Home Forums The Porch 190609 – Pentecost – Genesis 11 & Acts 2

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    *This will be the last Porch until September*

    The Porch for June 9 19
    Genesis 11:1-9, and Acts 2:1-8, 11-18

    Genesis 11:1-9

    • Why might having one common language be bad?
    • Today we kind of have this – with Google translate at our finger tips! Help or Hurt?

    · Shinar – is where Babylon would eventually be

    · Top = head, both literally (human head) and figuratively (the leader) and also things like top, headwaters, etc.
    · Heavens – figuratively understood as where God resides
    o Why would it be so bad for humans to have a tower to where God is?
    o What does this represent?
    o What are the humans trying to achieve here?

    · Make a name for ourselves – name = one’s appellation, but also one’s renown, fame, reputation
    o Perhaps this is hinting at why God might react! – what do you think?

    · God came down to see – not to be read as God didn’t realize what was happening, but to emphasize that God is present and “involved” in the human realm

    · Literally: nothing cut off/inaccessible from them to imagine/devise
    o Again, why is this such a bad thing?
    o Aren’t we supposed to dream and build and develop?

    · Confuse = confound, mix
    · What is the advantage for us not understanding one another’s speech?

    · Babel = the name of the city (also Babylon)
    o Let’s start a fight! The word “Babel” rhymes with:
    § Table
    § Scrabble
    § Hobble
    § Other (yup, it’s baw-Bell in Hebrew with emphasis on the 2nd syllable)
    o Proper Hebrew is baw-Bell, proper English rhymes with ‘table’, babble sounds like confusion so maybe it’s right – Who gets to decide?! 🙂

    · Confuse = balal – indication is that the city represents confusion
    o Remember, Hebrew proper names usually mean something specific.

    Acts 2:1-8, 11-18

    2:1 – when the day of Pentecost had come – the Greek actually translates “when the day of Pentecost was fulfilled“. What do you think that means?

    2:1 – together in one place
    Why were they gathered? – Were they still hiding? Were they gathered to worship?

    2:2 – what filled the room? Wind or Sound?
    Which way is it usually described?
    Does it change anything for you to read it as sound instead of wind?

    2:3 – a divided tongue as of fire rested upon each one of them –
    What do you make of this verse?
    What is the author trying to say here?

    2:4 – notice first that they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.
    Was this a brand new thing? –
    Was it the first time?

    2:6 – the crowd heard the sound too –
    What if you changed the word “native” to “heart”? Does the passage read differently to you now?

    2:7-8 – Is this just a parlour trick?
    What’s the purpose of hearing in their own language?

    2:9-11 – Why the list of so many countries?

    2:11 – What are they hearing in their own languages? Isn’t this exactly what we seek to do in church each week???
    We live in Canada and all speak the same language. Or do we?

    2:13-15 – they’re drunk – no we’re not!
    Are we? Should we be?

    2:16-20 – Peter preaches boldly about the pouring out of the Spirit – quoting the prophet Joel.
    “Last days” – of what? The world?
    Or maybe it’s the last days of the former way of not experiencing the Spirit?


    3 Main ways to interpret this Tower of Babel text:
    1. Pride (and rebellion) against God – make name for selves, not God’s name
    2. Critique of Empire and its forcing uniformity (not diversity) – one way!
    3. Humanity was told to “spread out and fill the whole earth” (Genesis 1:28, 9:1) but here they want to stay together and not do what God asked = rebellion

    · Which of these three seems to fit your reading of the text?
    · Or perhaps a combination?
    · Or perhaps a different option?

    What is Pentecost?
    The Feast of Weeks was the second of the great pilgrimage festivals. Originally a harvest festival, it gained the Greek title Pentecost (meaning 50th day) because it came 50 days after Passover. In Luke’s day, Pentecost was viewed as a celebration of giving the Law on Sinai.

    When the Spirit fills you, what happens?

    The disciples were propelled into the street and began to share their faith with others.
    Are we?
    Should we be?

    Has your spiritual experience ever been dismissed by others as being illegitimate (they’re drunk)?
    How did you react?

    What if the gift of tongues meant something different than usually interpreted?
    What if it meant the gift of being able to communicate spiritual things in a way that another person could really understand?
    What if it meant the ability to speak to different generations, cultures, classes, etc all at the same time?

    A “tongue” is for communicating God’s presence and power. (ignore the languages thing for now).
    You have experienced God’s presence – do you share your tongue?


    · Must be careful not to view Acts 2 as “fixing” the Babel problem. Such theologies/interpretations insult and belittle the depth of the OT (reducing it to a pre-J thing whose only value is to make the Christian story look better!)

    ** How do both of these stories suggest that God blesses diversity and uniqueness?

    (and happy summer!)

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