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1 Corinthians 14:21says, “In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.”  “It is written” means that this verse is taken from the Old Testament.  The verses being referenced by the Apostle Paul are Isaiah 28:11-12which says, “For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.” 

The phrase, “another tongue” is just a way of saying that with foreigners, people who speak a different language, that the Lord would speak to ‘this people’ or the Israelites.  The instruction that we get from Isaiah is that because of unbelief and disobedience, the Israelites would be invaded by a foreign people, and in hearing a foreign language, in living among foreigners, they would learn the lesson which they refused to learn when the Lord spoke to them by the prophets.  The Prophet Isaiah was truly a Godly man and effective prophet for the Lord, but the people would not listen.  They mocked the word of the Lord, so God, in His infinite mercy, used judgment to open the ears of His people.  The presence of these foreign people, the Assyrians, were an indication of the Lord’s judgment.  How gracious the Lord is.  He did not cast away His people, but did what was necessary to open their ears to Him.  In this case, He used “stammering lips and another tongue” to speak to His people.

So, what was the purpose in the Apostle Paul using this verse while teaching the Corinthian church about the proper use of the gift of tongues?  I think the lesson is a simple one.  In Isaiah, the Lord had used ‘men of other tongues’ to speak to His unbelieving people.  Now, the Lord was using the gift of tongues to speak to unbelievers.  Paul goes on to say in 1 Corinthians 14:22, “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.”  The Corinthians had gotten so carried away with the gift of tongues, that they were neglecting the more beneficial gift…that of prophecy.  Paul pointed out that tongues was a sign to those who do not believe, but in the church, prophecy is more appropriate because it is for those who do believe. 

What is prophecy in the New Testament sense?  1 Corinthians 14:3tells us, “But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.”  While we most often think of prophecy as addressing something that will happen in the future, the literal meaning of prophecy is to ‘speak the mind of God’.  So, rather than prophecy being used in the sense of ‘fore-telling’ God’s Word, it is here used in the sense of ‘telling forth’ God’s Word.  It is a word from the Lord to His church that will edify, exhort and comfort His people.  Who can prophesy today?  Are there particular prophets today to speak God’s mind to us?  We learn from 1 Corinthians 14:31that, “…ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.”  What a wonderful, and often overlooked truth!  The Lord may use any of His people to speak a word of edification, exhortation, or comfort to fellow believers.  As the Lord leads, you and I may be used of our blessed Father to minister to the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ by properly expounding and applying His Word.  This should cause us to realize our responsibility to be serious students of the Word of God so that the Lord will be able to use us according to His perfect will and purpose.  (152.8)