Recently, it was reported that three of the best-sellers in Christian bookstores are “adult coloring books”. The books are like children’s coloring books, outlined pictures with black borders and all-white centers, ready for grown-ups to take their (crayons?) to fill in the spaces. The idea behind it is that our minds are filled with clutter of daily living that we need to empty our minds to meditate on God. Yes, of course, it’s from Eastern religious practices, particularly one called “Mandala”. Intricate in detail, with circles and swirls, it is described as “the ancient art of meditation through color”.

During the forty-day Easter season, many churches read of Christ’s prophecies and predictions He made that came true concerning how His disciples would respond to His coming death and resurrection. The Easter season ends with Ascension Day, when He returned to His heavenly Father. Some of His last recorded words before His ascension are what some Christians today call “The Great Commission”—“Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” But more important are the words spoken immediately before and after: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

In Genesis 1:28 and 9:1, we read two identical commands by God to Adam and Noah to ““Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” After Noah’s offspring had many more offspring over the subsequent generations, we see that all the people had one language, “the same words”, and had gathered as one people on the plains of the “land of Shinar”. There, the people decided to “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.” (Genesis 11)

But God is going to have His way. Just as He told them to “fill the earth”, and to break up their own self-serving plans of one language, one people, and going to God on their terms, He scattered them and confused their language. Thousands of years later, at the first Pentecost of the New Covenant with Christ, little more than a week after His ascension, as recorded in Acts 2:1-21, the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples who used the languages created at Babel, and also speaking of the promised deliverance from death to life ever after. From there, they scattered, filling the earth.

Self-serving sinful humans still think they know what’s best, yet their plans always end in piles of dust or earth atop freshly covered graves. When the tower at Babel was completed, God still had to come “down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built.” As always, God does it all. Psalm 143 is a wonderful confessional prayer which reminds us how helpless we are without Christ—“In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!” Mind-numbing coloring books will not bring anyone closer to God. Christ has done that already, on His terms, by coming down to save us all. Gloria Deo—Glory to God