Become United by the Pure Language
“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.”—ZEPHANIAH 3:9.
1. Have people ever heard Jehovah God speak?
JEHOVAH God’s language is pure. But have people ever heard him speak? Why, yes! That happened when his Son, Jesus Christ, was on the earth 19 centuries ago. For instance, when Jesus was baptized, God was heard to say: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.” (Matthew 3:13-17) That was a statement of pure truth, heard by Jesus and John the Baptizer in a human language.
2. What is indicated by the apostle Paul’s reference to “the tongues of . . . angels”?
2 Some years later the Christian apostle Paul spoke of “the tongues of men and of angels.” (1 Corinthians 13:1) What does this indicate? Why, it shows that not only humans but also spirit persons have language and speech! Of course, God and the angels do not communicate with one another by using voices and language audible and understandable to us. Why not? Because an atmosphere such as that surrounding the earth is needed to propagate vocal sound waves that humans can hear and understand.
3. How did human language originate?
3 How did human language originate? Some say that our ancestors struggled to communicate with one another by resorting to grunts and groans. Says the book Evolution (Life Nature Library): “An ape man of about one million years ago . . . possibly mastered a few speech sounds.” But renowned lexicographer Ludwig Koehler said: “Human speech is a secret; it is a divine gift, a miracle.” Yes, human speech is a divine gift, for God gave the first man, Adam, a language. It was evidently the one eventually called Hebrew. That language was spoken by the Israelite descendants of “Abram the Hebrew,” a faithful patriarch whose ancestor Shem was a son of the ark builder Noah. (Genesis 11:10-26; 14:13; 17:3-6) In view of God’s prophetic blessing on Shem, it is reasonable to conclude that his language was not affected by something Jehovah God did miraculously 43 centuries ago.—Genesis 9:26.
4. Who was Nimrod, and how was he used by Satan the Devil?
4 At that time ‘all the earth was of one language and one set of words.’ (Genesis 11:1) Living then was the man Nimrod, “a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah.” (Genesis 10:8, 9) Mankind’s invisible archenemy, Satan, especially used Nimrod to set up the earthly part of the Devil’s organization. Nimrod wanted to make a name for himself, and that arrogant attitude spread to his followers, who embarked on a special construction project in the land of Shinar. According to Genesis chapter 11, verse 4, they said: “Come on! Let us build ourselves a city and also a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a celebrated name for ourselves, for fear we may be scattered over all the surface of the earth.” That venture in opposition to God’s command to “fill the earth” ended when Jehovah confused the language of the rebels. “Accordingly,” says the Bible account, “Jehovah scattered them from there over all the surface of the earth, and they gradually left off building the city.” (Genesis 9:1; 11:2-9) That city was named Babel, or Babylon (meaning, “Confusion”), “because there Jehovah mixed up the speech of all the earth.”—Byington.
5. (a) What was prevented when God confused the language of mankind? (b) What can we conclude about the language of Noah and Shem?
5 That miracle—the confusion of the one human language—led to filling the earth as God had commanded Noah, and it blocked any plan Satan may have had to establish united unclean worship of himself by humans who had rebelled against the Sovereign Lord of heaven and earth. True, by practicing false religion in any form, the people were victims of the Devil, and they were serving the demons when they made gods and goddesses, gave them names in their different languages, and worshiped them. (1 Corinthians 10:20) But the action taken by the only true God at Babel prevented the forming of one united false religion giving the Devil the worship he apparently craved. Of course, righteous Noah and his son Shem never got mixed up in that debacle in the land of Shinar. So it can reasonably be concluded that their language remained the one spoken by faithful Abram (or Abraham)—the tongue in which God talked to the man Adam in the garden of Eden.
6. On the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., how did Jehovah show that he could impart ability to speak in tongues?
6 Jehovah, who confused mankind’s original language, can also impart the ability to speak in tongues. Why, he did that very thing on the day of Pentecost in the year 33 of our Common Era! According to Acts 2:1-11, about 120 followers of Jesus Christ were then assembled in an upper chamber in Jerusalem. (Acts 1:13, 15) Suddenly, there was a noise from heaven “just like that of a rushing stiff breeze.” “Tongues as if of fire” became visible and were distributed about. At that the disciples “became filled with holy spirit and started to speak with different tongues, just as the spirit was granting them to make utterance.” In those divinely imparted languages, they spoke “about the magnificent things of God.” And what a miracle that was, as Jews and proselytes of different tongues, from such far-flung places as Mesopotamia, Egypt, Libya, and Rome, understood the life-giving message!
