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Noah's Sons: The Origin and Spread of the Nations

Noah's Sons: The Origin and Spread of the Nations

November 07, 1999 | Andy Davis
Genesis 10:1-32
A New Creation, Universality of Sin, Original Sin

Pastor Andy Davis preaches an expository sermon on Genesis 10. The main subject of the sermon is the nations that descend from Noah.



Sometimes, in order to get a sense of the consistency of God in dealing with us, the consistency of His plan, the fact that God had worked all things after the council as well before the foundation of the Earth. You have to look at the Omega book of the Bible, Revelation and compare it with the Genesis book, the alpha book, namely Genesis. And I think we're gonna see that specifically today with what God has intended for tribes and languages and peoples, and nations, namely cultures.                       

I. A Picture of Cultures in Heaven

Listen to this from Revelation chapter 7, “After this, I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.’" Isn't that beautiful? A picture of representatives from every tribe and language and people and nation standing before the throne of Jesus Christ and giving Him glory for their salvation. And that's the final picture, that's the end. Isn't that great?

And it also says in the book of Isaiah, talking about the new Jerusalem, the spiritual Jerusalem, the renewed Jerusalem, by the grace of God. Isaiah 60, this is what it says, “Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. Nations…” Isn't this great? “Nations will come to your light, kings to the brightness of your dawn. Foreigners will rebuild your walls and their kings will serve you. Your gates will always stand open. They will never be shut day or night, so that men may bring you the wealth of nations, their kings led in triumphal procession.”

Just picture that in your mind. Jerusalem, the new Jerusalem, the heavenly Jerusalem standing open and the wealth of the nation just pouring in from every tribe and language and people and nation. This is a glorious vision of Heaven, the glory of God revealed in each particular culture, brought under subjection to the Gospel through faith in Jesus Christ. And that's the end. And the whole thing has its origins in the chapters we're gonna look at this week and next week, the spread of the nations, the scattering of the nations over the surface of the earth. Part of God's redemption plan from the foundation of the world has been that there would be representatives, there would be people from every culture believing in Jesus Christ.

Revelation 5:9, it says, “You are worthy…” speaking to Jesus, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain. And with your blood, you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”  So by the blood of Jesus Christ, they come. By the blood of Jesus Christ, they give glory and honor to God who saved them. But where did all these nations come from? All these tribes and language, where do they come from? That's what we're talking about today in Genesis Chapter 10. Genesis Chapter 10, and also 11, which we'll look at next week with the Tower of Babel, discusses the origins of cultures, the origins of peoples as such. Where do the tribes comes from? And the scattering of those peoples, how is it that they came to live where they live now?

In Acts 17, Verse 26, the Apostle Paul, on one of his missionary journeys, was preaching in Athens. And this is what he said, he said, “From one man, he made every nation of men that they should inhabit the whole Earth.” And, listen to this. “He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.” Isn't that incredible? God had the whole thing worked out. Who would live where for how long, how powerful they would be or how weak. What technological advancements they would see in their culture, how military militarily aggressive they would be, or whether they'd just be a quiet people. The times set for them and the exact places where they should live. He had the whole thing worked out. And he also says that when all is said and done, there'll be some from every tribe and language, people and nation praising Him and giving glory to Him.                                      

II.  A New World, An Old Problem: SIN

Now, as we look down in Genesis 9:18 and following, this is where the explanation starts. Look at Verse 18. It says, “The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan. These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the earth.” Well, there it is. From these three sons of Noah came everyone who was scattered over the surface of the earth. But first, there's some unfinished business to deal with in the story of Noah. And that is really one of the sad things of the development of history. Namely, that the contagion of sin came on the ark with them, and it was propagated to each of those tribes and languages and peoples and nations.

It was a cleansed world that Noah entered when he left that ark with his sons, was purified by sin, but they brought inside their souls, that contagion of sin, the virus of sin which would spread to all of those tribes and languages and peoples and nations. Different cultures, different peoples, struggles, conflicts, but the same problem, namely sin. 

"It was a cleansed world that Noah entered when he left that ark with his sons, was purified by sin, but they brought inside their souls, that contagion of sin, the virus of sin which would spread to all of those tribes and languages and peoples and nations."

