Wednesday, 4 February 2015
In the law it is written:
“With men of other tongues and other lips
I will speak to this people;
And yet, for all that, they will not hear Me,”
says the Lord. 1 Corinthians 14:21
Paul now turns to Scripture itself to support his words concerning the use of tongues. He says here, “In the law it is written:” Generally, the books of the law are considered the five books of Moses, from Genesis to Deuteronomy. But in a broader sense, even though Isaiah is a part of the writings known as “the Prophets” he notes that it is a part of “the law.” The reason for this is that the entire time, from the giving of the law until the establishment of the New Covenant in Christ’s blood, is considered the time of the law. Thus Isaiah’s writings are considered as “the law” in this wider sense.
His quote is from Isaiah 28. However, his citation is not an exact quote, but rather the imparting of the general sense of the words. Isaiah says –
“For with stammering lips and another tongue
He will speak to this people,
12 To whom He said, ‘This is the rest with which
You may cause the weary to rest,’
And, ‘This is the refreshing’;
Yet they would not hear.” Isaiah 28:11, 12
Both Isaiah and Paul clearly indicate real languages spoken by real people. Further, Isaiah is specifically speaking of the coming of the Assyrians. These people were not of the covenant line and would not be speaking the tongue as a gift of the Spirit, but rather as their normal language. In other words, Paul is once again referring to a known language which is not understood by its hearers. He is not referring to an ecstatic tongue or some type of “prayer language.” Further, the Bible never speaks of, or even hints at, such concepts.
A couple of other examples of what Paul is referring to can be found in Deuteronomy and Jeremiah as follows:
“The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand…” Deuteronomy 28:49
“‘Behold, I will bring a nation against you from afar,
O house of Israel,’ says the Lord.
‘It is a mighty nation,
It is an ancient nation,
A nation whose language you do not know,
Nor can you understand what they say.'” Jeremiah 5:15
Paul’s quoting of Isaiah, as well as the other OT references, show us that because the people wouldn’t listen to the loving words of the Lord, which they understood, He would speak to them in harsh words by people whom they didn’t understand. Paul will explain the purpose of this in the next verse.
Life application: The words of Scripture are given to the world for our edification and instruction. We have them translated into our language for this purpose and we are to apply them to our lives, not ignore them. Let us therefore cherish these precious words and let them guide our steps at all times.
Lord, You have taken portions of human history and condensed them into a book which is intended to show us our miserable state in relation to You and what You have done to correct that. You have ensured that this word was carefully maintained and faithfully translated into languages all around the world. It stands as a wonderful letter of love and hope… and yet we ignore it. How can it be that we are so unwilling to acknowledge and receive such a gift. Forgive us! Turn our hearts towards You! Help us to pursue Your word and apply it to our lives. Amen.