“CURSED BE CANAAN.”

Brother Kennard requests my views through the Signs on Genesis ix. 25, 26. This chapter is a record of wonderful events; it is the beginning of a new world or dispensation; it is both prophetical and typical. The old world had perished in the flood, for its wickedness. Noah was righteous; God saved him and his family in the ark, with all the living creatures in the ark. With all these God now makes his covenant, and upon the black cloud he sets the beautiful bow of promise, a sure token that he will no more destroy the world by a Hood forever. When God brings the dark stormcloud upon the earth, from whence had come the flood, he also looks upon the bow of the covenant, radiant with light and peace and hope. In all this is shadowed forth Jesus Christ the righteous and his saved people in the new heavens and new earth, with whom God has established his everlasting covenant of life and peace. So John beheld a throne in heaven, and One sat on it, and “a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.”

The three sons of Noah were Shem, Ham and Japhoth. Three is significant. The earth was repeopled by these three. Time is measured by three dispensations. “There are three that bear record in heaven.” The three apostles saw three men in glory in the holy mount: Jesus, Moses and Elijah – the gospel, the law and the prophets. When the cloud of glory was lifted the apostles “saw no man, save Jesus only.” So the law and the prophets were fulfilled and finished in Jesus. In the new covenant he is All in all. Those names are likewise significant. Noah means both wandering and rest. Shem: name. 1 Tarn: hot, black. Canaan: lowland. Japheth: fair one, spreading widely. These names are truly historic in their several meanings, as applied to the three chief races of men. Noah said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” – Gen. ix. 25-27.

Noah here spoke prophetically and historically, with the voice of God, and his curse and his blessing were the decree of God. As a man, he had not the power to curse the posterity of Ham, or to bless the posterity of Shem and Japheth. So it was when Jacob blessed the younger son of Joseph, and when Isaac blessed his younger son, both of which were contrary to the patriarchal blessing. Isaac could not recall or reverse the blessing, but he said of Jacob, “Yea, and he shall be blessed.” Thus God has often spoken through his servants. So both the curse and the blessing of Noah were unto perpetual generations. The curse passed over the three older sons of Ham, and fell upon the youngest. We must accept it as it is. This curse has fixed the status or state of this race of mankind for all time. As the name of Ham, the head of the race, signifies, they dwell in a hot climate, and are black. Then they are low or subordinated in their nature, as the name Canaan means. “A servant of servants shall he be.” It is so until this day, all the powers of earth cannot change it. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin?” Impossible.

Has this a typical meaning: Yes. The curse of God fell upon the earth for man’s sake, and this includes the earthly man, the fleshly being of God’s people. In this nature the bride of Christ confesses that she is black, as the tents of Kedar. This is a low land, a land of darkness, and in this state the people of God’s covenant were in bondage, and, like Jacob, given to the curse. The unrenewed Jacob represented this outward and fleshly man of the saints of God. Their cry is, “I am carnal, sold under sin.” As the sons of Noah were three, and one is a servant to both the others, so it is in the trinity of the covenant people, (spirit and soul and body) the body is kept under and brought into subjection. Sheni and Japheth have the do minion, and Canaan shall be their servant; God has so ordained and fixed it; his plan and way are immutable and wonderful. The world would not have it as it is, and desperate have been the efforts to uplift the Hamites to the place of Sheni and Japheth, but deplorable have been the failures, both in the political and religious worlds. Canaan is a servant of servants. So, too, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.” This is all that proseliters, conversionists and moralists can make of it. Why, even the Son of God himself was a servant in his flesh, and said, I “came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” God alone can raise up Canaan from the low laud and remove the curse. This will not be here below, but the word of prophetic promise says, “Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Then our bondage here shall end, and it shall no longer be said, “I am black.”

Noah was a man of faith, a believer in God, and a true worshiper of him; yet Noah was a sinner, a wanderer, and his rest was not in the flesh or on the earth, but in God’s covenant and glorious rainbow of promise. In all this Noah represented every heir of promise, whom God has put in the ark of the covenant and shut them in, so that the deluge shall not destroy them. Noah was filled with wine, wherein is excess, and thus his nakedness and shame were exposed to view, and his need of an atonement to cover his nakedness, a robe to take away his shame, was made known. But Ham could not furnish this, because he was unrighteous, a degenerate son of the flesh; so he dishonored his father, laughed at his nakedness and gloried in his shame. Thus Ham brought the curse upon his own ungodly son, and doomed him to perpetual servitude. In this God is just and holy.

