How One Language Will Bring Unity to Mankind
RIGHT now there is much national rivalry and suspicion. Travelers are familiar with the wearisome “red tape” of passports, visas and customs checks. Distribution of food and other necessities is hampered by tariffs and trade barriers, and the economy and prosperity of every country are seriously affected.
Among the things blamed for international lack of cooperation is the language barrier. Some have advocated an international language as one of the “cures” for much of the difficulty. It is true that fuller communication through a common language would do some good. It would tend to erase certain misunderstandings, and many delays and tie-ups would be eliminated.
But would one language in itself be the answer? No, much more is needed. In fact, at a time when all people spoke one tongue, God himself created language differences. And he did it for the good of the human race. How is this?
This was because, following the global flood in the days of Noah, the people rebelled. God had commanded the people to spread out so that, as the population increased, they would carry on true worship throughout the earth. The one language they spoke would have been a great advantage, a unifying force.—Gen. 9:1.
But Noah’s great-grandson Nimrod did not recognize God’s sovereignty, as Noah did. In a desire to have control of earth’s population at that time, Nimrod saw that it served his purpose better to concentrate the people in one area. So he encouraged the people in their rebelliousness to build a religious tower, so as to hold them in close subjection and under his domination.—Gen. 11:1-6.
God’s device of confusing their language protected mankind from the iron hand of imperial dictatorship. Jehovah said about this: “Look! They are one people and there is one language for them all, and this is what they start to do. Why, now there is nothing that they may have in mind to do that will be unattainable for them.” So God miraculously caused them to speak new languages.—Gen. 11:5-8.
For about four thousand years the language barrier that God established has remained. It has served to prevent large-scale regimentation—yes, widespread regimentation under one false religion, the religion that began in Babylon. Having a common language helps bad men to cooperate more easily in a bad thing.
But something else of importance should here be noted. It is clear from what happened that when men did all speak one language this alone did not bring peace. People today who speak the same language do not always get along together. No, one language, though helpful for unity of action, does not necessarily bring unity of heart and mind, with happiness. Before one language could be used in a fully beneficial way, all people would have to be united in one religion, the pure worship of the one true God, according to the way set forth by God in his Word. Can this come about? Will it?
ONE UNITED WORSHIP COMES FIRST
One pure worship under the one true God can come to be, and it will. God says, speaking of the time now, just before he expresses his indignation toward the world’s kingdoms: “For then I shall give to peoples the change to a pure language, in order for them all to call upon the name of Jehovah, in order to serve him shoulder to shoulder.”—Zeph. 3:8, 9.
The “pure language” here spoken of could not be a literal language, such as English, Spanish, Russian, French, and so forth. We cannot say that any of these languages need to be eliminated because of impurity. The original language given to Adam was good. (Gen. 1:31) And later, when God miraculously bestowed new tongues on people at Babel, these were not impure languages, not bad in themselves. They were from God, whose gifts are always good, and they have served a good purpose.—Jas. 1:17.
So a new form of human speech could not be the “pure language” of which the prophet spoke. The “pure language” is the truth of God from the Bible. It can be spoken now and applied to one’s life no matter what literal tongue one speaks. It makes a change, not only in words, but in the things a person thinks and talks about. His speech is cleaned up and becomes upbuilding, promoting better relations with others.
THE GOVERNMENT THAT MAINTAINS TRUTH
During the coming thousand-year reign of God’s kingdom the whole world—yes, all the universe—will speak this “pure language.” The rulers in this government will be Jesus Christ, its Head King and High Priest, and 144,000 associate kings and underpriests, ruling from heaven. These all spoke the “pure language” of truth when on earth. Christ himself came to earth to “bear witness to the truth.” (John 18:37) And of his 144,000 associate kings, it is written: “No falsehood was found in their mouths.” (Rev. 14:5; Eph. 4:25) In ruling for a thousand years they will see that the “pure language” is maintained by earth’s inhabitants. As the psalmist prophesied: “Trueness itself will sprout out of the very earth, and righteousness itself will look down from the very heavens.”—Ps. 85:11; 2 Pet. 3:13.
These heavenly kings have been “bought from among mankind,” from all nations. (Rev. 14:4; Matt. 28:19) Will they, in heaven, speak their former native tongues? It would not be reasonable to think so. There is no doubt that those in heaven will all speak the same language, the gift of this language being conferred upon them in their new spirit bodies at their resurrection from the dead. The apostle Paul wrote about the “tongues of men and of angels,” and we read of discussions between God and angels.—1 Cor. 13:1; 1 Ki. 22:19-22; Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6.
This does not mean that their former earthly language will be erased from their minds. No, for it will be by identifying themselves by their former language that they will be able to recognize themselves as being the same persons. But at their heavenly resurrection they will not need interpreters to speak to one another. They will speak the language of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he will speak the language of his heavenly Father, Jehovah God.
Then, what language will be spoken by earth’s inhabitants during that heavenly kingdom’s rule? Will those on earth whose native tongue is Greek be ruled over by one of the heavenly kings who, when on earth, spoke Greek, with another area speaking Russian under a Russian-speaking Kingdom heir, another area Chinese, and so on, according to the distinct language groups? Since languages constitute a barrier to communication and fullest unity, will this be the case?
