With the current unrest in America, it seems good to repost an article from five years ago addressing the eerily similar death of a black man at the hands of a white police officer. If the response to the death of George Floyd is any indication racial tension has only increased in the last five years. Until we accept the Bible’s teachings about race, humanity and sin there will be no peace among men.
The one year anniversary of the shooting in Ferguson has just passed. In the twelve months since Michael Brown was shot, there have been numerous racially themed conflicts. Racial issues have been a regular theme of major news outlets. As a result, race is a topic on a lot of minds right now. The answers to racial tensions are not simple, but the Bible gives the sound foundation on which to develop a comprehensive response to racial conflicts. Whether it be an exchange of insults on a street corner or an exchange of gunfire in a crowded building the Bible gives the framework by which we can make sense of these difficult issues. One of the crucial Biblical teachings for a proper understanding of the races is what the Bible says about the origins of the races.
Race as we describe it is not something addressed often in the Bible. Most often Scriptures refers to nations, languages, tribes and cultures. In fact, the term “races” is a misnomer. Humanity is a single race with members possessing a variety of superficial differences, most easily seen in skin coloring and distinctive faical features. These variations are relatively minor and do not divide the peoples of the world into distinct races. The Biblical terminology is “kindred (tribe or family group), tongue (language group), people (community group) and nation (ethnic group)”. Though each group possesses clearly defined features, all are made up of descendants from Adam and Eve. Whether black, brown, white or yellow, all nations and peoples are members of the same family descended from the same parents.
If all humanity is one race that originated with Adam and Eve, where did the different ethnicities come from? The Bible offers a clear answer to the origins of the nations which are the source of the major “races” in the world today. The division of the peoples of the world is described in Genesis 10 and 11. Genesis 10 lists the sons and grandsons of Shem, Ham and Japheth. This chapter has been called the “table of nations” because many of the people mentioned are the founders of the major nations of the world.
Genesis 11 tells of the Tower of Babel. At the Tower of Babel God punished mankind for its continued rebellion against Him. His punishment included the confusion of languages. Before Babel everyone spoke the same language. At Babel God miraculously caused different groups to speak different languages. The punishment at Babel also included the scattering of the people across the world. The individual language groups traveled from Babel to settle in lands across the Middle East and eventually the entire world. The family leaders mentioned in chapter 10 appear to reflect the language groups created by God at Babel. As groups spread out, married and reproduced, the distinctive characteristics of the parents became more pronounced. The unique languages and hardships faced by each people gropu resulted in the distinct culture and heritage of the various nations. From the tower of Babel and the resulting hardships came the formation of the ethnicities we see today.