Scoffers Will Come

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

2 Peter 3:1-7 | December 20 - Sunday Evening,

Sunday Evening,
December 20
Scoffers Will Come | 2 Peter 3:1-7
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Oh, Lord, we pray now that You would give us help, for we are weak, we are easily distracted, even now we are thinking about the week or the day or lunch. We are prone to wander, we are tempted by the way of the world. Give us humble hearts, therefore, and listening ears. Be kind enough to rebuke, merciful enough to forgive, and strong enough to change us. We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

We come this morning to Genesis chapter 11. We’ll be reading verses 1 through 26. This is a fitting break. Our last sermon from Genesis for the year. We won’t read all the way through the chapter because that really leads into Abraham in chapter 12, but this is sometimes set apart as primeval history. It is literal history. But if you know Genesis, you know that whereas chapters 1 through 11 cover a vast distance, thousands of years in creation through the generations, once you get to chapter 12, you really slow down and you are looking at three generations mainly; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and I guess the fourth would be Jacob’s children.

But we come to this familiar story and another genealogy, and we will see how they all connect.

Genesis 11.

“Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.”

“These are the generations of Shem. When Shem was 100 years old, he fathered Arpachshad two years after the flood. And Shem lived after he fathered Arpachshad 500 years and had other sons and daughters.”

“When Arpachshad had lived 35 years, he fathered Shelah. And Arpachshad lived after he fathered Shelah 403 years and had other sons and daughters.”

“When Shelah had lived 30 years, he fathered Eber. And Shelah lived after he fathered Eber 403 years and had other sons and daughters.”

“When Eber had lived 34 years, he fathered Peleg. And Eber lived after he fathered Peleg 430 years and had other sons and daughters.”

“When Peleg had lived 30 years, he fathered Reu. And Peleg lived after he fathered Reu 209 years and had other sons and daughters.”

“When Reu had lived 32 years, he fathered Serug. And Reu lived after he fathered Serug 207 years and had other sons and daughters.”

“When Serug had lived 30 years, he fathered Nahor. And Serug lived after he fathered Nahor 200 years and had other sons and daughters.”

“When Nahor had lived 29 years, he fathered Terah. And Nahor lived after he fathered Terah 119 years and had other sons and daughters.”

“When Terah had lived 70 years, he fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran.”

This story of the tower of Babel is probably familiar to most of us. If you grew up in the church, you probably heard it since you were a wee little boy or girl and drew pictures of it, or saw illustrations of the ziggurat sort of creation, towering up into the heavens. If you’re not from a church background, it’s probably enough of our cultural consciousness that you’ve heard something about the tower of Babel.

On the face of it, it looks like rather straightforward story. The people come together to build a tower, the Lord doesn’t like it and so He mixes up their languages and scatters them across the earth. Simple.

Well, not so fast. As we’ve seen, and will continue to see in Genesis, almost every episode, no matter how familiar, has various layers to it. And what I want to do this morning is look at this story in four expanding circles.

So first, and we’ll spend the biggest chunk of time here, we’re going to look at the story itself, and then we’re going to go out one concentric circle and look at how does this story about Babel in chapter 11 relate to chapter 10, and then one more circle how does chapter 11 fit in with the first 11 chapters of Genesis, and then finally the last circle, how does the tower of Babel fit in with the grand storyline of Scripture?

So first, most narrowly, let’s look at the story itself. Verse 1: “The whole earth had one language and the same words.”

Some scholars argue that what’s really in mind here is a lingua franca, that maybe they had different dialects but there was one common language that they could all use to communicate. That may be the case, though on the face of it, it seems simply that they all spoke the same language, and that’s about to change.

Verse 2, we read: “The people migrated from the east,” or it could be translated, they moved eastward, or rather they moved eastward, or we’re talking about people from the east. That reference there should send your Spidey-senses tingling, because where else have we encountered the east?

Think about Genesis chapter 3. Adam and Eve kicked out the garden. There is a flaming sword and a cherubim placed there on the east side of the garden.

Or Cain, in chapter 4:16, went away from the presence of the Lord and he settled where? East of Eden.

Later in Genesis 13 we’ll have Abram and Lot and their possessions are too great, and Abram says, “You get first lot, Lot, and you get to pick for yourself.” And where does he go? But he chooses poorly and he goes to the east, to Sodom and Gomorrah.

