Heavenly words – changing earth.
I am blessed to talk to you in English. It is not my mother tongue and I had to learn it and use it as a second mother tongue, for which I am endlessly grateful. By Grade 8 I started to do Latin as my father was adamant that Latin is a good training for instruction in other languages. It was not until I saw My Big Fat Greek Wedding that I realized that Greek is actually the basis of everything as the father of the bride emphasized so often, but he obviously did not know Latin.
Then my husband received a German bursary for research in Germany and one of the conditions was two months at the very well-known Goethe Institute to learn German. When we arrived in Germany in December 1988 I could not follow the television news or any story, despite six months of private instruction. However, after the two months, living in a small village and using what I have learnt every day, I could understand everything on television and help myself in conversation.
Because I have an Italian daughter in law and my granddaughter of two will most probably speak Italian as her first language, I am learning Italian with Duolingo. It is very difficult and I am struggling.
I really know how difficult it is to learn a language in order to come to the point where one can converse in it and understand what is happening when the locals speak amongst each other – fluent and fast.
When God does something – He does it very well. Let us read a Scripture in Genesis 11.
11 Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. 3 Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. 4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. 9 Therefore its name is 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.
Babel means – confusion. It is the symbol for sin and sinfulness and the result of sin is confusion.
There unity was evil, but still very powerful. The principles of the Bible often work both ways – like sowing and reaping on the evil side of things, negative words and the wounding it causes. We live intentionally so that the laws of the Kingdom work in our favour. Unity is often emphasized by Paul for the continued effective working of the church.
Centuries later God uses the same miracle – the miracle of language to unite his church on the day of Pentecost.
Jesus spoke to his disciples on the day of his ascension to heaven. Farewell-words are important and this was probably the most important farewell of all times. This is what He said:
And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:4,5,8)
On that day the disciples spoke known languages – Greek = dialekto.
I have heard many testimonies of missionaries that a known language has been given to them as a gift of the Holy Spirit, to be able to communicate the Gospel.
Twenty years after the day of Pentecost, Paul asks the new Christians in Corinth whether they have received the Holy Spirit. He baptizes them in water in the Name of Jesus, to be clear how water baptism will take place in the church in future. Water baptism will be linked to the death and resurrection of Jesus according to Romans 6.
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. (Acts 19:6)
Tongues, translated from the Greek word glossolalia – served as a sign of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, assuring a believer to be an invigorated living witness.
It can be explained as languages and infers from 1 Corinthians 13:1 that the glossolalia in 1 Corinthians was the speaking of angelic languages, whereas Acts 2 indicated they spoke in known human languages, however the text does not suggest that all the languages spoken that day by the 120 people who waited in the upper room, were known in the conglomerate of nationalities gathered there.
The commentary explains it as follows:
The characteristic of this mysterious language is that it betokened a converse alone with God, such as the angels have. But rising out of this, is that the Holy Spirit gave impulse and power to the speaker to make his language for himself for what he had to utter at that very moment, so that the language moulded itself specially in the mouth of each individual respectively for that which had to be uttered.
“That which had to be uttered” is the groaning of our hearts when we pray in all sincerity. Sometimes the emotional pain and the gravity of the situation defy words. It is then that the Holy Spirit put our case before the Father in heavenly language in which we are fully engaged. (Romans 8:26)
Your next step is exactly the same as those overwhelmed people on the day of Pentecost.
Now when they heard this they were stung (cut) to the heart, and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles,
Brethren, what shall we do?
And Peter answered them, Repent, change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For the promise of the Holy Spirit is to and for you and your children, and to and for all that are far away, even to and for as many as the Lord our God invites and bids to come to Himself. (Acts 2:37-39)
Let us celebrate this very special Pentecost 2020 with joy and expectation, waiting for the touch of fire from God in our words.
[Pebbles 81 and 82 – May/June 2017]