Currently, the five leading languages are Chinese, Spanish, English, Hindi and Arabic. I was even more shocked to learn there were 7,358 languages spoken worldwide in 2009, according to Ethnologue.com.
Linguists estimate 90 percent of these languages are spoken by fewer than 100,000 people, but that is still a lot of languages uttered around our planet! Of course, this was not always the case.
According to Genesis 11:1, there was a time when everyone on earth spoke only one language. It makes sense if human life started with one man and one woman that there was only one language in the beginning.
But Genesis 11:4-8 tells us God confused the language of humans who set out to build a city and tower to make a name for themselves, causing them to scatter and fulfill His purpose to fill the earth.
Since that time, however, languages have multiplied and the population of the planet has soared to some 7 billion people, which brings us current with the God who set these things in motion, and His purpose for 7 billion people speaking some 7,000 different languages. What purpose is that?
Paul quotes Exodus 9:16 at Romans 9:17 which states His purpose. “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” — New King James Version.
This Divine Name was meant to be declared in all the earth. Is His name simply “God?” I thought so as a youth. But God is merely a title like president, king or judge. 1Corinthians 8:5 reveals there are many “called gods.” The Egyptians had names for their gods like Isis, Ra and Anubis. The God of the Israelites gave Himself a personal name made up of four Hebrew letters, translated YHWH.
The name appeared 6,828 times in the Hebrew text alone — more than God and Lord combined. According to Bible scholars, ancient Hebrew was written without vowels. Readers supplied the vowels as they read, similar to our abbreviations for Sr., Jr. Mgr., Pvt., TN, FL and others.
Because no one knows which vowels were used, the exact pronunciation of the Divine Name was lost, not unlike the correct pronunciation for NHMH for Nehemiah, MLCH for Malachi or JRMH for Jeremiah and other abbreviated Bible names we continue to use.
Translators started to capitalize GOD and LORD where the Divine Name was, such as at Psalm 8:9: “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!”
The American Standard Version and other translations of this verse now read, “O Jehovah, our Lord, How excellent is thy name in all the earth!”
Although living under the Roman Empire, which promoted gods like Zeus and Hermes (Acts 14:12-13), Jesus Christ prayed that his Father’s Name should be hallowed or kept holy and said at John 17:26, “I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved me may be in them, and I in them.” — New King James Version.
Should Jesus’ followers do any less? Psalm 83:16-18 says, “Fill their faces with confusion, that they may seek thy name, O Jehovah. Let them be put to shame and dismayed for ever; Yea, let them be confounded and perish; that they may know that thou alone, whose name is Jehovah, art the Most High over all the earth.” — American Standard Version.
In Hebrew this name is often pronounced “Yahweh.” How is it pronounced in 7,358 languages? Don’t ask me. But clearly God wants His name used in whatever language people speak.
How is He going to make His name known in all the earth? Time will tell. But God says at Ezekiel 36:23, “And I will sanctify my great name, which hath been profaned among the nations, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the nations shall know that I am Jehovah, saith the Lord Jehovah, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.” — American Standard Version.
Does that mean more than 7,000 different languages and some 8 billion people will “know” this Divine Name in some special way? Only time will tell. But Psalm 9:10 says, “They trust in Thee who do know Thy name, for Thou hast not forsaken those seeking Thee, O Jehovah.” — Young’s Literal Translation.
In fact, Zephaniah 3:12 says, "And I shall certainly let remain in the midst of you a people humble and lowly, and they will actually take refuge in the name of Jehovah." — New World Translation.
Should all languages of the earth use this hallowed Name of God as Jesus taught in prayer and made known in his day? If God is taking out of the Gentiles “a people for His name” as Acts 15:14 says, might it be in our own interest to follow Paul’s example at Ephesians 3:14, 15?
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” — New King James Version.