The beautiful scourge of the Tower

I invite you to take a brief pause and ponder with me about language.  During my preparation and throughout my study here, several times I have been intrigued.  My first reaction, and that which repeats most often, is merely the difficulty and frustration of learning a different language.  I’m sure anyone who has ever attempted this task, whether successfully or compulsorily during school, would concur.  There are different sounds, inflections, meters, scripts, structures, grammars, colloquialisms.  The confusion and struggle often seem unending and the desire for all to speak the same language rises.  Within my homeland, my former self had a narrower view of the diversity of language than the present.  More or less, I thought there was approximately one language for every nation.  Obviously, some nations share a common speech, others have several, and there are older indigenous languages present, but with limited exposure and contemplation of the subject I think one could understand or even share in my estimation.  However, I now live in a different setting that has further opened my eyes.  Sure there is a main language spoken here, but within that, there are many various dialects depending on the region.  Different pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary result in a range of intelligibility between them to the point where native speakers of the same language may not be able to understand each other.  Apart from that, there are many other completely separate languages.  Within these other languages there are different dialects as well.  And to top it off, within the dialects there are numerous dialects (or whatever this sub-classification would be called) for each region or town that can vary greatly from each other and be mutually unintelligible.  I now understand how a country can have thousands of languages spoken within her; a concept that didn’t compute back within a predominately homogenous culture.  Sure one can learn a language on a higher level of this hierarchy and be understood by a large mixture of people; but to truly speak to everyone, to speak to their heart, with the words they feel and not just understand, the task seems petrifying. 

Through headache and despair, I am first tempted to curse the cause of this situation.  You merely have to read the Word to see the origins.  A long time ago everyone spoke the same language.  But within this universality, the sinful nature used its ease of communication to exalt itself.  And in an attempt to exalt and claim unworthy glory, man built a great city and a tall tower that would reach the heights of the sky.  Out of their fear to be scattered among the earth, their works sealed their fate.  The LRD, who alone was worthy of such, punished their deeds and scattered them throughout; however, He did another thing that I find peculiar; He confused their language.  I ponder on all the different ways that this punishment could have been given differently.  Destruction, silence, blindness, change of landscape, materials, or even physics; even merely scattering them sparse seems like it would have hindered such a task sufficiently.  But the LRD is beautiful even in judgment; He created languages.  The countless languages that have existed over time dimly point to the complexities and beauties of Himself.  There are different sounds, inflections, meters, scripts, structures, grammars, colloquialisms.  The different languages have also effectively produced a myriad of cultures that have different songs and colors and art.  One day all of these will be redeemed and unflawed.  Having been given a glimpse of the end, we know that people from all tribes and tongues will one day stand in white and rightly give praise and glory in myriads of languages to the One deserving.  And a new city, a holy city, will be created with a brilliance and majesty far greater than what could have been imagined so long ago.  A golden measuring rod says its width and length and height will be 1,380 miles each.  Truly it will exalt and claim glory for the One worthy and the called will no longer be scattered.

Continuing in my invitation to ponder of language and the tower, let us fall amazed in the wisdom and creativity of the almighty who can graciously redeem by means of the punishment.  Next time I am about to curse the difficulty of languages, I hope to first marvel in its beauty and inevitable redemption.