In Genesis, when people settle in the east, they are typically leaving the presence of the Lord and moving out from under the blessing of God. Now that’s a shame if you live on east side of Charlotte, it’s not for all time, or you want to go to the beach and you have to head east. I guess you could go west, it would just take you a lot longer to get there. Remember, west from the geography of Canaan, is the Mediterranean Sea, so most of the world as they knew it is to the east, and there is a directional theme that when you go east you are leaving the place of God’s shelter and presence and blessing.

So something already should go off, “a-ha, this is not going to end well,” as we look at the people moving to the east.

Verse 3: They said, let us make bricks, let us burn them thoroughly, brick for stone, bitumen for mortar.

This whole story, if you look in the Hebrew, is filled with literary technique. There’s irony, we’ll come to that; there is even a chiasm, yes, exciting, we’ll come to that. And there are all sorts of word plays, words that sound alike, almost a, if you were to read it, almost a Dr. Seuss sort of quality of words falling on top of words, and you have that here in verse 3, “nilbenah lebenym” is translated in the ESV “let us make bricks.” You could translate it overly literally, “Let us brick bricks,” or later “nshurphh lshruphh,” “let us fire fire,” what’s translated “let us burn them thoroughly,” and at the end, “hchmur lchmur,” translated “bitumen for mortar” or “tar for tar.”

There are these word plays and you’ll see, in a little bit, some that have even more theological significance.

We come to verse 4, then, having established this new technology, bricks seem very normal to us, but in the scope of civilization, a-ha, we don’t have stone or wood but we have a way to make bricks and mortar. This gives us new capability and what do they want to do with their new technology? Well, what many of us want to do with new technology: Let’s go and make a name for ourselves. The motivation here is vain glory.

As a senior staff, we read through a book together and then every other week we get together and we discuss it and so we read through two or three books a year that way, and the book that we just finished in the fall was a really good book on the seven deadly sins. Each time you’d come to a chapter and you’d be tempted to think, “Well, this probably won’t really apply to me,” and then by the end, “Oh, this really does apply to me,” but one chapter that I think all of us, certainly I did, were certain was going to apply was the chapter on vain glory. Now obviously that’s related to pride, but the author in that book points out, it’s a little bit different. Pride may have to do with an internal sense of your own worth or awesomeness. Vain glory has a public dimension to it. It’s not enough to just feel like you’re better than everybody else, you want the world to recognize how much better you are. There’s a public manifestation to vain glory.

So these man say we have this great discovery, we have bricks, let us put our new-found skill to use, let’s build a city and a tower.

It’s not that a city and a tower were wrong in themselves, but vain glory is sin because we either desire the wrong thing or here, desire the right thing but in the wrong way. Either desiring it too much or desiring it for the wrong reasons.

And notice verse 4. This is not the last time that mankind will be spurred on by seemingly two opposite impulses. On the one hand, they have a desire for greatness: Let us make a name for ourselves. At the same time, they’re plagued by some insecurity: Lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.

Isn’t that still true in the human heart? What often motivates us? I want to be great! And there’s this nagging fear: What if I’m not? What if I fail? What if it’s all lost? What if we’re scattered, we’re dispersed?

And so they come together with these, these complementary yet conflicting desires for greatness and insecurity and they say, let’s build like a ziggurat. You know, you have a big square and then a small square and it goes up in pyramid-like fashion. Build up into the heavens. We can build all the way up to God.

This is the essence, always, of false religion. We desire to make a name for ourselves, and we believe that with our effort we can make it up to God.

The Christian faith always says, no, we can’t, we have to rely on God coming down to us.

But they think we can get there, we can get to heaven.

And then we come to verse 5, which is the turning point in the story, where we shift from man’s plot to God’s response.

Now I said a few weeks ago, introduce this literary technique called a chiasm, named after the Greek letter that we would write like an X, so you picture an X, you have a funnel going down and then a funnel going out, and X marks the spot. And it’s a literary technique where you often have this part of the story at the top and this part of the story at the bottom, and they come and meet. So the first half is then reflected out as a mirror-image in reverse order in the second half.

We have the same thing here in chapter 11.

