When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated and rested on each one of them. Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them.
Wow, I wish I could hear that sound like a mighty wind rushing down from heaven (v.2)! That it came from heaven is important. This was not manufactured. It was miraculous! God had gathered them together in one place. They came for the Feast of Weeks, but were dispatched from that place with the incredible news for their synagogues that the Messiah had come.
Mankind all spoke the same language from Eden until well after the flood (Gen. 11:1). Then, as our shared depravity and penchant for collaboration began to put us back on track for another outpouring of God’s wrath, God intervened in Genesis 11:5-9:
Then the Lord came down to look over the city and the tower that the humans were building. The Lord said, “If they have begun to do this as one people all having the same language, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let’s go down there and confuse their language so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” So from there the Lord scattered them throughout the earth, and they stopped building the city. Therefore it is called Babylon, for there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth, and from there the Lord scattered them throughout the earth.
The miracle of tongues was not arbitrary. Rather, it served a pragmatic purpose. It allowed the news of the gospel to bypass the confusion of man’s speech worked by God after the Tower of Babel. The tongues of flame were reminders that God alone should receive absolutely all of the glory for what was happening.
What translators do you know who could help us add to HCC’s five languages?
Pray: Ask God to help us reach Seattle’s Chinese, Vietnamese, and Spanish-speaking communities.