Nimrod did not intend being an instrument in God’s hands, fulfilling His will. But he became the sling, and the confederate humanity under him the stone, which, hurtling out with terrific centrifugal force flew into pieces, that in turn soared in orbit around a central Semitical fragment. These fragments, to begin with, were the 70 descendants of Noah, representing as many nations. In the number 70 we may see latent something of the destiny of the world’s races and nations. In Scripture the number 70 is significant of humanity in covenant completeness with God. It so happens that in Scripture 7 signifies the covenant, and 10 the idea of completeness. This humanity originally embraced the sons of Noah and their seed. For “God spake unto Noah and to his sons, saying, ‘I, behold, I establish My covenant with you, and with your seed after you’. ..and the sons of Noah…were Shem and Ham and Japheth. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.” (9:8,9,18,19) Here then in the new world was humanity in covenant completeness with God. This idea is borne out in other places in Scripture, as for example, from the loins of Jacob there came 70 souls (a humanity in covenant completeness) who were preserved through the instrumentality of the Egyptian nation. (Ex. 15) Egypt, like the chaff, served the development of the wheat. The same was true of Assyria and Nimrod. They all, though unintentionally or ignorantly, subserve the salvation of the elect. Also in Israel there were 70 elders, (Ex. 24:1) signifying the covenant life of the nation. Further, upon this people 70 weeks (the fullness of time) were determined to make an end of sins. (Deut. 9) Here with the cross in view covenant completeness is seen in one of its clearest and plainest O.T. forms! In the N.T., Jesus sent forth 70 disciples. (Lk. 10:11) In each of these instances there is the idea of humanity in covenant completeness with God. This is the destiny of redeemed humanity with its races and nations.
Plainly seen, then, is a fundamental reason for this register of the nations which we have in Genesis 10. The idea is that according to sovereign predestination, the decree of the covenant has a trinitarian-humanitarian consciousness. Election embraces a humanity, a world citizenship of mankind. Outside of Scripture, this idea was not found until the time of Alexander the Great, and especially in the Greek Stoics. Only, as they in their philosophy made the distinction of “Greek and Barbarian,” everyone else was barbarian, while they alone were the citizens of the world. It was Paul who pierced the heart of this Greek pride when he said, God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.” (AC. 17:26) The point is, though this table shows that in the Shemites redemption comes to its fullest realization, yet the other nations are not relegated to biblical oblivion, nor are they dismissed to the mere fringes of biblical history. They are registered to establish the principle that in the fullness of time, God shall enclose them within the inner sanctum of His tabernacle.
A further insight into this destiny we have where the register makes reference to the Casluhim, (10:14) an aggressor race whose origin and end are delineated in Scripture. They were a people sprung from the Egyptians. From them came the Philistim or the Philistines, whence Palestine derives its name, which, by the way, means “Wanderers,” for they “wandered” from Egypt and settled in Canaan; it became their home. So they were not true pilgrims. Yet they claimed a place in the realm of faith. Their modern counterpart is not in heathendom, but within Christendom. In Jesus’ day they were the Pharisees. They are any who are of the flesh, yet claim the blessings of the promise. In Gen. 26:14-15 we find them making trouble for Isaac by depriving God’s people of the Water of Life. Final reference is made to the Philistines in Zech. 9:6-7, where we are told that they shall be cut off, except for an elect remnant of them, which shall be converted and “be for our God.” This points to the N.T. era, when the universal character of the church is restored. Then God would save even Philistines!
The most important national genealogy of the three recorded here is that of the Semitic races. Not that there is any superiority claimed for them. They are elect, but election is sovereign, and unconditional, not for anything foreseen in man. There is nothing remarkable about the Shemites as compared to the Hamites or the Japhethites. What makes Shem outstanding is nothing in himself, but his election. Shem is last in this history of the world, but first in the eternal counsel of God. Before this point in history the human race was Adamic and Noahic. There were neither Jews nor Gentiles. Now out of the river of humanity, God, in the call of Abram, draws off a slender rill, the source of the nation of Israel. It shall be this tiny rill which shall purify the great river of humanity itself. For it is in Shem that the unity of mankind consists. Here is the first humanity in the post-deluvian world, which is a type of the new humanity, having its completion in the Second Man; and which, being new, shall not be merely something higher physically (although that would require God’s power alone), but shall be in a glorified universe lifted entirely to the plane of eternal life.
In Eber (10:25) we have another inkling as to the destiny of the heathen peoples. The Lord began to separate the Jewish nation to himself in Eber, the father of the Hebrews. They would enjoy the peculiar favor of the Lord. Balaam’s true prophecy relates to this. Foretelling the coming of Christ, the Star of Jacob and the Sceptre of Israel, he reveals that all the enemies of Israel would be destroyed, namely, Edom; Amalek, the first that warred against Israel; the Kenites though strong and secure would not continue, but Assur would take them away; Eber would be afflicted, yet Israel’s chief enemies would fall. In fact, every heathen people, though firmly established, must perish. According to this remarkable prophecy, the whole heathen, reprobate, world is doomed to destruction.
