What does the Bible say about racial differences, and how should believers approach this question of race and race relations.
In the US race is connected to past slavery, but in ancient times slavery was associated with defeated people. A conquered nation's people were often taken into slavery as were the Israelites during the Babylonian captivity.
Some Christians think the Bible placed a curse upon certain races, making them inferior. This is based upon a misunderstanding of the curse placed on Canaan after the Flood. This started with the sin of Noah.
After the Flood Noah and his family started replenishing the earth. It could have been years since the flood because, Noah's son Ham already had children. Noah had apparently planted a vineyard 1 because the Scripture states that he lay in a drunken stupor. 2 Noah's culpability is greater because he was the only righteous one 3 at the time of the Flood and this makes his sin all the more terrible. Growing grapes resulted in making wine and the excess use led to the drunken stupor, which led Noah to lie down and uncover himself. 4
When Ham entered Noah's tent and saw his naked father, he told his two brethren.5 The verb saw means more than a casual glance. It indicated that Ham gazed with satisfaction at his father. Although Ham did nothing to his father, disrespect and possibly evil thoughts that occurred when he gazed on his father brought condemnation on Ham.
In contrast to Ham's action, Shem and Japheth went into their father's tent backward, 6 so as not to see Noah's condition, and they covered his naked body. Based on what we see on TV today this seems rather trivial, but you must remember that in Noah's time respect for the Patriarch of the family was not only required but demanded. When Noah awoke, he inquired what his younger son had done to him. 7 Then he pronounced a blessing on Shem and Japheth and a curse, 8 not on Ham, but on one of Ham's four sons, Canaan. 9 Many think that the curse was placed on Ham and thereby on African people, because Ham's other sons are as follows: Cush - Ethiopia; Mizraim - Egypt; Phut - Libya., 10 and they populated Africa. However, Canaan was the father of the people in Phoenicia, Palestine, and Canaan.
Charles C. Ryrie writes: 11
Canaan's sons 12 were Sidon, inhabitants of the Phoenician city in Lebanon; Heth, the Hittites, Syria, 13; Jebusites, dwellers in the hills around Jerusalem; Amorites, who inhabited the hill country on both sides of the Jordan; Girgasites, inhabitants of Canaan; 14 Hivites, who were early inhabitants of Syria and Palestine; Arkites, dwellers in Lebanon; 15 Sinites, inhabitants of the Lebanese coastal area; Arvadites, dwellers on an island off the coast of Syria, fifty miles north of Byblos; Zemarites, who lived in the territory of Benjamin; and the Hamathites, who lived near the Orontes River. Clearly none of these were inhabitants of Africa. The Canaanites were wicked inhabitants of Palestine whom God commanded to be destroyed under Joshua. The subjugation of these people was the primary fulfillment of Noah's prediction of servitude. But because the Israelites failed to destroy them completely when they went into the land, the heathen religion of the Canaanites was embraced by the Israelites, resulting in the worship of a kind of Canaanized Yahweh. Phoenician religion also centered around Baal worship and fertility cults.
The descendants of Canaan have been
conquered by Israel, Assyria, Babylonia, Persians, and then Alexander
the Great, who captured the territory in 332 B.C.
Ham was the one who showed disrespect but clearly the curse was placed on Canaan and not on Ham. The Scripture do not say why Canaan was cursed and not Ham, some suggest that since Ham had already been blessed, 16 he could not have been cursed by his father; thus the curse had to fall on Ham's sons. Ham was Noah's youngest so Ham's youngest received the curse and brought dishonor to Ham. Ham was punished in his son, and the punishment was clearly from God. The curse on Canaan was from God and not on Ham or his other three sons (and therefore was not on the people of Africa).
God is not concerned with race. His message of salvation through faith in Christ is to all men, regardless of ethnic background. 17 God's judgments and blessings are without partiality. 18 It is man that is partial to ;his own race and circumstances, and employers are to treat their employees impartially. 19 Partiality is also outlawed in the church. 20 James deals with the particular problem in the early church of preference being shown to those who had money. They were given seats of honor, whereas poorer people were shunted to the rear. Although the passage is speaking against partiality because of economic differences, it also applies to similar instances that might arise because of racial differences. People who do not "have respect to persons" thus "commit sin". 21
The church at Antioch exemplified impartiality. The leaders mentioned in Acts 13:1 were probably all Jewish believers. One of them, Simeon, had the nickname Niger, which is Latin for black. It may mean that he was a Jew of African origin or possibly that he was an African Gentile who was a proselyte to Judaism, but he shared equally in the leadership of the church with those of differing backgrounds. Believers are to be impartial in giving out the gospel, in their relationships with all people, and in accepting all who come into the church, independent of "race" and ethnic background.
