Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pentecost as the Reversal of Babel

As I promised last time, here is the second part of the sermon on The Event of Pentecost-The Outpouring of the Spirit. In this part, we see how the "curse" of Babel is reversed (in fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant) as the Spirit comes and draws men from every tongue, tribe and nation together again under one Head, Jesus Christ the Lord.

Luke conspicuously tells us in Acts 2 that the people who are in Jerusalem at Pentecost during the event of the outpouring of the Spirit were there from "every nation under heaven". Now this is obviously hyperbole; but Luke wants us to understand this event as it relates to the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant in Christ. Remember, the promise to Abraham was that through him, through his "seed", all the families of the earth would be blessed. Paul makes it clear that this "seed" refers to Christ and that the blessing to the families of the earth is the salvation that is found in Christ. "Israel" the nation, as the "seed" of Abraham, was the first-level fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant...but as a type of the true "seed" to come. They were called to be the vehicle of God's blessing to the nations by drawing the nations around them to YHWH. They were called as God's "son" to minister the knowledge of God to all the nations so that they would find life in their God; the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Israel, however, failed to be "Israel"; they failed to be God's "son". So a new "Israel" was needed; a new "Son" was needed to fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant. And this must be the case because, as I've stated so many times before, the nation of Israel was a type of Christ (as God's chosen "son", etc.) and their very existence, as with all things in the Scripture, prophesied of Christ, the true "seed" of Abraham.

So Luke, in the continuation of his Gospel account, makes sure that his readers realize what is happening here. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant (and by extension, the Davidic Covenant) because He is the promised Seed of Abraham and the true "son" of God, and it is in Him alone that this blessing comes. All the nations of the earth are to be blessed only as they come to Him as God's Son. In the history of Israel, when a Gentile wanted to come to the God of Israel they had to come to Him through "Israel", through His "son". To have YHWH as their God, they had to become proselytes; they had to join themselves to God's "son"--Israel. And since the nation was simply typological, the same holds true when the Promised Seed arrives. A person comes to God only by being joined to His "Son"--Jesus Christ. Luke (and the rest of the N.T.) makes this clear. And in the book of Acts we see how people come to the Son--by the Spirit.

The work of the Spirit is the effectual fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant because it is the Spirit who joins a person to Christ in the New Birth. Jesus has fulfilled the Abrahamic Covenant in Himself; but this fulfillment is applied by the Spirit. It is the Spirit who is calling people from every tongue, tribe, nation and people and it is by the Spirit that they are "born again" as God's "sons" in The Son.

So, as part of the Spirit's work in applying Christ's fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant, the paradigm of Babel is reversed. Where once God judged the people and scattered them over the face of the earth by confusing their language, so now He, by the Spirit, unites them once again--not in a universal language, but in Christ! The emphasis that Luke places on the "every nation under heaven" and the fact that they all heard the Disciples in their own language, speaks to the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant and the reversal of the judgment of God at Babel. He doesn't restore a universal language, but He does unite the people under One NAME--not their own, but the Name of Jesus.

Well, enough of my own "babel"...on with the "Brief Sermon Overview" and the PDF notes. I encourage you again to listen to the audio message (top right) and read the Sermon Notes. I don't know what can be more encouraging for the Christian than to see the Scripture being fulfilled in our Lord and Savior!

Brief Sermon Overview (by our Pastor):

As the Spirit-filled disciples spilled out into the street in Jerusalem, the cacophony of voices proclaiming God's mighty saving deeds began to draw a crowd. These onlookers were Jews and Gentile proselytes to Judaism who had come to Jerusalem from surrounding regions to celebrate the Passover and Feast of Weeks as required by the Law of Moses. Very quickly they realized that the speakers were all Galileans, and yet every individual within the widely diverse crowd was hearing one or more of them speaking in his native tongue. This message examines the salvation-historical significance of this phenomenon as it implicates God's ancient judgment at Babel and His subsequent promise to extend HIs blessing to all the families of the earth through Abraham (Genesis 11:1-12:3). What was transpiring that day in Jerusalem indicated that the day of fulfillment was dawning. God was reversing His judicial act of scattering and fragmenting the human race and entering upon the fulfillment of His promise to Abraham to reunite the world of men by recovering them to Himself in the patriarch's singular Seed (Gal. 3:1-29).

Listen to the Sermon at top right (Acts 007-The Event of Pentecost: The Outpouring of the Spirit-Part 2).

Read the PDF notes here.

2 comments:

satire and theology said...

'Jesus is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant (and by extension, the Davidic Covenant) because He is the promised Seed of Abraham and the true "son" of God, and it is in Him alone that this blessing comes.'

'The work of the Spirit is the effectual fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant because it is the Spirit who joins a person to Christ in the New Birth.'

Agreed.

'The Scripture makes it clear that God is sovereign and Man is responsible. As a "Reformed" believer, I must be faithful with the text and reason from the standpoint of both. Compatibilism is a necessary concept to hold these truths together.'

Yes, there is neither libertarian human free will, nor God forcing belief and obedience.

Happy Weekend, GGM.:)

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Thanks Russ, you have a nice one too! We have a holiday this Monday, so I'll definitely be enjoying it...as long as Mrs. Moogly doesn't decide that she wants another room painted! Ugh!!

GGM