Listen to the words of the rest of Chapter 9, “Noah, a man of the soil proceeded to plant a vineyard, and when he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father's nakedness and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders, and then they walked in backward and covered their father's nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father's nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said, ‘Cursed be Canaan. The lowest of slaves, will he be to his brothers. He also said, Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem. May Canaan be the slave of Shem. May God extend the territory of Japheth. May Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave.’ After the flood, Noah lived 350 years altogether. Noah lived 950 years, and then he died.” 

The unity of God's plan is seen in these chapters, but we also see the tragedy of sin. Remember the unity of the plan? Habakkuk 2:14, “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” You're the people of God. When you step out of this church today and you go out and look at the beauty that God has put out there, you are able intelligently to say, God made that. Praise be the name of the Lord. You are seeing the glory of God, aren't you? 

And in an intelligent way, more than the birds or the animals or any other creature, and certainly more than the unregenerate people who do not give glory to God, you have the special job this afternoon to give glory to God for what you see around you. The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord. God had in mind, even the Triangle region of North Carolina when he said that. The whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of His glory, and yet in the midst of all this in the new world, cleansed by the flood, there is this old problem of sin.

Now, last week, at the the beginning part of Genesis 9, we saw God's covenant faithfulness, that God makes covenants with us and keeps them. He made a covenant with Noah that he would not destroy the earth again by means of a flood. And yet God, who searches us and who knows us, knew very well that the contagion, that virus of sin, if we can use that language spiritually, had come with them in the hearts, the souls of those eight people who had come on the ark. Noah and his wife, Shem, Ham and Japheth and their wives, they're all sinners in the image of their father, Adam. Now God had cleansed the world from sin, but yet sin entered the ark and exited the ark, and we see that in the story of Noah. 

Now, Noah's sin was that of drunkenness. It says that Noah was a man of the soil. It meant that he was skilled in agriculture, and he needed to be, didn't he? As he stepped off that ark, that was the way that they were going to survive. Noah needed to know how to get a good crop out of the Earth, and so he was a man of the soil. Now, the Hebrew gives the indication that Noah, it says, proceeded or began to plant a vineyard. There's some indication that had never been done before, that Noah was a technical or an agricultural innovator as he planted this vineyard. Well, what came out of the vineyard? Grapes. And what came out of the grapes? Wine.

Now, wine is, in many cases, a symbol of corruption through the fermentation process in Scripture. And certainly, it corrupted Noah at this particular time. This is why there's consistent warnings against drunkenness in Scripture. Proverbs 20:1 says, “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler. Whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” And isn't it tragic that Noah was, therefore not wise here? He was foolish and got led astray by the wine.

Proverbs 23 adds to our understanding. Asks a series of questions. “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup when it goes down smoothly. In the end, it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.”

Clear warning against drunkenness, a clear warning against the abuse of alcohol. And yet Jesus changed water into wine. Melchizedek, we'll see in Genesis 14, brought wine as an offering to God. In the Old Testament, offerings wine was an acceptable offering to God. There was a wine offering which would poured out before Him. In Psalm 104:15, it says that, “God gives wine that gladdens man's heart.” So it has to do with balance. And at this particular point, Noah went over the line, didn't he? He abused the alcohol, and he became drunk. 

Ephesians 5:18 says, “Do not get drunk on wine which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” And so we see evidence of debauchery, the dissipation of Noah's righteousness, and the fact that he looks so debauched to his sons. And it's a shameful display. 

The result of Noah's sin is nakedness. And in this way, I see a real connection between Noah and Adam. You know, I never noticed this before, but there's really a link to original sin. Remember somewhat of a new world, cleansed, a fresh start. And yet there's this sin. Adam and Noah were both given a mandate to fill the Earth and to subdue it. Both given the same mandate. Adam took the forbidden fruit resulting in nakedness, and he was clothed by someone else. Noah took the fermented fruit resulting in nakedness, clothed by someone else. Do you see the connection? To some degree, sin entering the world through this act of Noah's.

"Adam and Noah were both given a mandate to fill the Earth and to subdue it. Both given the same mandate. Adam took the forbidden fruit resulting in nakedness, and he was clothed by someone else. Noah took the fermented fruit resulting in nakedness, clothed by someone else."