So look at verse 1 and verse 9. You’ll see this chiasm. Verse 1: “The whole earth had one language.” Verse 9: “Therefore the Lord confused the language.”

So man’s plot, one language. Verse 9, God’s response, confuse the language.

So go down from the top, verse 2, the people settled in the land of Shinar. You go up from the bottom, verse 8, God’s response, He dispersed them. They wanted to settle, God wanted to scatter.

Verse 3. Going down from the top, “Come, let us make bricks.” That’s man’s plot. God’s response, verse 7: “Come, let us go down there and confuse their language.”

Verse 4, moving down the chiasm: “Let us build a city and a tower. We can come together as one people and be great on the earth.

Moving up from the bottom, verse 6, the Lord says, “ah, they’re one people, they want to accomplish great things on the earth, therefore we must scatter them and confuse them.”

So you went down from the top, up from the bottom, and that puts you right there in the middle, the literal and the thematic center of the story is verse 5: “And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower.”

You can be tempted to think that this story maybe puts God in a bad light. Doesn’t He seem kind of like a weak, little deity? Is He frantic? “Oh, now, people are coming together. What’s going to happen? We better scramble their languages or they’re going to do really bad stuff. I’m out of control.”

Well, it’s quite the opposite. What we have here in verse 5 is a biting piece of irony, a piece of sarcasm.

What were they doing? They were building a tower to reach into the heavens.

Verse 5: But God had to come down just to see it.

It’s not a statement about the smallness of God, but about the weakness of man. It’s meant to be humorous, ironic. They thought their accomplishment was something to brag about and God says, “What are they doing there? They got a little tower? Let’s come down and see.”

Do you see, whether it’s sort of the royal we or it’s speaking to the angelic counsel or it’s the plurality of the Godhead, they have to come down. Do you see, just like if you were to look down and you see busy little ants making their little, their little tower and their mound in the dirt. To see what they’re really up to, you’d have to squat all the way down, maybe get a magnifying… Do you see that they’re doing? Wow. They are so busy. They are so proud of themselves.

And it’s a tiny little thing. The Lord has to come down just to see what they’re doing.

The most impressive achievements of man, done from a heart of pride, are pathetic, minuscule accomplishments in the eyes of God.

Now, the Lord is a good Father to His children, and He looks upon our meager efforts as His children done in faith with sincerity of obedience, and even though they’re imperfect, He smiles upon them.

But you can have the grandest accomplishments, you can be the President of the United States, you can win a Nobel Prize, you can discover a vaccine for COVID, you can build skyscrapers, you can have the best test scores, be the fastest, the best, the brightest, the most beautiful, the most athletic… And if your accomplishments are done from a heart of pride, the Lord is not impressed.

God is not in a position to worry. He’s not scared about man. He says, “Oh, no, their little tower. Let’s come down and see it.” As they come together. The whole mood is one of well-deserved scorn and sarcasm.

Notice how the script has flipped from man’s plot to God’s response. Every single item that man set out to do has become a complete failure. They start with one language; then end with many languages. They don’t want to be dispersed; they end up being dispersed. They want to build a great city; they leave the city unfinished. They want to prove they are nigh unto God, and they end up utterly routed by the one and only true God.

Make no mistake: God can easily topple the best laid plans of mice and men.

They say, verse 4, “Come, let us build ourselves a city with a tower.”

Verse 7: God says, come, let us go down and confuse it.

They say, “Let us make bricks,” God says, “Let us confound.”

Again, here’s another word play you can seeing the Hebrew. Most Hebrew words have at their root a word that has three letters, and in Hebrew the word for “bricks,” if we transliterate the letters into English, would be “LBN.” The word for “confound,” if we transliterate into English, is “NBL.” It’s the exact opposite order of the same letters, because it’s making a point that their great plans to build a tower with these bricks is being reversed, it’s being confounded, it’s being confused.

The Hebrew reads, “nilbenah, nibelah.” They don’t want to be scattered, verse 4, and how do things end up? Verse 9, sure enough, they’re scattered.

Or verse 4: “Let us make a name for ourselves.” This is ironic. The Lord says, “Yes, you want a name for yourselves? I will give you a name for yourself. Hmm, how about Babel? That’s the name.” Well, it’s not the name they wanted, but it’s the name they got.

