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Archive for Shem

Japheth is Still Dwelling in the Tents of Shem

YHWH is the living God, and He is the Divine Architect of all human history. In fact, He declared the way history will end, from the very beginning (Isa. 46:8-10). Let’s connect some dots today. Noah’s prophetic glimpse of “Blessed be the LORD God of Shem” points to the founding of the Jewish nation – the coming of Messiah – Christ’s death and resurrection – and the delivery and spread of the gospel – and the promise of Christ’s coming kingdom (Gen. 9:26). The prophecy of Japheth’s dwelling in the tents of Shem – another small glimpse – points to the many ways that Japheth will help Shem accomplish his goals. Both prophecies (Shem and Japheth) are still alive and active (Gen. 9:27). In our last post we left Israel in God’s woodshed – smelling the smoke of their burning temple, battered, scattered and struggling under His fifth cycle of discipline (Lev. 26:33). Israel may have forgotten God, but God will never forget her – never.

Assisted by a pair of Japheth’s feet (Greece and Rome) stepping into the tent of Shem, the Jews had sufficient help to get Jesus Christ to the cross and to an empty tomb. These same countries assisted in giving the gospel the inertia necessary to move throughout the ancient world. For their part in rejecting and killing the Messiah, God allowed Satan to destroy the Jews along with their magnificent temple leaving them hated and homeless in Satan’s world. No people on the earth have been persecuted like the Jews. As the Jews began to disperse throughout the world, the truth of the gospel was turning the world upside down. Satan slowed this move by ramming paganism like a battering ram headlong into the growing church – confusing the gospel and silencing its voice.

During the medieval age of darkness, the public gospel was plunged into a sea of religious confusion for one-thousand years (476-1453). Japheth once again put his foot into Shem’s flailing tent – coming to the rescue. The public gospel amazingly reappeared in Germany – ground zero of Japheth’s homeland. Amazing! This should come as no surprise to the reader by now. The fires of the gospel of God’s grace quickly burned from Germany through England and the surrounding countries of Scotland, Wales, France, and Spain. The gospel, standing on the backs of many martyrs, found its way to the outer banks of America. God’s truth will never be chained.

I believe that there are two amazing reasons that God raised up America, and both are connected to Shem and Japheth, and Abraham’s cursing and blessing promise (Gen. 9; Gen. 12). The first reason is to be used of God to give the Jews a homeland. Six decades ago, on December 6, 1916, Great Britain’s prime minister David Lloyd Jones introduced the Balfour Declaration. Jones believed that the Jews deserved a homeland. The declaration was designed to restore Israel to their God-promised land of Palestine. Through a series of absolutely incredible historical events – all having to happen in mysterious yet miraculous ways – the document was written and signed off as a small part of British foreign policy (Japheth’s toe in Shem’s tent). Prime Minister Jones knew that is was not yet a done deal. It needed some special help. On October 6, 1917, president Woodrow Wilson signed the declaration, putting the powerful political clout of the USA behind the plan. It was not a popular political move for Wilson, but he did it for the Jews. Japheth strikes once more! Prime Minister Jones said that in his opinion the Balfour Declaration would have never passed without that single signature. It passed through the United Nations in 1922, and on May 14, 1948 Israel became a nation again.

Almost every president in American history from that time until now, has stood with Israel. This country has provided the financial support and military technology necessary to keep a democratic presence in the Middle East. This has been done at some peril, making the USA a target for terrorism. In my opinion based on God’s blessing and cursing promise to Abraham, God began to make America great in the eyes of the world – in this patriot’s opinion “the greatest.” Paul’s words also silently echo in the back of my mind: “I say then, have they [the Jews] stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall isriches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness” (Rom. 11:11-12). The full story of Israel is yet to be told.

The other reason that this country has prospered greatly is also connected to Japheth. God opened a huge window for the movement of God’s powerful gospel of grace around the modern world. Because of our freedom to publicly practice religion, the gospel breeze just keeps blowing through this window. God raised up seminaries and Christian colleges, training thousands upon thousands of missionaries who are being equipped and sent to every language group on this planet. Wow! The gospel has burned hot here for years and years. But alas, the window is slowly being shut. We now live in a generation that has forgotten Joseph. Blessings!

