GENESIS 10-12 & MATTHEW 4
This chapter begins with the generations of the sons of Noah. We know that Noah had three sons named Shem, Japheth and Ham. The descendants of Japheth are covered in verses 2-5, the descendants of Ham in verses 6-20 and the descendants of Shem in verses 21-31. In reading through the names of the descendants we see that the lineage of Japheth became those who would later populate Europe. The descendants of Ham for the most part settled in Egypt (Psa 78:51, 105:27, 106:22) and later populated the continent of Africa. We need to look at a few of his descendants. The curse that came upon Ham for exposing his father Noah was actually pronounced upon Canaan. Cush who was one of the 4 sons of Ham had a son named Nimrod. He is later credited with the founding of Babel. This is significant because Babel (Babylon) is threaded throughout the whole of the Word of God. He later went to Assyria and built Nineveh (Gen 10:10-11). We later see the sons of Canaan bringing forth the Jebusites and the Amorites who were constant foes of Israel. It was the seed of Canaan that later became the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. The seed of Ham later brought forth the primary nations that opposed Israel from the time of Genesis right through to our day. The roots of this separation and animosity can be traced to motives of the heart. It really is amazing when you think about it. In meditating on these thoughts it helps to give insight to the potential of what mustard seed faith can produce. If we can a heart that simply believes God then there is no limit what God can do through faith.
What is taking place in this chapter is the dispersion of the nations as seen through the offspring of Noah. As mentioned above the sons of Shem are referred to in verses 21-31. This is the line that would later bring forth the Messiah. Let’s do a quick review since the time of the flood. The earth was renewed and we can say that that there was now a new creation. It was a restart of creation with at least one notable difference. Noah and his family carried the nature of sin as opposed to Adam when he was created. Adam was created in innocence but took on the sin nature through his disobedience to the Law of God.
In this new creation God was giving man a fresh start and a new opportunity. Man would still be in need of a future saviour due to his inherent sin nature. In the initial creation the enemy was able to gain entrance to man through Adam’s disobedience to God’s law. In the new creation the enemy gained access to man by way of an attitude of heart within one of the sons of Noah. (Ham) The response of the three sons of Noah is what resulted in the dispersion of seed throughout the earth. The lineage of Ham in particular will later prove to be the primary antagonists against God and Israel. It does not take long to see this materialize as we look at the growth of Nimrod who was the grandson of Ham. Satan was able to gain access to this man and through this man will bring a challenge before God. (This is seen in chapter 11) It all comes about as a result of an attitude of heart in worship (Gen 4:3-5) and an attitude of heart in a moment of a leader’s vulnerability (Gen 9:22). This is the seed and root when seeking to monitor how the dispersion of the nation’s came about. The blueprint for life and Biblical understanding is all coded in Genesis. If we can grasp the origins of beginnings it will greatly aid our perspective and Biblical insight.
1Jn 2:13 I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.
What is needed in the church today are true fathers and mothers who can see life in God through the lens of Genesis.
This chapter has meaning for both Noah’s day and the end times. There is a unity seen in verse 1. What was the basis of this unity; was it for good or primarily for evil? In moving further through verses 2-4 we see that it was a people who were united in their defiance against God. Who orchestrated and led this event? What was the purpose of this defiance; what was being looked to be achieved? First, we see the place that has been chosen for this unity rally is a place called Shinar, which is another name for Babel. (Babylon) We see from Gen 10:10 that Babel was founded by Nimrod, who was the grandson of Ham and great grandson of Noah. We gain some insight into his character from verses 8-9 of chapter 10. He was a mighty man in the earth and was known as being a hunter before the Lord. He was a hunter of people; having an ability to gain the confidence of people to the point of their willingness to follow him. I feel we can come to understand more of his nature by looking at people like Absalom (2 Sam 15), Adonijah (1 Kings 1:5) as well as the antichrist (Dan 11:32). These were men who sought to take advantage of vulnerable situations to gain a name and fame for themselves. In other words what was seen in the incident involving Noah and his three sons is similarly played out through the lives of others. This is how Nimrod was able to come into this positon. Who is inspiring Nimrod, how could he possibly think to rally a people to defy the living God at Babel? This is so instructional for us because it is a mini scene of what will happen in the last days. Clearly, Satan was able to gain a hold within the life of Nimrod; seeking to enforce his heart and agenda through a man whom he could now possess. Is this not what Satan was looking to do through Judas (John 13:2, 27)?
