These are the sons of Shem by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.Genesis 10:31
A funnel is an instrument or device for narrowing a flow of liquid or powder from a wide expanse to a narrow one. That is what God is doing here in Genesis 10. Shem, the oldest son of Noah, is listed last because God is narrowing the flow of sacred history down to the Semitic races. Shem is the neck of the funnel. [There is some debate in the translation of Gen 10:21 as to if Shem or Japheth is the oldest son of Noah.] God is restricting the stream of humanity that He will deal with personally and directly down to one family group, the family of Shem. In chapter 11, He takes this up again and narrows it still further to one man, Abraham. From there it begins to broaden out again to take in Abraham and all his descendants, both physical and spiritual. The rest of the Bible is all about the children of Abraham, physically and spiritually. Here we have then a most important link in understanding the Bible.
Why does God do this? He has been accused of showing favoritism in picking the people of Israel for His link with humanity. But it is not that. God is no respecter of persons. He does this because it is necessary in view of the limitations of our minds, not of His. No one person can grasp the whole widespread, varied world of humankind. We cannot do so even today. At election time we take polls to determine what people are thinking because we cannot grasp or assimilate in any way what the entire mass of a people are thinking. We must take samples. God is doing this with Israel. Israel becomes the sample people. Through the rest of the Bible, whatever is true of Israel is true of everyone; their story is our story. Their stubborn rebellion is the same rebellion that we display, and their spiritual blessing under God is the same kind that we can expect if we open ourselves to respond to the grace of God. One fact comes drumming through all this otherwise dry genealogy: that God is seeking somehow to break through into our hearts and wills. He presses upon us in great historic sweeps and in the minor incidents that happen to each of us.
The great question we must raise is,
Are you listening? Are you getting the message God wants you to get? He writes it large upon the landscape of history, and also He writes it small in the incidents of your daily life. But in every case it is the same truth pressing through to us. God is essential to us. We cannot live without God. You cannot fulfill yourself, you cannot find yourself without Him. He loves you, is seeking you, wants you, and is drawing you to Himself.
Father, thank You for Your love, demonstrated through generations of people and kingdoms that have come and gone, but now fully revealed in the sending of Your only Son.
The Bible focuses on the nation Israel as a sample of the human story. Are we willing to learn from generational lessons, and respond to God's seeking of us?