And they sang a new song, saying,
Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood
you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and
people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom
and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.
Clearly, the focus here is the sheer diversity of peoples who will be represented around the throne of God, together worshiping the Lamb. I have always imagined this in a way where the peoples around the throne would look different, but I also wonder how they might sound different.
If, as most linguists and sociologists believe, language plays such an extraordinary role in who we are, how we think, and what we do and do not say, is there suggestion in this text that we will not end up learning some universal, heavenly language with which to address each other, but that we will all instead gain the capacity to understand all other peoples as they speak from their own languages?
So, rather than speaking Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Latin, or even King James English around the throne, will I communicate using 21st century Midwestern, American English, but nevertheless listen to (and understand!) people speaking Coptic, Sumerian, Celtic, Chinese, Swahili, and every other possible variation of every other language?
It struck me as an interesting thought–how better to give the Lamb glory than demonstrating his power to save people from all the different people groups and languages ever to have been spoken!