A Little Family History

Devo Scripture: Genesis 9:26 – 10:32
Key Verse: “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” Galatians 3:26

So ya wanna know where ya came from? Well I can tell ya! You’re a descendent of either Shem, Ham, or Japheth. “From these three sons of Noah came all the people who now populate the earth” (Gen. 9:18, NLT). All the people! Including me. Including you. Christians and non-Christians alike have a connection to Biblical history. Whether one chooses to accept that or not doesn’t change the fact that all peoples descend from one of these three men; from Noah; from Adam; and ultimately from God. (Kids let me tell you a story about your Great Great Great Great grandpa Japheth and your Uncle Shem.) Sounds a little crazy doesn’t it?

I’ll admit at first glance Genesis 10 appears to be a boring genealogy with names neither you nor I know how to pronounce. But in actuality…it’s your family history (and mine too). Verse 2 begins with Japeth. In general the European countries descended from him, through Javan. Scholars also include Germans, Russians, Slovaks, Romans, Greeks, Turks, Poles, Medes, Celtics, and Persians as descendents of Japeth (just to name a few).

From Ham are named four sons. From these come the African peoples; the Ethiopians; the Egyptians; the Libyans. As well as the nations of the Canaanites. But if you remember from last week the Canaanites are cursed by Noah (9:25) and are thus (surprise surprise) no longer in existence. They dwelt mainly in the land east of the Mediterranean Sea (otherwise known as the promised land) and were destroyed by God when Israel took possession of this land fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Deut. 1:7-8). But the annihilation of the Canaanites did not come immediately. God is patient not wanting that any should perish. He gave them time, yet they esteemed him not. Initially the Canaanites even prospered. Note their initial settlement was in some of the best, most fertile land. Makes me think of Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.” (Ps. 37:7,9).

Genesis 10 elaborates on one particular descendent of Ham, Nimrod. In Hebrew Nimrod means “we will rebel.” Verse 10 says “The beginning of his kingdom was Babel.” Sound familiar? The Tower of Babel. Babel is also known as Babylon. “As a city, Babylon symbolizes humanity’s ambition to dethrone God and make the earth it’s own.” When the Israelites chose to serve other gods the LORD exiled them to Babylon for 70 years. In essence God said, “Ok if you want to live apart from me then I’ll send you to the city representing life apart from me.” Babylon is also spoken of again in Revelation, no doubt representing rebellion against God.

Then we have Shem. From Shem came the Assyrians, the Arabian tribes, the Chaldeans. But most notably the Jews, God’s chosen people, whom the Messiah (Jesus Christ) would descend through.

What a blessing Shem received! The Messiah; the Redeemer; the one spoken of all the way back in Genesis 3:15; the very Son of God; would come from Shem. A blessing indeed. When Noah prophesied a curse on Canaan, he also prophesied a blessing on Shem and Japheth. “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.” (9:26-27) Oh how I pray it could be written of me in such a way. “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Stacey.” The LORD was the God of Shem. Shem followed after God and God chose him. God used his descendents for the most glorious purpose, though it was not easy. Far…far from easy. God used them to make his name known throughout the entire world. Used them to bring salvation to the entire world. God is aware my friend, oh so aware of every little thing done for him and not done for him. He’s waiting to bless. Waiting for the willing soul. Looking for the one willing to glorify him (2 Chron. 16:9). It won’t be easy…no not easy. But it will be so so worth it.

Noah’s blessing also fell on Japheth. “May God enlarge Japheth.” Think about the massive amounts of land contributed to the descendants of this man. But the real blessing is in the words “let him dwell in the tents of Shem.” Did Shem and Japheth’s descendents live together? Not to my knowledge but this was fulfilled when God brought salvation to the gentiles.  “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:26, 29). And if Abraham’s offspring then an adopted descendent of Shem. As such believers “dwell” in the tents of Shem.

But it gets even better. In Christ, as one of Abraham’s offspring, believers share in the inheritance promised to the saints (Col. 1:12). The first of that inheritance is the Holy Spirit (Gal. 4:5-7). Those in Christ are “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:13-14). Next is the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:23) and eternal life with Christ in Heaven (Rev. 21). “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom. 8:16-17). (For more on life in Heaven, click here.)

So the real question is not “where did I come from?” That’s already been determined. The real question is “where am I headed?” What’s your inheritance? Is it eternal life with Christ in heaven? Believer we have much to celebrate. Though now we mourn. Though now we struggle. We can rejoice too! “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18).

Contemplate and Evaluate:
How are you today encouraging godly heritage in your family line?
Could it be said of you “Blessed be the LORD, the God of _(your name)_? Would others recognize it?
When was the last time you considered your eternal inheritance in light of the daily hard things?image

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