Sunday, May 23, 2010
Pentecost Genesis 11
And all the earth was one lip, and of words–one. And it was in pulling out from the East, and they found an opening in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. And they said, a man to a friend, "Come, let us make bricks dried in the sun, and let us burn them in fire." And it was to them the bricks for stone, and tar was to them mortar. And they said, "Come, let's build to us a city and a tower, and its head into heaven, and let's make to us a name: so that we won't be scattered on the face of all the earth. And Yahweh came down to see the city and the tower which was built by the sons of Adam. And Yahweh said, "Look, one people and one language to all of them; and this–the beginning of what they are to do; and now, nothing is cut off from them which they purpose to do. Come let Us go down and confound, there, their language, that they will not hear, a man's lip to his friend. And Yahweh scattered them from there, on the face of all the earth; and they ceased to build the city. On this, they called its name "Babel" because there Yahweh babbled the lips of all the earth. And from there, Yahweh scattered them over the face of all the earth.
Sometimes people have a few good ideas; but this is never sufficient. First, a few good ideas is never enough. All ideas had better be good so that the not-so-good ones don't overwhelm the decent ones. Secondly, what you do with those few good notions matters. The ideas themselves need to be implemented correctly. Otherwise, you'll never get positive results in the end. 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration, as the saying goes. But if you do it wrongly, the best of ideas is useless.
These sons of Adam had a few good ideas. They wanted to get up to heaven. Nothing wrong with that. They wanted to have a good name. This is a laudable goal. And they wanted to stay united. Togetherness is a fine thing. The problem these folks had wasn't with their ideas, but with how they thought they should be accomplished. Each time, they thought that it was up to *them* to get the job done. It wasn't. These good ideas were all those which God alone would accomplish.
First they started building a tower into heaven. God stopped them in their tracks. It wasn't for them to do the work to get themselves to heaven. You may be tempted similarly to think that your good works make you worthy of heaven. They don't. Or you might think your choosing to believe makes you worthy of eternal life. It doesn't. You can't do a single thing that brings you an inch closer to heaven.
You are saved by grace thru faith, not of your works at all. God takes you to heaven on the merits of Jesus Christ alone, and all that He has done for you. He kept the commandments perfectly in your place, earning heaven. Then He gives it up to you thru His death on the +. He then sends His promised Spirit at Baptism to cleanse your heart and dwell there to produce a trusting faith which clings to Jesus' works alone for your salvation. It is not you, but God alone Who takes you up to heaven!
Secondly, these sons of Adam wanted to make a name for themselves. But God wouldn't let it happen that way. The Lord confounded their languages so that a man couldn't even call his friend by name any longer. You too are fore-warned not to attempt to make your own name great. For that leads to the sin of pride, which goeth before a fall. It is not *your* name that God wants to be great.
So God gives you a new name, which you know is truly great. His Name! You are given His name at Baptism, God's family name, which becomes your new name. You were adopted into God's family on your baptism day, to bear the name of Christ as a Christian from that day forward. You heard that name of Jesus clearly, in your own language, in that gospel message that made you a believer in Christ. Just like God un-did the confusion of languages in the Pentecost miracle!
Lastly, the sons of Adam wanted to keep themselves united. Not God's goal at that time, since He had commanded them to fill the earth. So He filled the earth with them Himself, scattering them everywhere. You too fall into the temptation to stay in your own little clique, or to shy away from those places and people He wants you to interact with. The unity of a small, comfortable click isn't God's plan.
God provides unity among all believers in a special way. He takes sinners who have lots in common, and provides a union for them. As each of us comes up to the altar rail to receive the Lord's Supper for our forgiveness, Jesus is uniting us with Him as we eat His body given in death at Calvary, and drink His blood shed for us on the cross. And if we have a common union with Jesus, we are together also in communion fellowship with each other. You are made one with every forgiven sinner in Christ Jesus!
So, the next time you get a few *good ideas*, pause for a moment and be reminded how God performs His tasks much better than you do, and faithfully rely on Him to execute the best ideas to absolute perfection! In His Word and Sacraments, He provides everything you need for life and salvation.
Hymns from LSB:
#501 Come Down O Love Divine
#870 Now that Daylight Fills the Sky
#497 Come Holy Ghost, God and Lord
#500 Creator Spirit By Whose Aid
#489 Hail Thee Festival Day-Pentecost