What Nimrod was looking to accomplish here at Babel is very similar to what Lucifer sought to achieve in heaven before his fall. When reading verses 3-4 one cannot help but compare the account from Isa 14:13-14. The two sets of verses are displayed below:
Gen 11:3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
Gen 11:4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
Isa 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
Isa 14:13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
Isa 14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
It is clear that Satan is inspiring Nimrod in this act of defiance. It is amazing that this act is only a few generations removed from the period of the flood. How quickly man reverts back to the fullness of evil. One little attitude was all it took. Why was Judas the one whom Satan was eventually able to lay hold of resulting in him becoming the betrayer? The Bible says he was a thief and had an attitude of covetousness (John 12:6).
This unity rally that Nimrod initiated was so strong that God Himself came down to take note (vs 5-6). This unity was so strong that God made the statement that nothing would be restrained from them in what they sought to do. So then how was this power broken? How was the Lord able to thwart their efforts short of destroying the people outright? The last time evil became so pronounced the Lord sent a flood upon the land; he established a covenant with Noah that He would not destroy the earth again by a flood. In other words the Lord established that he would not again do a total reset until a future time.
Another truth we must remember is that God has given man the ability to choose. If God is God could He not just cause them to change their mind? God does not force His will on anyone but rather has given to man a “free will” where he has the ability to make choices. So if you think about it there is a bit of a dilemma here; so what can be done?
The Lord confounded their language. Up until this time the people all spoke a common language which helped to form the basis of their ability to communicate and unite. One moment they all spoke the same language the next moment there was an inability to communicate and unite amongst the masses. This resulted in a much further scattering of the people throughout the known world.
The following is a portion of the commentary taken from Acts 2 which relates to the above event. It is italicized below:
Suddenly, without warning, there came a sound from heaven that filled the room. What a moment that must have been! There were also tongues of fire that sat upon each of those that were gathered there. They were filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak in other tongues. This was a totally new and unusual experience. This had immediate impact due to people from other nations who soon gathered at Jerusalem to hear strange men speaking their language. This is the exact opposite occurrence from what happened at Babel back in Genesis.
What happened at Babel and why does there need to be a comparison between these two events? First we know that Babel was founded by a man by the name of Nimrod. He is described as one who was a hunter of men; meaning he had influence and charisma amongst men. He was able to gather men to follow him. He wanted to build a tower to the heavens which speaks of his pride and god like ambitions. He inspired multitudes to follow him in this undertaking. His power and ability to unite man towards his purpose was so strong that even God said that there is nothing that shall be restrained from them. Remember, God will not violate or go against the will of man. We see this later with his encounter with Jacob where he could not prevail against him. (Gen 32:25-26) How then did God break Nimrod’s power? He had to do it through the confounding of languages. In a moment people began to speak in different languages which in the end broke their power and unity of purpose. Who was inspiring Nimrod to do this? It was Satan, in fact we see similar characteristics between the two of them. The 5 “I will’s” of Satan that are addressed in Isa 14:13-14 is very similar to what is seen in the following verse with Nimrod and those joined with him.
Gen 11:4. “And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth.”
How then did Satan have opportunity to so influence Nimrod? It can be traced to the sin of Ham when he exploited his father’s Noah’s nakedness. (Gen 9:22) Nimrod is the grandson of Ham who sought to take advantage of Noah’s vulnerability. This sin opened a door for Satan to exploit and he does so in his fullness through Nimrod at Babel. It is Satan that is inspiring Nimrod in the account of Babel. God broke their power and unity by the birthing of different languages. This is important to note because it helps us to now understand what is transpiring in the upper room at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is the initiator and power behind what is taking place. How is the Holy Spirit looking to spread the growth of the early church? It is through the gift of tongues which allows for people from different backgrounds and nations to benefit from this experience. It is a reversal of what is seen at Babel. What does this mean for the last days? A lot when you consider the outpouring of the last days to supersede the glory seen at Solomon’s temple and Pentecost combined. It also means that the spiritual opposition will be intensifying. Babylon, both natural and spiritual will arise again. (Rev 17-18) We also will see the rising up of antichrist (Nimrod is a very real type of what the antichrist will be like) as well as the false prophet; both being inspired by Satan himself (Rev 13). We need another Pentecost but are we truly prepared?
We are now introduced to Abram (Abraham) who is one of the more prominent characters seen in the Word of God. He is known as the Father of our Faith while at the same time one who gives a vivid portrayal of the heart of the Father. His life and ministry is covered in some detail through Genesis 25:10. The scriptures give several notices to believers to observe the life and ministry of Abraham (Gal 3:29, Isa 51:2, Heb 11:8-18). The call of Abram came after the nations were dispersed from Babel. The Lord was in search of a man whom he could begin to use and speak through, one in whom strong foundations could be established.
