The Promise of One Pure Language
The many languages today slow progress and cause confusion. Why are there so many languages? Will that change? How should that affect our speech today?
According to Ethnologue.com, there are over 7,139 languages spoken in the world today. Most people speak only one language, whether it be English or Spanish or Chinese or Korean. Some people are bilingual and can speak two languages. Some can speak more.
But can you imagine a world speaking only one language? As a matter of fact, the world was like that at one point. After the Flood, all people still spoke one language (Genesis 11:1).
Think about how today’s world would be different if everyone spoke the same language. It seems some problems would be fixed more easily. There would be less miscommunication since there would be no need for translation. Perhaps even some wars could be averted because attempts at reconciliation would be understood better.
But the Bible shows that having one language had its own problems.
Why so many languages today?
How did we get from one language to more than 7,000?
God tells us that He intentionally confused the languages: “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech” (verse 7).
Why would God want to confuse matters? The people of the time wanted to build a city and a tower that reached the heavens and to make a name for themselves (verse 4).
The problem wasn’t that they were embarking on an architectural project; the problem was the purpose and attitude behind it. They were doing this in defiance of God. We don’t know the exact purpose they had for building this tower. Here are a few possible reasons:
Perhaps they were trying to build a tower so high that, in their minds, God could never flood and destroy all humanity again. Perhaps they wanted to try to gain access to God’s throne in heaven by building a tower that reached that high. Or maybe they were just making a tower to display their perceived greatness through impressive architecture.
The Tower of Babel
The problem with the building of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11 was that the people were essentially worshipping their own human accomplishments. They wanted to be praised for their power and achievements—perhaps even worshipped.
Their motivation was all about themselves. It was not about giving glory to God or about the good and welfare of people.
In this day and age of the Internet, Facebook and Twitter, there are lots of people willing to do just about anything to make a name for themselves.
When God saw that having one language was facilitating rapid acceleration of defiance against Him, He decided it was time to slow down their progress by confusing the languages. This is why we have over 7,000 languages in the world today.
Genesis 11:6 states that man would be able to accomplish anything—nothing would be withheld. But these human accomplishments were not being achieved for the right reasons, and humanity was going in the wrong direction. And their ease of communication was facilitating all of this.
So when God divided their languages and spread them out throughout the earth, their progress slowed. Instead of working together to achieve evil, humanity developed slowly and regionally.
To learn more about the Tower of Babel, download our free study guide Beginnings: Understanding the Book of Genesis (Part 1). We’ve also prepared an article on “The Tower of Babel” to help children understand it better.
A pure language in the future
However, there is an interesting prophecy about language in the Bible. In Zephaniah 3:9, we read this amazing prophecy about language during the future millennial reign of Christ: “For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one accord.”
Yes, the world will once again have a pure language that unifies everyone! But this time, it won’t be used to defy God. Yes, the world will once again have a pure language that unifies everyone! But this time, it won’t be used to defy God. Instead, it will be used to call on Him and serve Him. The pride and arrogance that led the people at Babel to use their linguistic unity to defy God will be gone. At that time, people will have humble attitudes, and they will work together to glorify God.
It’s not clear if this future “pure language” will be the only language spoken in the Millennium or if it will be spoken alongside the other languages of the world. But, even if other languages continue to exist and are spoken, those languages will also be purified. Today’s languages are filled with filthy words, words that come from paganism, or expressions meant to tear down others and blaspheme God. All of these kinds of words and expressions will be expunged from language in the Millennium.
People will learn to obey God’s Third Commandment, which commands us to use God’s name appropriately (Exodus 20:7).
Under Christ’s rule, words will be used to praise God and build up others!
To learn more about Christ's millennial reign on earth, read about "The Millennium."
Can we have pure language today?
God will put down pride and arrogance and restore a pure language for all people. Everyone will be able to communicate, and that linguistic unity will be used for amazingly positive construction and advancement.
The lesson this prophecy can teach us today is the need to purify our language. No, that doesn’t mean you need to go out and find a pure language today and learn it. (There really is no pure language being spoken on earth today.) What it means is that we should be purifying the words that come from our lips.
The Bible says a lot about how we should speak. Notice some of these powerful scriptures on how Christians should communicate with their words:
- “The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of justice” (Psalm 37:30).
- “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4).
- “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).
- “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6).
Yes, there is coming a time when all the world will speak a pure language and words will only be used to facilitate healthy, positive conversation that glorifies and honors God.
But until that time comes, it is our responsibility to apply that future reality to our lives today by making our words and communication as pure as possible!