Sunday, July 18, 2010

Acts 1, 2 -- a new catalogue of nations

In Acts 1, as I've pointed out before, we encounter "the stupidest question in the Bible."
Act 1:6 Elçiler bir araya geldiklerinde İsa'ya şunu sordular: "Ya Rab, İsrail'e egemenliği şimdi mi geri vereceksin?"
Let's see -- Israel had just repudiated God's Kingdom, by orchestrating the brutal murder of the King. Jesus had already told all who would hear what to expect in their immediate future: a destruction so total that "not one stone will be left upon another." Maybe, though, Jesus didn't really mean it this time. After all, Israel was the special nation. The idea that the birth of the new order might require the discarding of the old was just a bit too much to wrap their minds around. Jesus must have sighed at their stubborn unwillingness to face the facts and get with the program. Then, he offered a compassionate answer:
Act 1:7 İsa onlara, "Baba'nın kendi yetkisiyle belirlemiş olduğu zamanları ve tarihleri bilmenize gerek yok" karşılığını verdi.
Act 1:8 "Ama Kutsal Ruh üzerinize inince güç alacaksınız. Yeruşalim'de, bütün Yahudiye ve Samiriye'de ve dünyanın dört bucağında benim tanıklarım olacaksınız."
(a) God knows, you don't, leave that question alone. Let that sleeping dog lie, for now.
(b) Think bigger. Think beyond this city, this nation, and your immediate neighbors. I will equip you to take on the whole world, to all four corners.

On the day of Pentecost, in chapter two, we see a a cinematic trailer, a sneak preview of coming attractions:
Act 2:6 Sesin duyulması üzerine büyük bir kalabalık toplandı. Herkes kendi dilinin konuşulduğunu duyunca şaşakaldı.
Act 2:7 Hayret ve şaşkınlık içinde, "Bakın, bu konuşanların hepsi Celileli değil mi?" diye sordular.
Act 2:8 "Nasıl oluyor da her birimiz kendi ana dilini işitiyor?
Act 2:9-11 Aramızda Partlar, Medler, Elamlılar var. Mezopotamya'da, Yahudiye ve Kapadokya'da, Pontus ve Asya İli'nde*, Frikya ve Pamfilya'da, Mısır ve Libya'nın Kirene'ye yakın bölgelerinde yaşayanlar var. Hem Yahudi hem de Yahudiliğe dönen Romalı konuklar, Giritliler ve Araplar var aramızda. Ama her birimiz Tanrı'nın büyük işlerinin kendi dilimizde konuşulduğunu işitiyoruz."
In Genesis 11, in the account of the Tower of Babel, we see how humanity went in a moment from speaking one language to chattering away at each other in mutually incomprehensible dialects. This chapter goes on to list the founding nations of humanity.

In Acts 2, we see how people from a variety of nations can all, supernaturally, hear the same message of God's greatness. Let's unpack one sentence:
Ama her birimiz Tanrı'nın büyük işlerinin kendi dilimizde konuşulduğunu işitiyoruz."
But / every / one of us / of God's / great / his works / his own / in our own languages / being described / we hear.

Turkish is fun, since it lets you assemble big thoughts from small syllables. dilimizde combines the word for tongue, language (dil) with the first person plural possessive (imiz) and the locative (de -- in, on, at) suffixes.

For many years, the number 1 hymn in the Methodist hymnal was Charles Wesley's "Pentecost Carol." Note how the themes of that event are celebrated in these verses:

O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name.

Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
’Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
’Tis life, and health, and peace.

He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.

He speaks, and, listening to His voice,
New life the dead receive,
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
The humble poor believe.

Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Savior come,
And leap, ye lame, for joy.

Glory to God, and praise and love
Be ever, ever given,
By saints below and saints above,
The church in earth and heaven.

Look unto Him, ye nations, own
Your God, ye fallen race;

Look, and be saved through faith alone,
Be justified by grace.

See all your sins on Jesus laid:
The Lamb of God was slain,
His soul was once an offering made
For every soul of man.

Awake from guilty nature’s sleep,
And Christ shall give you light,
Cast all your sins into the deep,
And wash the Æthiop white.

Harlots and publicans and thieves
In holy triumph join!
Saved is the sinner that believes
From crimes as great as mine.

Murderers and all ye hellish crew
In holy triumph join!
Believe the Savior died for you;
For me the Savior died.

With me, your chief, ye then shall know,
Shall feel your sins forgiven;
Anticipate your heaven below,
And own that love is heaven.

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