“After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9 NIV)
“So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was call Babel—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:8-9 NIV)
When John looked into the future in Revelation 7:9 and saw the saints standing before the Lamb, what epic event was transpiring? While the apostle watched, “The Great Reversal” was in process. He was witnessing the removal of a curse that had endured for millennia. Of what curse am I speaking? In John’s vision he saw the curse of confusion, present on earth since men built a city and a tower, vanishing before his eyes.
Study this soon-to-be picture. Gathered from the four winds are the elect, the people of God (Matthew 24:31). They endured patiently the great tribulation and washed their robes white (Revelation 7:14). These are God’s chosen people; those of every nation who passed the test of love.
When they came together they represented nations, tribes and peoples of the earth. Entering the throne room, as John observed, was every spoken language on earth, and—if I may add—every group or denomination within the sphere of God-honoring belief.
In an instant, distinctions caused by the curse of confusion disappeared into oneness. Standing before the Lamb, was perfect unity along with a beautiful diversity of ethnicities and cultures (cf. Ephesians 4:12b-13).
How do I know this? First, the event is written into prophecy: “Then will I purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve him shoulder to shoulder.” (Zephaniah 3:9)
Next, it was Our Savior’s last request to the Father (John 17:22-23). Will Jesus’ prayer for the unity of those the Father gave him go unanswered?
Finally, ponder the evidence in Revelation 7:10:
And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.”
What’s missing in this loud chorus of praise? The answer is the cacophony and confusion of a multitude of tongues loudly spoken in unison. There is but one tongue. John fully comprehends and captures it for us. The Great Reversal of Babel has occurred around the throne. The confusion that created separate nations, peoples, religions and tribal wars is lifted. All is unity.
In The Prophets of God, “Tongues and Prophecy” gives further insight into what’s coming. The chapter looks at Peter on the Day of Pentecost, in Acts 2, as he described the phenomenon that unfolded in Jerusalem. Peter referred to it as evidence of living in the last days and the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit. That morning confusion of tongues evaporated for Jews from far off nations. What happened at Babel was reversed. The gift of tongues was given as a sign of the soon great restoration of all things.