Now obviously know in English, our word “babble” means “unintelligent speech or communication,” but it’s not an English pun here, but there is a play on words in Hebrew, because the Hebrew word for “confused” is “balal,” so they shall be called Babel, which sounds like “balal,” they shall be the place of confusion.

God doesn’t just topple the tower. That, maybe, could have been remedied, just like if you scrape your feet to the tower that the ants are building, they’re going to all scurry and get busy and try to build that thing back up. God says, “No, we’re going to deconstruct their power.”

The oldest name for Babylon, outside the Bible, is translated “gate of God.” That’s what Babylon thought of themselves, that’s what the ancient world thought of Babylon, the city of splendor, the gate of God.

But it’s not the way to God, and it’s not the way to impress God either.

Surely Psalm 2 must have something of the tower of Babel in mind. Why do the nations rage, and the peoples plot in vain, the kings set themselves and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His anointing, saying let us burst their bonds apart, cast away their cords from us. He who sits in heaven laughs. The Lord holds them in derision.

Listen very carefully: The Lord is not frightened by any of our plans. He does not lose sleep. He is not concerned. He does not worry. He is not anxious. He can topple our grandest towers. He sits in heavens and he looks at our proud plans and schemes and He laughs.

That’s the story itself.

And if we were to just stay there, it would be a good story, it’d say something about man’s pride and God’s thwarting of our vain glory, but there’s more to it.

Let’s go out one more circle and see how this story, in chapter 11, relates to chapter 12. You may think, “Well, how in the world do these fit together?” We have this long list of names and nations and places that seem sort of out place, and then we have the tower of Babel, that’s a familiar story. What in the world do these have to do with each other?

But if you were here last week, you should have every idea what they have to do with one another. Chapter 10 is the ethno-geographic explanation of the peoples spread across the earth, chapter 11 is the theological explanation. Their scattering was what they were supposed to do from the beginning, be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, but they didn’t. And now it’s their punishment. God has a way to get the people to spread out.

And look how chapter 11 ends. We pick things up with Shem again, the chosen line, and move down to Terah, the father of Haran and Nahor and Abram. That’s where these two chapters come together, in Abraham who will be the father of many nations. This is why Genesis 10 and 11 are in the Bible together, to show Genesis 10, the Lord, Yahweh, is God over the nations. Chapter 11, He can thwart the plans of the nations, moving into chapter 12, nevertheless He yet has a plan to redeem the nations.

One commentator puts it this way: There was a world of peoples before the call of Abraham and it is that map of peoples that concerns the God of Abraham ultimately, out of concern for the salvation of the nations, God calls Abraham and his posterity.

Look at verse 26. By now we should pay attention to some of these numbers, and this one is important, when Terah had lived… Ah, 70 years.

Now, I think this is quite intentional because you can search out the rest of Genesis and do the math, and Abram actually wasn’t the firstborn of Terah, kind of like Shem, Ham, and Japheth was the birth order. Abram was born some years later, but it marks out that Terah began to have his offspring at 70 because once again we want to see this connection, ah, the 70 nations, here’s a man in his 70th year who has a child, one of whom, Abram. Might he be the one to bring back these 70 nations of the earth?

We must never think that the Church is some mystery parenthesis in God’s design. God’s plan has always been for the nations, and yes, He accomplishes that plan through His people Israel, but have you noticed in these first 11 chapters, there’s nothing about Israel? Now we’re getting to the grandfather of Israel, but this was the Scripture for the Hebrew people. They might have expected that some time before this they would have heard something about Israel, but even though God’s plan is going to focus for thousands of years upon Israel, His plan was never merely for Israel.

Think of that line from the prophet Isaiah, “It is too small a thing that the Messiah should come to restore the lost tribes of Jacob.” That’s too small a thing. No, no, no, from the very beginning, the plan was for Christ to be a cosmic Christ, for God to create and have sovereign sway and ultimately to save some from all peoples.

Listen, it’s too small a thing, it’s too small a thing at Christmas, to just have a vision that God would just save nice middle class people. It’s too small a thing to think He would just save Charlotte-ians, or even charlatans. Too small a thing to think He would just save Presbyterians. Or just save Americans. No, His plan has been and always will be to save to the uttermost parts of the earth.

