FROM ADAM TO NOAH humanity remained a unit,
without divisions or partings. The record concerns Adam's
generatings. Though Noah is the tenth from Adam, yet it seems
that humanity is still viewed as a unit. Mankind has multiplied.
The evil of mankind has also multiplied as shown in the sixth
chapter. In that eon God's ways did not divide mankind.
The absence of divisions within mankind intensified the
effects of the evil tendency of humanity. The unity of mankind
gave strength, but it was in an evil direction. That Noah and
his sons rose above the character and deeds of their
contemporaries is a most remarkable matter, and of much
consequence. Some mortals of that day are spoken of as
distinguished ones, or "giants" (AV Gen.6:4), yet they are not
distinguished for good. The most that can be said of them is
that they were a section of mankind who, despite their one time
distinction, became merged into the general evil of the era and
later were all destroyed by God in the deluge which He brought
upon the earth.
THE EARTH RE-PEOPLED FROM THREE SONS
Noah was the link between humanity before and after the
deluge. The continuance of humanity from the three sons of Noah
has much significance. We should not, however, construe the
number of these sons as a prime factor in promoting the division
of mankind. Government was committed to human hands, but, due to
its simple and uniform character, even this did not promote the
rise of nations amidst the increase of population. Partition
into nations required the positive activity of God. He
determined the elements of demarcation.
Among the descendants of each of Noah's sons, the family
remained the unit of society. Prior to the deluge, the family is
not specifically mentioned in the record. Later, the family was
the unit which controlled the future. The family was the initial
distinguishing feature. One major motive decides its outlook
upon the world. The interests of the families tended to promote
plans which prevented their being dispersed over the earth's
surface. This intention to establish themselves crystallized in
the scheme to build the tower and the city on the plains of
Shinar. It was not built that they might reach heaven, as the
A.V. suggests, but to keep them together on the earth.
In the brief record given in the first eleven chapters of
Genesis it is intimated that the concentration of human capacity
and energy nearly always tends toward evil and against God.
Unrestrained, the concentration produced a condition and
situation calling for the destruction which came in the deluge
at the hands of God. But in the post-diluvian era God interfered
to retard and direct this tendency, so to prevent the full
development of its evil possibilities. God disintegrated the one
language which prevailed amongst the families and so destroyed
their unity. By this interference God developed His ways within
humanity. He introduced all the factors by which He made the
nations. These actions by God were not merely to exploit the
linguistic possibilities which were within humanity, but also to
give impetus to the latent potential for physiological
variation. Thus were constituted the definite and permanent
partings within mankind. The family units come to be separated
according to their tongues, into their lands, and eventually
their nations. At first they are discriminated as coastlanders,
a term intimating settlement in a particular region.
Since then any completely concerted plan has not been
possible for mankind. The comparatively brief periods of
universal rule which have been since that time, have also been
promoted by God. They have been feeble, due to God's original
partings. On the other hand, humanity has failed to learn the
lesson and still seeks to consolidate itself. But there can be
no "one world" without God.
God made the nations with a view to the good of mankind.
But the nations left God, and later were themselves given up to
follow their own ways. They become mere political units which
increasingly corrupted the knowledge of God, and engaged in the
veneration of the creature.
Mankind now shows factors which make for
national and racial divisions, but we ought not to conclude that
they were created so. Just as God first created the sexes as
one, and later parted them, so would it appear to be as regards
the race. It seems clear, then, that God's action in Genesis
eleven was of a most radical character. The sons of Adam,
through Noah's sons, are parted by the Supreme into nations. The
families receive the distinguishing marks of tongues and lands,
and they are constituted governmental units. The boundaries of
the peoples are determined by the Supreme. He distributes the
earth and allots its lands to the various nations.
The divisions of mankind which we term "race" are
variations, bred from God's original creation. God, however, has
ordered and controlled the biological development of mankind.
The possibility for variation placed within Adam at creation
was, under God's hand, used as a partitioning factor in the
course of mankind's genetic descent. The folkstem factors
remained latent until the time for division.
The so-called racial characteristics are only arbitrary
divisions, to enable a classification of types. But we should
note that, within such a division, we may have almost any
feature, though of course there will be many persons who exhibit
the dominant trait. If, for example, in a type which has the
everted lip turning outward, we also find some with the thin
lip, or the prominent high-bridged nose, where we should expect
the flat, broad nose, as well as much variation of skin color,
or of hair, what can we conclude? Surely, a common origin. Our
conclusion is confirmed by the fact that all classes of humans
are inter-fertile. They produce offspring of considerable
variety, yet can always mate. Mankind is one species.
