Skip to main content

Noah's Theological Geography

Passages like Genesis 9:17-11:9 are asking to be overlooked - at the heart of it is the 'table of nations' pinned between 'naked man sins with fruit' and 'the fall of the city of giants'. What's going on? These are the early days of a new creation - the new Adam stood on a mountain amidst a formless world and now like his forefather he stands with three sons Shem, Japheth and "Ham the father of Canaan" (repeated for emphasis). The new Adam is uncovered and humiliated in his tent by one of his sons, while two cover him.

Noah prophesies a blessing on Shem, and on Japheth and curses Canaan to serve them both. A new order enters the family - the blessing is with Shem, but Japheth has blessing as he dwells in Shem's tent, but not so for Canaan. These are the fathers of nations and they now relate theologically.

We draw maps by terrain and by politics, and we can draw them by theology. Shaped by Noah's prophetic vision we meet the costal peoples of Japheth, who will find blessing as they seek covering in Shem. From Japheth including Tarshish where a Shemite will perversely run for cover instead of going with the gospel to Nimrod's city Nineveh.

Next we meet the descendents of Ham (father of Canaan) among whom are Egypt, Sodom, the Philistines and the city builder Nimrod. Cain who was of the evil one was the last city builder and that isn't a good example to follow. Abram will later look to a city - whose builder is God - let God build cities not man. And there is Shem's blessed line (the Semitic people) - the line of Eber (the Hebrews) whose family proceeds to two sons Peleg and Joktan in the days when the world divides.

In those days of division the new human race gathers on the plain of Shinar under the serpent Nimrod's leadership to resist God - rather than scattering into obscurity and filling the earth as God had said they want to stay and build a city, and a name for themselves. They don't get far - God comes down to them, but he sees the evil they could commit and just as Adam was exiled to keep him from further evil, so too Nimrod and all the peoples are scattered and given different languages, they are the babblers from Babel. Frustrated in their sin, humiliated and sent to the ends of the earth. Pride is parochial and in seeking to stay and make a name for ourselves, the humbled are extended beyond themselves into obscurity and blessing.

As they scatter a Shemite will be promised the land Canaan occupies, he'll flee to Egypt and face a tyrant, his nephew will desire the land of Sodom. Place and people groups will not just be incidental but important to understanding what's going on... though as the gospel unfolds even geography and genealogy can be overthrown and anyone from anywhere will be able come into the blessing of God.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

"Big eyes full of wonder"

Books. Fiction. Libraries. Second only to churches as are the best gateways in your community to ultimate reality and new possibilities.

Our local library has just re-opened after refurbishment, and I love that our boys have spent several mornings there during the summer holidays, discovering some wonderful new stories.

I realised a few months back that I wasn't reading enough fiction. My work necessitates reading a lot of non-fiction, a mix of historical and contemporary thinking, biblical studies and theology. But fiction is the cinderella. Easily overlooked, and yet able to awaken my imagination and show me the way things are meant to be.

So I've picked up a few more lately - bought and borrowed. Not every book attempted flies, and that's ok. These have been winners though.

Ink. This is Alice Broadway's debut novel. It's young adult fiction and tells the story of Leora who lives in a world where the events of your life are tattooed on your skin. Nothing gets hid…

Uniquely Matthew

Reading gospel accounts in parallel is sometimes used to blur the differences in perspective between the evangelists, seeking to harmonise the texts and find a definitive historical account of what happened. No such thing exists because every account is biased and limited. You simply can't record everything. You have to hold a vantage point. And that's not a problem.

Matthew, Mark and Luke take a very different vantage point to John who was of course an eyewitness himself of the events. Comparing the text of Matthew, Mark and Luke across the death and resurrection of Jesus yields two steps.

Firstly, the common ground. All three accounts tell of...
Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross…. · Jesus labelled as King of the Jews…. · Criminals crucified with Jesus… · Darkness in the daytime… · Jesus' loud final cry… The women who witnessed Jesus death, and Jesus' burial… · The tomb lent to Jesus by Joseph of Arimithea… · The women who went to the tomb on the morning of the…

Songs we're singing in Church

Christians are a singing people, it's part of what we do when we gather.

Our church meets morning an evening on a Sunday - normally using 5 songs in each service. So, over the year that's about 520 song-slots available. The report from the database system we use (http://planningcenteronline.com/) tells us that in the past year we've sung about 150 different songs.

Our current most used song has been sung 11 times in the last year, just under once a month. Our top 10 are used about every 6 weeks. By #30 we're talking about songs used every two months. The tail is long and includes loads of classic hymns from across the centuries, plus other songs from the past 40 years, that we have used around once a term or less.

1. Rejoice - Dustin Kensrue



2. Come Praise & Glorify - Bob Kauflin



3. Man of Sorrows - Hillsong



4. Cornerstone - Hillsong


Rejoice was a song I didn't previously know, along with a couple of others that have quickly become firm favourites for me: Chri…