Nationalism and racism are evident everywhere. Cultural, tribal, or family identity is becoming important to more and more people.
In South Africa apartheid has been dismantled and in USA African Americans now have equal rights with their European counterparts. Yet in both countries tensions simmer not far from the surface.
Racial hatred brings misery throughout the world. There is animosity between black and white, brown and black, yellow and white, and so on. This is not only a matter of colour. There is also open hostility between black African tribes, between Asian nations and between European races.
We may wonder why racism and nationalism are so rampant in the world today? The opposite might have been anticipated in the circumstances. To illustrate:
Two centuries ago all Englishmen were assumed to speak the same language. In practice, citizens from the north could scarcely understand the southern dialect and vice versa. Few people ventured far from the place where they were born until the steam engine was invented and railways enabled people to travel. Radio had an even greater impact as everyone listened to the same programmes. Gradually dialects modified and although the speech of the various counties remains distinctive, all Englishmen now understand one another.
What happened in England reflects a world-wide trend. The latter part of the twentieth century was the age of travel, enabling many people to experience cultures quite different from their own. Films, TV programmes and books introduce us to other cultures and add to radio's influence. But simultaneously with this new understanding, nationalism and tribalism are escalating. The grievances of ethnic minorities are to the fore. Racial tensions flare despite the gains in the area of human rights achieved by struggles of dedicated individuals and groups. Just when we might have anticipated greater inter-racial harmony, there is increasing unrest.
Our purpose is not to analyse the factors contributing to present situation. Others have done that better than we could. We do not denigrate the legitimate claims of those who have long been dispossessed and victimised, or excuse those who want to maintain their privileges at all costs. Atrocities committed by those who claim to be Christian are especially distressing.
Our purpose is to show:
· The Bible predicted the present tensions.
· The cause of racial conflict is to be found early in human history.
· No human organisation can resolve this problem.
· God is going to bring harmony among all peoples.
Throughout the Bible, multitudes of people are symbolised by the sea or waters. Invading armies are likened to floods in Isaiah 59:19; Jeremiah 46:7 and 8; Jeremiah 47:2 and 3. We have the key to such symbols in Revelation 17:15
"The waters which you saw,.......are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues."
This enables us to understand a very interesting prophecy Jesus made, (Luke 21:25 and 26) concerning world conditions just prior to his return:
"on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity,
the sea and the waves roaring;
men's hearts failing them from fear
and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth."
Not only the sea but the waves are also mentioned, indicating world-wide disturbance of nations and communities. Jesus foresaw our world.
Joel prophesied that all nations would be involved in preparation for the final world war, which neither side will win but Christ will halt. He foresaw that the weakest would be boasting that they are strong:
"Beat your plowshares into swords
And your pruning hooks into spears;
Let the weak say, 'I am strong.'
Assemble and come, all you nations,
And gather together all around."
(Joel 3:10 and 11)
Today we see the poorest nations spending almost all of their income on armaments instead of tackling the effects of poverty which cripple their people.
Daniel chapter 2 records a vision in which an image of various substances represents the history of human governments. In the final stage, the feet of mixed mud and iron symbolise international disharmony. This describes the world in which we live. How united is the United Nations?
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
In the beginning our first parents lived in harmony with their Creator. Then they disobeyed Him and so sin and death came into the world. Their descendants became so wicked that God sent a mighty flood which drowned them all, except for Noah and his family who survived in a specially prepared boat.
God told these survivors to scatter and populate the earth. Their descendants decided instead, to congregate in a city and build a huge tower. Suddenly they found that they could not understand one another and so co-operation in the construction was impossible. God had confused their language to thwart their intentions. Those who did understand one another, formed into groups and wandered off. Thus the various races came into being spreading over the earth as God intended. Distinctive racial characteristics gradually developed. Read Genesis chapter 11 verses 1 - 9
Many people reject the Genesis story but there is no other explanation for the circumstances in which humanity finds itself.
The theory of evolution implies that one race will be more advanced and therefore superior to, another. This concept, which is merely an un-proven theory, has had horrific consequences for millions:
Nazi Germany is one example of a nation which espoused the ideal of a genetically pure, master race.
Today the term ethnic cleansing is a sickeningly polite word for shocking atrocity.
Communication difficulties plague international political and business affairs. World Leaders are at the mercy of interpreters, unable to be sure exactly what the other person means.
God has made it virtually impossible for an adult to speak a second language without an accent identifying them as a stranger. Thus racial distinction is maintained.
Those who study one or more foreign languages soon come up against the problem that many words in one language do not have an exact equivalent in another.
Furthermore, in time every language changes almost beyond recognition. The potential for misunderstanding is always there.
Even within one culture, the rising generation creates its own words or changes the meanings of words their parents use.
The benefits a universal language would bring are widely acknowledged, and there have been several efforts to introduce the like. Esperanto - an artificial language devised in 1887, based on roots common to the major European languages was one endeavour that should have succeeded, at least in part, but it failed - like every human attempt to solve this problem.
God confused human speech and only He can lift that curse. While communication problems remain, real harmony among different peoples is not possible.