We see this in several events of scriptural history. The Lord searched for a Samuel and then a David to turn the tide of his anger against Israel’s rebellion and idolatry. He searched and called out for a Joseph who would be used to preserve Israel in the land of Egypt during a time of crisis. At the appropriate time He prepared a Moses who would be used as God’s instrument of judgement against Egypt as well as being the one who would lead them from their captivity towards their inheritance. This includes being the one who would have the privilege of being given the Laws of God that Israel would be called to observe and live by.
What we are beginning to see at this juncture of history and something we need to grasp is the following: Satan has been busy in seeking to use man to employ his will and agenda in defiance against God. It began with Adam and was soon followed up after the 2nd creation through Nimrod. God is now looking to raise up a man and a people who would represent His ways and His heart. This scenario that we see in seed form in Genesis is in reality the foundation of what will play out in the last days. This is an important truth to grasp. This is why God made a covenant to not destroy the earth again until the fulfilment of the 7000 years. In Abraham we see a man whom God will be able to use in a mighty way; a man whom we can glean many truths from through his early years that serve as indicators as to how we can prepare ourselves today.
The glory of God appeared to Abram while he was yet a young man (Acts 7:2-3). At that time he was told to get out of his country and to leave his kindred and father’s house (Gen 12:1). Abram fully obeyed the first commandment to leave his country which was Ur of the Chaldees. He did not obey the 2nd commandment seeing that he took Lot with him. The third commandment was partially obeyed to the point where his father became satisfied in the land of Mesopotamia.
In verses 2-3 there is a 7-fold promise that God makes with Abraham if he were to obey. They are as follows:
1) I will make of thee a great nation.
2) I will bless thee
3) I will make thy name great
4) Thou shalt be a blessing
5) I will bless them that bless thee
6) I will curse them that curse thee
7) In thee shall all the families of the earth shall be blessed
It is interesting to note that some of the blessings cited above are the very things that Nimrod sought to achieve at Babel, as seen in the previous chapter. Satan offers many of the promises that God speaks to His people. The difference is that Satan shows an easier way or a short-cut or by-pass. He seeks to circumvent God’s ordained path and plan for a believer. It’s no coincidence that God immediately looks for a man who will fulfil his heart and agenda on the heels of Nimrod’s rebellion at Babel. How many times must it be repeated? If you want to understand the Book of Revelation then we need to learn, read and understand the Book of Genesis under the inspiration of the Spirit of God.
Abram enters into the land of Canaan with Lot; something he should not have done. There is an interesting event that takes place as Abram seeks to build an altar. The Lord speaks to Abram making it clear that he will give him that land. It is a beautiful promise that God is giving to him. Abram builds an altar in a plain between Bethel and Ai. This is noteworthy due to the meaning of these two cities name in conjunction with the big picture of what is taking place. Bethel means “house of God” while Ai speaks of “the world”. Here we have both Abram and Lot building an altar in a plain which we can say is separated by the kingdom of God on one side (Bethel) with the world on the other (Ai). Let’s think for a moment what the Lord says to the church in Laodicea that can be related to this event.
Rev 3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
Rev 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
There is another closing verse in the Book of Revelation which I feel can be pegged to this event with Abram.
Rev 22:11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
Here we have Abram and Lot along with their families building an altar between two cities. Which way will they go? Will the pilgrimage be in a direction that leads to spiritual Zion, where the presence and holiness of God dwells or will it be taken down a route that leads to Vanity Fair which serves as a type of the world? It is a decision that still confronts the Christians of our day.
Abram, along with Lot and their families sojourned to Egypt in a time of famine. We see throughout scripture that Egypt is a picture of the world. Through the natural eye Egypt seemed to be the only recourse. The sad reality however is that Abram was a man of incomplete consecration. He should have never made this trip. He ended up having to employ deception in the matter of his wife. Not only did he lie concerning Sarah being his sister he was willing to allow Pharaoh to have her. Is this the quality of man that God is looking to raise up to serve as the father of the faith? The Lord sovereignly intervened on behalf of Abram by warning Pharaoh through plagues as to who Sarah was. Pharaoh rebuked Abram and sent him, Sarah and the entire entourage away. It was the mercy of God at work. Yes, this was a failure on Abram’s part but it speaks to the longsuffering nature of God. It also should serve as an encouragement to us when taking note of our own failures. Fortunately, Abram will learn from this experience as seen at the events in chapter 13.
