In a massive compendium titled Ethnologue: Languages of the World, editor Barbara F. Grimes has identified 6,703 distinct languages in 228 countries. She reports that these languages are further divided into 39,000 language names or dialects.
Have you ever stopped to consider how and why all these languages came to be?
It is hard to imagine today, but at one time “the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech” (Genesis 11:1). Such unity among all peoples may seem like a good thing—in fact, as we will see, one day that is exactly what it will be. But the problem at the time was that people began to exploit that unity for terrible purposes.
Did God Create Confusion?
You may be familiar with the story of the tower of Babel. As the population began to grow once again following the great Noachian Flood, an evil leader named Nimrod convinced the majority of mankind that they could not trust God. “And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (verse 4).
This is the typical mistake man has continually made—desiring to exalt himself and his own ways above God and His ways. The worldwide unity of language only made this goal easier to pursue on a massive scale.
“And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. … Therefore is the name of it 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” (verses 6, 9).
Babel means “confusion.” Now, compare the Genesis account with 1 Corinthians 14:33, which clearly states, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace ….” How can we square this verse with the events at the tower of Babel?
We must realize that, apart from God, man’s unrestrained imagination eventually brings forth many evils that cause confusion, misery and destruction. Had the Creator not intervened at the tower of Babel, mankind’s advances in science and technology might long ago have brought the Earth to the brink of nuclear annihilation—a condition God wanted to delay.
The confusion at Babel led to the establishment of many diverse nations. This form of linguistic and national separation contributed to the wide diversity of cultures and religions that flowed from the evil imaginations of each one of these scattered groups of people.
It was out of love for mankind that God confounded the languages and scattered the nations. Why? They had already separated themselves from God. Now God wanted to restrain the power of evil leaders like Nimrod by keeping the people of this world so divided and culturally diverse that their evil imaginations would not become unified to the point of destroying mankind from the face of the Earth.
The scattering God performed at Babel was intended to prolong man’s existence so that His plan for man could be fulfilled.
United We Stand …
The United States of America was founded upon many biblical principles. The Ten Commandments are etched into the walls of many public buildings. From the beginning, the Founding Fathers made no apologies for the fact that America was to be a Christian nation. They believed their country was established by God’s grace and with His divine protection.
The truth is, this nation, “under God,” has indeed received many wonderful national blessings from God. Although we have never truly deserved these blessings, God has freely given them to us as a result of an amazing promise He made long ago to Abraham, the father of many nations that still exists today. This promise was passed along and further defined to Abraham’s descendants Isaac and Jacob. The United States forms a portion of the modern-day descendants of the house of Jacob—specifically, the tribe of Manasseh. (For a full explanation, write for our free booklet The United States and Britain in Prophecy).
One of the chief blessings from God, and a major reason behind the outstanding power and economic strength of the U.S., has been the consistent reliance upon one language and one dominant American culture throughout its history, in all its states and territories.
Until the last 30 or 40 years, every one of the millions of immigrants from distant lands who came to live in the U.S. was encouraged to become an “American.”
Granted, the U.S. has always experienced the presence of many languages, cultures and religions, but all official business was conducted in English, and all laws and public culture were openly based upon “Christian” values.
From the beginning of our public education system, Christian values formed the mainframe upon which all the other studies relied. During the years of the greatest immigration to the U.S. from non-English speaking nations, the public schools played a major role in turning this nation away from linguistic diversity and multiculturalism toward a united American culture that existed “under God.”
No other nation had ever been so successful at assimilating such a wide variety of people into such a great and powerful single nation. It was for this fact that America became known throughout the world as the great “melting pot.”
… Divided We Fall
The unity of the once-common American culture is being rapidly compromised. The hippies of the ’60s promoted a subculture that inspired that generation not only to reject the moral values of their parents, but to also wage an assault on the English language—developing a myriad of slang expressions and twisting and distorting the meanings of many common words. The phrase “generation gap” became the parents’ frustrated excuse for their failure to understand and accept their children’s rapid shift from godly values.
The Bible asks a profound question: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). This once-proud nation not only survived 200 very tough years of history, it flourished! Why? By adhering to many fundamental biblical principles, this nation was was blessed, and so was the world.
The common idea today is that teaching multiculturalism and diversity will make our nation great. Rather than expecting all immigrants to speak English, in 1999 U.S. schools spent over $2 billion teaching children to maintain their parents’ culture and speak in their parents’ language.
Purchase just about anything that requires operating or assembly instructions today and it will be given in two or more languages. Bilingual education has grown to the point where many families now claim racism and discrimination if their cultural and linguistic differences are not given preference. The rest of society is now being asked to cater to all personal language and cultural needs.
