These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood. (Genesis 10:32, KJV)
Today’s commentary will be a brief exhortation to read the genealogies we find in Scripture.
It is easy to look at the genealogies and gloss over them because they are only a list of names. However, we believe all the words of Scripture are God’s words and that they are profitable for us (2 Tim 3:16).
In our genealogies today, we see evidence of covenant headship in the line of Noah. When God covenants with man, he covenants also with his descendents. Also, a curse upon the head of that covenant is visited upon those descended from that head. This is why, for example, we are all cursed in Adam and why in Christ, the curse we deserve for our sin is paid. We deserve the curse of Adam as a federal head in the covenant of works; Christ takes the curse and redeems us (Gal 3:13) as our new federal head when we are adopted into the covenant of grace.
In our reading today, we see the effects of Ham’s sin and the curse Noah placed on him in chapter 9.
And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. (Genesis 9:25-27, KJV)
Because of his sin of dishonoring his father, Ham was cursed. Because of Shem and Japheth honoring their father, they were blessed. As covenant head, Noah has the privilege of pronouncing blessing and cursing to those in the covenant. Jesus had this perorgative as well; in Matthew 25 he tell us he will come to judge, pronouncing the blessing of eternal life or the curse of everlasting punishment.
In Genesis 10, we see the effects of Ham’s curse. Amongst the descendants of Ham were Nimrod, whose kingdom was Babel (Babylon) in v.10. Babylon was the empire that was at enmity with the nation of Israel. Also, we see some of his descendants were those who settled in Sodom and Gomorrah, whose sins in Scripture were great and whose judgment is recorded later in the Book of Genesis during the time of Abraham.
Finally, Ham was named Canaan, the name of the nation that dwelt in the promise land during the Exodus and whom God punished through the nation of Israel.
But aren’t we to avoid genealogies as unprofitable (Titus 3:9)? The meaning of Paul wasn’t to avoid learning anything from genealogies in Scripture; rather, it was striving to dig deeply into geneaologies to derive doctrines that are unprofitable. We will conclude with thoughts from Calvin on 1 Timothy 1:4:
“He judges of doctrine by the fruit; for every thing that does not edify ought to be rejected, although it has no other fault; and everything that is of no avail but for raising contentions, ought to be doubly condemned. And such are all the subtle questions on which ambitious men exercise their faculties. Let us, therefore, remember, that all doctrines must be tried by this rule, that those which contribute to edification may be approved, and that those which give ground for unprofitable disputes may be rejected as unworthy of the Church of God.”
I would also like to commend a great article by my friend Tony Arsenal about genealogies in Scripture.
Have a blessed Lord’s Day!