And so, of course, chapter 10 and chapter 11 are connected. All the peoples will be blessed through you, God will say to Abraham. He is not leaving behind the 70 nations of chapter 10, even though they’re punished in chapter 11. He chooses Abram as a means to bring them back.

Go one more circle. So how does this story then fit in the first 11 chapters of Genesis? As I said at the beginning, these first 11 chapters are kind of a unit of primeval history before we then focus on the three patriarchs and their family.

Well, what we’ve seen from chapter 3 onward is the steady flow of man’s depravity, and you can think of Babel as the literal high point into the clouds of man’s sinful rebellion.

Derek Kidner says, in his commentary, “The primeval history reaches its fruitless climax as man, conscious of new abilities, prepares to glorify and fortify himself by collective effort. The elements of the story are timelessly characteristic of the spirit of the world. The project is typically grandiose. Men describe it excitedly to one another, as if it were the ultimate achievement… At the same time, they betray their insecurity as they crowd together to preserve their identity, control their fortunes.”

It’s the high point of man’s rebellion.

And in some ways, isn’t it the sin that we can relate to most easily?

Now, at its heart, all of the sins we can relate to, but you can look at Cain – well, I’m not a murderer. Lamech’s revenge and his polygamy – well, I wouldn’t do that. Noah’s debauchery – I’m not going to be found naked after a drunken spree. Ham’s voyeurism and disrespect.

No, more than all of those sins, this sin at Babel is one we can relate to, because don’t we all feel in our hearts a desire to be great? And at the same time, the fear that somehow we won’t be?

It may be a desire to be great in all the earth: You are going to change the world! Rah!

See this new commercial for Amazon. This woman who says I chose to work for Amazon because I’m too impatient to wait on changing the world. Okay, well, maybe she has a good plan, but really? Everyone who works for Amazon is changing the world?

Like I say sometimes, let’s change a diaper first.

Everyone, we instill it in our kids: You’re going to change the world, you’re going to change the world.

We have these grandiose plans. And some of you may say, “Well, I don’t really want to change the world. I don’t need to be great.” But then if you’re honest, “Well, I just want to be great in my own field, or in my own school,” or “I would like a great name among my own friends.” Don’t we all find this at times?

I don’t get jealous of people who have great accomplishments in some field that I’m no good at and don’t have an interest in. You’re the greatest NASCAR driver; well, good for you. Not feeling jealous.

But if you write a great book or you’re a great pastor or something that feels like “that’s my thing,” then you got all sorts of sin in your heart and you have it, too. It may be simply you want to have a great name among the moms on your Facebook feed.

We have these plans to somehow achieve greatness. We see it in Babel. We’ve seen it all throughout Genesis.

And have you noticed here, with each story after the Fall, there’s this dark stain of sin, but then there’s a glimmer of hope? There’s the sin in the garden, but they get a covering. Cain’s rebellion, but he gets a mark to protect him. Chapter 5, the list of ten men, they all died and they died and they died, but then there’s one who seeks comfort in Noah. Maybe something good is happening. The flood wipes out everyone, but there’s a rainbow in the sky. Noah’s family sins, but there’s blessing for Shem and there’s hope for Jephthah.

Futility at Babel. They wanted a tower, they wanted a name; they got neither, but there’s still the line of Shem. Ten generations from Adam to Noah, ten generations from Shem to Abram.

Think of it. The thousands of years, however long it was, these 20 generations, in the beginning of the earth, and the most significant thing that happened is we made it from Adam to Abraham. Even though no one in the world would have known what was happening. Some man, Ur of the Chaldees, some follower of other religions, God chooses him and says I want you to go to the Promised Land and from you this whole plan is going to unfold. No one knew it. No one could see it.

And even now, let’s not be so confident that we know exactly what God is doing in the world. He’s doing 10,000 things outside of our sight, outside of our even imagining.

And so by the time we get to chapter 11, we are moving inexorably toward the blessing.

You notice chapter 5 and chapter 11, these 10-person genealogies are very similar, they lived this many years, they have a child, they have sons and daughters, except did you notice a big difference? Chapter 5 it mentions after almost each one, “and he died, and he died, and he died.” No mention of it here in chapter 11. It’s not because they didn’t die, they did. But it’s because the accent now is not on the curse of death, but on moving towards the blessing that will come from Abraham and through the seed of Abraham.