 

Japheth’s Influence

We are investigating Noah’s strange prophecy concerning the blessing of the LORD, the God of Shem and Japheth, his older brother dwelling in Shem’s tents (Gen. 9:27).  Remember, this “dwelling” means making a spiritual impact, Shem on Japheth and Japheth on Shem. This spiritual influence seems rather benign at first glance, but its tentacles vividly mark the history of the giving and spread of the gospel. For instance, Paul wrote that it was the fulness of time when God sent forth his Son (Gal. 4:4). This fulness of time included Japheth’s dwelling in the tents of Shem. The mighty Roman empire coming from Japheth provided a window of peace to get Joseph and Mary (and their donkey) safely to Bethlehem. The angel’s words marked the success of the trip well: “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth and good will toward man” (Lk. 2:14). God had come into the world!

 

The Romans were also responsible for good roads. They built solid, safe “Roman roads.” These roads all over the empire were made of bricks and rocks in order to move and supply the famous Roman legion. They stood firm under the pounding that they took. They could easily hold up that small donkey and the young woman as Joseph went back home to Bethlehem for the birth of the Christ child. God is amazing!

 

Then there was the beginning of the Church at Pentecost. It was a time for the birthing of the body of Christ followed by the sowing of Christ’s seed – the gospel – worldwide. There were the disciples-turned-apostles set apart by Christ to spread the message of grace everywhere. The roads were in place, but there was a language barrier. God had changed all the languages at the tower of Babel in order to get the people to spread out. What language does one use to tell people about Jesus Christ – His cross and resurrection?  Hellenization is a word describing the cultural impact that Alexander the Great and his troops had on the then known world.  He spread his native language – the koine (common) Greek language – along with the Greek culture (food, clothes, and philosophy) everywhere he went. The Grecian influence spread like wildfire all through the land. Even the Jews, who customarily spoke Hebrew, began to use the Greek language and many bought into Grecian modernity. Greek became the obvious language to use to pen the New Testament and also the language to use in spreading the gospel. The Greeks came from Japheth who was then dwelling in the tent of Shem.Amazing!

 

The church of Jesus Christ and His seed (the gospel), under the influence of Japheth, were changing the world. The gospel was spreading throughout the entire Roman empire. Paul thanked God through Jesus Christ that the faith of the Roman church was spoken of throughout the world (Rom. 1:8). This got Satan’s attention! He had to stop the bleeding. His weapon of choice involved Nimrod and his famous tower of Babel. You remember the incident. After the landing of the ark, God commanded that Noah and his family be fruitful and fill the earth (Gen. 9:1). At first, they were obedient. But the people were being led by Ham’s famous grandson – Nimrod. He was evidently a strong physical specimen with a very dominant personality and intellect. Like Cain, he led the people to defy God (Gen. 10:8-10). He stopped the people at the land of Shinar and built a large city centered by a huge tower called Babel (confusion). His reason? “Let us make ourselves a name!” Pride! Sound familiar. “Lest we be scattered abroad over the entire earth.” That is exactly what God had commanded them to do. Thus Nimrod led the first rebellion against God this side of the flood.  The tower was intended to reach into the heavens, to the sun, moon, and stars (Gen. 11:1-4). This began man’s rebellious worship of the earth called paganism. Blessings!  

 

Dwelling in the Tents of Shem

The water of life that passed from Abel – through Noah’s son, Shem all the way to Jesus Christ. Abel without saying a word had prophesied clearly that the way back into the Garden of Eden, the way to life, was through the shedding of blood. The stream ended with the Lord Jesus Christ who provided the blood sacrifice necessary for eternal life. God’s Savior and God’s seed – the gospel – came through the God/man, Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:21; 1 Pet. 1:26). Another small part of Noah’s prophecy mentions his eldest son, Japheth. Noah said that God was going to enlarge Japheth and that Japheth would dwell in the tents of Shem (Gen. 9:27). Admittedly, this is nothing more than a glimpse, but what a glimpse this is. Japheth is called “Japheth, the elder” (Gen. 10:21). Ham is Noah’s youngest, and would make Shem the middle son (Gen. 9:24).

