A string of perfect pearls, added one at a time. A chest full of dazzling gems, each one sought, saved for, collected, and enjoyed. I love beautiful things, especially jewels. One of my favorite places is the Smithsonian museum where dazzling treasures of this sort have been put on display for ordinary people like me to enjoy. My own jewels consist of my engagement and wedding ring and a tiny ruby in a necklace given by my grandparents for graduation. Oh yes, and three necklaces of inexpensive—but real!—pearls of irregular shapes and great character.
But, as I realized this morning, I am accumulating a treasure much more lasting and precious than jewels. Lately I have resumed the practice of memorizing Bible passages. Having given up on it years ago, assuming that I was too old for anything to stick anymore, I was recently challenged to join a group of others my age, and off we went! Each verse I store in my mind and heart is another rare pearl strung together together into a priceless necklace to be taken out and enjoyed anytime, anywhere. And every passage learned is another unique piece of jewelry to prize, use, and enjoy. As I display these through my life (not just around my neck!) I know that my character will become more beautiful, and I will more closely resemble my Heavenly Father who gave them to me.
And this treasure is available to anyone, not just the wealthy. Well, I must qualify that. Today I participated in the dedication of a newly completed translation of the New Testament into a minority language of the country where I live. And there I was reminded that almost 2000 languages in the world are still without any portion of the Bible. Hearing this, I am challenged 1) to appreciate the treasure of God’s word in my own language all the more, and 2) to renew my efforts to help make it available to the 180,000,000 people who do not yet have access to it in the language of their heart.
Your teachings are worth more to me
than thousands of pieces of gold and silver. Psalm 119:72
Hintawa man to ngadan nu?
Como se llama usted?
Ano ang pangalan mo?
What is your name?
So many languages and so many ways of saying things! Languages both unify and divide people, as we see from Genesis to the end of history described in the book of Revelation.
1. At the tower of Babel, the single language that had unified the whole earth was suddenly split into many, giving people no alternative but to obey God’s command to inhabit the entire globe.
2. Thousands of years later in Jerusalem, Jews who had adopted the languages of many other countries were startled to hear God’s message, each in their own language.
3. Since Jesus returned to heaven, His disciples have carried his message to the far corners of the globe, to thousands of language communities. However, there are still 1919 languages that do not have any part of that message. People are still waiting to hear!
4. John the apostle saw the final outcome of this linguistic diversity. Around the throne of God in heaven, speakers of every language will be joyfully united again with one common purpose:
…a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a mighty shout, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!” (Rev 7:9-10)
I suspect that we’ll all understand one another’s languages as we blend them in that great cry of victory and praise to our Maker and Redeemer.
The other day we watched the annual parade in the city where we live, celebrating the ethnic diversity of its inhabitants. What a dazzling array of ethnic costumes and dance! And the pride in the the cultures they represented!
Do you suppose that in heaven, when “people from every tribe and language and people and nation” are assembled, we’ll all forget our languages and national origins and cultures and just all blend into one another? Or will each be given opportunities to praise God in our own language, dressed in our cultural finery and performing in our unique way? What a program that would be! What fun, and what glory! I’m looking forward to it .