And it's amazing, as you read through the Scripture, the honesty of the Scripture, isn't it? The biblical honesty about its heroes. Is there even one hero in all Scripture who's not tainted by sin? You should all say, Yes, there is. Praise God. It's Jesus Christ and Him alone. Jesus alone made it through this valley of temptation without ever caving in. And He is our righteousness, He is our Savior, Christ alone. But every other hero in scripture is tainted by sin. Now, Noah was a godly man, more righteous than any of us could ever hope to be. He stood firm in his generation against unrighteousness, against godlessness, and yet he was still a sinner. And this is a consistent pattern in the Bible, totally honest about its heroes.

You look at Abraham. He was deceptive about his wife, Sarai, impatient concerning Hagar. You remember he wanted the promise, and so he started to act on his own? That was Abraham. Then there's Jacob. He was a deceiver and a con artist. Wouldn't want Jacob to sell you a car. Alright? Then there was David. He was an adulterer and a murderer, as you well know. What about the disciples? Are they paragons of virtue? No, not at all. They're actually paragons of ignorance and selfishness, time and again. Like Peter, who denied knowing Jesus three times and was constantly rebuking or saying no to Jesus. That was Peter. The heroes of the Bible are always portrayed very plainly to be sinners. 

Because you know why? The true hero of the Bible's not man, it's God. God and all His holiness, God and His perfection. And so even someone like Noah, who stood consistently against sin for hundreds of years, in a moment of weakness, let his guard down, and Satan gobbled him up. 1 Peter chapter 5 talks about this. Says, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy…” That's powerful, by the way. Your enemy. Do you realize you have a personal enemy? Somebody who is intelligently designing to destroy your life? I mean, intelligently making schemes and plans. “Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” And that day, he devoured Noah. 

And what a tragedy it was. And so we see the incredible stubbornness of sin, this contagion, this cancer that spreads from generation to generation. It spread through Noah, and it would also be spread through Noah's sons.

Now we meet Ham, the father of Canaan, and he's always introduced as the father of Canaan, very interesting here in Verse 22. It says in the Hebrew that Ham gazed at his father, wasn't just saw his father. There was a sense of kind of gleeful looking at this point, taking delight in the scene. And then he runs... In the Hebrew, it says that, He tells with the light. There's a certain enjoyment in the story as he comes to tell his brothers, Shem and Japheth about his father's drunkenness and nakedness. Now, what was Ham's sin? I don't think it was so much perversion at this particular point as rebellion. I really think there was a sense of rebellion. He was glad that this paragon of virtue, this patriarch, Noah, had fallen into sin. Why? So that he could kinda let his guard down a little bit, too. 

One of the commentators I read, Henry Morris, wrote this. He said, “A much more probable interpretation of Ham's actions here is that they express the long hidden resentment of his father's authority and his moral rectitude. There was apparently a carnal and rebellious bent to Ham's nature, thus far restrained by the spiritual strength and patriarchal authority of his father. Now beholding the evidence of his father's human weakness before his very eyes, he rejoiced, no doubt, feeling a sense of release from all the inhibitions which had until now suppressed his own desires and ambitions.”

It's part of sin to rejoice in stories about other sin, isn't it? 'Cause it lets you be free in this matter. You're able to let your own guard down and do what your own sin nature wants. But first, 1 Corinthians 13:6 says that, “Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth.”  There's no delight in this. And Shem and Japheth they're not delighted at all. They're stricken with the tragedy of this. There's nothing to rejoice in here at all. So Shem and Japheth, to some degree, are acting like salt and light, slowing that spread of sin. If they had just gone in... Can you imagine if Shem, Ham, and Japheth, all three of them had caved into this moment, how quickly sin would have accelerated?

But Shem and Japheth said, No, we're not going to rejoice in this scene. And so they take this cloak, and they put it on their shoulders, and they walk in backwards out of reverence for their father, and they cover him. And they re-establish his position as a leader, re-establish his position as a righteous man.                                                

III. Noah’s Prophecy

Now, when Noah wakes up, verse 24 through 29, he utters a prophecy. Remember last week, I told you that when Noah exited the ark he was at once a king, a prophet and a priest? Now, he is king in that he had authority over his family, and they were all there was in the world. And so he was in authority over the human race at this particular time. He was also a priest in that he offered sacrifices, remember? Immediately comes off the ark, and he builds an altar and he offers sacrifices to God. Now, he acts like a prophet, and he opens his mouth, and he speaks and he says, “Cursed be Canaan.” Did that ever surprise you? Well, Ham does the sin. It's Canaan who gets it.