And there’s one other wordplay here to notice with this line of Shem. The people at Babel want to make a great name for themselves on the earth. Do you know what the Hebrew word is for “name”? You can look it up, not making this up, it is the word “shem.” Same word.

We want to make a shem for ourselves in the world, and the Lord says, in effect, it doesn’t work that way. You don’t of your own glory-seeking make a shem for yourself. I have chosen, and I already have a Shem in the world, and the glory will come through him. I have a chosen one, I have a chosen people, and through this one, My Shem on the earth, the promises would find their fulfillment and in that, mankind would find his salvation.

One more circle. How does the tower of Babel fit in with the storyline of Scripture? Well, perhaps you’ve already started to connect the dots. God gives this great gift of language. We don’t often think of what a gift it is to communicate with known language. God creates by language: Let there be light, there’s light. Adam uses language to name his wife and the animals. God uses language to reveal truth. People connect to each other at the deepest level with words.

But we also see from the beginning language is abused. The snake in the garden, and here at Babel the purpose is frustrated. Think of how much pain and difficulty was introduced into the world at Babel. All of your French classes, and Spanish and German and Latin, or some of you English is a second language and you say, “Yeah, try learning English. Nothing’s regular in that language.”

It was a safeguard against greater evil, and it was a punishment. Because in the Bible’s view, when people of the earth all come together for one purpose, probably something bad’s going to happen.

So how will God bring these people back? Scattered across the earth, confused and scattered in language.

Well, I said at the very beginning of Genesis, the Bible is essentially about four things: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Re-creation.

We get Creation in two chapters. We get Fall and the out workings of the Fall, really, in chapters 3 through 11, it’s all about how the Fall and how we need another plan, and now the great theme of Scripture, really from Genesis 12 to Revelation the last two chapters, it’s going to be about Redemption. God reversing the curse, God’s great plan to bring a people to Himself and how will He do it?

There’s a prophecy in Zephaniah which surely has echoes of Babel in mind. Zephaniah 3: For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the Lord and serve Him with one accord, from beyond the rivers of Cush, My worshipers, the daughter of My dispersed ones, Babel, shall bring My offering. On that day you shall not be put to shame because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against Me, for then I will remove from your midst your proudly exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain.”

That was the Lord’s promise. There’s coming a day, He says through the prophet, when I’ll give you one speech and you’ll be able to speak with one voice, and those who have been scattered at Babel will be brought near to My holy mountain.

Have you ever thought of something profound happening with the magi? Those wise men, the strangers, pagan astrologers, they come from where? From the East. Might there be an echo there of Genesis? Finally we have the peoples outside of the blessing, outside, far from the presence of the Lord. They’re from the East, they are very much East of Eden. But here they come. Not fully even knowing what they’re doing, with gifts to worship the Christ child.

Out of the many scattered, confused peoples, God will make one new people, obedient to Him. And we see this unraveling of Babel, this reversal of the curse, most plainly at Pentecost, where the people are given not exactly one language, but they are given the miraculous hearing of the great news of God in their own tongue. God is undoing the destructive work of Babel and bringing them together in the Church. Even though we still may be divided by nationality and people and language and geography, yet we can, as it were, speak together the language of worship and speak the language of worship to Christ, so that finally at the end of the age the unity, the only unity that really matters, is the diversity that finds unity which leads to doxology, is reestablished around the throne where nations and tribes and peoples and languages sing together, “Worthy is the Lamb.”

We read in Revelation 7: A great multitude, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, clothed in white.

So they still have their language, they still have their ethnic identity, it’s not as if in heaven you don’t see color, but they’re wearing the same thing because they’re washed in the same blood, and they’re holding palm branches and crying out with a loud voice, salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.

Let’s pray. Father in heaven, we give thanks for Your great mercy that we can call You our heavenly Father, that we can be Your sons and daughters, that we who were scattered, we who are far from the promises, have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Oh, Lord, do a great work in our midst, in this congregation, in our land, and in our day, that You might bring peoples scattered, divided, into the Church to bring You worship. In Jesus’ name. Amen.