FILLING THE EARTH
||Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.
After the Flood, God had some special instructions for Noah and his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. He told them to “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). This means that God wanted their families to move away from the ark and find homes all over the world.
The children and grandchildren of Noah’s sons obeyed God, but only for a little while. When they reached the land of Shinar, they started to build a city and a great tower (read Genesis 11:1-9). They wanted to stay together and make a name for themselves. But God had a plan. He knew that they could not build a mighty nation if they could not understand each other. So God gave them different languages, and the people began to move again. They spread north into Europe, west into Africa, and east into Asia and the Americas.
Some people think that this must have taken a long time. They believe that early humans were very simple and primitive, and it that took many thousands of years to travel so far. Yet this is not what the Bible teaches. We only have to look at the people of the Pacific Islands to see how far ancient people were able to travel. Take New Zealand, for example. This place is 1,000 miles from Australia, and 7,000 miles from South America. But the Maori—the people who settled there over a thousand years ago—did not come from either continent. No one knows where they came from for sure, although they are very similar to the people of the Cook Islands and Tahiti. In any case, they had to move their families and their belongings many miles across the open seas.
Scientists have found old stone tools in the Cook Islands that must have come all the way from Samoa—nearly a thousand miles away! How would you like to get a delivery job where you had to sail from one little dot in the ocean, to another little dot in the ocean, without a compass or modern satellites to guide you? Of course, this did not happen by accident. These sailors built huge double canoes, and used the stars, winds, currents, and other clues to find their way.
Even if ancient people did not have all the gadgets we have today, they still were very smart people. God knew this, because this was the way He created us. He knew that people could obey His command to spread out over the whole world, even if they needed a little encouragement. God gave us great minds to use, and He knows that we can find a way to follow all His instructions (Romans 7:25).