“And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.” This is a lively type of the covering of the robe of righteousness, which removes all our sin and guilt and shame, and presents us spotless and white.

Noah said, “Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; * * * God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem.” How wonderful is this blessing of God to Shem and Japheth, and how significant this prophecy! They wore together as one in this noble and most gracious act, and the younger one should come and dwell in the tents of his elder brother. Canaan should be the servant of both. All this was and is true.

Whom do Shem and Japheth represent! Our dear, aged brother wants to know this; and so do we all, if God is pleased to show it to us, and we trust he will. Shem means a name. He was the father of the Hebrews, the family of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the people of God’s covenant. In Jacob God gave to this people the new name of Israel, meaning a prince, who has power with God and with men and prevails. This was fulfilled in the meek man Moses, the servant and prophet of God, whom he raised up and made him the leader of the whole house of Israel and the mediator of the covenant of God with his people. It was by Moses that God gave them the priesthood, the sacrifices and the atonement to cover their sins. This was ceremonial and typical. So Shem represented Moses.

Now Japheth, meaning fair one and spreading widely, was the younger brother of Shorn, and the father of the Gentiles, the Caucasian or white race, who have spread widely over the earth.

Moses said to his brethren that of their brethren the Lord their God should raise up unto them a prophet like unto him, and him should they hear in all things. This was Jesus, “the Prophet of Nazareth,” “the Mediator of the new covenant.” He was an Israelite, of the family of King David, and so he was the Brother of the Israelites, the younger Brother of Moses, and one with him in the covenant and the atonement, as the Leader and Mediator of the people of God. Moses was the type, and Jesus the Antitype.

As the Son of man, Jesus was an Israelite in the flesh, the son of Abraham and Noah and David on his blessed mother’s side, the brother of Shem and of all the children of God in that covenant. Yet not less than four of his ancestors on his mother’s side were Gentile women, among thorn the blessed Ruth; so that he is the Brother and representative of Japheth and the children of God among the Gentiles, no loss than of Shem and his people. So Japheth represented Jesus and was his type, and Jesus is truly the fair One, the salvation of God unto all the ends of the earth, “and in his name shall the Gentiles trust.” Most truly has Japheth’s wonderful blessing been fulfilled in Jesus: “God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” For the patriarchs and prophets, Shem and Japheth, Moses and the law, the priesthood and the atoning sacrifices, the old and the new covenants, the Jews and the Gentiles, met in the one Mediator between God and men, the anointed man Christ Jesus, and found their perfection in him. In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and also all the fullness of the covenants of the promise, and the fullness of the church. In him shall the fullness of the Gentiles come in, as fellow-heirs with the Jews, and so shall Japheth dwell in the tents of Shem. “He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.”

Both historically and spiritually the prophecy, the curse and the blessing of Noah concerning his posterity are fulfilled and true. At the first the covenant, and the blessing, and the house of God, the household of faith, were with the sons of Shem, but now they are with the sons of Japheth, and all is changed. The Jews, as natural branches in the tame olive tree, were broken off, and the Gentiles, who were wild by nature, and had no part in the first covenant, the house of Israel, are grafted in, and are “fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” This is the blessing that descended upon the head of Japheth from his father and his God, as the later blessing of Jacob or Israel upon the head of Joseph, saying, “Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches run over the wall,” the middle wall, which shut out the Gentiles. “The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors, unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be upon the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.” This is the blessing of God upon the head of his Son Jesus, to whom he said, “I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” When Simeon took this infant Son in his arms of love and faith, he blessed God and said, “Mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”

O how abounding, wonderful and everlasting are the blessings of Noah and Jacob and God upon Shem and Japheth, Joseph and Jesus! The crown of glory is upon the head of Jesus, who sits upon the throne of God, and the rainbow of the everlasting covenant is round about the throne, and within it are all his people, the blessed of his Father.

It is a fact of history nationally that here in America, where Shem once dwelt in tents from ocean to ocean, .Japheth now dwells. So God has greatly enlarged Japheth, and fulfilled the prophecy of his servant Noah. The wisdom and power of the Almighty God alone could bring all this to pass.

Dear brother Kennard and brethren all, how infinite is the blessing that we have been brought from the east and west, the north and south, and have been made to sit down in the kingdom of God with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, with Moses and Jesus. “And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.” O may we join the song.

The Lord has given me this view and comforted me in it. May he comfort our aged brother on the far coast, with all who dwell in the tents of Shem and are heirs in the blessing of Japheth.

D. BARTLEY.

Signs Of The Times
Volume 74, No. 9
May 1, 1906