A God-Given Language Today!
7. What prospects would there be if only one language was spoken and understood worldwide?
7 Since God can impart different tongues miraculously, would it not be wonderful if he made it possible for only one language to be spoken and understood worldwide? That would promote greater understanding within the human family. As The World Book Encyclopedia puts it: “If all peoples spoke the same tongue, cultural and economic ties would be much closer, and good will would increase between countries.” Well, at least 600 universal languages have been proposed over the years. Of these, Esperanto has had the most impact because about 10,000,000 people have learned it since its creation in the year 1887. Yet, human efforts to unify mankind by means of a universal language have never been successful. In fact, more and more problems are causing division in this world as ‘wicked men advance from bad to worse.’—2 Timothy 3:13.
8. Even if a universal language were adopted in today’s world, what would still exist, and why?
8 Religiously speaking, there is great confusion. But should we not expect this, since the Bible book of Revelation calls the world empire of false religion “Babylon the Great”? (Revelation 18:2) Yes, for “Babylon” means “Confusion.” Even if an artificial language or a natural tongue such as English, French, German, or Russian were to be adopted as a universal language in today’s world, disunity would still exist religiously and otherwise. Why? Because “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one,” Satan the Devil. (1 John 5:19) He is the very epitome of selfishness, and he greedily yearns to be worshiped by all mankind, just as he did in the days of Nimrod and the Tower of Babel. Why, a universal language spoken by sinful humans could even give Satan the opportunity to set up united Devil worship! But Jehovah will never permit that; indeed, he will soon bring an end to all false, Devil-inspired religion.
9. How are people of all nations and races now being unified?
9 Yet, an amazing fact is that good people of all nations and races are being unified right now. This is happening on God’s terms and for the sake of his worship. Today, God is making it possible for humans to learn and speak the only pure language on earth. And it really is a universal language. Indeed, Jehovah God is teaching this pure language to many people out of all nations of the earth today. This is in fulfillment of God’s prophetic promise through his prophet and witness Zephaniah: “Then I shall give to peoples the change to a pure language [literally, “a clean lip”], in order for them all to call upon the name of Jehovah, in order to serve him shoulder to shoulder.” (Zephaniah 3:9) What is this pure language?
The Pure Language Defined
10. What is the pure language?
10 The pure language is the truth of God found in his own Word, the Holy Scriptures. It is particularly the truth regarding God’s Kingdom, which will bring peace and other blessings to mankind. The pure language does away with religious error and false worship. It unites all who speak it in the pure, clean, wholesome worship of the living and true God, Jehovah. Today, some 3,000 languages act as a barrier to understanding, and hundreds of false religions confuse mankind. So how glad we are that God is giving to peoples the change to this wonderful, pure language!
11. What has the pure language done for people of all nations and races?
11 Yes, the pure language is being mastered by people of all nations and races. As the only spiritually pure tongue on earth, it serves as a mighty unifying force. It enables all those speaking it “to call upon the name of Jehovah, in order to serve him shoulder to shoulder,” or literally, “with one shoulder.” They thus serve God “with one consent,” “with one unanimous consent and one united shoulder.” (The New English Bible; The Amplified Bible) The translation by Steven T. Byington reads: “Then I [Jehovah God] will turn the lips of all the peoples clean, that they may all call on Jehovah’s name and cooperate in his service.” Such worldwide multilingual cooperation in God’s service exists only among Jehovah’s Witnesses. In 212 lands today, over four million of these Kingdom proclaimers are preaching the good news in many human languages. Yet, the Witnesses “speak in agreement” and are “fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.” (1 Corinthians 1:10) This is so because, no matter where they are on the earth, all of Jehovah’s Witnesses speak the one pure language, to the praise and glory of their heavenly Father.
Learn the Pure Language Now!
12, 13. (a) Why should you be concerned about speaking the pure language? (b) Why are the words at Zephaniah 3:8, 9 so significant today?
