In the meantime the other nations of the earth had been experimenting, each in its own way, and all unwittingly playing their part in the fulfilment of the Divine purpose.
Throughout all the millenniums of human history, the race has been spreading outwards from its common centre, multiplying and increasing exceedingly. There is no doubt that the land now known as Iraq was the original centre from which the races of mankind radiated and in so doing became differentiated. This differentiation is a most important factor in the development of mankind racially, and only in recent years has it been realised how important it has been. Anthropologists have noted that human history includes a long period, now in the past, wherein men were spreading into the uninhabited parts of the earth. There they took on new physical characteristics until the earth presented a spectacle of many widely divergent human types, all more or less separated, and having little interaction with each other. Then, in more recent times, as means of travel became common and the continuing ebb and flow of racial groups in a rapidly filling earth brought the various types into more frequent and more permanent contact with one another, there has been progressing an assimilation and combination of formerly different human types. The result of this process has been the emergence of many varied characteristics amongst mankind, suited to the varied localities of man’s home, the earth. From the simple creation of one human species at the beginning, there has developed a variety fit in every respect to rank with the variety in other spheres of Nature, which was developed by God before man existed.
Now although mankind at large has been quite unconscious of the fact, this development into variety as men have wandered across the face of this planet and chosen for themselves new territories in which to dwell has been part of the Plan of God, and men have in this way been fulfilling that Plan. A Bible reference to the process is found in the Genesis narrative of the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11). In that story, certain men had refused to obey the Divine command to spread themselves abroad on the face of the earth and determined instead to remain a compact community. God’s commission to man was to multiply, to fill the earth, to bring it into subjection and fruitful productivity. His intention was—and is—that the perfect race, which is ultimately to inhabit the earth, shall be one of varied characteristics, wide experience, and ability to withstand every type of adverse circumstance. It is to be adapted to every different environment which can be encountered on this planet.
To this end God planned, first, differentiation by means of separation as various groups and tribes of men wandered away from their parent bodies and struck out for themselves into the unknown, and then, after the earth had thus been covered with tribes and nations of men, consolidation of the varied characteristics thus acquired by intermingling and inter-marriage to produce a race having all the desirable qualities thus induced.
The story of Babel shows man’s refusal thus to separate and God intervening to compel them to do so; in reality, this process has taken place and is now measurably completed—just in time for the coming Kingdom.
The part of the world that appears to have been inhabited from any more remote antiquity is the belt stretching from Central America, across the Mediterranean basin and its
surrounding lands, into China. Here were the oldest civilisations, who had many mythologies of many gods and lords (1 Cor. 8.5), many which must in the first place have had their origin in some early distortion of the primitive worship of the one true God. The record of human history and of God’s own plans is preserved in the Bible.
But all these peoples, whether near to or far from the cultural or ancestral centre of the world, whether rooted in the soil of an ancient civilisation or seeking to lay the foundations of a young community in some newly-won virgin territory, were equally devoid of real guidance and understanding as respects the riddle of existence and the destiny before them. They, or their ancestors, had long since lost the light, and although there was an endeavour in part to struggle upward, as is witnessed by the lives and work of great philosophers and teachers like Confucius, Gautama Buddha, Zarathustra, Lao-Tze, and Socrates, the attempt was foredoomed at the outset. Weighed down as they were by the burden of human frailty, by disease, violence and death, all the nations and all men and women were in the position of “having no hope, and without God in the world”. (Eph.2. 12.) All their progress, such as it was, could avail them nothing in the hour of death, and none of them had found a way to abolish death. All, Jews and Gentiles alike, needed a Redeemer. And only God could provide one.