The Bible has many historical revelations, one of which is God’s intervention at the plain in Shinar where the descendants of Noah built the Tower of Babel. They decided to build a city and a tower whose top would be in the heavens for making a name for themselves (Genesis 11:4). They all spoke one language (v 1) and they were unified (v 6) in their efforts to establish themselves at Shinar.
The LORD was having none of it. He said, ‘“Come, let Us go down and confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth, and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the earth (Genesis 11:7-9).’
Google reckons there are roughly 6,500 spoken languages in the world today, which is not surprising, since God did what He said He would! His Word the Bible stands today, because it is His truth (John 17:17; Colossians 1:5; 1Thessalonians), and it tells of a time when the world will be destroyed and replaced with a new one (Revelation 20:1). In it ‘the nations of those who are saved’ (v 24) shall walk in the light of the Lamb (v 23). Since there will be ‘nations’, i.e., people groups living in God’s new world, it could be they will hear others speaking their own language (Acts 2:4, 5), as was the case at Pentecost when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit (v 4). We don’t know, but it could be a possibility. The Bible doesn’t tell us, and we shouldn’t presume.
At the time of Pentecost God heard the new Christians from different nations (Acts 2:8-12) praying and giving thanks (Acts 3:42; 47), and today God hears and totally understands prayers spoken to Him in every language under the sun. From man’s perspective this is awesome. From God’s perspective nothing is too difficult for Him. Perhaps even more remarkable from man’s viewpoint, God hears all prayers, many of them spoken simultaneously by people living in different parts of the world. More astonishingly, God answers multiple prayers, some instantly, and others in His own time. My brother prayed over a period of forty years for my salvation, and God mercifully answered his prayers when I was fifty years of age. I thank God for giving my brother patience (Galatians 5:22) and perseverance (2 Peter 1:6; Romans 8:25), and for using his prayers.
God’s people today live in different parts of the world where local languages with their dialects are spoken. In New Testament times God gifted certain of His people with the the ability to speak intelligible languages, which were essentially spoken languages native to different regions of the known world (Acts 2:4-12 ). He gifted Paul the Apostle in this way (1 Corinthians 14:18), which must have been of great benefit to him when on his missionary journeys. He said there was no point in praying in foreign tongues unless what was being said was interpreted so that others could add their ‘amens’ (1 Corinthians 14:6-17, 27).
Paul instructed the Corinthian church to ensure that ‘all’ they did was for edifying the church (1 Corinthians 14:26), and a prayer spoken in an unknown language was of little use in this respect. Paul exhorted them to prophesy, while not forbidding them to speak in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:39).
Essentially, prophesying today is speaking the gospel for believers to hear (1 Corinthians 14:22, 31, 32), and there are numerous ‘people groups’ who have yet to hear the gospel, so that they might worship God (1 Corinthians 14:24, 25). The *Joshua Project has the objective of reaching them with the good news of the Gospel so that they in turn will prophesy by speaking in their own languages – disciples making disciples (Matthew 28:19, 20). This is all within God’s providence and plan. He speaks and hears every language under the sun.