If race is not a consideration in God's view point why and/or how did the races come about?
The concept of "race"
is biological, not Biblical. There is no mention of different
races, as such, in the Bible, nor even of the very concept of
a "race." Evidently, there is no Biblical or
theological meaning to the term, and we must conclude, therefore,
that races are purely arbitrary entities invented by man for his
own convenience in biological and anthropological studies.
Biologically a race is generally thought of as a variety, or subspecies, within a given species. All the races are a part of the human race. We have made the term race to apply to skin color, but Webster's Third New International Dictionary defines race as:
"a class or kind of individuals with common characteristics, interests, appearances, or habits as if derived from a common ancestor"
and gives the Jewish race as an example. The skin color is essentially the only biological difference and science has been unable to determine what causes skin pigmentation. They have not been able to define the difference in cell pigment or structure.
The current struggle between races must be based on evolutionism, or prejudice not on theism or superiority. Evolutionary scientists may not all be "racist" in their personal or political philosophies, but have used the supposed universal evolutionary process to justify such a position. Nazism and Marxism are two notable examples.
The Bible states that all men who have ever lived in the world are descendants of Adam and, therefore, are of the same race the human race. Acts defines the blood of all nations.
"God bath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth" Acts 17:26.
All men in the present world are descendants of Noah. Before the Flood, God had said:
"The end of all flesh is come before me; . . . behold, I will destroy them with the earth" Genesis 6:13.
Then, later the Bible says:
"All flesh died that moved upon the earth . . . and every man" Genesis 7:21.
After the Flood,
"God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth" Genesis 9:1.
Finally the Bible says:
"And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the Ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: . . . and of them was the whole earth overspread" Genesis 9:18-19
The Scriptures do not mention races, they do have a great deal to say about nations and languages. These distinctions are even noted in heaven. The heavenly host is a great multitude from all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues. 23 The description of the eternal city also specifies the host is from all nation
"And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it" Revelation 21:24
Thus, it appears that national identities may be retained in heaven.
Language has been the most divisive characteristic among men, not skin color or physical size, or some other physical trait. Communication is of paramount importance for understanding and harmony, and language is the most basic element in communication. Without communication there is no interplay, usually just suspicion.
Evolutionists cannot explain how humans developed speech. That human speech and language are divine creations is the most reasonable explanation. Furthermore, the fact that the great variety of languages reflects a divine judgment on early man, as the Bible teaches, is also the most reasonable explanation we have.
After the Flood, when "the whole earth was of one language and one speech."24 God commanded man to scatter and fill the earth. However, man disobeyed and they were all gathered in the land of Shinar and dwelt there. 25 They said:
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. Genesis 11:4 [KJV]
When the Lord saw what they were doing He said:
And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, Behold, the people are one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. Genesis 11:5-7
The above Scripture has made a number of interesting statements. In verse 6 it states "and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do." Does God really mean that man can do anything he can imagine? This appears to be happening again, now - man in space - test tube babies - organ transplant - gene restructuring and modification. What else is to come?
At this time of the tower of Babel, a juggernaut tower, was dedicated to Astrological symbols and the study of the heavens. The great Tower of Babel, therefore (part of which is evidently still standing in the ruins of Babylon), was essentially a temple, dedicated to Satan worship and evolutionary pantheism. They had one language, and could do anything they could imagine. Because of these things God confused their tongues and scattered them across the entire earth. 26 This was after the land had been divided (See Days of Peleg)
We have in modern times built our own tower of Babel - the Space Program. We are trying to reach into the heavens. We have given each of our space projects astrological names - Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Pegasus , etc. We have one world wide language - mathematics and science. We are doing anything we can imagine. Since God is truly constant - we are approaching a time when we will be scattered. Hopefully this is the Rapture. (See Rapture).
In verse 7 of Genesis 11 the Lord says "let us go down and confuse their language." Who does He mean by us. Most accept the us to mean the Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. However, some object to this stating - the Trinity is not mentioned in the Old Testament. They state the Jewish watchword:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: Deuteronomy 6:4 [KJV]
But these theologians ignore Isaiah 48:16-17:
Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me. Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go. Isaiah 48:16-17
which clearly defines the Trinity.
Since physiologic changes were necessarily involved in this sudden confusion of tongues, it may well have been that still other physiologic changes were also induced by God at the same time, in order to hasten the establishment of each group as a distinct national entity. Whether or not this is the case, it is certainly true that the scattering of the people and the development of specific national, or even what we call "racial" traits, could not take place as long as men lived together and intermarried freely. A certain amount of isolation and national inbreeding is genetically essential for the establishment of particular characteristics in a nation or race. Thus these could not have developed until after mankind was dispersed from its first post-diluvial home in Babylon.
