I) [MT 23:37-39]:
(v. 37) "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.
(v. 38) Look, your house is left to you desolate.
(v. 39) For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.' "
II) [1 Cor 14:21-22]:
(v. 21) "In the Law it is written: 'Through men of strange Tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to Me,' says the Lord.
(v. 22) Therefore Tongues, then are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; Prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers."
A) THE NT SPIRITUAL GIFTS OF TONGUES DEFINED
1) THE PURPOSE OF THE NT SPIRITUAL GIFTS OF TONGUES
Paul defines the purpose and hence the ceasing point for this category of gifts in chapter 14:
a) [1 Cor 14:21-22]:
(v. 21) "In the Law it is written:
'Through men of strange Tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people [Israel], (Isa 28:11-12)], but even then they will not listen to Me, ' says the Lord.
(v. 22) [Paul goes on to say after quoting this passage from Isaiah 28 as he defines the purpose of Tongues]:
Therefore Tongues, [Notice: Tongues = plural, signifying the entire category of the gifts of Tongues = multiple languages] then are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; Prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers."
i) [Isa 28:11-12]: A SIGN & A WARNING TO UNBELIEVING JEWS OF TEMPORAL JUDGMENT IS QUOTED IN 1 COR 14:21
(v. 11) "Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people [=Israel, (v. 5)]
(v. 12) to whom He said, 'This is the resting place, let the weary rest'; and, 'This is the place of repose'-- but they would not listen."
1 Cor 14:21 is a quotation of Isaiah 28:11: God's message of warning and judgment upon the Israel, hundred's of years before Paul became an Apostle. At that time God pled with the nation Israel and each time she rebelled He sent ever increasing judgment: drought, famine, pestilence and still the Israel rebelled. Finally, Isa 28:11 was God's final warning this time to the Southern Kingdom of Israel before suffering a final stage of judgment at the hand this time of the Assyrians. The message in effect was, 'You are going to hear men speaking in foreign languages at your 'doorstep' indicating severe temporal judgment a the hands of a foreign power.
As a matter of fact our Lord Himself predicted such a second downfall in Luke chapter 21:
(v. 20) "[Jesus said] When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolaton is near
(v. 21) Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city.
(v. 22) For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written.
(v. 23) How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people.
(v. 24) They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."
When Titus sacked the city of Jerusalem and dispersed the Jews all over the world in 70 AD the purpose for the gift(s) of Tongues was thus completely fulfilled and so the gift immediately ceased in and of itself as the intransitive verb "pausontai" indicates in 1 Cor 13:8 and as history has recorded.
Notice that in the book of Acts, of the three instances of the gift of tongues being used, Jews were always present. ((Refs: Acts 2; 10, (v. 45); 19, (v. 18:28)).
ii) HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF ISA 28:11
[G. W. Grogan states, (The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Frank E. Gaebelein, General Editor, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1986, Vol 6., pp 5-6)]:
"The death of [Assyrian monarch] Tiglath-pileser in 727 B.C. raised false hopes of freedom for the little kingdoms on the Mediterranean seaboard. When Ahaz [King of Judah who aligned himself with Assyria for protection] dies about a year later... Isaiah uttered a prophecy warning Philistia of the consequences of revolt, and, by implication, counseled Judah against join her (14:28-32). It was some time later that Hoshea withheld tribute from Shalmaneser V, who for three years besieged [the Northern Kingdom of] Samaria, which was later taken by his successor, Sargon. According to the Assyrians, over twenty-seven thousand Israelites were deported at this time, being settled in the northern parts of the Assyrian empire... For about a decade the area was fairly quiet, Sargon being occupied with wars elsewhere; but then Egypt began to encourage the Philistines and others to form a new coalition against Assyria. This coalition was crushed by Sargon in 711 in a battle on Egyptian border. Judah under Hezekiah stayed out of this, heeding Isaiah's warning (20:1-6).
