How did racial groups originate, and why did God divide people into races?
Genesis 10:1–32 indicates that all nations originate in Noah’s sons. Japheth’s sons have been associated with the Gentiles, whose descendants formed the northern nations. Ham’s sons and their descendants formed the southern nations, and Shem’s sons and their descendants formed the central nations. Unger’s Bible Handbook contains interesting information on this background (pp. 51–56). It lists each of the sons of Shem, Ham, and Japheth and the nations that they and their descendants formed. It also includes a map showing the general location of those nations.
We do not know all of the reasons why God instituted various races of people. Dispensationally, God has ordered nations (plural) rather than a one-world system. After Noah, man attempted to organize a world government by erecting the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1–9). The Tower was never finished because God scattered the people by causing them to speak a number of different languages. It is apparent, therefore, that God’s purposes were and are served by a number of races rather than by an erasure of racial distinctions.
It isn’t hard to comprehend God’s purposes in one particular race of people, the Jews. As we read the Bible, we see the reasons God created that particular race. Knowing that God is in full command concerning the peoples and events of this special planet, Earth, helps us trust Him for the future. Someday, when we live with the Lord for eternity, we will praise Him for his perfect designs. We will rejoice in the fact that He has gathered people from every race, tribe, and nation to be with Him forever.
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