While I was visiting London’s Tate Modern gallery, one piece of art caught my attention. Created by Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles, it was a giant tower made of hundreds of old radios. Each radio was turned on and tuned to a different station, creating a cacophony of confusing, indecipherable speech. Meireles called the sculpture Babel.
The title is appropriate. At the original tower of Babel, God thwarted humanity’s attempt to seize heaven by confusing mankind’s languages (Genesis 11:1–9). No longer able to communicate with one another, humanity fractured into tribes of various dialects (vv. 10–26). Divided by language, we’ve struggled to understand each other ever since.
There’s a second part to the story. When the Holy Spirit came upon the first Christians at Pentecost, He enabled them to praise God in the various languages of those visiting Jerusalem that day (Acts 2:1–12). Through this miracle, everyone heard the same message, no matter their nationality or language. The confusion of Babel was reversed.
In a world of ethnic and cultural division, this is good news. Through Jesus, God is forming a new humanity from every nation, tribe, and tongue (Revelation 7:9). As I stood at Tate Modern, I imagined all those radios suddenly tuning to a new signal and playing the same song to all in the room: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.”
How does your shared faith with believers of other nationalities bring you together despite your differences? How can you help create harmony?
The celebration of Pentecost on the Christian calendar occurs seven weeks (or fifty days) after Easter. This special recognition commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit (as promised by Jesus—Luke 24:49; Acts 1:5, 8), the subsequent birth of the church, and the ingathering of the first members of the family in Christ. But before Pentecost had significance for believers in Jesus, it was observed by God’s people in the Old Testament. The feast took place seven weeks after the Passover on the fiftieth day (see Leviticus 23:15–22). The event is also known as the Feast of Weeks or the Feast of Harvest. This great harvest festival was so special that work stopped and adult men traveled to the place of worship where loaves of bread baked from the new grain were offered to God (vv. 17–22). Following Christ’s death and resurrection, it was on this significant day that God sent the Holy Spirit.