This is a little off subject of eschatology, but necessary in light of the attacks against John McArthur.
I’ve worked with people over the years that believe the evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues. But trying to find specifics about tongues from them is like trying to nail Jello to a tree. If you do a study of Biblical tongues, where would you start? Ken Ham said Genesis is important because every doctrine in the Bible has its origin in Genesis. Does the doctrine of tongues have a beginning in Genesis?
Genesis 11 tells the story about a rebellion against God. God said fill the earth, but man gathered in one place to build a tower and to make the name of man great. Result? God confused their language and scattered them.
Chapters 27 thru 29 of Deuteronomy contains a list of the blessings and curses that will come from Israel’s obedience or disobedience to God. Deuteronomy 28:49 says that one sign of disobedience is: “The LORD will bring a nation from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand.”
Isaiah quoted the Deuteronomy passage when he talked to the ten northern tribes of Israel in Isaiah 28. They were at a festival of the Lord, getting drunk and vomit filled the tables. This was an illustration of their disregard for the LORD and his commands. The Deuteronomy prophecy his was fulfilled when Assyria attacked Israel and scattered them. The Assyrians rode horses so they moved rapidly beyond their borders to conquer nations that they had no previous commercial trade with, so their language was unknown to the Israelites.
In I Samuel, Israel demanded a king. Samuel told them that they were rejecting God. God gave them warnings. Nevertheless, Israel demanded a king in rebellion against God’s desire for them. (I Samuel 10:10)
In I Samuel 10:5 Saul meets a group of Philistine prophets who prophesy (ecstatic utterances). Then Saul strips all his clothes off and begins to imitate the pagan prophets. This should have been a sign to Israel that Saul was not the man to be king. That and the fact he was not from the tribe of Judah and Samuel’s critique of their demands. But, Saul is made king and unifies the nation; for a time. A short time later (40 years) Saul and his son Jonathan are killed, their dead bodies disgraced and Israel is scattered (every man to his own tent.)
In Acts 2, Peter speaks to “the men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem.” He presents a cogent plea for the gospel and 3000 individuals were saved. The nation as a whole did not repent and the rest of the book of Acts is an account the Jews following the Disciples and trying to thwart their missionary efforts. The result was that 40 years later the temple was destroyed and the Nation of Israel scattered and has been for almost 2000 years.
At Corinth there was an outbreak of ecstatic utterances that was NOT like the tongues at Pentecost. The Pentecost experience was a gift of hearing. Jews from all over the world were hearing the Galilean Jews in their own language The Corinthian experience was like the worship of the pagan god Apollo at Delphi. The temple of Apollo at Delphi was only 50 miles from Corinth and had affected Greek religious life for 1500 hundred years. The Oracle at Delphi was usually a woman which was opposite Biblical command that a woman should not “teach nor usurp authority over the man.” I Timothy 2:12
Paul addresses the phenomena of tongues at Corinth by quoting Isaiah 28. The parallels are striking. The spiritual leaders of the Israelites, during the time of Isaiah, were coming to the festival LORD and getting drunk, (Is 28:7-8) like the church at Corinth. The Corinthians basic problem was pride, the same as problem in Israel (Is 28:1).
Paul closes his argument by quoting from Isaiah: “For with men of other tongues and other lips will I speak to this people; yet for all this they will not hear Me,” says the Lord. Then he gives his conclusion: “Therefore tongues are a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers.”
My conclusion: Tongues are for a sign to rebellious people, not so they will turn from their rebellion, but to confirm their rebellion by a sign from GOD. So when the judgment (scattering) comes; you will know it is from God!