This concept of separate public languages is even spreading to the work place. Our government is now funding the lawsuits of many foreign-speaking workers against American employers who require their employees to speak English. The U.S. is willingly inflicting itself with the age-old curse that God once placed upon a rebellious world at the tower of Babel.
Efforts to promote sensitivity to the feelings and circumstances of each culturally diverse minority group in society has actually been building even higher walls of resentment and distrust among all Americans. If that is not enough confusion, we also are making minority groups out of people with “special interests.” The proliferation of special-interest groups that place their individual agendas above the interests of the nation are creating continual division and confusion that is weakening this nation.
Instead of being thankful and proud of the Christian heritage that our Founding Fathers provided, we are expected to reject it. In ways both subtle and outright, we are being taught that our nation’s Christian heritage is somehow to blame for all society’s problems. The old adage “divide and conquer” is rapidly coming to pass in our midst.
Global Rise of One Language
At the same time that America is becoming weakened by this push for bilingual education, multiculturalism and diversity, there is an ever-increasing push for unity and cooperation throughout the rest of the world.
Europe is attempting to become more and more unified. Part of that process has included discussions about adopting one international language.
English has become the unofficial international language of commerce and political diplomacy. The emergence of English is leading to greater economic, scientific and political cooperation among most developing nations.
While the United States is increasing its efforts toward bilingual education, English is being taught in schools, colleges and universities worldwide. One can travel into any part of the world and nearly always find someone who can speak English. The tremendous growth of the World Wide Web is speeding up this process even more.
It seems that everyone can see the advantage of teaching English and cultural unity except for the new breed of educators and politicians within the United States itself.
The closer this world comes to a return to one common language and international cooperation, the closer mankind comes to being freed from the restraints God placed upon him at the tower of Babel and doing all that he imagines to do. And since man’s heart has not been changed, the evil nature in man increasingly brings destruction.
As in the days of Babel, mankind will again exploit the unity of one language for evil purposes. According to the Bible, we are quickly approaching a time when world conditions will become so evil that if Jesus Christ did not intervene, mankind would destroy all human life (Matthew 24:21-22).
The good news is, Jesus Christ will once again intervene. This time, He will personally return to Earth to establish the Kingdom of God worldwide. He will not be welcomed when He returns. The truth is, Christ will have to take the Earth by force (Revelation 19:11-16), but He will do so in order to save it from complete physical destruction.
Pure Language, Pure Culture
Micah 4 and Isaiah 11 vividly picture the time when the Kingdom of God will be established on Earth. This will become an era of unparalleled peace, happiness and prosperity! Jesus Christ will rule for 1000 years—one full millennium of global, utopian blessings.
During that time, Jesus Christ will completely reverse the curse established at Babel. The time setting for Zephaniah 3:9 is the Millennium. God promises, “For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.”
God has always wanted mankind to have one “pure” language. But more importantly, God has wanted all mankind to serve Him with one consent.
Let’s not forget that the presence of diverse languages was a result of man’s evil heart. A pure language will not be truly possible without a change in man’s heart or mind. A pure language requires a “pure” religion. A pure religion requires pure thoughts. All these changes will require a vast re-education program.
That is the ultimate purpose behind the 1000-year reign of Jesus Christ—to change man’s heart through the pure knowledge of God. Once this change of heart takes place, Isaiah 11:9 says, “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”
The Earth shall no longer be in a state of confusion. Jesus Christ will rule with authority. He will not perpetuate division or tolerate every false idea or let people decide for themselves what is right and wrong. The whole world will live by the laws, statutes and judgments recorded in the Bible—the same Bible in our homes today.
God designed and intended diversity in race and certain elements of culture. But He never intended mankind to be hampered by multiculturalism and diversity. Millions of immigrants from all over the world will look to a new Jerusalem, the headquarters city from which Jesus Christ will rule the world. They will no longer be taught in their native tongues or in their former cultures based on false religious ideas. They will all be expected to become true Christians.
Yes, there will continue to be many nations, but these nations will not be distinct as a result of diverse languages and a wide variety of political or religious ideas. The Kingdom of God will become a great “melting pot” that will eventually erase every form of injustice and lawlessness.
All mankind will finally learn there really is a God-ordained purpose to life. They will discover that there really are clear differences between right and wrong. All mankind will be trained to love God’s law and live by it.
What about you? Can you enthusiastically look forward to a world like that? If so, the great God wants you to be preparing for it now!