After the Flood Noah’s descendants multiplied greatly. His sons families grew and populated God’s creation. At this time in history there was but one language. And they all found one place to live in the land of Shinar.
But soon they became wicked. Immorality returned. And the people once saved by the arc forgot of God’s loving care and faithfulness. They became filled with pride. They forgot about God and His promises. Instead of making memorials to God they made memorials in their own name. They said together “Let us build a tower with its top in the heavens…let us make a name for ourselves.” And their thoughts were wicked. They were not content being creatures because they wanted to be the creator. They wanted to build a massive monstrosity and show God who was boss.
But God was not impressed and not pleased. He saw their unclean hearts and impure motives. He saw that they were worshiping the creation rather than the creator. He saw their love for technology – their idolatry – that they were worshiping themselves rather than the God of truth and love. They became perverse, foolish, reckless, and destructive. God came down to see what they had done and saw all the evil that they were capable of. And so he dispersed the people over the face of all the earth and confused their languages. And the tower came down.
6000 years later we’re not all that different. We are still babbling – trying to make a name for ourselves. Maybe we’re not building a tower to the heavens with bricks and mortar but we are building up our stock portfolio and retirement funds. We too have a problem with trusting in our technology – thinking that we can save ourselves through enough medication, with the perfect doctor or latest health fad. We too worship ourselves – filled with pride – and idolatry – more devoted to comfort and pleasure of selfish living rather than the comfort and pleasure of Christ and His kingdom. We have a problem of building our lives on sinking sand rather than the rock Christ.
Even though we consider ourselves to be building a greater society due to our technology, our morality can never keep up. And so we make bigger and more sophisticated bombs too kill and maim. The internet, which we were convinced would basically save the world is now a sewer pipe for pornography, sex-trafficking, lewdness, and all sorts of evil vice. Even facebook, considered a great advance in social networking, has led to increasingly loneliness with plastic friendships and counterfeit companions. These days we think we can even redefine God’s gift of marriage with sorry counterfeits and substitutes.
We are people of Babel. Always placing our trust in man rather than God. Mimicing the ways of this fallen and evil world rather than mimicking the ways of God. It only took a couple generations for Noah’s family to forget their God and to fall into unbelief. And so what about your family? Where are your children this morning? Noah’s family was saved through the arc hovering over the primordial waters. Your family was saved through the waters of Holy Baptism. Joined to the death and resurrection of Christ.
Today we celebrate the feast day of Pentecost. Fifty days after the resurrection all the apostles were in one place and there came from heaven the sound of a mighty rushing wind. Tongues of fire appeared on them and they began to preach and teach in the languages of the whole world. All nations under heaven come together to hear the preaching of the Gospel – which is the preaching of Christ. Peter stands up and preaches to the crowds that they crucified the Son of God – that he was delivered up for their sins. He points at the people to tell them that their sins brought about the suffering and death of God himself. And they were cut to the heart. The crowds desperately yell out “Then what shall we do?” Peter on Pentecost simply cries out “Repent and be baptized!”
And that same preaching comes to us. Repent of the delusion that living apart from God is living at all. Repent of the belief that you can climb and claw your way to the heavens without Christ as your ladder. Repent of the belief that your sins are not really so bad. Believe in the Gospel – that the best technology ever devised was a wooden cross lifted up against the heavens so that you might advance through this valley of tears to God in heaven.
God came down to do this for you. For poor, miserable sinners suffering and dying from their own sins. Our technology will not save us. Meds, pills, counselors, doctors, booze, entertainment – these things won’t help us. But God can and He will.
He died to destroy death. He rose to unlock the gates of heaven. This morning he sends to you His Holy Spirit and His Spirit testifies only of Him.
The message is this. We don’t climb and claw our way to God in heaven by our own works. He climbs and claws His way to us. For he leaves his throne in heaven to be born of Mary. To bring heaven down to earth. To unite all men to himself – to reverse the curse of babel – by restoring broken humanity to new life – by the forgiveness of your sins.
In Christ, although we are scattered, we become one. Even though we speak many languages, in Christ we speak the same, saying, “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ – His Only Son our Lord.” That’s what Christians across the world say and we, though many are made one.
The Spirit of God dwells within you. You have been called by the Gospel, baptized into his love, sanctified by His name and made His own child. His love is greater than your sins. And for us dying sinners in this dying world this is the one thing needful. That we cease this morning from all our tower of babel pet projects and let God be God. The Holy Spirit is poured out this morning upon your hearts. We open our mouths and speak the same language as the angels in heaven, saying holy holy holy Lord God of Sabbaoth.
It is God who has restored us to our rightful home. He has ascended to heaven to prepare a place for us. And we don’t climb and claw our way to God but he comes to us, fresh, and risen from the grave. He sets a table. He provides a meal. And in a very real way, we dispersed exiles of Babel have found are way home. In the name of Jesus. Amen.