They Could Not Speak in the Jews’ Language

By C. Eldon McNabb

In those days saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab: And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people” (Neh. 13:23-26).

As Gentile Christians, we might not think this verse was of any particular importance, or relevant to us in our walk with God. After all, what difference does it make to God what language anyone speaks today? That is a valid thought. God has extended an open invitation to everyone in the world to experience and enjoy a life free from sin and guilt in Christ Jesus. However, when God said, “I will turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent” (Zeph. 3:9), He was not speaking of the Hebrew language. Rather, He meant for us to hear what he said in an allegorical sense. It is a prophecy of a time to come when God shall assist His devoted followers to eliminate all error, and every trace of idolatry from their worship and teaching.

Of course, we all have a tendency to think that “our church” has no idolatrous expression in our worship. The truth is that we are more likely than not to have some idolatry in our manner of worship. Judah had gone into captivity to the very land from whence the idolatry of the whole world has come. They had disobeyed the commandment which the Lord gave to Moses, and married the people of the land of their captivity, and adopted their false worship. So the real reason for the complaint against the “mixed” marriages was that they had brought the idolatry with them. The only way for them to completely rid themselves of the idolatry was to get rid of the idolaters themselves. In this age of grace, if we be married to unbelievers, we might be able to convert them instead (1 Peter 3:1,2).

When the children of Israel were about to take the land which God had promised to their fathers, He set before them a blessing with the “option” of a curse instead. He told them, in Deut. 11:26-29, that the blessing was conditional, saying, “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.” He went on to tell them to write those blessings as a permanent reminder upon mount Gerizim, and likewise the curse upon mount Ebal, when they took the land. That blessing and curse as well as the instructions really did applied to them, but were not ultimately for them, but rather for us, as God had so revealed to all of His holy prophets of old (Matt. 11:13; 1 Peter 1:9-12).

The blessings of God were altogether conditional; and still are. We all know that God never changes. God still does not give blessings without the alternative of curses instead for those who fail to continue in His commandments. Otherwise what would we do with the words of Jesus about putting the hand to the plow and looking back? Or in Rev. 22:19, “If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of Life.”

The fact is, God’s commandment unto the children of Israel, concerning marriage outside of their nation, in Deut. 7:1-4, has not been rescinded, but merely transferred to the followers of Jesus Christ under grace. There must be no intermarriages between the children of God and unbelievers, because if they do, the unbelievers will win the religious controversy. Israel did not obey the commandment, and did intermarry, and the pagans won. As God said in Jer. 2:11, “Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory (God), for that which doth not profit.” If people from another religion hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and accept it, they will probably turn loose of their ancient rituals. It they do not, they will cleave to those feast days and rituals which they have learned.

God has not changed! By the Apostle Paul, in 2 Cor. 6:14-18, God has now given us an edited version of the command­ment which He gave to Moses. Paul was not simply expressing an opinion: he was giving a commandment, as he often did (Rom. 13; 1 Cor 7:10-25). He said, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteous­ness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

It is obvious that the reason for this commandment is the same as it was in the time of Moses. The Christians who join themselves together with unbelievers will fall into idolatry with them. Nehemiah went on to say, “Did not Solomon sin by these things? - Even him did (women of other lands) cause to sin.”

When Nicodemus was having difficulty understanding what Jesus was telling him about being born again, Jesus told him, “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” What Jesus did with his parables is the same thing He did with all of the events and prophecies in the Old Testament. He used their natural experiences to reveal to us a spiritual truth. Wherefore He said, “All the prophets and the law prophesied” (Matt. 11:13; Luke 24:44). Whether it was the actual law of Moses, or the Psalms, or the prophets, or what we usually think of as history, it was all prophecy. Paul makes that very clear in Hebrews 4, saying that even the seventh-day Sabbath was a pro­phecy of the seventh millen­nium, during which time Jesus shall be in rulership of this world.

