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. – Zephaniah 3:9
I was doing my morning Bible reading today and the above verse struck me. One day we will speak a pure language before the Lord. The rendering of the verse in the New American Standard Bible replaces a pure language with purified lips. I like the imagery that calls to mind, reminiscent of Isaiah 6. Isaiah cries out about his unclean lips (Isaiah 6:5), and angel touches them with a burning coal, telling Isaiah his iniquity was taken away, his sin was purged (Isaiah 6:7). Isaiah goes on in the next verse to answer the Lord’s call to be sent as a prophet, Isaiah goes forth as a man with purified lips speak for the Lord.
In a commentary I looked at on Zephaniah, the author spoke of Zephaniah 3:9 as being more of a once defiled speech now being purified by an inner self speaking rightly of God and worshiping Him in a proper way than of a new language being spoken. The inner person being purified, turned back to God now renders a speech that is of a pure language, in right relationship with God.
That somehow all came together for me, I now focus on this verse not a new language but a language renewed. It also made me think about when we are in the eternal presence of the Lord. We will speak the same language? In my mind, yes and no. I do not think it necessary that we all speak the same language (although picking up Hebrew in heaven is probably a very simple task), but I think we will understand each other. Maybe not in the same way as in Acts 2 with the gift of tongues at the first Pentecost (or as we like to call it at our church, the gift of ears), but we will understand each other nonetheless. If not in language necessarily, in a deeper way.
Think of attending a church service in a foreign land with a language you are not fluent in. Think about the songs of worship. Maybe you knew the melody and the words (in your language at least) maybe you didn’t. But you understood the love and worship of the Lord that was going on in that local body of Christ. In that sense you were speaking the same language as everyone else.
If for no other reason we will all understand each other in the Lord’s presence because He will be the center and focus of our thoughts and actions, speech and singing. A common, central, core focus will drive our understanding of our love of God and of each other.
Until the day we stand before Him, there will be differences and misunderstandings, divisions and dissension. For only the divine peacemaker can bring about an eternal peace. Until that day there will be times we do not understand each other in the body of Christ, let alone our problems of the world not understanding us. But if we try a little harder to focus on Christ alone, we will be a little better at understanding others within the body of Christ, and they will have an easier time understanding us.
Still we will struggle, yet still we will fight the good fight until He calls us.
Jesus is coming soon!