In Genesis Chapter 11 Nations were formed and dispersed across the earth. God’s purpose in establishing nations and borders was to limit the spread and impact of sin. That was our first principle.
Principle #1: God Has Established National Borders to Limit the Spread and Impact of Sin
When we make our way in God’s progressive revelation a little further in Genesis 11 we find that borders and nations are the “new normal”. In other words there are definite, distinguishable geographic areas and nations that you can find on a map. This is just the way the world is. Look at v. 31 for example:
“Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there.” (Genesis 11:31)
If you pay attention to history or even current geo-political developments you know that borders, ancient or modern, are not permanent. God establishes national borders but He also disrupts them. Deuteronomy 7:1 makes it clear that God is the disrupter of national borders. It says,
“When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than you,” (Deuteronomy 7:1)
Just a couple chapters later, in Deuteronomy 9:1, God sends Israel across the Jordan to “dispossess nations”. Dispossess them of what? Their land. The word translated “dispossess” (NASB, ESV) or “possess” (KJV) is yarash which means “to take possession of”. God sends Israel on a mission to take possession of the land of the nations occupying part of the land God promised to them. Pretty disruptive in my opinion.
Divine disruption is by design. God has a plan behind what He is doing. In other words, divine geo-political disruption is neither purposeless nor random. It has a goal. This is an important point. God is absolutely sovereign over the whole earth. Afterall, He created it. It is His. If He isn’t sovereign, then the violence that accompanies the disruption of borders is senseless. There are countless economic, political, and personal costs that come with divine disruption of borders. There were 11 million people displaced during World War II. I remember vividly as a boy growing up in Chicago in the 60’s, more than 15 years after the end of World War II, how immigrants would be derisively referred to as “DPs”, displaced people. Just ask anyone who has been through the collapse of the Soviet Union. Former Yugoslavia went through a violent, bloody transition. In the Croatian War of Independence that raged from 1991-1995 400,000 people were displaced. If there is no plan. Then all of this pain is purposeless. Yet, it isn’t purposeless, rather it is a part of God’s good and perfect plan.
His plan involves all the nations of the earth but is ultimately centered in Israel. Deuteronomy 32:8 tells us this. It says:
“When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel.” (NASB)
Where the other nations were the offspring of Noah and his sons, Israel is a direct creation of God (Genesis 12:2). God arranged the borders of the nations in relation to His nation, Israel. This arranging by God is not something that happens just once and doesn’t change. The Holy Spirit speaking through Paul tells us that nations come and go, rise and fall, borders change.
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, (Acts 17:26–27)
God’s purpose in divine disruption is to cause people to seek Him. Disruption and its aftermath of chaos and suffering has a way of driving people to God. He is using the disruption of nations to ultimately bring glory to Himself.
So what can we derive from all of this?
Principle #2: God Disrupts Borders and Displaces People So they Will Search For Him