12 Why should you be concerned about speaking the pure language? For one thing, because your life depends on learning and speaking it. Just before God promised to “give to peoples the change to a pure language,” he warned: “‘Keep yourselves in expectation of me,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘till the day of my rising up to the booty, for my judicial decision is to gather nations, for me to collect together kingdoms, in order to pour out upon them my denunciation, all my burning anger; for by the fire of my zeal all the earth will be devoured.’”—Zephaniah 3:8.
13 Those words of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah were first spoken 26 centuries ago in Judah, of which Jerusalem was the capital. But that statement was especially meant for our day because Jerusalem was a type of Christendom. And our time, since God’s heavenly Kingdom was set up in 1914, is Jehovah’s day for gathering nations and assembling kingdoms. He has brought all of them together under his attention by means of a great witness work. In turn, this has stirred them up in opposition to his purpose. However, Jehovah God is mercifully enabling people out of all these nations to unite in speaking the pure language. With it, all seeking life in his promised new world may serve him in unison before all the nations are consumed in the fiery expression of divine wrath at “the war of the great day of God the Almighty,” commonly called Armageddon. (Revelation 16:14, 16; 2 Peter 3:13) Happily, those who speak the pure language and call upon Jehovah’s name in faith as united true worshipers will enjoy divine protection during the heat of that world disaster. God will bring them safely into the new world, where only the pure language will finally be on the lips of all mankind.
14. Through Zephaniah, how did God show that surviving the end of this system of things calls for immediate action?
14 Through his prophet Zephaniah, Jehovah makes it clear that those hoping to survive the end of the present wicked system of things must take immediate action. According to Zephaniah 2:1-3, God says: “Gather yourselves together, yes, do the gathering, O nation not paling in shame. Before the statute gives birth to anything, before the day has passed by just like chaff, before there comes upon you people the burning anger of Jehovah, before there comes upon you the day of Jehovah’s anger, seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth, who have practiced His own judicial decision. Seek righteousness, seek meekness. Probably you may be concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger.”
15. (a) What was the initial fulfillment of Zephaniah 2:1-3? (b) Who survived God’s execution of judgment upon Judah, and what will parallel this survival in our day?
15 Those words had their initial fulfillment upon ancient Judah and Jerusalem. The sinful people of Judah did not respond favorably to God’s appeal, as shown by his execution of judgment upon them at Babylonian hands in the year 607 B.C.E. Even as Judah was the “nation not paling in shame” before God, so Christendom has been a shameless “nation” before Jehovah. Because of heeding God’s word, however, some Judeans and others survived, among them Jehovah’s faithful prophet Jeremiah. Other survivors were an Ethiopian named Ebed-melech and descendants of Jehonadab. (Jeremiah 35:18, 19; 39:11, 12, 16-18) Similarly today, “a great crowd” of Jesus’ “other sheep” gathered out of all nations will survive Armageddon into God’s new world. (Revelation 7:9; John 10:14-16) Only those who learn and speak the pure language will be joyful survivors.
16. What must one do to be concealed “in the day of Jehovah’s anger”?
16 Just as it was Jehovah’s statute that Judah and Jerusalem should be wiped out, so Christendom must perish. Indeed, the destruction of all false religion is near, and those wishing to survive must act immediately. They must do so “before the day has passed by just like chaff,” quickly blown away by the wind, as when grain is thrown into the air at a threshing floor. To be delivered from God’s wrath, we must speak the pure language and respond to God’s warning before the day of Jehovah’s burning anger comes upon us. In Zephaniah’s day and today, meek ones seek Jehovah God, along with righteousness and meekness. Our seeking Jehovah means loving him with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mark 12:29, 30) “Probably [those doing so] may be concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger.” But why does the prophecy say “probably”? Because salvation depends on faithfulness and endurance. (Matthew 24:13) Those who conform to God’s righteous standards and keep speaking the pure language will be concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger.
17. What questions remain for our consideration?
17 Since the day of Jehovah’s anger is near and salvation depends on learning and using the pure language, now is the time to be deeply involved in studying and speaking it. But how can a person learn the pure language? And how can you benefit from speaking it?
How Would You Answer?
□ How did human speech originate?
□ What is the pure language?
□ Why are the words at Zephaniah 3:8, 9 so significant today?
□ What must we do to be concealed “in the day of Jehovah’s anger”?
[Picture on page 10]
At Babel, God scattered mankind by confusing their language