9.1 -- God's Focus in History
The human race expanded again and spread over the land. No distinctions of race were recorded, none was signficant. Mankind joined together in a common enterprise: building the tower of Babel. God opposed this project, and divided them by confusing their language and scattering them over the earth. As we noted, the Bible does not mention skin color, race or religion as criteria of division. But from this time on, God's own involvement with humanity changes. He ceases to deal with mankind as a whole, and selects one man to be the agent of His purpose on earth. This transition becomes the foundation of the entire rest of the Old Testament. It is a part of the scandal of the Old Testament in modern eyes: throughout the Bible God is "obsessed" with His promises to Abraham. Even as late as Jeremiah, He reaffirms His covenant with the patriarch:
"If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth, then I will reject the descendants of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his sons to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and have compassion on them" (Jer 33:25-26).
Abraham sired a people who become "God's holy nation." These people are the central concern of the rest of the Old Testament Scriptures, and everyone else is at the periphery. At best, non-Israelites receive the leftovers, after Israel has received the first portion. Modern racial questions, which often dominate domestic and world politics, have no significance to the Bible. This is the single most important racial teaching in the Bible: that man's preoccupation with racial identity and civil rights is as pointless as it is ceaseless. Instead of feuding over territory, self-government, and comparative advancement of ethnic groups, the only valid racial concern (from an Old Testament standpoint) is -- "how do the Caucasian/African/Asian/Hispanic/Arab/etc nations treat the people of Israel and their God?" Are they allies with Israel, like the Kenites were, or are they neutral, or are they foes who actively reject the Jews? Throughout the Old Testament, the fate of other nations depends upon their relation to Israel.