The Pentecost story has its roots in the Tower of Babel story. For it is here that God shows us once again that He is not just a personal God, nor a national God, but that He is God of all. And as Jesus ascends to the Father and the Father in turn sends the New Covenant gift of the Holy Spirit to His people, the great reversal commences. A people once disinherited and distributed amongst the sons of God via their languages (see Deuteronomy 32:8-9 or this post) are welcomed back to God via those languages (Acts 2:1-13).
And that is the incredible story of Pentecost and the background for the gift of tongues. Though God disinherited the nations at Babel and turned them over to the sons of God, He has now gone the distance to inherit them back once and for all, by fulfilling His promise to Abraham that He would bless all the nations through him. He has brought Jesus into the world to honor His promise and “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Col 2:15). In this new movement of God, a new community is being built—one that consists of “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Rev 7:9).
And though it’ll take the early Christians a bit of time to truly understand God’s inclusion of the Gentiles, we will watch their theology evolve in this direction from Pentecost onward. For Jews from every nation were in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost at the time that the Holy Spirit was poured out on the early church. And now that they’ve witnessed these Christians praising God in their native languages, they will return and share the story with those of their own countries. The news will spread like wildfire and bring the disinherited nations back to God.
The Great Commission is still in effect. We are helping to bring Revelation’s image of a great multitude of people to fruition by helping God fill Heaven with people of every nation, tribe and language. The significance of the Pentecostal outpouring lives on in and through us. God is open to adoption and wants to bring the world back to him and out of the grip of the corrupt sons of God who were once granted authority to rule.