I thought it was that the sons weren't supposed to suffer for the sins of the father. But realize at this point, I think, that Canaan was old enough that his character was revealed and he was very much like this. And so the curse came down on Canaan. And it's very interesting. I think, to some degree, it's a message that sin is passed on from generation to generation. In effect, Noah is saying, as my youngest son shamed me, so also your youngest son will shame you. And so it will pass on. Also, Canaan's corruption is patterned after his worldly father, Ham. He was a corrupt individual, and so also were his descendants. 

And finally, ultimately, those corrupt descendants of Canaan would occupy what would come to be the promised land and live debauched lives, offering sacrifices to idols, doing all kinds of manner of wickedness before God. Sodom and Gomorrah was populated by Canaanites, and so there was wickedness there.

And so the curse comes on on Canaan. And what is the curse? That Canaan's carnal nature, namely, itself a form of bondage, would result in his bondage on Earth as well. He was a slave of sin. Jesus said Anyone who sins is a what? A slave to sin. That's a serious form of slavery. You're compelled to sin, you can't get out. And unless Jesus makes you free, you will never be free. But if the Son makes you free, you'll be truly free. For Jesus alone gives power over sin. And so there's a bondage that Canaan has just to his carnal nature.

Canaan's god would be his stomach, and therefore he would serve his brothers. Even more, this would be a foreshadowing of Israel's conquest of the promised land, this servitude. Then he turns and blesses Shem. Now, I don't know why he singled Shem out here, except that Shem is elect, he's chosen. Jesus Christ would be a Semite. He would be descended from Shem, and so he blesses Shem first. It could also be that, reading between the lines, that Shem was the leader with Japheth when he said, Come, let's do this. We don't know. But because of his righteousness, he's blessed. And it says, Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem. Shem's blessing come because of his connection to the Lord, the God of Israel.

Because of his connection to the Lord, he is blessed. And so it is with you. You have no blessing except from your connection with the Lord Jesus Christ. Every blessing in the heavenly realms comes to you through Christ. And nothing apart from Him.

So Shem is elect, chosen by the Lord, and from Shem would come the Christ. Canaan would be his slave. And then Japheth's blessing is in direct connection to his relationship with Shem. May you dwell in the tents of Shem. The word Japheth in Hebrew means to enlarge. So there's a sense of the enlarging of the tent. And I think we see here a foreshadowing of the spread of the Gospel. As the Gospel goes out through the Semite, the lines of the Semites, namely, specifically through the Israelites and through Jesus Christ. There's gonna be an extending of the tent, and the Gentiles, the godly ones, will come into that tent and find salvation. That’s us. 

We are spiritual Japhethites. We're not descended perhaps from Shem, but we, through faith in Christ, have entered into the tent of Shem, and we receive His forgiveness, His blessing. Reminds me of what we're gonna look at in a few weeks in Genesis 12:3, in which the promise to Abraham says this, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you, I will curse and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” 

Now, in terms of this curse, some have used in the past, tragically so, a curse to say that certain physical descendants of Ham should be rightfully slaves on earth. Isn't that shameful? And that undercuts exactly what Jesus has taught us in Colossians 3:11, “Here, there is no Greek or Jew circumcised or uncircumcised, Barbarian, Scythian slave or free, but Christ is all and is in all.”

In verses 28 and 29, we see the ultimate curse of sin. Now, this should bring back a memory to you. It says in verse 28, “after the flood, Noah lived 350 years. Altogether Noah lived 950 years, and then he died. “ You remember this, Genesis 5. You remember the genealogy? We're going through this man, he lived so many years, had so many children, and then he died, and then the next one, so many years, so many children, and then he died, and then he died, and then he died. And then along came the story of Noah, Genesis 6, 7, 8, and 9, an interruption in the genealogy, you see? And then Noah dies.

