The Point of Tongues

James B. Jordan was the first Bible teacher I ever heard who had an opinion on the gift of tongues in relation to the rest of the Bible. This gent cops a lot of criticism from the establishment for various things, but he is one who really “gets” the Bible. This is because he asks the right questions. And, without being too harsh, he most often makes all the other theologians and Bible teachers in any debate, on both sides of the debate, look like kindergarten children.

The miraculous gifts given to the firstfruits church are part of a very large pattern, one which we can can see thwarted in the Garden of Eden, and presented as laws in the Ten Commandments. It is the “song of the Woman” after the crushing of the serpent. It is a “legal testimony” that the Word of God is true. We see this epitomized in the life of Paul the apostle, who sought every opportunity to testify in court concerning the resurrection of Jesus. In the greater picture, the witness of the firstfruits church is this part of the picture in the history of the world. That legal witness continues today, but in the first century it had a special purpose, and that was to divide the Jews into “two goats,” two women, Hagar and Sarah (the past and the future) and bring down the curses of the Covenant upon those who rejected the Gospel. The gift of tongues was part of that miraculous witness, a corroborrated legal witness in the courtroom of God, [1] and the purpose of this “Babelic” gift was completed when the Herods and their Temple, the “Babylon” of the day, was destroyed. [2] Consequently, the miraculous gifts ended with the firstfruits church. The time of “childhood” for the Church was over. [3]

Luke Welch has some related observations which are interesting, and he, like Jordan, demonstrates how much we Christians miss because we fail to read the Bible as a united book.

As I read along in Numbers, I keep seeing things that Paul has latched onto. For example, Paul says (1 Corinthians 14.5-9, 24):

“Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up. Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said?… If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds?”

The punch line to this whole thing is at the bottom, but let’s focus on the bugle thing first. Look at Numbers 10.1-3, 9:

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Make two silver trumpets. Of hammered work you shall make them, and you shall use them for summoning the congregation and for breaking camp. And when both are blown, all the congregation shall gather themselves to you at the entrance of the tent of meeting. … And when you go to war in your land against the adversary who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, that you may be remembered before the LORD your God, and you shall be saved from your enemies.”

The bugle gets two things to happen which Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 14:

  1. Gets the congregation to assemble
  2. Gets the congregation to be ready for battle by breaking camp while making a memorial directed at God.

Having established the passage connection, notice another huge one, which we see when God gives “the Spirit which is on Moses” out to the 70 elders, and two have not shown up at the elder assembly. They were caused to prophecy even in the camp, and Joshua wants to help by saying, “My lord Moses, stop them!” What is Moses’ reply?

But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!” (Numbers 10.29)

Remember that? Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. (1 Corinthians 14.5). Paul’s heart is Moses’ ministry desire too.

I note also that this prophetic period for both Paul and Moses:

  1. was a forty year period between defeat of one enemy and another
  2. Pharaoh, and Philistines (for Moses)
  3. Caesar, and Satanic Israel (for Paul)
  4. Moses took the people INTO the land for conquest.

Throughout Paul’s writing, he is calling the church to the conquest of the whole world, and at the end of those forty years they will be forced out of the land, in a sense, after the destruction of Jerusalem.

[1] See A Tongue of Gold.
[2] See Three Babylons.
[3] See Cessation.

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