Therefore in this Genesis record we see the beginning of races, cities, kingdoms and nations ordained and raised up of God. The kingdoms of this world come into being according to the counsel of God. This counsel includes the ordination of their sin and anti- God administrations. Yet so that God is not responsible for their sin and evil. Man in his totally depraved nature alone bears the responsibility for all racial, national and human sin. But God uses the wicked world civilizations to serve the church. In God’s hands these civilizations are in themselves good; it is man who perverts them to an evil end. So, to the reprobate of the world, God’s good gifts become a snare and a curse. To the elect they are a blessing in that they are a means to advance them in their pilgrim journey.
What this record puts forth clearly, then, is: 1. the original divine plan for the human race, namely, complete covenant communion with God. 2. The lost inheritance of man by the Fall. 3. The ultimate goal of the Christian dispensation, which is to restore and redeem mankind. 4. The renewed inheritance of the redeemed and glorified humanity, when there shall be neither Jew nor Gentile, bond nor free, neither male nor female; for all shall then in the fullest sense be one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:28) This divine plan shall be realized. For God himself is our Strong Tower, (Prov. 18:10) and from Him we get a name, for His promise is, “I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God, and I will write upon him My new name.” (Rev. 3:12) This is the guarantee that our labor shall not come to naught. (I Cor. 15:57) For the city of man shall be burned up, (Rev. 18:9-10) but the city of God shall be everlasting. (22:5)
“So Jehovah scattered them.” (11:8) He did this with a view to His end-purpose for them. It was a punishment meted out on them. It was a blessing on the righteous, but a curse on these wicked men. What brought the civilization of Cain to destruction was the idolizing of feminine beauty, (4:19,22; 6~2) lust (4:19, 23; 6:4) and anarchy. (4:23; 6:1,13) Then the building of cities, the discoveries of invention toward a better means of living, or art, industry, weapons of defense, all became buried in the corruption and overthrow of that humanity. Now the civilization of Nimrod falls by the lust of empire, the lust of glory (the pride of life), lust of display (the lust of the eyes), and world despotism. For man’s national peculiarities and language differences tend to enrich the world. But the trend to absolute simplification and unification tends to impoverish all mankind. In our own day and age we see how, under dictatorial rule and totalitarian uniformity, men lose their individual character; they lose their opportunity to develop their diversity of gifts and talents. Thus the individual and his conscience, his convictions, his personality, his freedom, his private initiative must be sacrificed to this spirit of the world, whether it be in the world or in the church. In this movement we have the absence of real development, and the obstruction of the true progress of the world.
This being so, it may be easily seen that without the scattering of the nations, the development of Shem cannot takes place. For if the people had continued one, vast areas of the earth would not have been replenished, and the political powers of their ruler (Nimrod) would have become that of the most enslaving despotism. Abounding violence, corruption and wickedness would be hideously rampant; for every means would be at their disposal to increase in the ingenuity of evil. The result would be that the church would be swept up into this maelstrom of iniquity, and the children of men would swallow up the little remnant of the children of God. The godly seed would become extinct. For in the religion of Shem lay the true unity of the human race. Things were moving in that direction. For in their “let us make us a name” (Heb., “shem“) there is a sneer of derision at Shem. They derided him and his blessing'(by Noah) in their proposal. But imperialism and totalitarianism are contrary to the will of God. Nationalism has God’s sanction. In religion, many false ones are better than one corrupt one, since they cancel out one another. No human world-kingdom scheme has ever been successful, nor ever will. God frustrated their purpose by the miracle of the confusion of tongues. Thus the inventions and exploits of man become monuments of his folly. The world; is full of such. Think of the Spanish Armada, destroyed by a storm and tempest off the Hebrides; of the great wall of China, of the Maginot Line in France, of the Graf Zeppelin and the steamship Titanic. But the wicked never learn. They quickly forgot the judgment of the Flood, and went back to their former evil ways. Sin still increased along with the development of the races; and this in spite of the fact that the ruins of the Flood were at this time still visible, and also the fact that they lived near the descendants of Noah, and he himself was still living, Nothing short of the frustrating action of God could deter them from what they had imagined to do. So it is today. Men have forgotten the ravages of World Wars I and II, or so it would seem. They still persist in evil and violence with the horrible ruins of atomic warfare apparent. What then shall restrain men from the evil they have imagined to do? Nothing but judgment, — or the grace of God in Christ! In the destiny of the races we see the nearer approach of the promise. History always invariably sped in the line of Shem. Now it flies in the same but advanced line of the covenant. Time speeds down the avenue of history. What conception do we have of either? of time, people or history? We know very little of the people who lived before us, even of those who live in the same places we live. We know so little of our neighboring contemporaries, and less of those who are distant from us. Apart from the Bible we would be altogetherout of touch with men, the times and the meaning of history. History is the revelation of the narrative and development of the covenant of God in Christ in time and in the midst of the world.
Throughout all the ages of the church, the aim of God from all eternity with respect to all the races of the world is that they should overspread the earth. They, largely, should be God’s scaffolding to serve His purpose according to election, to serve the cause of the church, in the bringing and building of God’s Tabernacle with men, to order it and establish it in the New Jerusalem. For there shall take place the complete “healing of the nations,” (Rev. 22:2) “and the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it…They shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.” (21:24,26) Amen.