It's the common curse. Sin equals death. There's no escaping it. Except through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Except through faith in Jesus Christ, for He alone has power over death. For death is the rightful punishment for sin. And it's so tragic, the flood is over, and yet already we're seeing the progress of sin in this new world. And only the blood of Christ can stem that flow.                                                      

IV. The Table of Nations

Now, in Chapter 10, we have what's known as the table of nations. Now, when I went through the sermon this morning, I read through the chapter verbally, and I made so many mistakes on the names that I decided I'm not gonna humiliate myself in front of you and read this chapter. It's a great chapter. It really is. It's an amazing chapter, but because of what happened in Chapter 11, I don't speak Hebrew as my native tongue, so I kept stumbling over these names. Tower of Babel, I'm an English speaker, and these are not English names. Take it home and read it this afternoon, read it aloud to one another over lunch or dinner. And let's see if you can get through without making a mistake, but I couldn't.

So we're just gonna look over the table of nations here. Now, this is an extraordinary document, Genesis 10, it's incredible. The renowned archaeologist William F Albright, universally acknowledges as the world's leading expert on Archaeology of the ancient Near East, said this, “Genesis 10 stands alone in ancient literature without even a remote parallel, even among the Greece where you find the closest approach to a distribution of people's in genealogical framework, the table of nations in Genesis 10 remains an astonishingly accurate document.”

It's amazing what Genesis 10 is trying to do. It's describing where everyone came from. You ultimately can find yourself here if you only had a little more information, you'd be able to find yourself in Genesis 10. It's an amazing document. And there's really three major headings. You’re following the three lineages, the lineage from Japheth, the lineage from Ham, and the lineage from Shem, but there's one major lesson, and that is the essential physical unity of the human race. We all are descended from one man. In this case, we could say one man Noah, we're all descended from Noah. Second time that's happened, 'cause we're also all descended from Adam, so there's a central unity. 

Now, the modern focus on race really forfeits this unity. Recently, I was reading some accounts of what happened in Rwanda in 1994. Perhaps you've forgotten about Rwanda. Do you remember Rwanda in 1994? Remember with the Hutus and the Tutsis? Basically, Rwanda is made up of those two tribes, and through one or another incidence where some government leaders were killed in a plane crash, and then some things started to happen. One of the tribe started to slaughter in a genocidal fashion, the other.

And then when the other got militarily the upper hand, they returned the favor and started slaughtering genocidally, the other tribe. 8 million people in Rwanda, 4 million of them had to flee the country for their lives. 1 million of them in the course of about 10 years, 1 million of them have been killed. Isn’t that incredible? 1 million people in a small little country like Rwanda, and to what can we attribute this fierceness, this anger, this hatred? 

Well, the account I read on the internet calls it tribalism, tribalism. Loyalty to your own tribe, loyalty to your own clan, your own group. We could call it here in America, racism. It's an evil thing. In effect, if you're a Christian, your first loyalty is to Jesus Christ. And to the vision that I've spelled out for you here in Revelation, that someday members from every tribe and language and people and nation will be worshipping the same, Christ. And salvation comes in His name. That's your first loyalty.

When I was a missionary in Japan, people were talking to me as an American. I said, first and foremost, I am a Christian, I was born in America, I love my country. Looking forward to going home, I really was. Alright, but first and foremost, I belong to a citizenship in heaven, I belong to Jesus Christ. And that loyalty is stronger than any loyalty I have to the fact that my ancestors were Irish or anything like that. None of that matters to me as a Christian. 

But what happened in Rwanda it's been played out time and time again. It was the foundation of the genocide that the Nazis tried to do. They believed that they were the superior race. Remember the Arians and everyone else were Untermensch, sub-human. This is what sin does, it's a form of self-worship, I think. My group is the right one, every other group is lesser or at a lower level. And so they slaughtered. But this dishonors God.

Here in Genesis 10, very clearly a unity of the human race. And we also see the out-working of God's sovereign plan, individual blessings given to each group. Acts 17:26, “From one man, he made every nation of men and established places for them where they should live.” Deuteronomy 32:8, and this is what it says, “When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples.” 

Isn’t that interesting? Boundaries where they would live, places. This is for you, this is for you. He gave each their inheritance, not just the chosen people of Israel. They had their Promised Land, the descendants of Lot had their Promised Land. And actually earlier in Deuteronomy 2, God had said through Moses, “Do not harass the Moabites, do not provoke them to war, for I will not give you any part of their land, it has been given to the descendants of Lot for their possession.” Isn’t that interesting? The Promised Land of the Moabites. But that's the way God works, and He established in each area where those people would live. 