The “mystery of iniquity” was already working during Paul’s ministry, and He warned that, “After my departure, grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” Later, Jude testified to the fulfillment of that prophecy. He said, “Certain men have crept in unawares, - ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Men came into the Church who, with stealth, began to introduce the mysteries of Baby­lon into the pure worship of the saints of God. Ultimately the Christian Church became com­pletely corrupted by the incorporation of the Babylonian mysteries, and it was “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT,” which emerged in the fourth century A.D. with the leader of the Babylonian mysteries in the chief seat.

In the sixteenth century, God began to bring his people out of that Babylon through the ministry of Martin Luther, by causing him to understand Romans 1:16,17. Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Gentiles). For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Prov. 4:18).

Gradually others began to break away: the Church of England, the Church of Scotland, and others, though they didn’t come out very far. They all brought many of the idolatrous practices with them. The prophecy calls it speaking “half in the language of Ashdod.” In addition to that, they gradually began to preach some things which were partially, or altogether, in error, but still had not come to the place where they could really speak the truth of the Gospel.

In the latter part of the eighteenth century, God revealed to the Wesley brothers the doctrine of Sanctification: the second work of grace described in Romans 5:1,2. Those “established” reformation churches did not accept that new revelation, but God continued to work in the manner described in Romans 1:16,17. In 1896, God began to once again pour out His Spirit upon “His handmaidens and servants,” and the doctrine of Christ became even more clear. However, those good Christian people continued to speak only “according to the (doctrine) of each people.” Each group, which emerged from time to time with new truth, developed their own doctrine, but the others who had, to varying degrees, moved out of Babylon the Great, would have none of it.

We are told in Psalm 114:1:2, “When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language; Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion.” That new nation was of one language. However, God made a difference; choosing the tribe of Judah to be the caretakers of His Sanctuary: the temple; which is called the Church in the N.T. Israel did not appreciate the fact that God had made choice among them to “put His name” in Judah. (The term Jew was used in the O.T. for the tribe of Judah. Being first used in 2 Kings18:26, after the other ten tribes had already been dispersed). The result was that there was always trouble between them.

God used that situation to prophesy that Christianity would be similarly divided. Christianity also was to have, within it, a “spiritual” Judah. We are told plainly that not all of the believers were part of the same Church, although Paul “Grafted in” at least some of the Gentile converts (Acts 5:1-14).

In 1903, the “Jews’ language,” the language of God’s elect, began to be understood and spoken once more. There were just a few of them at first, but they began to grow in number under the name of the “Church of God.” Today, those organizations which from time to time had learned to “speak in the Jews’ language” have almost all forgotten how to speak it. How often am I told that Christianity is only about getting other people to become Christians. Some groups do not even leave room for “Teaching them (as Jesus said) to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Being a Christian is about faith, but faith comes by hearing the word of God, and simply “believing” can never replace the commandments which our Lord and Savior has given to us, both personally and by His Apostles and Prophets. Those commandments are part of the Word of God.

Most of God’s ministers today are in church organizations which totally reject the concept that there can, yea must, be an elect group among those who believe on the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. But God is calling. He wants his “mighty men” to begin to come together in the unity of the faith, and to become one nation in preparation for the coming of the King. It is not Hebrew that we need to learn to speak, but rather the language of the Jews, which are Jews inwardly. Many of us are still speaking the mystery language of the church of Rome, and of her “daughters.”

I must tell you, it is high time that we all begin to come together, and learn the spiritual language of God’s elect. We can never all be in that “election.” That is why it is called an election. However, we must all begin to understand that it is time for the Kingdom of God to arise; united in fulfillment of Daniel 2:44, with part of it “Builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22). God dwells in each of our hearts, but God works with His elect in a somewhat different sense; especially as regards the fulfillment of certain prophecies concerning His Sanctuary.

Then shall that saying be fulfilled, “I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols - and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: - so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore” (Ezek. 37:21-28).