Jesus Undoes Babel and Gathers the Nations

Today’s Reading: Genesis 9-12

After the flood dissipates, one man, Noah, and his family leave the ark. Genesis 10 lists all the descendants of Noah. If you count all the names of those that were fathered, that were sons, then you will find there are 70 descendants of Noah listed in Genesis 10. This list is often called The Table of Nations and is representative of all the nations of the earth. This number 70 is a key number and shows up repeatedly in the Bible. Therefore, when we see the number 70 we should think of the nations that were dispersed after the flood and how the particular story us using the number 70 to reference back to Genesis 10 and 11.

How were the descendants of Noah, the 70 nations, dispersed?

Genesis 11 tells us that all these descendants of Noah, these 70 nations, had one language. Instead of fulfilling the command given to Noah and his sons after the flood to fill the earth, the descendants of Noah gathered together and built a city for themselves so as to make a name for themselves. The descendants of Noah specifically said they were doing this to keep from being dispersed over the face of the earth as God had commanded them. So, God came down and confused their language, stopped them from building the city, and caused the nations to disperse.

However, Jesus comes to undo the confusion of their languages and gather the nations that were dispersed to God. How so?

First, did you ever wonder why Jesus sent out 70 others ahead of him to every place and town he was about to go in Luke 10:1? Jesus was beginning the process of gathering, preparing the way for his message. (Some versions of the Bible say Jesus sent out 72. This is a technical translation issue based on the original text used and whether you are referencing the Hebrew or Greek Old Testament. Don’t get hung up on this.)

Second, in Acts 2, on the day of Pentecost, Jesus’ remaining disciples were gathered in the upper room, praying in one accord. The Holy Spirit came down upon them and filled them so that they could each speak in another language. In Genesis, God came down to confuse their languages, but in Acts he comes down so they can all speak in other languages and be understood.

Acts 2:5 says, “Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.” When we see Acts connected to Genesis 10 and 11, we recognize that “every nation under heaven” is referring directly back to The Table of Nations that were dispersed in Genesis after the flood.

These Jews that had gathered from every nation under heaven heard the sound of the 120 disciples speaking in all these languages God gave them. Acts 2:6 says, “They were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.” Despite all of the disciples being Galileans, who should have had one language, the Jews gathered from every nation under heaven were able to understand what the disciples were saying in their own language. The disciples were not speaking in angelic or unknown languages but real languages that other people from all parts of the earth understood as their own language.

Acts 2:9-11 lists peoples and nations of the earth that are representative of the 70 nations dispersed after the flood. What did every nation under the earth here the disciples saying? “We hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” They heard in their own language what Jesus did on the cross and all that the disciples were taught by Jesus between his resurrection and ascension just before Pentecost.

Therefore, at Pentecost, Jesus was undoing the confusion of languages at Babel and gathering the nations of the world that had been dispersed after the flood back to God. Essentially, the rest of the book of Acts is the telling of that gathering as we see Peter and Paul, mostly Paul, going to the peoples of the world, preaching the gospel, and gathering them to the Lord Jesus.

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