The enlargement of Japheth carried two meanings. Japheth would become large in number – numerous people would come from him. Japheth had seven sons marked as Gentile nations (Gen. 10:2-5). Japheth’s seven sons were – Gomer. Gomer began as the Cimmerians (later being identified with Germany), Magog (Russia), Madai (the Medes and Persians), Javan (Greece and Rome), Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras (Greece). Upon leaving the ark, Japheth’s family moved north of the fertile crescent (Mesopotamia) and settled north of the Mediterranean Sea in the area that we call Europe or the Endo-European nations.

It is my opinion that Japheth drove his first tent pegs right into the geographical middle of the Endo-European continent, specifically the country that has become known as Germany. This is made clear to me by the mention of Gomer, as Japheth’s first son. His family flourished and spread from there. It is understandable that there is much debate on which country is in fact, the center of Europe. Satellite imagery has come into play and the debate and research rages on. Germany still claims to be the geographical center of Europe today (Google it).

The second meaning of “enlarge” is that Japheth would also be very great in strength and power, meaning he would have the desire and the strength to conquer many other nations. From Japheth’s family came the mighty Roman Empire. Two hundred years before Christ, there were five powers in control of the world: Rome, Carthage, Syria, Greece, and Egypt. The Romans became the dominant power on the earth. SPQR (The People and Senate of Rome) made its mark all over the world for one thousand years. To the north they launched a campaign that went up through Spain, Italy, and Greece. They went all the way to the Danube and Rhine Rivers. They also claimed much of the Mediterranean world. God truly enlarged Japheth!

Noah’s prophecy also said that Japheth would “dwell in the tents of Shem.” This is prophet-speak for the fact that Japheth was going to profit from the spiritual influence of Shem and that Shem was going to profit from his interaction with Japheth. This spiritual influence has two strong meanings. Interestingly, the apostle Paul set the stage for this influence when he wrote; “When we were children we were in bondage under the elements of the world” (Gal. 4:4a). In much of the early ancient world,there was certainly no peace on earth. There was no law other than the law of the jungle. Crime was raging. People lived in constant fear of barbarians who would storm in, kill, rape, steal, and destroy – with little or no resistance. Trade between countries was not because of robbers and thieves. It was not safe to travel. Camel caravans would attempt to arm themselves with enough people to ward off an attack. But the Arab marauders, along with others, were constantly getting larger and canvasing the travel routes passing through the Middle East, robbing caravans and killing the traders. They would come with enough force to hit and then run to nearby caves hidden in the hills, shimmy up previously set ropes, and the pull the ropes up behind them, making capture impossible.

Travel was also made difficult because of the lack of roads. Roads were nonexistent. If travel was planned, one had to use trails that were always held hostage by mountains, rocks, trees, desert, and the weather. It was so bad there were occasions that even horses or mules could not go, much less wagons. And then there was the language barriers. People could not talk to one another. Communication was impossible.

Paul continued, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:4). When was “the fulness of time”? This is one period when Japheth dwelling in the tents of Shem came into play. Javen, the fourth son of Japheth became the father of both the Greeks and the Romans (Gen. 10:3). God used the Romans to help get a young couple safely to Bethlehem. The Romans and SPQR provided laws that helped to bring peace on the earth. They produced an army to stifle the bandits that constantly harassed travelers. They provided small “ranger teams” to find caves where the bandits were hiding. They would go above the caves and let down ropes, shimmy down the ropes and clean out the crooks. Amazing! One after another, they brought them to justice. This soon began to take a toll on other wanna-be thugs. Slowly, peace on earth began to immerge and this would soon bring about “good will toward men.” More later! Blessings.