Welcome to day 3 of my attempt to read through and analyze the Bible in one year! So far, so good. I’m finding that writing about what I read makes me pay more attention to what is written.
Genesis 8-11 is a snapshot of the beginning of Life As We Know It. We know very little about what the earth was like before the flood, but archeologists have found much in ancient sites that correlate to this early history of life on earth as found in Genesis.
I never realized before today that Noah’s sons — Ham, Shem, and Japheth — began a new line of people that populated areas all over Europe, Asia, and Africa. God blessed Noah and his sons after the flood waters receded and ORDERED them to reproduce. Now, as the wife of a red-blooded American male, I can attest that Noah, Ham, Shem and Japheth must have been happy men indeed when God told them to go make more babies. What a job!
The calamity of the flood did not guarantee that the people who survived it would go on to live perfectly righteous lives, as we see right away in chapter 9. First of all, Noah got rip roaring drunk on wine and fell asleep in his tent stark naked. His son Ham (whose children’s children would create the wicked land of Canaan) walked in on him and saw him sprawled out in a drunken stupor. What would you do if you saw your father like that? Ham apparently thought the situation was funny and gossiped about it to his two brothers. They didn’t think it was funny. Honor and dignity were important to them, so Shem and Japheth walked in the tent backwards and covered their dad’s nakedness with a robe so that no one else would find him that way. When Noah woke up and learned what Ham had done, he was furious — and cursed his son Ham and the land he would populate, Canaan.
The application here is obvious — don’t gossip. Don’t seek out ways to tear other people down. Be discrete. Treat others so they can have a measure of dignity. These are lessons that our children need to learn as much as we need to learn them. My daughter has entered the age of Mean Girls. She is learning how to cope with ugliness without sacrificing her own integrity. The other day some girls in the neighborhood wanted to ride bikes in an area that she knew was off-limits. Rather than go along with the crowd, she turned around and went home. This action did not enamor the other girls — they became angry at her for going her own way. She could have grabbed the phone and gabbed about it, but she chose not to. I did not even hear about the incident until the next day. I praise God that she is taking baby steps in thinking for herself. I remember the Elevens. It wasn’t easy to endure the scorn of others when standing up for what’s right. But she is learning that those who can be trusted in the little things will later be trusted with greatness.
Chapter 10 becomes more specific as it outlines just where Noah’s sons and their families migrated after leaving the ark. With holy wars being waged around the globe for centuries, it is intriguing to see, laid out in the Bible, the common ancestry of us all. All people spoke the same language at first. One of my favorite college courses was History of the English Language (I’m a writer and a reader geek…go figure!) One of the things I gleaned from that secular class is that there is indeed a common “root” of all languages, and that the languages we have today spring out from a very few basic ones. For example, Spanish, French, and Italian languages all are rooted in Latin and are thus termed the “Romance” languages. English is actually a Germanic language. Many of our current words are borrowed from the French from the time when the Normans invaded Great Britain. The Bible does not contradict this information at all. We learn in Chapter 11 that the people of Babel (founded by Ham’s grandson Nimrod) decided to build a giant tower, probably a zigguraut. The Sumerians built these huge temples, some of them 300 feet tall, in honor of their gods. These people of Babel built it for their own honor and glory.
Motivation matters. God sees into our hearts. He knows why we do the things we do, even if we aren’t sure of that ourselves. He knew those Babel-ites were motivated by a desire for fame…so he thwarted them before they got too big for their britches. When they said,
“This (tower) will make us famous!”
“Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.” (11:7, NLT)
And that is exactly what He did, which gave rise to all the different nations and languages we have today.
Why do I homeschool? God knows my heart, my motivations, my innermost thoughts. I can’t hide from him. If I try to elevate myself, he will give me a course correction! This happens often in our homeschool journey. We’ll be tooling along, and just when I begin to feel confident in my teaching abilities….when I stop relying on Him to guide my thoughts and my words…I mess up. I have a Mommy MeltDown. Or God shows me through my daughter’s attitude that we have many more miles to travel. A sure result of me puffing myself up on my laurels is God bringing me back to reality. Sometimes homeschooling itself is my ziggurat. I set myself up as being righteous because of all the sacrifices I make for my daughter’s education. I catch myself on the verge of judging my neighbors because they choose to use the public schools — or worse, I see a child zooming out of control in the grocery store and immediately assume he’s a public school kid. I’m not so different than Ham’s grandson who set up Babel. If I want to be like Jesus, I have to intentionally set out each day acknowledging how much I need him, every hour of every day, to transform me from the inside out. To really SEE people as He sees them — and to not only see them, but to love them where they are. Oh Jesus, please change my heart! Help me be an ambassador for Christ, not a ziggurat building homeschooler with a plank in my eye and a chip on my shoulder.
What ‘s your ziggurat?
Finally, Chapter 11 begins the story of the beginning of the nation of Israel. From Noah’s son Shem came our dear Father Abraham (remember that preschool song?) Abram was of the tenth generation after Shem. He was married to Sarai. They had no children at this point because Sarai was barren. Abram and Sarai moved away from their country (Ur) with Abram’s dad Terah. Ur was on the southern end of the Euphrates River, and they traveled north. Although they were headed for Canaan, they ended up settling down in Haran. Why did they stop their journey? For that matter, why did they begin their journey? It seems to me that this trip to Haran had the fingerprints of the Lord all over it. It got Abram away from the Ur of his youth. Perhaps the travel hardships themselves helped soften Abram’s heart for what was about to happen to him after his father died. For Abram, and for all of us, the walk with God had just begun.