Even apart from the miraculous changes suggested above, such characteristics could have developed quite rapidly, assuming that the different genetic factors (for skin color, stature, hair texture, and the like) were present in the ancestral stock, and that isolation and selection pressures of some kind whether climatic or social or others operated in favor of certain characteristics in each tribe. These, however, are all basically superficial and could never result in a new "kind" of man.
We know that the continents of earth were together before this time of the tower of Babel, 27 and that they were separated in the days of Peleg, 28 (See Days of Peleg). The separation of the continents occurred before the scattering of the people, based on the Scripture: they were scattered "abroad of all the face of the earth." All the tongues were the same. But after they were scattered the people (In My Opinion) took on the different skin color and facial characteristics. Scripture does not say this, it only specifies a change in language.
Figure 1 shows the arrangement of the continents before they were separated and the center of the
supercontinent is Israel.29
Figure 1 Gottsland - Supercontinent
If one traces skin color as one goes from Israel to the east, on encounters brown skins in India and yellow skins the further east. Also the eyes take on a different appearance in the facial features.
If one goes to the southwest, one encounters brown skin in Egypt (like Sadat) and further south and west the skin becomes black. The main change in facial features is the lips and the hair becomes more course.
If one goes form Israel to the north, northwest, one encounters brown skin in Greece/Turkey and the further north, white skins. The facial feature that changes is the nose and the eyes become blue with the hair becoming blonde.
All of the changes are progressive from Israel as being essentially the center. In the days of the separation of the people, their clothing covered the body and the head was covered with a shawl or head dress similar to the modern Arab dress, but the face was not covered. Then in those days after the scattering the different types (races of people could be determined by the color and facial features of the individuals. This change at the time of the tower of Babel accomplished God's purpose to make the people "replenish" the earth as He had commanded.
Today people tend to prefer their own kind, racially, spiritually, economically, socially and politically. Will God say "Let us go down and separate the people? Will the criteria for separation depend on our relationship to Jesus and the Father. Revelation says it will. 30
All nations and all people are alike before God in that all are in need of a Savior, and in that all can come to the Savior if they will.
God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting
life" John 3: 16.
Now that you have read these
articles on the web pages, www.aaronc.com and
and seen how God works
through individuals, through His creation and nature, through
countries and history and how He reveals Himself through prophecy
it is time to take a look inside yourself. Continue
I would appreciate your comments and
suggestions. E-mail to JPDawson
© 1997, 1998, Aaron C Ministries
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Genesis 9:20 [KJV]
And Noah began to be an husbandman,
and he planted a vineyard: Return
2 Genesis 9:21 [KJV] And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. Return
3 Genesis 7:1 And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. Return
4 Genesis 9:21 [KJV] And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. Return
5 Genesis 9:22 [KJV] And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. Return
6 Genesis 9:23 [KJV] And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. Return
7 Genesis 9:24 [KJV] And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. Return
8 Genesis 9:26 - 27 [KJV] 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. Return
9 Genesis 10:6 [KJV] And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan. Return
10 Genesis 10:5 - 6 [KJV] By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations. And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan. Return
11 Charles C Ryrie , Biblical Answers to Contemporary Issues, Chicago: Moody Press, 1991. Return
12 Genesis 10:15 - 18 [KJV] And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth, And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite, And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite, And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad. Return
13 Joshua 1:4 [KJV] From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. Return
14 Genesis 15:21 [KJV] And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites. Return
15 1 Chronicles 1:15 [KJV] And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite,Return
16 Genesis 9:1 [KJV] And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. Return
17 Acts 10:34 - 35 [KJV] Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. Return
18 Romans 2:11 [KJV] For there is no respect of persons with God.
1 Peter 1:17 [KJV] And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Return
19 Ephesians 6:9 [KJV] And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.
Colossians 3:25 [KJV] But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons. Return
20 James 2:1 - 9 [KJV] My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. Return
21 James 2:9 [KJV] But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. Return
22 Charles C Ryrie , Biblical Answers to Contemporary Issues, Chicago: Moody Press, 1991. Return
23 Revelation 7:9 [KJV] After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;Return
24 Genesis 11:1 [KJV] And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.Return
25 Genesis 11:2 [KJV] And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.Return
26 Genesis 11:8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Return
27 Genesis 1:9 [KJV] And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.Return
28 Genesis 10:25 [KJV] And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was Joktan.Return
29 Ezekiel 38:12 [KJV] To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the center of the land.Return
30 ~The Reapers Revelation 14:14-19 And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. 16 And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. 17 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. 19 And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.Return