>Providence, Pentecost and Babel Reversed

>There are times in my life when God’s providence is so obvious it makes me feel as if he reaches down, wraps his arms around me, and whispers in my ear, “See how much I love you, Glenda!”

This past weekend was one of those times.

In between a couple of time-consuming projects for Mid-America Reformed Seminary, I’ve been struggling to write a series of articles for Christian Renewal concerning the Reformed Christian and the arts. I’m interviewing several people: G. Carol Bomer, David Hegeman, William Edgar, Suzanne Clark, Larry Woiwode, and Makoto Fujimura. I had interviewed Carol via email about four years ago and, feeling a kinship with her, hoped that some day I would meet her this side of glory. In March, I began interviewing her again via email for this series on the arts, and finally began getting the article about her put together last week.

On Friday, I sent her an email requesting a jpg to accompany the article. She wrote back that she wouldn’t be able to send a jpg for some time because she was on vacation. “…I’m here in Pella, Iowa…” she wrote, not knowing where I live. She was staying with a couple from our church who live about two miles from my home.

On Pentecost Sunday, June 4, I met Carol this side of heaven. We met at a Pentecost worship service, another manifestation of God’s providence.

The devotionals I’ve been reading from Ligonier Ministries’ Tabletalk broke from the Genesis narrative, after discussing Genesis 11:1-9 and “The Tower of Babel” on Tuesday, May 30, to go to the description of Pentecost in Acts 2 and discuss “Babel Reversed” on Wednesday, May 31:

At Pentecost, the festival of the firstfruits of the harvest, the church received the firstfruits of cosmic redemption when the Holy Spirit was poured out equally upon all flesh (Acts 2:1-4). The miracle of tongues, where every one heard the Gospel in his own language (vv. 5-11), provided evidence God was breaking down the cultural and ethnic division imposed at Babel, revealing that the true Israel is defined not by tongue or culture but by common faith in the Messiah.

Linguistic and cultural differences remain, but the power of the Spirit enables us to break through them for the sake of the Gospel. The reversal of Babel has begun, as the elect from every nation gather before the Lord’s throne to worship Him (Rev. 7:9-12).

One of Carol’s current painting series is “Global City Babel,” in which an image of Pieter Bruegel’s Tower of Babel is incorporated into every painting. She explains that the image represents “anti-foundational” postmodernism with its “relativistic language” where the meanings of words become mere “social constructs.” Carol refers to Pentecost as “this amazing reversal of Babel.”

“The mystery of Word becoming Image will always have its reference in Christ,” she says, “who is not only the transcendent Logos, but also the Word Incarnate and the Creator of language, who communicates through language to bring His global image bearers into community.”

Meeting Carol was an act of God’s providence; the providential exposure to her “Global City Babel” series, the Pentecost devotional, and the Pentecost worship opened my mind to the immensity of “Babel Reversed” and touched my heart with God’s personal love.

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