The Reader's Digest Oxford Complete Wordfinder defines Racism as:
1a a belief in the superiority of a particular race: prejudice based on this.
b antagonism towards other races, esp. as a result of this.
2 the theory that human abilities etc. are determined by race.
Few people realise that the attitude of all races, towards all others, is practically identical. While every nationality will concede that others are superior to them in some ways, every race believes that they excel in what has been termed, the spiritual dimension. This is interesting because it is, after all, this ability to feel and respond which makes us human. In short, every ethnic group of whatever colour, is convinced that they are superior.
For just one example we will quote from Paul Theroux's book The Happy Islands of Oceania page 139. He records the attitude of some Melanesians: "A dim-dim (white man) was hardly human in any case." There are white people who have identical feelings about Melanesians.
As a result of God's curse we are biased towards those of our own race. We forget that abilities within our race, vary widely, and that differences between racial groups are often the result of differing nutrition during early childhood, education and/or health, and are not inherent superiority or inferiority.
Some white supremacist "Christians" have been honest enough to admit, that they would exclude Jesus from their assemblies, on the grounds of his colour!!! He would have had olive skin, dark eyes and black hair. That surely should give them grounds for soul-searching.
"THE CURSE ON HAM"
After the flood, the earth was repopulated by the descendants of Noah's three sons - Shem, Ham and Japheth. Ham's four sons (Genesis 10:6) became the ancestors of the black races.
In Genesis 9:20 - 27 we have a brief record of Ham's sin. We are not told why God's curse came, not on Ham as is commonly believed, but on his son Canaan. World history would have been different if this fact had been recognised!
People calling themselves Christians have felt free to enslave, to kill and cruelly mistreat human beings with dark skins, considering them sub-human and inferior in the sight of God. Even if the curse was on all dark-skinned races, which it is not, it is not for fellow humans to inflict Divine judgement except when God specifically instructs them to do so. He punished Israel for their sins, but was very angry with the nations who added to their affliction. (See Zechariah 1:14 and 15)
Canaan is the only descendant of Noah whose territory is precisely defined in Genesis 10. (Verse 19) No doubt this is because it is important for us to know just who the Canaanites were and where they settled. They lived in land now occupied by Israel, Lebanon and Jordon. Canaanitish religion was particularly corrupt and degrading and so around sixteen centuries BC. God commanded Israel to destroy them and settle their land. (See Deuteronompy chapter 7) These nations do not now exist so the curse on Ham does not involve our era.
The New Testament (Acts 17:26) tells us:
"He has made from one blood every nation of men
to dwell on all the face of the earth,"
Blood transfusions and organ transplants are made on the basis of tissue type, not race or colour, so we can appreciate the truth of these words more fully than earlier generations. One of the most shocking scandals of our time is the trade of organs from impoverished people for transplantation into those of affluent races. Procurement of these organs involves cruel deception and often amounts to murder.
We quote again from the New Testament (Acts 10:28):
"God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean."
These words are especially striking because they come from a Jew. Israel has a privileged place in the purpose of God and has therefore been punished for their sins, more severely than any other nation. (Amos 3:2) This relationship between God and the Jews is an important part of God's dealings with all humanity.
While the Jews have a national relationship with God, each one of us is now invited to an individual relationship with Him through Jesus Christ:
"there is no distinction between Jew and Greek,
for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.
For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."
Romans 10:12 and 13
"God shows no partiality
but in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness
is accepted by Him."
Acts 10:34 and 35
The final book of the Bible is a prophecy of events from the time Jesus left the earth until he returns to rule the world in peace and justice. One of the blessings is mentioned in verse 3 of the final chapter:
"And there shall be no more curse,"
Along with the curse of mortality, the curse of confusion of language with all its consequences, will be removed. God's promise is recorded in Zephaniah 3:9:
"For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language,
That they all may call on the name of the LORD,
To serve Him with one accord."
The prophet Zechariah describes the final world war which will be terminated by Christ. Casualties will be high but the result will be:
"And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts,"
"Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him; All nations shall serve Him"
"All flesh shall come to worship before Me," says the LORD."
Jesus will be assisted in governing the world by those who have faithfully followed him. They will come from every race. We have the words of the hymn they will sing to Christ:
"And they sang a new song, saying:
"You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals;
For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
and have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth."
Revelation 5:9 and 10
We can be part of that assembly if we will do what God asks us now. It may be relevant to ask ourselves how comfortable we would feel in such a gathering? Maybe we have some work to do on our own natural and acquired prejudices?
Those who have had the privilege of working alongside others of similar education and ability, soon find that racial differences do not matter. We are all human beings.
Any feeling of racial superiority is misplaced human pride and greed. This is rather pathetic since without God, all perish in death. God hates pride.
We are commanded to Love our Neighbour as ourselves - regardless of their race. Jesus told the parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25 - 37) to make this point. We do not enslave or mistreat those we love!
Jesus' commission to his disciples was:
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,"
"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."
The gospel brings a wonderful opportunity to all regardless of our race or colour. Will you take advantage of it? Send for more studies or information on specific topics.