Tongues as a historical judgment sign of condemnation prophesied to the leaders of Israel who rejected Jesus as Messiah is the topic of this study. Its spiritual mediation following the New Covenant indwelling of the Holy Spirit and its edifying church use are displayed in all the Bible texts pertaining to it. And the present church situation is examined in the light of the Biblical facts. Isaiah 28:11 must be understood as it is the prophetic ground out of which tongues came onto the historical scene. Further more, Genesis 11:1-9 is both the absolute beginnings of tongues and the prototype of judgment for rebellious sin which underlie God’s purposes revealed in Isaiah. A study of Biblical Tongues Genesis 11:1-9 1And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 3And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. 4And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. 5And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. 6And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 7Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. 8So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 9Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth. One language, one speech, and the people are one. Divided, the unity is gone and they scatter. Babbling stammering lips have from this time on a divisive, and judgmentally so, effect on mankind. Stammering lips and other tongues are disparaging and prejudicial terms used frequently in the Old Testament from the standpoint of the language of God’s covenant people as they impugn foreigners who stand against them. Generally a foreign incomprehensible tongue appears base and out of place to the ears of any normal human being. Is this not rightly so? What is important here is that not understanding speech is a curse imposed upon mankind by God in judgment for rebellious unbelief. Not understanding is a curse. The phrases, stammering lips or tongues, occur in passages which threaten judgmental oppression by foreign powers for covenant disobedience. They also are found in passages mocking ignorance in idolatrous populations who know not the true God. Psalms 114 pokes fun at Egypt with almost a childish taunt as for 400 years of contact with Israel, still when the Exodus occurred: “1When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language;” they had still not learned the tongue. Always there is the disparaging separateness of division, non-inclusion. Isaiah 28:11 is unique, turning this non-inclusion aspect against Israel itself in the persons of those who mock the messianic offer of true rest and refreshing of the New Covenant. With the tables turned, Israel would know they were rejecting true rest and refreshing in favor of their own efforts which would fail them ultimately bringing divine judgment upon their nation. Moreover, God’s words would be foreign to them and the kingdom would become evidently Gentile, or foreign, in character. Without faith in the words of God pressed into the understanding by the Holy Spirit sent in New Covenant indwelling, there is no comfort, no fellowship, and no inclusion in the promises of God. Here is where God lays down that table turning indictment; it is a most shocking, form a rabbinic perspective, turning of the providence of God upon an unbelieving presumptuous scholarship: though presumably insulating the covenant law and preserving it inviolate, it rather strained at the gnat and swallowed the camel. Isaiah 28:9-16 9Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. 10For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: 11For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. 12To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. 13But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken. 14Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. 15Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: 16Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. The significant verse here is v.11 which is quoted by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:21 as he informs his readers of the nature and purpose of biblical tongues. This is very important for a biblical understanding of why Tongues existed as a historical Spiritual gift. At this point it is sufficient to note: that the leaders of Israel would reject the direct revelation of the kingdom of God that the true Messiah would bring to them, and that their main argument against it would be its non-conformity to their traditions; hence its non-comprehensible nature to their ears which could not hear. This is what happened in the 4 gospels as God laid His foundation stone which the builders rejected. Next we note the judgment nature of the phrase “stammering lips and another tongue”: As if God says, you say my words are not understandable, not fitting into your traditions and conforming to them, you scorn them, so I will give you a sign of judgment that will confirm to you that you have rejected my word: I will speak my words to you in foreign languages. This Isaiah text deals with this historic fact, and that is why Paul quotes it. Though some critics exclude Mark 16:17-18 from their editions of what they suppose are the original texts, it is in this light, that the passage becomes clear: “these signs shall follow”: they are signs to the leaders of the nation of Israel that they have chosen a misguided tradition over the clear declaration of the will of almighty God shown them in the words and works of Jesus of Nazareth. Isaiah has forewarned them, so they are intelligent of this sign. 17And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. As Paul separated the believers out of the synagogue at Ephesus—again a case of Israel’s rabbinic leaders rejecting the word—many of these signs followed (Acts 19). As Paul was traveling to Rome under this very same kind but false charge, he was bitten by a deadly serpent where it was witnessed by those under authority to those leaders, and that after Paul’s warning had saved the ship’s crew and passengers from certain death in ship wreak. I have no problem with this text. Although I will admit, that I do not know any occasion of “drink any deadly thing”; I believe it must have occurred somewhere, and that the leaders of that apostate nation must have seen it, for it was a sign to them that had knowledge of these prophesies: of messiah’s rejection by his own people’s mocking rulers. Tongues, however, is the focus of Isaiah 28:11 and I shall stay closely with that. This sign phenomena would say to an Israelite: Like with the leaders in Isaiah’s time, a national judgment is near, for we have rejected the rest, the Sabbath, of the Lord and the only basis of our refreshing, the restoration of true righteousness under Messiah’s ministry, v.28:12. That prophetically signified destruction came to pass in 70 A.D. but it was still future from the standpoint of the biblical narratives and epistles.