Noah Predicts the Future of His Sons―Part 3 (series: Lessons on Genesis)
by John Lowe
As I have said before, when Moses was given this revelation from God, he was leading the nation of Israel to the land of Canaan. The Israelites were descendents of Shem. The blessing of Shem suggests that Noah knew that he, more than his brothers, had accepted the knowledge of Yahweh which was passed on by his father. In spite of this, by the time of Terah and Abram, his descendents seem to be idolaters (Josh. 24.2xxiv). Japheth would enter into blessing in proportion to his acceptance of Shem's knowledge of God.
27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
Japheth was the ancestor of what we generally call the "Gentile nations." I believe what we may have here is a play on words, because in the Hebrew the name Japheth is very close to the word that means "to enlarge." The Hamites built large civilizations in the east, and the Semites settled in the land of Canaan and the surrounding territory, but the descendents of Japheth spread out much farther than their relatives and even reached what we now know as Asia Minor and Europe. They were a people who would multiply and move into new territory. Noah's prophesy, "God shall enlarge Japheth" was fulfilled in the vast increase in posterity and possessions that came to his line. Accordingly his descendents have been the most active and enterprising, and they have spread over the best and largest portion of the world.
However, while the descendents of Japheth were successful in their conquests, when it came to spiritual things, they would have to depend on Shem. God is the God of Shem and the descendents of Japheth would find God "in the tents of Shem." Israel was chosen by God to be a "light to the Gentiles (Isa. 42.6xxv; 49.6) for "salvation is of the Jews." Sad to say, for the most part, the nation of Israel failed to witness to the Gentiles so that they might believe in the true and living God (Isa. 52.5xxvi; Rom. 2.24).
When Jesus came to earth, He brought light to the Gentiles (Luke 2.32xxvii), and the disciples and early church carried that light to the nations (Acts 1.8xxviii; 13.47). The descendants of Noah's three sons were represented in the early church: the Ethiopian treasurer, a descendant of Ham (Acts 6.26); Paul, a descendant of Shem (Acts 9); and Cornelius and his family, who were descendants of Japheth (Acts 10).
The line of Shem will be blessed and the line of Ham in CANAAN will be cursed. This blessing-cursing theme is crucial in Genesis. The Canaanites would have to be disposed from their territory by Israel under Joshua in order for the blessing to come on Shem (v. 26) and for the Jephethites to dwell "in the tents of Shem." This meant that the Jephethites would dwell with the Shemites on friendly terms, not that the Jephethites would dispossess the Shemites. So verses 24-29 actually set the foundation for Israel's foreign policy in the land (Deut. 20.16-18xxix).
28 And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years.
29 And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.
Noah lived another three-and-a-half centuries, and we have every reason to believe that he walked with God and served Him faithfully. As far as the record is concerned, he fell once; and certainly he repented and the Lord forgave him. In our walk with God, we climb the hills, and sometimes we descend into the valleys. As Alexander Whyte used to say, "The victorious Christian life is a series of new beginnings."
Finally, note that Noah lived to see two worlds; but being an heir of the righteousness which is by faith, when he died he went on to a world that is better than either.
i These are the clans of Noah's sons, according to their lines of descent, within their nations. From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.
ii From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.
iii When they finished, James spoke up: "Brothers, listen to me. Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: " 'After this I will return and rebuild David's fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it,
iv When Lamech had lived 182 years, he had a son. He named him Noah and said, "He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the LORD has cursed."
v Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.
vi He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.
vii together with its grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil--an offering made to the LORD by fire, a pleasing aroma--and its drink offering of a quarter of a hin of wine.
viii Rejoice and be glad, O Daughter of Edom, you who live in the land of Uz. But to you also the cup will be passed; you will be drunk and stripped naked.
ix "But the vine answered, 'Should I give up my wine, which cheers both gods and men, to hold sway over the trees?'
x wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.
xi Righteousness guards the man of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.
xii The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.
xiii The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: "Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.
xiv By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
xv This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.
xvi And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
xvii But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
xviii Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
xix "Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies. You will be filled with shame instead of glory. Now it is your turn! Drink and be exposed! The cup from the LORD's right hand is coming around to you, and disgrace will cover your glory.
xx Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin.
xxi On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, "To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates--the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites."
xxii The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
xxiii What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God. What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: "So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge."
xxiv Joshua said to all the people, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'Long ago your forefathers, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the River and worshiped other gods.
xxv I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
xxvi Now therefore, what have I here, saith the LORD, that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the LORD; and my name continually every day is blasphemed .
xxvii A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
xxviii But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
xxix But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee: That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God.