The Ethiopian is the Cushite (see Gen.10:7,8 and
Jer.13:23). He is as much descended from the first pair in Eden
as was the Greek. The skin color was not originally apparent in
humanity, yet the possibility for pigmentation was there beneath
the skin in the malpighian layer, below the outer skin. The
pigmentation of the skin is not an acquired character, but its
activity has been promoted under the ordering of God. There is
much in the question about the Ethiopian: "Does the Ethiopian
turn his skin?" Does not the force of the question turn upon the
implication that his skin is neither under his control nor of
his choice? Isaac and Rebecca's twin children afford a most
interesting and arresting case of differing folkstems from the
same parents. These children, as twins, must have been from
differing ova disrupted from the same ovary.
Nations, races and languages are no longer a unit. This is
the result of history. The impulse of partition came when God
disintegrated the one language, spoken by the families descended
from the three sons of Noah. Comparative study reveals the fact
that all languages are reducible to three branches of a common
stock. That original language supplied the material. This God
disintegrated. Phonetic decay has forwarded God's
disintegration, for with this and the changed usage of words,
the nature of the language became destroyed. This is further
complicated by those factors which give form to a language,
namely, the grammar, the syntax, the simplifying of etymology.
By the time of the fifth generation (compare Genesis eleven
with Luke three, and the Septuagint) of those descended from
Shem, events and circumstances in the world reached a stage when
God intervened. This seems to correspond to the days of Peleg.
By the chronology of the Hebrew text, his birth would be 101
years after the deluge, but by the Septuagint it would be 531
years. This latter would seem to compare favorably with the
period of 800 years which elapsed before the population coming
from Adam was said to have multiplied. That was from a single
pair, whereas the post-diluvian appears to admit a more suitable
period in which the population of the earth could become
commensurate with the idea of division into nations. It also
allows for the formulation of policy amongst the people.
Even at this juncture, the people plan upon a basis which
does not have God in recognition. To a great extent they have
lost the sense of His imperceptible power and divinity. We
should note that the scriptural record starts mankind with a
knowledge of God. Men were monotheists, yet, by the time of
Terah, nine generations from the deluge, they served other gods.
The call of Abram indicates the degree to which truth has become
corrupted, and also that God is preparing to turn from the
nations, and to leave them to their own ways. Even at this point
they are not retaining Him in their knowledge.
Since neither conscience, nor yet the privilege of
authority to govern among themselves, had led the people to know
God as God, the making of the nations by God really became an
adjudication. God's action also had in view the unfolding of His
ways with mankind, that they might learn to have Him in
recognition. The nations did not eliminate the family, but
placed a king as head of the policy of each nation. God was
above all. He is the Deity Supreme, and nations should so
recognize Him, even as individuals. Here also the nations fail.
We now touch the point when God calls Abram, to whom He gives
the promises. From this one, God will make His own nation, and
through them He will bless all the families of the earth.
THE CHIEF QUERY regarding this dignified person ought surely to
be concerning his relation to the affairs of the world at that
time. How came he to be in such an office? The answer to this
seems to be that, in order to promote an understanding of the
Deity in the minds of the kings who arose with the nations, and
also to regulate a righteous relationship amongst these kings.
God called this one to be His priest of the Deity Supreme. We
should contrast this divine title with that of king. Whatever
authority may reside with the king, yet the Deity is Supreme.
This view of Melchizedek seems fully confirmed by Abram's ready
submission to him as he returned from the combat with the kings.
Abram renders due subservience to this priest. It cannot be
doubted that Abram was fully conversant with the office of this
person, and that he knew he was the inferior of Melchizedek, for
by his actions he recognized the eminence of the one before whom
IDENTITY NOT TO BE SOUGHT
The desire to identify Melchizedek may seem normal, and in
some respects logical, yet a little reflection ought to indicate
the impropriety of such an idea, not to speak of the
impossibility of doing so. The statements in the Hebrew epistle
are such that they warn us against it. If we were able to
identify the one who filled this office, then the type would
fail, and Scripture would be discredited.
