by Dick Hill
We just finished our tenth Cousin Camp at the Ponderosa. The highlight for me, and I hope for my seven grandchildren who attended, was time spent in God’s Word twice daily tying in history to the characters in Genesis. God gave a strange prophecy to Noah concerning Noah’s three sons: Ham, Shem, and Japheth in Genesis 9:25-27. He said that God would enlarge Japheth and that he would dwell in the tent of Shem and that Canaan (Ham’s son) would be his servant. He said that the living God who created everything would be Shem’s God.
Many paganistic gods would pepper the ancient world. Japheth’s family would become large (be enlarged) in number and power, and they would profit spiritually from the God of Shem. The way that God said it in the passage is that Japheth would “dwell in the tent of Shem.” As I told the children, this was “prophet speak” for Shem’s blessing of serving the living God being shared with Japheth. I taught them briefly one specific incident of how this has happened precisely as God had predicted by the founding of this nation.
Upon leaving the ark, Japheth’s family went on to form the endo-European nations. Right in the geographic center of these nations today is the small country of Germany, which is referred to as “Gomer” and specifically “Ashkenaz” in Genesis ten. As a side note, it is interesting that Germany still claims to be the center of Europe even today (Google it). There are still Jews today who call themselves Ashkenazi Jews (German Jews). It is my view that Japheth first drove his tent pegs into German soil, and then from Germany his family scattered and spread, forming the European Continent (some 44 countries, give or take).
Shem’s shared blessing with Japheth worked to perfection. The gospel of God’s grace preached by Paul and the rest of the apostles had been bogged down for centuries, buried in the dredges of the Roman religious system. I gave a brief footnote teaching about Nimrod and the beginning and spread of paganism, the worship of God’s creation. This evil system filled with gods and goddesses collided head on with the church of Jesus Christ around 300 A.D. The result of this crash resulted in the formation of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. The Roman church deemphasized the clear, unobstructed gospel with a plethora of religious rituals and ceremonies. There is no doubt that people came to faith under this system because of God’s faithfulness to give life to those whom He has chosen.
The clear gospel was hidden as the church began to teach that one had to be baptized by the church in order to be saved. Other works were added, including absolution (the confessing of sins to a man), indulgences (payment to get a loved one out of purgatory), a false view of transubstantiation (the elements of the Lord’s supper actually become the body and blood of Christ), the deification and worship of Mary, and Purgatory. These are all subtle ways of adding man’s works to God’s finished work of Christ on the cross.
It was not luck or chance that in 1517 God revealed to a German Monk named Martin Luther His unblemished truth of God’s magnificent grace. This was a part of Japheth dwelling in the tent of Shem. It was also not chance that a German named Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press at that very time so that the retrieved gospel could be jettisoned throughout Europe and the world.
The Church of England (also Japheth’s territory) made some serious changes. They emphasized less form and more substance,moving ever closer to the truth of grace. Again, many were, no doubt, saved within this church movement, but the Puritans began to take a firm stand, calling upon the church to become even more Bible-centered and to better clarify salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. But there were still many, maybe even most, fighting for the reestablishment of the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, many good and godly people were burned at the stake by the Roman Church for preaching what they felt was the reformation heresy.
The Separatists, a small group of believers that wanted to remain absolutely true to the gospel both by word and by life, felt it necessary for true believers to become totally separate from this universal system – and even the Puritans. It was from this small assembly that a group called “Pilgrims” came to America.
Wow! The grandchildren were astounded that Noah’s prophecy in an amazing way ultimately led to helping to establish America. While they were recovering from this truth, I went out on a limb by explaining that in my view God raised up this great nation for two very special reasons. One is that we might become the greatest missionary sending country the world has ever known. The second reason is to become an ally to the people of Israel (Shem), thus receiving God’s blessing associated with His promise to bless those who dared to bless Abram and to curse those who cursed him (Genesis 12:3). This truth is teetering perilously in the balance today.