Sargon died around 705 B.C. and was replaced by Sennacherib. Immediately there was trouble in different parts of the Assyrian Empire, encouraged by the Ethiopian monarchs who were imparting new vigor to Egypt and also by Merodach-Baladan (Marduk-apal-iddina) of Babylon. This time, despite Isaiah's warnings (chs. 30-31), Hezekiah became involved and prepared Jerusalem for a siege (22:8-11). The Assyrian army invaded Judah, taking forty-six walled cities and devastating much of the countryside. It invested [surrounded for siege purposes] Jerusalem, but Isaiah encouraged Hezekiah to trust in the Lord; and the city was delivered (37:36)."
So Isaiah chapters 8-10 look forward to future Assyrian attacks (e.g., ch 36-37) and chapters 11-12 predict return from exile. Both are future at the time Isaiah writes. Likewise chapter 28 is looking forward, not backward. Israel mocks Isaiah's (God's) message in 28:10 and God mocks back in 28:11, predicting what will happen when He uses the Assyrians to judge His people. Isaiah ministered from about 740 to after 701 when Sennacherib attacked Jerusalem (and soon God destroyed his army. This was in the reign of Hezekiah.) Isaiah wrote about events before they transpired. In Isa 41:21-23,26; 42:9,23; 43:9,12;44:7f; 45:3,11,13; 46:10f;48:3,5; 48:6-8,14-16 he looks back and says his predictions have now been fulfilled.
[John A. Martin states. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, OT, Walvoord & Zuck, Editors, Victor Books, 1987, p. 1029 )]
"The message to Israel of destruction by foreign invaders was also for Judah. Though she would not be completely destroyed, because Jerusalem would not be taken, Judah would face much suffering. The people of the Southern Kingdom had much the same attitude as their Northern brothers. They too were scoffing at God's revelation through Isaiah."
Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum stated, (Email dated 4/27/99) http://www.ariel.org/
"The historical background of Isaiah 28 has to do with the crises of the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah. King Hezekiah allowed himself to be talked into joining an alliance with Egypt and rebel against the Assyrian Empire, to which Judah had been subjugated under King Ahaz. Isaiah warned that such a rebellion against Assyria was contrary to God's will and although Hezekiah normally listened to Isaiah, in this one case he failed to do so. Isaiah states that because of this act of disobedience, the Assyrians will invade and they will hear the Assyrian language outside their walls. When they hear the Assyrian language, it will be a sign of their unbelief.... [of Isaiah's prophecy]
No special revelation came through the Assyrian language on that occasion. The point is that when they hear the Assyrian language in the land, that will serve to them as a sign of Judah's unbelief, [and hence temporal judgment would be at hand]. Had Judah obeyed Isaiah the Prophet, there would have been no Assyrian invasion, and no Assyrian tongue in the Land. But because of disobedience, there was an Assyrian invasion and the Assyrian language was heard in the Land. The existence of the Assyrian language is a sign of Judah's unbelief...."
However, Hezekiah repented of his faithlessness and Isaiah interceded on his behalf and God delivered Jerusalem from the Assyrians, (2 Kgs 19) and thus the impending judgment in this particular case was rescinded - unlike the Northern Kingdom and the rest of Judah.
iii) THE APPLICATION OF ISA 28:11 TO 1 COR 14:21 = SIGN AND WARNING TO JEWS OF TEMPORAL JUDGMENT FOR A SPECIFICDISBELIEF
Paul then applies this text in Isa 28:11 [ref. 1 Cor 14:21-22] to the existence of the gift of tongues in the Church in order to identify its specific purpose as a sign to unbelieving Jews. His application of this OT text parallels the historical implications of that text but it is not indicated as identical in every respect. It does however have certain points of identity: the message is to unbelieveing Jews, foreign language(s) is the sign, temporal military judgment in view as a result of unbelief of some specific kind. In the case of Paul's time: had Israel believed the Messiahship of Jesus Christ and accepted Him as such, there would have been no need for a new entity to come into being, the Church, with its spiritual gifts, such as the gift of tongues. But now the existence of the Church, with its spiritual gifts of foreign tongues being expressed, is a sign of Israel's unbelief in the Messiahship of Jesus Christ.