In this regard, it must be said that the Bible does not indicate what assignments of kingly responsibility will be given out by Jesus Christ to his 144,000 subordinate kings, but it would be very illogical to suppose that the Kingdom would leave a barrier to communication in God’s righteous new order—a barrier that he created for rebellious people, to safeguard and restrain them from full unity in a bad activity.
ONE RACE, ONE LANGUAGE
When we examine God’s original purpose concerning man’s language, it becomes clear that he will have but one language spoken during Christ’s thousand-year rule. God wanted man to communicate. He himself spoke to Adam, and arranged for Adam to talk to him. (Gen. 2:15-23) Also, he gave language to man as an indispensable tool for thought. Adam could build upon the language as he learned new things or needed an enlarged vocabulary. Adam could fill the spiritual capacity God gave him, learning about God and expressing himself fully.
What was the one original language? It was undoubtedly what later came to be called Hebrew. Why can we say this? Well, when the confusion of tongues occurred at the Tower of Babel, not all were affected. Noah had not rebelled. He recognized God’s sovereignty, not making himself king, as Nimrod did. Noah’s son Shem, whom Noah had prophetically blessed, evidently stayed with Noah and with true worship. (Gen. 9:26, 27) The Bible record reveals that true worship was carried down through the Shemites, particularly through the outstanding man of faith, Abraham. Abraham (Abram) was called a Hebrew.—Gen. 14:13.
Later, Moses, a descendant of Abraham, wrote his account (Genesis through Deuteronomy) in a language called Hebrew. There may well have been little change in Moses’ language from the original language spoken by Adam. Why? Because men then enjoyed very long life-spans, their lives often overlapping into five or six generations. Therefore, the language could have been passed down through only five human links between Adam and Moses, namely, Methuselah, Shem, Isaac, Levi, Amram. (Gen. 5:3-32; 11:10-32; 21:5; 25:26; 29:34; Ex. 6:16, 18, 20) Of course, after the exile of Israel to Babylon in 607 B.C.E., and right on down to our modern times, the Hebrew language has been influenced by other languages. Too, the exact pronunciation of God’s name as spelled out in the Hebrew of Moses’ day is not now known. But God can easily restore the purity of the language so that those living in the New Order will speak it naturally and fluently.
This speaking of one literal language will be the finishing touch to the unity brought about by the “pure language” of truth—beautifully so! All religious, national, social and racial barriers will be things of the past, and, additionally, with one vocabulary all will be able to express their thoughts fully and be understood accurately. Think also of being able to read for yourself exactly what the Hebrew prophets wrote—in their own language! The many resurrected ones who did not previously know God will find that the inspired Scriptures give an accurate account of human history down to the days of the prophet Malachi. Then the honesthearted ones will be able to say, as did the apostle Paul: “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar.”—Rom. 3:4.
LEARN THE “PURE LANGUAGE” OF TRUTH NOW
To live in such a world will indeed be a delight. You can have a foretaste of it now. For the major requirement can be met now. The requirement is to learn the “pure language” of truth from the Bible. This “pure language” erases all social, racial and national barriers. This “language” is being learned and spoken by hundreds of thousands of people today, and they are at unity, just as the prophet Isaiah was inspired to foretell:
“It must occur in the final part of the days that the mountain of the house of Jehovah [his true worship] will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, and it will certainly be lifted up above the hills; and to it all the nations must stream. And many peoples will certainly go and say: ‘Come, you people, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’ . . . And they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.”—Isa. 2:2-4.
The Kingdom government will bring about the speech of one tongue earth wide during Christ’s thousand-year reign, but right now you have available to you the “pure language.” Jehovah’s witnesses call on you, not to promote their own ideas, but as ambassadors and envoys of that Kingdom government. That God is really backing their work, and that the Bible’s “pure language” has great power are evident facts. How?
In the changed, cleaned-up lives and the happy unity of more than a million six hundred thousand people from all languages. Their unity, peacefulness and love for one another have been a matter of amazement for observers. The fruitage of their conforming to Bible ways is illustrated in a comment in the Detroit News of June 21, 1973, with regard to a convention of Jehovah’s witnesses at Detroit’s Tiger Stadium:
“It’s . . . the kind of convention which finds policemen wandering in, realizing they have nothing else to do, and leaving for more important matters.”
And at the Düsseldorf, Germany, assembly, where delegates from many nations gathered, the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung of July 28, 1973, remarked:
“Since Wednesday nearly 60,000 people have assembled—it is the largest convention that has ever been held in Düsseldorf, the city of exhibitions. And it is a mass meeting which follows its own laws. We have never seen so many people meet together who are so orderly, so moral, so disciplined as they are.”
Jehovah’s witnesses do not confine their love to their own circle. They desire to help all who want to live under the righteous rule of God’s Messianic kingdom, where every barrier to unity will be wiped out. If you desire to learn the “pure language” you can do so, with their help.—Rev. 22:17.