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The Allegory of Noah's Three Sons

Sep 17, 2009

I tend to assume that if I write it, people have read it, remember it, and can recall it immediately when needed. This, of course, is ridiculous, and so I have had many "reality checks" over the years to keep my outlook more realistic.

For this reason I have repeated various teachings periodically, though I try to do so in a variety of contexts, instead of just cutting and pasting material from previously-written books. There is always a way to tie old information to something new. This way, you are given each new teaching in the context and setting of things you have already heard, while at the same time the past teachings are being reinforced in your minds.

This week I have been expounding on the meaning of Noah's prophecy to Japheth, a Bible passage that is normally overlooked because its significance is not understood. The prophecy itself is quite vague, giving no real details, and there is hardly any way that Noah himself would have known how this would play out in the future. History itself would have to explain the prophecy, and this would take thousands of years.

Probably the most striking detail of the prophecy is that it shows how Noah was concerned for his son Japheth, even though he did not obtain the Birthright. Shem received the Birthright, but this did not mean that Shem was better than Japheth or that Noah (or God) loved Shem more than Japheth. It simply meant that Shem received a calling and a responsibility to lead the rest of the world into the Kingdom.

That simple idea would have huge ramifications in later years as the Jewish mindset became more and more narrow, and as they began to think of themselves as better than the rest of humanity. The New Testament clearly shows that Jesus came to heal the Better-Than-Thou Syndrome which by that time had become so ingrained in the culture of Judea. His disciples were the first to have their world rocked by this correction. After a bumpy start, it is clear that they finally "got it," because they included it in the New Testament writings.

Jesus' treatment of the Canaanite woman and the Roman soldiers did not change the disciples' viewpoint immediately. Even after Pentecost we find Peter having to explain his actions in laying hands on Romans to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. They were also surprised when the Holy Spirit was given to the Samaritans. It had been assumed that the Holy Spirit was the prized possession of Jews only, and that God had no interest in indwelling any other type of flesh.

In many ways God's impartiality shook their culture-based theology more than anything else. It is well summarized in Peter's statement in Acts 10:34, 35,

(34) And opening his mouth, Peter said, "I most certainly understand NOW that God is not one to show partiality, (35) but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him."

See also verse 45,

"And all the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles [ethnosalso."

Looking back at it, we may find it hard to understand why this would amaze them so much. We take this as a matter of course, because our entire culture has been shifted in a new direction. Yet there are pockets of resistance even today that are in need of learning this basic New Testament lesson. The impartiality of God, as revealed in His Law, is not understood by all. And with the rise of Christian Zionism in the past century, the impartial nature of God has been severely eroded.

One thing that has emerged quite clearly in this new look at Japheth is that the three sons of Noah allegorically represent the barley, wheat, and grapes in the three harvests during the year. As I have taught many times, the barley (Shem) ripens first in the Spring and therefore represents those of the First Resurrection ("harvest"). They are the overcomers who come to maturity first and achieve Sonship before the others.

The wheat company (Japheth) represents the others who believe in Christ but who are yet in need of some correction at the Great White Throne judgment (John 5:28, 29). These are the "servants" of God who receive either few or many stripes (Luke 12:47, 48), which Jesus then describes as "fire" in verse 49. Likewise, Paul tells us that these will be "saved yet so as by fire" in 1 Cor. 3:15.

Fortunately, this "fire" is not hell as many of them would define it. It is simply the judgment of the divine law, which includes few or many stripes (a maximum of 40, see Deut. 25:1-3).

Finally, the grape company (Ham) is reconciled to God after the curse on the earth is removed fully. The land of Canaan, son of Ham, was under the curse, but that land of the curse was also the Promised Land. It was God's purpose to bring Shem into that land in order to remove the curse--so that everyone could benefit, including the Canaanites.

Shem was the builder of Jerusalem and its King-Priest, known by most people by his title, Melchizedek, "King of Righteousness." He was also known by the equivalent title, Adonizedek, "Lord of Righteousness." In later years the king of Jerusalem overthrown by Joshua is so named (Joshua 10:1). Obviously, these kings lived centuries after Shem and had corrupted themselves by that time. Whether they were actually descendants of Shem or were Canaanites that had taken over Jerusalem, we are not told.

At any rate, Jasher 16:11, 12 says of Shem,

(11) And Adonizedek, king of Jerusalem, the same was Shem, went out with his men to meet Abram and his people with bread and wine, and they remained together in the valley of Melech. (12) And Adonizedek blessed Abram, and Abram gave him a tenth from all that he had brought from the spoil of his enemies, for Adonizedek was a priest before God.

What Shem did in welcoming Abram with bread and wine is what the Canaanite king Adonizedek ought to have done in Joshua 10. But instead, he fought against Joshua, because he did not know the divine purpose in bringing the children of Shem into Canaan. He could see only a threat to his cursed way of life and religion. He did not realize that God's intent was to remove the curse from Canaan so that even the Canaanites would finally receive divine blessing through Shem.

The Canaanite wars were complicated by the fact that the Israelites themselves had refused to receive the Sword of the Spirit at Horeb by hearing the Word (Ex. 20:18-21). If Israel had drawn near to God, they would have fulfilled the feast of Pentecost and would have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the spiritual sword with which to conquer Canaan. They did not do so, and so their conquest of Canaan was by military power.

Adonizedek and the other kings of Canaan could hardly have been expected to welcome the Israelites under such circumstances. No one in those days really discerned the mind of God, and it remained unexplained until Pentecost was actually fulfilled in the book of Acts. Then it became clear that the disciples, acting under Joshua (Yeshua, Jesus), were to use the Sword of the Spirit that would kill the flesh in manner far different from the physical sword.

And so today, as we go beyond Pentecost and come into the Age of Tabernacles, the picture has come into better focus. God never did hate Canaanites, but from the beginning He contemplated their conversion and reconciliation. As such, they became a type of the grape harvest, which is trodden down to extract the wine for the true Communion prophesied in the actions of Melchizedek.


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Dr. Stephen Jones


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