Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Whole Earth Had One Language

I was "chatting" with a good friend via emails when he brought up the topic of languages, of how he was revising his skills in the Tamil alphabet, something he had not done since childhood. I told him that I too am limited in the usage of the Chinese language, and isn't it interesting that we all now speak in one global language, English.

I began to wonder: if God dispersed the people of the world by language, what happens now that almost the whole world is using one language?

Gen 11:1-9 (ESV)
1 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly." And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, "Come, let us 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." 5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the LORD said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one anotherĂ­s speech." 8 So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

The reason why God dispersed them was because they wanted to build a name for themselves (v.4). They wanted glory and honour. Their desires were akin to that of Adam and Eve's, i.e. to be lords of their own lives.

God dispersed them because not only will they do that but they will want more - human will never be satisfied with their current status, it will not be enough. Just imagine if God had not dispersed them, how the world would be like if there were only one nation. I think it will be the same or worse. There might not be any racial disputes, but there will still be much war and strife.

So God dispersed them and after the dispersion, God chose from all the nations, the nation of Israel, to teach them the way of God and to lead them into a dependence on God and God alone, and through them, to teach the world at large on the dependence on God. But Israel failed and in their disobedience, they ended up dispersed.

Then God sent his Son, and through the work of the cross, believers came together as one body to form the Church. But as we see it, the Church has its dark ages as well and in no time, we were also dispersed with differences in doctrines and denominations.

I began this train of thought with the question of what would be next now that we have one global language? It turned out that language is not the issue. When God first dispersed the human race, it was because of what they desired to be. So God dispersed them by introducing different languages, resulting in different nations. With that, the nations developed differences in culture, lifestyle, beliefs and history over the centuries, and with it, strife and discord. So even if we speak one global language now, it will in no way unite us. The only thing that can unite us is the love of God, through His Son, Jesus.

There will be a last dispersion - the dispersion on Judgement Day, and what will segregate us then will be the Book of Life, of the Lamb. Either we are with Jesus or we are not. This segregation will be the final one - whether we are good and faithful servants in Jesus or we are not, whether we are covered by the blood of the Lamb or we are not.


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