The life of the Lord Jesus Christ was a spirit-filled one. We ended chapter 3 with Jesus coming out of the Jordan with the Spirit of God descending upon Him. We now see Him being led into the wilderness by the Spirit of God. In Mark’s Gospel the term “driven” was used to describe the Spirit’s leading. We also see later in Hebrews that it was the Spirit of God that enabled Jesus to offer Himself up as the eternal sacrifice to the Father (Heb 9:14). If this was true for Jesus it most certainly is true for us. Our life is to be one that is Spirit led or driven as well.
What was the purpose of being brought into the wilderness for a period of 40 days where he was fasting leaving his physical body weak and vulnerable? It was in this condition where Satan confronted Jesus with three temptations. Satan understands tactics and he strikes in moments of vulnerability. How was the Lord sustained during this period? How was He able to withstand the various attacks of the enemy? Let’s not forget that it is Jesus as the Son of man who is being tempted since God cannot be tempted. His divinity was shrouded in humanity. The first means of temptation was to challenge His appetite; “if thou be the Son of the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” Jesus had not eaten during his time in the wilderness and one could only assume how hungry he would have been. This is a primary test for all believers seeing that we possess an appetite for many things. It goes beyond the feeding of our stomachs; it includes appetites for other things. Jesus responded by making clear that His appetite and hunger was centered on God’s Word (vs 3-4). Satan sought to tempt Him a 2nd time in the area of His identity. “if thou be the Son of God…” We saw this back in the Book of Genesis when Satan first tempted man. He seeks to sow doubt by challenging man on what God had said. “Yea hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” The first recorded words of Satan to man was a challenge to the one Law God gave to man. He is ever seeking to create doubt, fear and confusion.
If Jesus would have answered with a miracle here He would have been resorting to His divinity. He had to endure this trial as the Son of Man so that you and I would have hope. In the subsequent temptations we see Jesus continually responding with the words “It is written”. This is instructional for us as believers. The son of Man was strengthened and sustained by feeding on butter and honey throughout His earthly ministry. (Isa 7:15) Jesus withstood these temptations as the Son of Man while Satan was seeking to have these miracles done through His divinity. Perhaps this encounter can help us understand the Son of God/Son of Man duality of Jesus. He had to pass this test as the Son of Man in order to be the acceptable sacrifice at Calvary.
Matthew now covers the Lord’s ministry in Galilee in verses 12-17. Matthew’s Gospel puts a strong emphasis on the Kingdom of God. In fact, he mentions the kingdom on 55 different occasions. Jesus left Nazareth seeing that there was not an atmosphere of faith in this region. (Math 13:58) His message was rejected amongst the people from His area so he sought out fresh opportunities elsewhere. He went to Capernaum which was a city of significant influence. Sadly, it was another location that was not open to the Words of His teaching. The words of Isaiah are referenced in verses 14-16 which speaks of a great light coming into the midst of darkness. Let us never underestimate God’s ability to break through in places of great darkness. Some of the greatest revivals of recent history came out of such places. We need to hear the voice of God and move in accordance to his Spirit; not by sight or circumstances.
In verse 17 we see Jesus picking up on John the Baptist’s message of repentance. It is a message that must constantly be preached and taught. It is through true repentance that the Kingdom of God can be established in one’s life and one’s environment. I think we all need to be reminded of the manner of ministry that John the Baptist was engaged in; a ministry of making the crooked places straight and the rough places made plain. (Isa 40:4)
There is the calling of the disciples in verses 18-22. Jesus first calls Peter and Andrew as they were going about their fishing. The Lord spoke to their craft by saying that they would become fishers of men. This is why our work occupations are so important. It helps to give identity to who we are and how God can use us. Peter and Andrew were fishermen and the Lord speaks to them on becoming “fishers of men”. It was here where the Lord gives the call and it is here where Peter and Andrew let go of their craft to follow the Lord. In verses 21-22 Jesus meets up with John and James who were mending their nets. Their ministry was different than that of Peter and Andrew and it speaks of the need for a balanced approach towards ministry. There is the need for evangelists and there is the need for the menders and support based ministries. This is vividly seen in the two accounts in the Gospels were we can see the casting of nets (Luke 5, John 21:11). It would be helpful to review the commentaries on the related verses for greater insight into this truth. This chapter concludes with an account of the Lord going about Galilee healing the sick while teaching on the kingdom. There needs to be the teaching of the kingdom in conjunction with the healing of the sick. There can be a tendency at times to only focus on the signs and wonders at the expense of teaching. This is dangerous seeing that it is the teaching of the Word that creates an atmosphere for faith to be prevalent (Rom 10:17).