NOAH’S son Shem survived the end of one world, and he lived on into another one. Do you know why the first world Shem lived in was destroyed and how he and the rest of his family were able to live on into a second one?— Let’s talk about this.
When Shem was young, “the badness of man” was great, the Bible says. Everything people thought about was “bad all the time.” So do you know what God did?— He brought a flood that wiped out that wicked world. The apostle Peter wrote: “The world of that time suffered destruction when it was [flooded] with water.”—Genesis 6:5; 2 Peter 3:6.
Do you see why God destroyed that world?— The people were bad, and they thought about what was “bad all the time.” Jesus talked about this. “Before the flood,” he said, people were having a good time “eating and drinking” as well as “marrying and . . . being given in marriage.” Jesus added: “They took no note until the flood came and swept them all away.”—Matthew 24:37-39.
What did those people fail to note, or see?— Shem’s father, Noah, was “a preacher of righteousness,” but the people did not listen to what he was saying. Noah listened to God and built an ark, a floating vessel, that would carry him and his family safely through the Flood. Only Noah, his wife, their sons—Shem, Ham, and Japheth—and their wives took note of what God wanted them to do. The rest did only what they wanted to do, so they were swept away in the Flood.—2 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 3:20.
About a year after the Flood began, Shem and his family came out of the ark onto dry land. All bad people were gone, but that soon changed. Canaan, the son of Shem’s brother Ham, did something so bad that Noah said: “Cursed be Canaan.” Nimrod, a grandson of Ham, was bad too. He opposed the true God, Jehovah, and told people to build a high tower called Babel to make a name for themselves. How do you think this made Shem and his father feel?—Genesis 9:25; 10:6-10; 11:4, 5.
They were sad, and Jehovah was too. Do you know what Jehovah did?— He confused the language of people so that they could not understand one another. Then the people had to stop building and go to different places with those who spoke the same language. (Genesis 11:6-9) But God did not change the language of Shem and his family. So they could stay close to one another and help one another serve God. Have you ever thought about how long Shem served Jehovah?—
Shem lived to be 600 years old. He lived for 98 years before the Flood and 502 years afterward. We can be sure that he helped Noah build the ark and warn people of the coming Flood. But what do you think Shem did for the more than 500 years he lived after the Flood?— Noah referred to Jehovah as “Shem’s God.” Shem must have kept on serving Jehovah and helping the members of his family to do the same. Later, Shem’s family came to include Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac.—Genesis 9:26; 11:10-31; 21:1-3.
Think now about today’s world, which has been growing ever more wicked since Shem’s day. What will happen to it?— The Bible says that it “is passing away.” But note the promise: “He that does the will of God remains forever.” So if we do God’s will, we may be among those who survive into God’s new world. Then, with God’s help we can live on forever in happiness on earth!—1 John 2:17; Psalm 37:29; Isaiah 65:17.