The Origins Story: The Origins of Nations (Gen 10: 1-32)

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God puts Genesis 10 in Scriptures for a reason. The question is can we understand how Genesis 10 fits into God’s redemptive plan? The answer is yes!

Sinned Against God. Genesis 10 shows us the link of all the people on Earth back to Noah and Noah’s God. Noah and Mrs Noah had three sons. They were Shem, Ham and Japheth. Which mean everyone on the planet has an ancestor that started out knowing the living God. Any people group that does not worship Him had to rebel and walked away at some point in their history. Human’s sinfulness survived the flood! We noticed Moses writing for the Israelites starts off with Japheth. Moses tells us very little about Japheth’s descendants (vv. 1-5), because these nations were geographically the farthest from Palestine. Notable among Japheth descendants is Javan (v.2), the father of the Greeks. 

Judged By God. Second in the list is Ham, Noah’s youngest son (Gen 9:24). Ham received more attention. It is not surprising to find Egypt (v.6), Babylon (Babel, v.10), and Assyria (Nineveh, v.11) in his line. These three empires were the deadliest enemies of Israel during the old covenant period. The Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptian, the Northern Kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Assyrian and the Southern Kingdom of Judah was taken captive by the Babylonian. Ham’s descendant’s opposition to the people of God reflects the evil nature of their father Ham. Ham was a man who rejected the ways of his godly father. Because of his wicked behaviour, Ham and his descendants were under Noah’s curse (v.24-25). The descendants of Shem, the Israelites were the chosen people of God under Moses, about to enter into the promised land and to be the executor of the sinful Canaanite peoples for God – by God’s explicit instruction as the iniquity of the Amorites (descendants of Canaan) is now complete (Gen 15:13-16). Leviticus 18 is one example of their sinfulness. 

Chosen By God. The descendants of Shem were the chosen people of God under Moses, about to enter into the promised land. To him was born Eber (v.21), a forefather of Abram (Gen 11:10-26), and the name from which the word “Hebrew” is likely derived. They were chosen not because of their righteousness but by the sovereign will of God (Deut 9:4-5). The chosen people of God through the line of Shem, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is only a foreshadow to the coming messiah, Jesus Christ the promised sin crasher (Gen 3).  

Adopted By God. Genesis 10 is funnelling our focus on God’s unfolding salvation plan through God’s chosen nation. Salvation originated not in the will of man, but in the will of God. Hence, just like the Israelites we contributed nothing to our salvation. Salvation is is by grace alone, in Christ alone through faith alone. As we take a break from Genesis we look forward to Romans, the Gospel of God where we all have sinned against God (Rom 3:23), will be judged by God, destined to die (Rom 6:23) but for those who have been chosen by God (Rom 8:29-30) will be adopted by God (Gal 4:4-8 & Rom 8:14-17) and share in Christ’s glory for ever and ever. Amen. 

Elder Lawrence Yong