The particulars revealed concerning this person are mainly
typical. There must, however, be a factual basis for the truth
which they picture, and so we have to insist that the father and
mother of Melchizedek are not apparent. We must also take the
same view as regards any ending to his life by death. Such an
outlook ought to be readily conceded, for it is the view which
lends the emphasis required by the Hebrew epistle, and so gives
much point to the priesthood of the Lord Jesus. That is a
priesthood able to reach finality, because it is in the hands of
One Who has an indissoluble life.
A MINISTER OVER THE NATIONS
Whoever the person entitled Melchizedek may have been, it
does not seem to be the correct view to regard him as one merely
acquainted with the Creator in that era. Rather is it that he
was appointed by the Deity to an office which was intended to
regulate righteousness and peace amongst the differing nations
when such units had arisen.
Since the deluge, the Deity definitely placed rule and
government in the hands of humans. His estimate of life was then
made known in terms distinct and of ready apprehension, and
these were to be the basis. It was not left to humans to define
life's value, and no longer was conscience to be the only
control. The authority to rule now given becomes inculcated as a
definite duty. This later got to be the duty of the king, and he
was to control the individuals within his domain. The king's
prerogative was to carry out God's instructions. This position
gave rise to the need for the controlling of the kings amongst
themselves, and in this we perceive the function of the
THE HONOR NOT ASSUMED
It seems evident that Melchizedek's priesthood was not
based on his descent. His ministry cannot be said to arise
because of a fleshly precept. Nor did he assume the office. It
must be that he was called of God, even as the One Who later
fulfilled the type. The service of this priesthood was not
related to sacrifice, for in that period this was the privilege
of the family head, and passed to the firstborn. This priesthood
had to do with the ministering of blessing, of succour and of
sustenance, and so with the promoting of righteousness and peace
amongst the various nations through their kings.
From the characteristics of the office it is obvious that
only one person could be king-priest. It did not descend to a
succeeding generation, yet it has virtue in that it continues
until its objective is achieved. Moreover, the priesthood has a
universal scope. It is not limited to one nation, as was the
Aaronic priesthood. Hence it could claim authority over all the
nations. Melchizedek was, in claim and exercise, a priest of a
higher order and function than any patriarch, and even that
priesthood to which Aaron was later called and constituted. This
person was priest of the Deity Supreme, and his kingship does
not seem to be confined to his particular region, but extends
over other kings.
In God's economy for the descendants of Noah, whether they
sprang from Shem, Ham or Japheth, one person is brought forward
as the first and only one to exercise the office of priest-king.
He was such by divine appointment, and did not take the honor to
himself. Thus, even at this early date, we have a priesthood
functioning with reference to humans of differing nations. It
was a priesthood common to all humanity. God did not leave
mankind to itself, but introduced that which should control and
THE OFFICE NOT INEFFECTIVE
From the picture drawn from the features around the
Melchizedek priesthood in the Hebrew epistle, we perceive that
the institution did not pass away. Somehow, and in some sense,
in the divine counsels, it could not pass by until its objective
was reached. It could not be ineffective, nor could it continue
permanently. A comparison of Genesis fourteen and Psalm 110
reveals that there is a sense in which this office was not
withdrawn or superseded, but that it remained. It is because of
this that the Lord Jesus could be so appointed by God. Agreeable
to this, the Hebrew epistle requires that there be a successful
completion in the next eon. Then will be seen its blessed
achievements despite the fact that it is in abeyance at present.
Where Genesis fourteen leaves matters as regards the kings,
there God resumes. At the coming of the Lord Jesus to exercise
this office, God will actually stab through kings (Psa.110:5)
and so assert His office to promote righteousness and peace
amongst the nations.
GOVERNMENT AMONGST THE NATIONS
Government in the hands of humans ought to promote
righteousness and peace. If this is not the outcome, then
government is without value, being overcome by that which it
seeks to direct. Every form of government should find its
authority in God and be subject to Him. It is not so much the
form of government as its relationship to God that makes it good
or bad. The first function of government ought to be to promote
the knowledge of the Deity Supreme.
Government came immediately after the deluge, yet, in the
nature of things, nations did not arise so soon. Some time
elapsed before the nations came into being. God made the
nations. He parted the families and the tongues. He distributed
the land and set the boundaries.
Now we ought not to assume that God left the peoples
without instructions and knowledge of Himself. Ere the Supreme
left the nations to their own ways, He manifested truth to them.
