Questions for Littles: How long did Noah live after the flood (9:28)? After what did Noah’s sons father sons (10:1)? How many nations are listed here as coming from Noah’s three sons (10:2-31, should be 70)? What were divided from the nations of the families of the sons of Noah (10:32)? After what were these nations generated (v32)?In this week’s Old Testament reading, we heard about the families of nations that came from Shem, Ham, and Japheth. It seems like a long list of difficult names, but it is really a trumpet fanfare about the grace of God.
First, this chapter trumpets the grace of God because it is a record of man being fruitful and multiplying him upon and filling the earth. This was our original privilege in the creation. It had been forfeited in the Fall. And God had resoundingly announced this in the Flood, in which he destroyed man and man’s work, by subtracting him from, and emptying the earth.
The text highlights this grace to us in v1 and v32 by reminding us that this being fruitful and multiplying occurs “after the flood.” Yet, there is still that reminder of how grace is not an excuse for wickedness. vv8-20 are sobering. We know about the Canaanites, about whom we thought much last week because of the curse at the end of chapter 9.
But look at what else came from Ham: Nimrod (whose kingdom began with Babel), Assyria (and its capital Nineveh), and Mizraim (which is Hebrew for “Egypt”). The climax of the families of the Canaanites is four cities that famously no longer exist by the time Israel receives this book from the pen of Moses: Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim. Oh the consequences of our sin upon our children!
This brings us to a second trumpeting of grace: Babel. We’ll hear more about Babel next week, but several of the nations in chapter 10 actually come to exist for the first time after chapter 11.
Why put chapter 10 first, then? Because even after the children of Shem and Japheth ignored their blessing at the end of chapter 9 (by allowing themselves to be joined to Nimrod and led by him), God was determined to separate them from Ham.
The Lord mercifully and miraculously put back into place that distinction (that “enmity”) that was originally part of the promise of the Covenant of Grace (cf. 3:15), and the loss of which had led directly to the Flood (6:1-7). It may seem better for man to be unified, but for the sake of their spiritual good, it was actually necessary and gracious that they be separated!
Finally, this chapter trumpets God’s grace by how small God’s people are. There are very many nations listed in this chapter. And there are some great and might nations listed in this chapter. But Israel isn’t one of them. Israel is this teeny-tiny insignificant slice that came out of Peleg, whom we meet in v25.
The Lord will later make this point in Deuteronomy 7, Joshua 24, and other places. It was not because Israel was big or impressive that God chose them to be His people, the ones who would receive His Word and through whom the Messiah would come. No, salvation history isn’t about their greatness or goodness… there was precious little of that! Rather, salvation history is about His undeserved love!!
What habits do we have in place to thank God for His grace? How are we watching against our pride?Suggested songs: ARP107A “O Thank the Lord” or HB9 “Now Thank We All Our God”