The origin and evolution of human languages continue to fascinate us to this day. A commentary on the Tower of Babel text in Genesis states: "People are ambitious—they want to succeed. Genesis portrays humans as so ambitious that they try to compete with, rather than serve, God. This was Adam and Eve's sin, and at Babel people were at it again, in a citywide effort. God frustrated their plans by confusing their language." It brings to mind the old adage that "Actions speak louder than words."
Several classmates of one of my friends sensed God's call and commission to serve as "foreign missionaries." They had to communicate the Gospel in the language of the people they were sent to serve.
Pentecost is Babel in reverse, when people heard the Gospel in their own languages. That is exactly what is needed in our "babbling" world where only good communication can create community.
Gracious God, while our Bible was written in Hebrew and Greek, we are blessed to have its translation into "contemporary language." Help us convey the Good News of Jesus Christ in ways people can understand and believe wherever you have made us your "missionaries" of love. Amen.
Genesis 11:1-9 (NRSV)
1 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words.
2 And as they migrated from the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.
3 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.
4 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; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth."
5 The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built.
6 And the Lord said, "Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.
7 Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another's speech."
8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.
9 Therefore it was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.