May 20, 2007
THE BLESSING OF LANGUAGE and
THE CURSE OF LANGUAGES
“The name of it [is] called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:9). The world’s population consisted only of the flood survivors and their descendants. God had commanded them to scatter and “fill the earth,” but they stayed together and purposed to make themselves a name by building a city and tower and uniting in worship of the sun, moon and stars. They “worshiped and served the creation more than the Creator, Who is blessed for ever” (Rom. 1:25). Because of this God confused their languages.
God’s purpose in language is evident from Genesis. God “said” things, and His word was sufficient cause to make things happen. God’s final creative acts were making man in His own image, and Eve as Adam’s complement. Only men were endowed with language such that thoughts could be conveyed by sounds uttered by the organs of speech. Language was an innate code known by speaker and hearer. This gift allowed God to converse with man (created in His image) and men with one another since the image of God included language capability.
God’s purpose of language was so He could interact with and receive the praise and thanks from men who shared His image. In all the physical creation, the gift of language connects men with God and sets them apart from all else. That God deserves and wants the praise from His creation is clear: “Whoso offers praise glorifies Me: and to him that orders his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God” (Ps. 51:15). “I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works; and that I know right well” (Ps 50:23). “O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise” (Ps. 139:14). “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! (Ps 107:8). “O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye People (Israel)” (Ps 117:1).
“God also has highly exalted [Christ], and given him the name which is above every name: that at the name Jesus possesses every knee should bow...and... every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
Ivan L. Burgener