Bible in a Year:
When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.
While I was visiting London’s Tate Modern gallery, one piece of art caught my attention. Created by Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles, it was a giant tower made of hundreds of old radios. Each radio was turned on and tuned to a different station, creating a cacophony of confusing, indecipherable speech. Meireles called the sculpture Babel.
The title is appropriate. At the original tower of Babel, God thwarted humanity’s attempt to seize heaven by confusing mankind’s languages (Genesis 11:1–9). No longer able to communicate with one another, humanity fractured into tribes of various dialects (vv. 10–26). Divided by language, we’ve struggled to understand each other ever since.
There’s a second part to the story. When the Holy Spirit came upon the first Christians at Pentecost, He enabled them to praise God in the various languages of those visiting Jerusalem that day (Acts 2:1–12). Through this miracle, everyone heard the same message, no matter their nationality or language. The confusion of Babel was reversed.
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In a world of ethnic and cultural division, this is good news. Through Jesus, God is forming a new humanity from every nation, tribe, and tongue (Revelation 7:9). As I stood at Tate Modern, I imagined all those radios suddenly tuning to a new signal and playing the same song to all in the room: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.”