Now, can we find modern nations in Genesis 10? I think we can, some of them. Some of the lineages have been lost. As you look at the Japhethites, you've got these sons, Gomer, Magog, Madai, Tubal, Meshech, Tiras. I think as you look at these names, you say, Who are these people? But I think these people, genealogically, etymologically, are the origins of the Indo-European peoples. Those people who populated up Northward and went out that way.

For example, I think it's pretty clear that Japheth is the founder of Greece. If you read ancient Greek mythology, they have the father of their nation was Iapetus. Iapetus. Does that sound like Japheth? The IA ending, you can literate into J, and they themselves claim that he was descended from Japheth. Also you get with Gomer identified by Herodotus and Plutarch with the region of Cimmery and north of the Black Sea, modern Crimea related to Gomer. Magog, the place of Gog, Josephus says, Magog was an ancestor of the Scythians who were in the north Black Sea region in modern Russia, that area up there. And we see Magog showing up later in Ezekiel 38 in his prophecy Madai is identified by all authorities as the ancestors of the Medes to Persians. You see, you can trace all this if you just know what to look for linguistically.

Now, Tarshish, as you know, is the port to which Jonah was fleeing, and then you have that whole issue of the maritime peoples, descended from Japheth. And they traveled in ships, they went all over the world, and they traveled through their knowledge of boats. I wonder where they got that. Maybe from father Noah taught them how to build boats. He knew how to build a boat. So those people spread out. There were maritime peoples.

Now, notice it says in verse 5 each of these groups had their own language and their common speech. What does that tell you about the relationship with Chapter 11? Actually, the two are reversed chronologically, aren't they? In chapter 11, verse 1, it says, The whole earth had what? One common language, one common speech, but here it's talking about different languages, different speeches, so actually chronologically, this happened after Chapter 11, but for some reason, Moses gives it to us first. 

So there's languages. The Hamites in Verses 6 through 20. You get Cush and Mizriam. These are the origins of the Egyptian people. The Hebrew word for Egypt is Mizraim, it's a dual word. In other words, it relates to the upper and lower parts of Egypt, upper Egypt, lower Egypt. Cush, are the Ethiopians. So we see the spreading down into Ethiopia and into Egypt, coming from the descendants of the Hamites. And also Raamah, Cush's son, he settled in Arabia. We get that out of Isaiah 21, you can go through each one of these. One of Cush descendants was Nimrod, he was a mighty hunter for the Lord, powerful hunter, a warrior. Not only that, he was a city builder, he was a civilization builder a powerful leader.

And look at all the cities that are ascribed to him. He built Babylon, for example, in the plain of Shinar, and also Assyria around Nineveh. The Assyrian cities of Nineveh, these came to be the two mightiest empires of the ancient world, the Babylonians and the Assyrians. And both of them traced to Nimrod. Nimrod's name actually means rebel. He was a rebel. So he was a powerful warrior and a rebel, perhaps a little bit like those Genesis 6 tyrant kings that we saw before, setting up his own tyrannical reign over these kingdoms.

Now, the Canaanites, perhaps of all these groups, are the most familiar to us, the Perizzites, the Hivites, the Jebusites, the Girgashites, all of these ites. Have you ever heard of these before? These are the ones, these are the peoples that Joshua drove out of the Promised Land, 'cause they settled in the very area that God had given to Abraham, and so they drove them out. But in the midst of all this, in the midst of all of this, God is working out His plan, he's working out His plan, and His plan follows the line of Shem. They are the elect ones from verse 21 through 31, they are chosen by God, and why? Because Jesus Christ would be physically descended from Shem.  He would be a Semite, and so they were chosen, Elect of God.

Now there were five sons from Shem; one of them would be elect, chosen. That would be Arphaxad. The other four were not chosen; one of the four were the Elamites. The Elamites came from them. Ashur related to the Assyrians, also Lud related to the Ephesians, all of that. But the focus on the election is on Arphaxad. Now, Arphaxad was the grandfather of Eber. Eber is the Hebrew word for Hebrew, bet you didn't know that. Related to Eber is Hebrew, and Abraham, as we learned from Genesis 14, was a Hebrew. This is where the Hebrew line comes from. They were Semites, grandson of Arphaxad was Eber. Now Eber had two sons, Joktan and Peleg and Peleg. During his time, it says, the Earth was divided. What do you think that means? Well, I think that Genesis 11 explains what that means. That was the time of the division of peoples. That’s when their languages were confused. That’s when each of them were scattered to their inheritances, to the places where they would live.