And without doubt the king of righteousness and of peace who met
Abram was one of the means used of God to teach and regulate the
nations. Monotheism was the original religion of mankind.
THE CONTROL OF KINGS
Since nations were made by God, we should view the kings
who come to reign over them as instituted by God, His ministers
in fact (Rom.13:1-5). As such they should first promote
righteousness. Peace would ensue, not only within the national
unit, but also amongst the nations. Surely the original reason
for nations rests upon God's economy whereby, as units, they
might judge and keep right life's affairs. To do this, the kings
should promote the knowledge of God amongst their peoples.
The merit and excellence of the sacred duties of
Melchizedek are hidden when we see him merely as a king related
to a territory. He may have been located at Salem (meaning
Peace), but does not the Hebrew epistle indicate that king of
righteousness as well as king of peace name the functions
invested in this man? If we admit a connection between Salem as
the name of a place, and as part of the title of this one,
surely it is not an extravagant suggestion to say that the place
became so named because of the eminence, dignity and
characteristics of the one who resided there as the promoter of
The duties of Melchizedek were not merely related to one of
the national units. He exercised authority as the Priest-king of
the Deity Supreme over and amongst all of the nations. He taught
and promoted righteousness and peace amongst the nations and not
simply within one nation. The readiness with which Abram
acknowledged him is most notable in this regard, and especially
so when we reflect that when he contacted this king of peace,
Abram was returning from war. And was not the action of
Melchizedek his approval of the righteousness of Abraham's
This episode, detailed in Genesis fourteen, affords
evidence, not merely of belligerency, but of the unrighteousness
which was beneath it, and hence peace did not ensue. Despite
God's teachings through Melchizedek, power arose to assert the
will of one nation or group over others. Four kings rose against
five. Nations as promoters of righteousness and peace failed.
God chooses Abram as the channel through whom His blessings
shall flow to all the families of the earth. This shall ensue
despite blessing being denied to them by the kings of the
CHRIST KING-PRIEST FOR THE EON
When our Lord returns to Israel He will, for one single
eon, fill the dual office of King-Priest, and thus fulfill the
type presented by Melchizedek. The Hebrew epistle is written to
those who had heard Him and believed His word, yet had not
received the promises because the nation, as such, rejected Him.
They were acquainted with the Aaronic priesthood, and needed
instruction as to the differences between it and the new
Melchizedek order. Aaron's sons were largely confined to one
nation, He will be the Mediator for all nations. Death prevented
the Aaronic priests from completing their work, but Christ, with
His indissoluble life will complete the task of priesthood and
bring it to a finality.
Christ will reign for the eons (Luke 1:33). But His
Melchizedek ministry, as joint Priest and King, will not be
necessary so long, hence it is always said to be for one eon,
the day of Jehovah. In the day of God, the new creation, the
tabernacle of God is with mankind (Rev.21:3). They will be His
peoples, and God Himself will be with them. There will be no
temple with its priesthood (Rev.21:22). This corresponds to the
conciliation which the nations enjoy today, for we are also a
new creation, in spirit (2 Cor.5:17). But Christ will continue
as King. The throne of God and the Lambkin will be in the new
Jerusalem (Rev.22:23). He does not hand over the kingdom to God
until much later, at the consummation, when all sovereignty and
authority and power, not priesthood, are nullified (1
Cor.15:24). Priesthood finishes its functions long before
kingship. This is the great difference between the day of
Jehovah and the day of God.
The present administration, with its celestial, spiritual
blessings, knows neither king, nor priest. Paul did, indeed, act
as a priest, corresponding to Christ in the day of Jehovah, at
the beginning of His ministry, but, like priesthood in that day,
he completed this evangel (Rom.15:19). Now, we ourselves plead
with God for others (1 Tim.2:1; 4:5), and God's spirit is
pleading for the saints in connection with our daily doings. In
the courtroom, however, where our justification is at stake,
Christ Jesus pleads as our advocate, so that we cannot be
condemned (Rom.8:26,27,34). By His spirit we are able to enter
into the very presence of God and plead directly with Him, not
through a priest. This spirit is in us and one with our spirits
in our intercourse with the Deity. This is the time of His
rejection, both as King and Priest.
E. H. Clayton
to Martin Lee (GoodNewsGospel.info)
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