Japheth Shall Dwell in the Tent of Shem
Genesis 9:27 May God extend Japheth’s territory;
may Japheth live in the tents of Shem,
There is a thread that runs so true throughout the Bible. Our God, who sees the ‘end from the beginning’, has ordained it so. Because of this, our Lord deals in strategies often playing out in hundreds of years. Like a chess master, He can make a moves that will not impact the ‘game for centuries or even millennia. As humans, we would miss it. But the Lord of the Universe doesn’t miss a thing— and the vital importance of even a seemingly small ‘thing’ can make a monumental difference in the outworking of history.
Take, for example, the prophetic words uttered by Noah in the passage above. To refresh our memory… the Flood is over and all of Noah’s family have disembarked. Ham, Shem, Japheth— Noah’s three sons— and their wives are now tasked with the job of repopulating the earth. These three genetic ‘seedbeds’ will provide the DNA codes for the ‘races’. An incident (Genesis 9) involving Ham causes Noah to utter three specific prophecies on the future generations of his sons. These prophecies may not seem like a big deal… but we understand the implications more fully when we come to the spread of the Gospel and the ‘direction’ of the book of Acts.
One more ‘refresher… Shem is the ‘father’ of the Semitic peoples, which includes the Jews. Japheth is the ‘father’ of the ‘white or Caucasian races, which includes the bulk of the peoples of the Roman Empire. NOW, notice the final lines in Noah’s prophecy: ‘may Japheth live in the tents of Shem’. What does that mean? Ahh… much!
The leaders of the Jews had rejected the Messiah Jesus. Their Council had him put to death. Many, many Jews became disciples of Jesus, but the nation of Israel— to this very day— has refused to recognize or follow. So who is that accepted, embraced, proclaimed and followed this son of Shem, this Jewish Messiah? That’s right: Japheth!! Japheth is ‘living’ in the tents of ‘Shem’!
Most of the book of Acts focuses on Paul’s mission trips to ‘Japheth’. The Romans, the Greeks, the Macedonian, perhaps even Spain— those in provinces to the ‘west’. And why? Because in the centuries to come, much of the ‘heavy lifting’ of the evangelizing the world has fallen on the shoulders of ‘Japheth’. It’s not that the rest of the world was ‘neglected’… but history plainly shows the Good News of Jesus was carried to the ends of the Earth, by Japheth— just as Noah said.