Notice that whenever there is an historical incident reported of the gift of tongues being legitimately exercised, Jews were present. Furthermore, foreign tongues to non-Jews would not be so much of a unique sign of unbelief as it would be to dispersed Jews coming from far away lands to Palestine who then heard their second language from that far away land spoken to them in Palestine instead of the customarily expected Aramaic or Hebrew.
The warning from Isaiah to Judah came about 784 years before the Apostle's letter to the Corinthians and Paul is now using it to explain that the 1st century expression of the spiritual gifts of Tongues is in the same manner a sign of unbelief and judgment on unbelieving Jews with a similar invasion of a foreign power in view. This time the judgment is to be Israel at the hands of Rome in 70 A.D. which did come to pass, unlike the Assyrian seige of Jerusalem which was destroyed by God after Hezekiah repented and trusted in God.
So the two scenarios are not identical but the use of Paul's reference to Isa 28:11 as a prophetic one is fulfilled in the sense that the foreign tongues were a sign of Israel's unbelief and that temporal judgment of the kind portrayed in Isa 28, (military from a foreign power) was in view. The OT passage is not identical as Isaiah's Judah repented and Assyria did not complete her destructive intent and the foreign language sign departed with the destruction by God of Assyria's forces at least so far as Jerusalem was concerned, (not so for the rest of Judah or Samaria).
Paul's message to the 1st century Church indicated Israel's disbelief with the impending potential destruction forthcoming this time from Rome which was not prevented by God since Israel did not repent of her rejection of her Messiah. Note that the Church taking over as God's messenger to the world of His revelation especially the gospel cannot be viewed as temporal judgment of the kind that is portrayed in Isa 28; so one must look for fulfullment of the judgment end elsewhere. So the Church could not be a judgment on Israel but rather a replacement, even a blessing - bringing the true message of the gospel and the Messiah to all nations including and especially Israel. The judgment that seems to be in view in this case seems to be AD 70 - also a military conquest as in the days of Assyria.
iv) THE PURPOSE OF TONGUES AS A GENERAL SIGN OF UNBELIEF OF JEWS AND/OR GENTILES IS RULED OUT
Since God is sovereign and since He created the Spiritual Gifts of Tongues as a sign for something specific relative to a certain kind of unfaithfulness of Israel in accordance with Scripture with no other conditions to be met such as some kind of additional cooperation by believers not so stipulated in Scripture
and since we do not have historical evidence for the continued expression of the NT sign Gifts of Tongues in accordance with Scripture for the centuries following the 1st century AD,
and since there had never been a lack of widespread unfaithfulness amongst Jews and/or Gentiles throughout these same centuries
then we must conclude that the gift of tongues was not created by God as a sign of general unbelief and that they indeed have ceased.
So when they did cease is a good time to find the evidence for the precise judgment, and while it was being exercised, (A.D. 70), and it is a good time to find evidence for the precise content of unbelief, (rejection of the Messiahship of Jesus Christ).
[1 Cor 14:26c]:
"All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church [as a body is in view, not self-centeredly as an individual]."
[1 Cor 12:31]:
"But earnestly desire the greater gifts."
The seeking and desiring of spiritual gifts here is for a particular local body of believers to seek/desire an individual who has that gift in order to edify that particular body of believers in a way that is needful and not for the individual to seek a particular gift himself that he had not received at the point of salvation. Scripture indicates that the believer receives all spiritual blessings from God at the point of salvation, (Eph 1:3). It is just a matter for the individual to study and develop and use his gift(s) and for a local body to seek one with such of gift when needed."