Here’s the cool thing: God cares about all the nations. He cares about the people that you and I can’t communicate with because of this barrier. As He gave the first church this gift of speaking in tongues as the first gift, we see here that He is undoing the Tower of Babel. The people who built the tower of Babel were trying to make a way to Heaven. It was an unsuccessful one. God has given us a way through Jesus.
The apostles had this message of Hope, but they only had it in like Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew [I think.]. God gave them the gift of tongues to be able to share the way to Heaven and share the hope offered in Jesus. That’s really cool right? I mean, it could have been anything that God did, but what better way to advance the kingdom than the ability to proclaim it in all the world’s languages?
I love finding more and more glimpses of God’s heart for the nations, but also I love seeing how He loves to invite us into partnership with Him. It wasn’t the apostles that could have advanced the Gospel. It’s His Spirit that causes us to love Him. It’s His Spirit that moves in us and through us. God can redeem the whole world without us, but He chooses to involve us in His work. I am just so amazed at how awesome that is.
It’s late, so I probably could have done a better job explaining that. Thanks for sticking with me to the end if you’ve gotten this far. 🙂 Please comment below with your thoughts and if this post encouraged you, please share the link on Facebook! 🙂
DISCLAIMER: I’m not taking a stand for or against modern day use of speaking in tongues, by the way. I am just sharing thoughts on what’s in the Bible. So. Yep.