Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Greatest Commendation

To Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the elder brother of Japheth, children were born.
Genesis 10:21
It is very notable that Moses, when he doth come to Shem, he mentions him with this commendation: Gen. 10.21, ‘These were born of Shem, the father of all the children of Eber;’ that is, the father of the Hebrews which worship God and acknowledge God. This is his prerogative above all his brethren, above Japheth, and above Ham, his brethren, that he was the father of the children of Eber. Eber was not his immediate son, but one that was to come of his loins, of whom the people of God were to come. Shem was the father of many mighty nations: the father of the Syrians, Lydians, Persians, Armenians, the Elamites, all these came from Shem; but because these were ignorant of the true God, and did not worship the true God, therefore he doth not take his title from them, but is called ‘the father of the children of Eber.’ This was his great prerogative, that Abraham came from him [Genesis 11: 14-16, 26], and all Isreal, the people whom God had chosen to himself, among whom he would record his name, and in the midst of whom he would be worshipped while all the rest of the world lay in darkness. One would have thought Moses when he commended Shem would have commended him otherwise, and have taken notice of his long life. This is that Shem that lived 600 years, the last of the long-lived patriarchs; or this is that Shem that saw both worlds, before the flood and after; this was one of the heirs of Noah; this was one of the three great princes of the world; this was one that obtained Asia for his inheritance, the paradise of the earth; a land that was rich in jewels, gold, silver, spices of all kinds, fell to his lot and share. One would have thought Moses would have reckoned the mighty kings and princes which had descended from his loins, the great nations—Assyrians, Persians, &c. Nations that were famous for power, art, greatness of their empire and monarchy, all these came of Shem. No; Moses puts by all this; here is his commendation, Shem, ‘the father of the children of Eber,’ of a contemptible nation, that was shut within the precincts of a little spot of land; but ‘to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the promises, Rom. 9.4. This was the honour of Shem. Oh, then, how should we strive to continue religion in our families, that so we may be the fathers of the children of the covenant, the fathers of the race of those that owned and acknowledged God. This is a great honour, and God expects it from you: Gen. 18.19, ‘I know Abraham, that he will command his children and his household, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do judgment and justice.’ This is that which God expects from you, that you should teach them the worship of the Lord, and charge them to worship the true God, that when you are dead and gone, there may be some of your line and race to call upon God.

--Thomas Manton, The Works of Thomas Manton, Volume 14, p. 385-386.

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