Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Languages of God

I love words; I love language. I’m mostly concerned with the English language, but let’s take a moment to consider some of theses facts about the languages of the world:

- It is estimated that there are 2,700 languages in the world (and that’s not taking into account different dialects).
- The rarest language is Oubykh; it has 82 consonants but only 3 vowels.
- An early written language consisted of nothing more than scratches on rocks.
- In many countries, people use 1 language for some activities and a 2nd language for others.
- Irish Gaelic possesses no equivalent of yes or no.
- The Eskimos have 50 words for snow.
- In German, if you wish to say you, you must choose between seven words.
- Japanese has no future tense.

These facts are taken from Bill Bryson’s book, The Mother Tongue. English and How it Got That Way. It’s a fascinating book, and I just gave you a sampling from the first 2 chapters of the book.

I’m sure by now you’re wondering what the point of all this is (or if I even have one). It’s coming, I promise. I was in my truck the other day listening to one of my favorite singers, Kathy Troccoli, when the words of the chorus jumped out at me: “Oh praise Him all His mighty works, There is no language where you can't be heard, Your song goes out to all the earth, Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah.”

Think about that – 2,700 languages in the world, including some so remote they’re only spoken by 10 people who have no contact with the rest of the world - and yet God knows their language and the language of every person on this planet. He knows every dialect, every quirk, every spelling, and every accent. He knows when to speak from the back of the throat versus the front of the mouth. He knows tenses, gestures, gender nouns, and every little complexity. He knows how the languages have changed over the course of the years. He even knows where the commas and apostrophes belong.

Now some of you are probably sitting here thinking, “Well, yeah, of course He knows this stuff. He’s God; He knows everything.” And of course you’re right. But sometimes I think it’s nice to sit and ponder how great and awesome He is. And for me, this just made me sit back and say, “Wow.” Every single person in this world, no matter their language (or their ability to speak it well) has the ability to speak to God, and He will listen and answer them... in their language. The oh-so-obvious conclusion here is that God speaks our language too.

If you want to listen to the song, here's a version by Chris Rice (though I think Kathy Troccoli's version is better):


  1. Amazing, Janda. I love way you think and how you point us to God and His love for us. He really DOES speak our language, doesn't he?

    I also enjoy reading Bill Bryson. I knew I liked you for many reasons and this is just one of them:)

  2. Thanks Janda, sure we know God is omniscient, but it is good to get specifics now and then to make it seem REALLY REAL.