By Jim Voigt
The Tower of Babel in Genesis 11 is an odd story. It’s placed early in the book of Genesis and seems to be connected with the movement of early Middle Eastern people moving from rural lives to urban. They are building a great city for themselves along with a tower so tall that it reaches to the heavens. It appears that they are actually coming together on something and achieving something positive. However, God does not see it that way. God sees their ambition as too great and decides to slow them down. It was at Babel that God “confused their language” and “scattered them from there over all the earth”. God did not want one people in one land. God wanted groups of people spread out across the land so he divided them with language barriers.
It would appear that thousands of years later we are still finding ways to divide. Language is one way we tend to group ourselves, but even amongst the same language there is still dialect. We can also divide based upon skin color, socio-economic class, educational status and political party. Finding ways to divide and be afraid of one another is still a natural response for us as people. Surely we have properly covered the face of the earth as God originally desired. Isn’t it time that we come together as people? I believe it’s what God wants now as well. In the New Testament is another story that is actually the antithesis of The Tower of Babel. In Acts 2 is the story of Pentecost. On Pentecost, people from all different types of nationalities and languages were able to understand one another and receive the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit is able to bring people together and help them understand one another which is why I believe our nation desperately needs the power of the Holy Spirit right now. We would all benefit from a little understanding of one another. At Pentecost people heard one another, understood and created a unifying movement that has traveled across oceans and time. It will take the Holy Spirit to heal the wounds that have been created through racial injustices in the last month and previously. These injustices have also traveled across oceans and time. Injuries due to injustice do not heal in a moment but over the bridge of time as more and more people seek to listen, understand and change. May the Holy Spirit be with each of us who are on this journey of reconciliation together. God, by your power, give us all the ability to listen, understand and change. Help Pentecost to happen in our time!