“But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.” – Acts 28:22.
Canaan was the son of Ham, the grandson of Noah, and seemed to inherit his father’s wickedness. The word Ham means burnt or black and may refer to the line of evil that ran through his progeny, as well as the sun-burnt countries that his descendents inherited as their portion.
The Scriptures very clearly reveal the sovereign providence of Almighty God in giving to each race and nation its boundaries, and all with an eye single to His glory, and the good of His people; as it is written; “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance.” – Deuteronomy xxxii, 8,9.
There was an absolute destiny ordained to each of Noah’s sons, and their posterity, covering as well the countries which they were to inhabit; each race for its own peculiar location; and the “Land of Canaan,” “Palestine” or the “Land of Promise” for the children of Israel.
The wild roving tribes of the desert were given a country suitable to their character of life: the islands of the oceans were to be inhabited by a people vastly different in their peculiar characteristics and mode of life; and the mountains and forests jungles a different character of people still.
The infinite wisdom that could create a personal unit of life to fly in the air: and a very different one to live in the sea; so radically different that the bird will die in the sea, or the fish in the air, is revealed in providing a life for the polar regions, and also the sun-scorched lands of the earth; “and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.” – Acts xvii, 26.
The same wonderful wisdom is displayed in providing a country (Egypt) watered (by the river Nile) without rain; and side by side a country Palestine) watered with rain from heaven, and of which it is written; “For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou soweth thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs: but the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven.” – Deuteronomy xi, 10, 11.
The infinite wisdom of God could provide a season in Egypt without rain, or yet in the adjacent land of Canaan with rain, and sustain life in each country, filling the granaries of Egypt and of Canaan; providing a race for each country as it pleased Him. Many cannot see the marvelous sovereignty of God in His created dominion.
As an illustration of the destiny ordained to each race we may take the case of Ishmael of whom and at whose birth it was declared in Genesis xvi, 12; “And he shall be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.”
This prophecy, like all other Divine declarations, was literally fulfilled in the development of the Ishmaelites, and their prodigy since. They inhabited the desert of Arabia lying south and east of Judea, a country extending about 1500 miles from north to south, and about 1300 miles from east to west, approximately the size of Europe. It is a wild country with here and there some scattered fertile spots; a country of desert interspersed with hills, and mountain fastness, which has never been conquered by any foreign foe; but where the “wild man” [Ishmaelite] of the desert roves free, and untrammeled, dwelling near his Semite brethren after the flesh, [Genesis xvi, 12,] his hand against every man, and every man’s hand against him.
Life in the desert is very different from life on the ocean, and life in the jungle is different still; and how infinite the wisdom of God in provision in such a rich variety, so that each is fitted for his peculiar sphere; the untamed Arab would be out of place on the ocean, and the sailor equally so in the desert.
But of all the revelations of the wisdom of God in providing an appropriate country for His creatures, the provision made for His covenant people in Canaan was must wonderful! The climate of this country was almost perpetual summer; rich in soil – “the fertile crescent”, – its hills were cultivated to their summit in ancient times; its plains abounding in abundant variety; its vines and orchards every where abundant, glowing in the sunshine of Divine favor!
And has not the God of Israel in all ages so regulated nations and the governments thereof, for the good of this people, and His own glory? If in the persecution of other days as in the valleys of the Piedmont, it must work for the good, or yet in more favored ages, as in later years still “for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” – Romans viii, 28.
“He is the Lord our God: His judgments are in all the earth. He hath remembered His covenant for ever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations. Which covenant He made with Abraham, and His oath unto Isaac; and confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant: Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance: When they were but a few men in number; yea, very few, and strangers in it. When they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people; He suffered no man to do them wrong; yea, He reproved kings for their sake; Saying, Touch not Mine anointed, and do My prophets no harm.” – Psalms cv, 7-15.
William M. Smoot,