So it gives you an indication of when it was the tower of Babel occurred, I believe in the time of Peleg. Joktan's sons, also listed in detail, identified as the tribes who live in South Arabia. In Verse 30, it says, “The region where they lived stretched from Mesha toward Sephar in the Eastern Hill Country.” So the author here is very concerned to describe their land, where it is they settled. That's what's going on in Genesis 10. There are far too many details to go through here, but he's tracing out the scattering of the peoples and their ending up in certain places, and they're beginning their cultures. It's a powerful thing.

And then in Verse 31, just like in verse 5 and 20, the author concludes the account of Shem's lineage with the same statement, These are the sons of Shem by their clans and languages in their territories and nations. All of this setup and history would develop and grow to the time when God would send maybe one of you to be a missionary to each one of these people groups. You see what I'm saying? The unity of God's plan is so beautiful, they will be representatives from each of these clans, each of these tribes and nations, peoples and languages worshipping Jesus Christ when all is said and done. Verse 32, “These are the clans of Noah's sons according to their lines of descent within their nations and from these nations, and from these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.”

V. Application

Universality of sin

Now, what applications can we get out of this chapter? Well, first, the universality of sin, we've already talked about it, but each one of you who has come here today, you are sinful. You sin, you are not as righteous even as Noah, and he sinned. I have sinned. All of us are sinful. For it says in Romans 3:10, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” No one who does good. No one who seeks God, universality of sin. Noah walked with God and was righteous. You know it says in Ezekiel 14:14, “God listed him among the three most righteous men of the Old Testament,” he said, Even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were to stand before me on behalf of this land, they would only save themselves by their righteousness, I would still punish the land. And so He was listed as one of the three most righteous men in the Old Testament, and yet he sinned, the universality of sin. A clear application.

Unity of humanity

Secondly, the unity of humanity. We are all descended from one man, from one man, Noah, from one man, Adam; we trace our lineage. If we had more information, we could do it all the way back through. It is a clear teaching of the Bible. All of humanity descended from Adam, all humanity descended from Noah, and therefore tribalism or loyalty to personal race is evidence of sin and loses this picture of the unity of humanity, all peoples equally created in the image of God. And all peoples will be represented on that final day worshipping Jesus Christ. 

Unfolding of God’s Plan 

And the final application is the unfolding of the eternal plan of God. God is delighted with a variety of cultures. He loves it. Not the sinful aspects of culture, but those that are differences within us that come together and give glory to His name. It brings Him great honor and glory. It's the unfolding of the image of God that was originally planted in Adam, unfolded throughout history, and someday, even the distant islands will declare the glory of Jesus Christ through faith in Christ.

Isaiah 42 says so. Isaiah 42 says, “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In his law, the islands will put their hope.” Now, to a Jewish person, what was an island? It was the end of the world, the end of the world. And Jesus Christ through the gospel of Christ, is going to reach the ends of the world with His gospel. We were. We North Carolinians were the ends of the world to an Israelite back then, weren't we? And yet the gospel has come to us.

As you came here today, perhaps you didn't realize the heritage that you had. The lineage that God has, but each one of you fits into his master plan in a marvelous way, and if you love Jesus Christ, you will stand before Him as the representatives of your culture, and you will praise him for your salvation. You should be praying for the advance of the Gospel so that members from every tribe and language and people and nation will also praise Him as well. And if you came here today and you didn't love Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you didn't know Him. Today for you, is a day of salvation. Come to know Him, believe in Him. Repent in him, for because of the universality of sin, you also need a Savior like Jesus Christ.

Other Sermons in This Series

God Creates the Universe

September 05, 1999

God Creates the Universe

Genesis 1:1-31

Andy Davis

Book Overviews, Spiritual Warfare, The Doctrine of the Trinity, Miracles, Creation

The Special Creation of Man

September 12, 1999

The Special Creation of Man

Genesis 2:1-25

Andy Davis

Covenants, Man as Male and Female, Gender & Sexual Identity, Marriage and Parenting

From Adam to Noah

October 03, 1999

From Adam to Noah

Genesis 5:1-32

Andy Davis

Redemption, Old Covenant, The Word of God, Prophecy