The idea of people being scattered and gathered is prominent in the Bible for better and for worse, although God has seemingly preferred scattering because of man’s rebellious spirit. This isn’t intended to be an exhaustive study, but the contrasts provide a different view of the story of mankind and the church.
The first two instances of scattering occur in Genesis. Initially God commanded Adam and Eve to go throughout the earth and replicate Eden. That was necessary because God had purposely made Eden perfect as His abode, but He only made the earth very good. To put mankind to the purposeful work He intended, Adam and Eve had to:
“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).
Because of their sinful disobedience in listening to the serpent, God banished them out of Eden; however, He did so with the same mandate:
“Therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man…” (Genesis 3:23-24).
In this curse, man was scattered and began falling further away from God.
Following the flood, which came about because of the complete depravity that had overtaken the earth through the fallen sons of God sleeping with human women and producing their Nephilim offspring (Genesis 6:1-5), God told Noah (and effectively his descendants) to get on with God’s Plan A to:
“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1).
In other words, man was to fulfill God’s decree to scatter throughout the earth and work it for his benefit.
Mankind was—to borrow the Israelite description—rather stiff-necked. After the flood the ideas and concepts brought down by God’s fallen spiritual sons remained. Man remembered these beings and came up with the idea that Yahweh, the One true God, could be manipulated like the original fallen entities could presumably be controlled through sex and sacrificial offerings. Instead of scattering throughout the earth, because men had a single language and could communicate among themselves, they decided to build the Tower of Babel in the interest of bringing God down to them for their pleasure. God would have none of that. He came down, but not to do what men expected:
“So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:8-9).
Scattering and gathering. God wanted man scattered; instead, he wanted to gather.
One of the last things that Jesus told His disciples before He left them was that they should:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Jesus specifically commissioned the disciples to scatter and spread the Gospel. This ended up happening two ways:
At Pentecost, faithful Jews from around the entire known world came to worship in Jerusalem. Through the fire of the Holy Spirit coming upon them, 3,000 believed that day. Then they went home. Where was home? It was effectively the 70 nations listed in Genesis 10, known as the Table of Nations. How do we know this? Paul, in his missionary journeys, traveled from east to west and went through all of those lands. Why do you think he was so interested in reaching Spain? It was Tarshish, the last of all these nations that he saw as his mandate to reach with the Gospel.
After Pentecost, the disciples were to get on with their task. Did they? No. In fact, they were generally quite content to remain in Jerusalem. Thus, God had to light a fire under them. Stephen was stoned to death, and persecution started. It began in this way:
“Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews” (Acts 11:19).
Up until now, God scattered because the gathering that man did in his secular ways and even within the church wasn’t according to His purposes. However, as the church began, what was it composed of? It was a gathering of believers who came together to worship God in one place. This has always been good.
Once more, however, there will soon be a scattering of this group. The Rapture will remove those in Christ from this earth, gathering them in the clouds for the wedding of the Lamb of God. Once the Tribulation begins, many people will become believers, but they won’t be able to congregate to worship because of persecution. They will have to remain largely scattered in order to avoid the scrutiny of the state which will consider them outlaws, malcontents, and a threat to civil order.
There will be a couple more gatherings of mankind that will be against the will of God. Ever since the Tower of Babel, man has had the utopian idea of a one-world government that he controls. God saw the danger of this at that time and said:
“Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them” (Genesis 11:6).
The coming together of secular people with one language has always been a demonic threat.
Those of us who follow Bible prophecy and its amazing fulfillment in these last days know that Satan and his minions have been working ever since the Tower to bring man back together as one in opposition to God. There have been many globalists over the years following their satanic master to accomplish this. Of late, this push to unite the world has intensified, and many of the pieces necessary to accomplish this task are already in place. The China-made coronavirus, at the very least, is being used to solidify many heretofore almost impossible undertakings by the one-worlder elites. These include the rise of dictatorial government bureaucrats, the destruction of the economy, the submission of the people to the authoritative state, and the potential for a “vaccine” that may contain tracking and other information.
We are on the cusp of globalist success, which also means that the Rapture and the Tribulation are certainly just around the corner.
During the Tribulation, Satan will gather deceived mankind for their perceived attempt to overthrow God on the plains of Armageddon. When that fails and Satan is bound for 1,000 years, that won’t stop him. In his release at the end of the Millennium, he’ll gather mankind for the very final push to destroy God, with all those during this blessed time who never professed faith and trust in Christ.
Satan’s gatherings will have ended along with the scatterings that were necessary because of his machinations and tampering with God’s creation. There is a long history of this ebb and flow in mankind’s existence.
Thankfully, we can look forward to the day it will end, and we simply follow God and do all that He commands without the interference of the satanic host. Whether He has us scatter or gather will make no difference; it will all be for Him.
Gary W. Ritter is a lay pastor, Bible teacher, and serves as Missions Director at his church. He is also a prolific author. His Whirlwind Series is comprised of three books: Sow the Wind, Reap the Whirlwind, and There Is A Time. These books are contained in the collected volume of the Whirlwind Omnibus. Gary has been given the Christian Redemptive Fiction award for two novels: The Tattooed Cat and Alien Revelation. He has recently released a new novel on eco-terrorism called Green Dreams, and Looking Up – Volume 3, a non-fiction work that contains essays and devotions on end-times and prophetic events. Gary’s intent in all his writings is to bring a strong Christian witness to what people read. You can reach him at his website: www.GaryRitter.com or his Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/gritter3390. You can also see his video Bible teachings on his Gary Ritter YouTube channel – look for the fish symbol.