The Table of Nations in Genesis 10

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table-of-nations

Genesis 10, with its passage listing the table of nations,[1] is important for understanding the universal motif of the Old Testament. All of the nations issue forth from the creative hand of God and stand under His watchful eye. The nations are not mere decorations incidental to the real drama between God and man; rather, the nations – that is, mankind as a whole – are part of the drama itself.[2] God’s work and activity are directed at the whole of humanity.

            This is one of the fundamental truths of Genesis 1–11, the record of history’s beginning.[3] It is also found in the moving account of history’s end, the Book of Revelation. The very God who revealed Himself to Israel and dwelt among us in Jesus Christ identifies Himself as the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending. He does not lay down His work until “every tongue and nation” and “a multitude without number” has been gathered round His throne (Rev 5,9-10; 7,9-17). God is cutting a path directly through the weary and plodding activities of men in history in order to achieve His goals among the nations. In Genesis 10 the nations are as yet only a dotted line, so to speak, but as history progresses, the dots become connected until, entirely in accord with the plan of God, the whole line becomes solid. The proto-history of Genesis points forward to the eschaton of Revelation when God’s intentions have become worldwide in their scope.[4]

bible map


[1] Cf. J. Barton and J. Muddiman (eds.), The Oxford Bible Commentary, Oxford University Press, New York, (2007), 47.

[2] J. Verkuyl, Contemporary Missiology: An Introduction, (E. Tr. and ed. by D. Cooper), William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Michigan, (1978),91.

[3] J. Verkuyl, Contemporary Missiology: An Introduction, (E. Tr. and ed. by D. Cooper), William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Michigan, (1978),91.

[4] J. Verkuyl, Contemporary Missiology: An Introduction, (E. Tr. and ed. by D. Cooper), William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Michigan, (1978),91.

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