Last week, I sat in an auditorium in Europe with hundreds of other people who, like me, wore headsets. The illustrious speaker was answering questions from the audience. Inside our covered ears were heard the responses in the language each person could understand.
The story of the origin of many languages from the one language spoken by Noah, Shem, Japheth, Ham and the womenfolk to their children and grandchildren is a story about God's reaction to a construction project.
It began with bricks.
Smart men figured out how to take clay from the earth and bake it to make a very strong brick that could be stacked using bitumen for mortar. No longer did they need to dig up stones to make walls. The invention of brick inspired all sorts of creativity. Industrious people were not satisfied simply to keep the rain out; they wanted to build a tower so high that it reached heaven and would be the focal point of a city full of buildings. With such a tower they could make a name for themselves lest they be 'scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth,' anonymous and forgotten.
The Lord heard about the project from His angels and came down to take a look. After glancing at the brick walls, He peered into the hearts of the builders, saw their pride and didn't like it at all. "This project," thought God, "must be stopped."
To the Angels He said, "Look they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another's speech."
That is how God and His angels foiled the tower project. As quick as lightening flashed across the sky, and just as shocking, the builders began speaking in different languages. One man could not understand the other; neither, "Hand me that brick." nor, "What's for lunch?" A seed of surprised confusion grew into a mighty tornado that ripped through the city. Chaos ensued.
Thousands of years later, in an upper room during the feast of Pentecost, God reverse this phenomenon. There, people of different languages suddenly could understand each other. With the same miraculous power that God used to confuse men's language, on Pentecost God reversed the scene at the Tower of Babel. On Pentecost, God displaced many egos with His one Holy Spirit.
On Pentecost, uniting people with the Holy Spirit of God was just as important as dispersing prideful egotists had been at the construction scene of the Tower of Babel.
As planned, the people who suddenly spoke different languages became too frustrated with each other and abandoned the tower project. They took their families and moved to places that became Germany, England, Greece, China, and Spain.
Having successfully thwarted the construction project, God looked down upon humankind with its good and evil ways, and thought more about His decision to destroy death. His plan would have to be very well developed and it would take a long time.
"Death" thought God, "is separation. It is separation from My image and likeness and it is separation from My Will. It is separation of the body and the spirit, it is separation of loved ones and enemies from each other."
The angel asked,"Did the scattered people of different languages die?"
"In a sense," replied God, "they died to each other. Their many languages represent their many egos, however, the separation of the first death was and continues to be caused by ego-born distrust. During Pentecost the many egos melted into one Spirit with one spiritual language."
God paused to see if the angel understood, then continued, "Death started the moment Eve ate the forbidden fruit. She committed suicide by distrusting Me. Her distrust was the seed of death."
The angel blurted, "I've got it! To destroy death simply reverse the cause! Make people trust You. Bingo! Done!"
God replied, "I cannot make people trust me; they have free will. I didn't want to make puppets when I created humankind. I wanted friends. First the people must recognize me without seeing me, then they must be tested."
The angel chimed in, "Lord, does anyone even know you exist anymore? We are back where we started before the flood. What a waste!"
"No, no, no. It was not a waste. Future generations will learn about the flood and reconstruct it. They will baptize, they will fast, they will understand rebirth and mercy. The flood had to happen. You know that angel; why are you being so contrary?!"
"I think I'm being realistic my Lord. You are invisible to them."
"Be quiet," replied God to the angel. "I need to think."