Jun 24, 2010

Far East Asia Trends Today – Part 2: Topic of Bible Prophecy

Wilfred HahnBy Wilfred J. Hahn
Eternal Value Review

Will an Asian group of countries continue to gain strength, perhaps even eventually dominating world trade and geopolitics? Are the developments the world is witnessing in Asia today of prophetic significance? We continue our investigation of the sudden events playing out in this region and their potential endtime roles.

In Part I of this series, we concluded that, very reasonably, geopolitical and economic trends involving Asia today should be interpreted in terms of last day developments. Far East Asian countries are indeed mentioned in the Bible, and a group of these are certainly the subject of Bible prophecy. That said, we must be cautious in any speculations. The full extent of future developments in this region — specifically their timing and detail — remains hidden.

Let’s again test the validity of connecting a phenomenon that has occurred only recently in history — namely, the economic and geopolitical rise of a group of Asian countries — with an endtime timeline of cosmic significance. Why? Many prophecy teachers over the centuries have made the error of connecting events occurring in their day to the literal “last day” events mentioned in the Bible. Countless times the events of the last days had been announced or allegorized erroneously. Are we making the same error?

We will certainly need to proceed with caution. Therefore, let’s briefly review the rationale for our conclusion that events we see today definitely do fit into an endtime timeline.

Why Asia Has Prophetic Involvement

In the first place, we must of course inquire whether the Scriptures make any specific statements on this question … in other words, “shineth a light in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19). Any such enlightenment would alone be sufficient. And indeed, reference is made to Far East Asia in the apocalyptic literature of the Bible. We will shortly examine these references and their timeframe in more detail.

Secondly, as a priori, we take the position that indeed we are living in the very last of the last days. We substantiate this view on the basis of Israel — ”the apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8), the very timepiece of Bible prophecy. This “timepiece” is back on the world scene, having again emerged as a nation after 5,000 years. Many last-day prophecies could not be fulfilled without this happening first. Therefore, we know that today’s generation is the one that will see “all these things” happen (Matthew 24:34), and that the sudden trends of “global significance” taking place after 1948 should be considered telling.

The phenomena today in Far East Asia definitely pass the test of endtime significance, according to our five “last-day hallmarks” outlined in Part I of this series. Further supporting the topical nature and timeliness of our subject, according to the Prophet Hosea, we know that we are in the very last of the last days … most probably at the time where Christ is already at the door for his Church (Revelation 3:20). Hosea was inspired to say,

“After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence” (Hosea 6:2).
As a “day is as a thousand years” (Psalm 90:4, 2 Peter 3:8), it is now well into the second half of the third day for the Jews. If we count from 606 BC, the time from which the servitude to Babylonia began, almost two-thirds of this third day has already passed. Given this reference point, we can be sure that the Tribulation will begin to unfold in 376 years or less (and also, before this the Rapture). That means that we indeed are living in the very last of the last days, even if God were to stretch out this timeline to the full three millennia allowed by Hosea’s prophecy.

Finally, we can observe whether developments in the Far East Asia region today dovetail with other prophesied events and trends for a last-day world. Does the rise of Asia — this perhaps being related to the “Kings of the East” — refute or accentuate other endtime processes that are underway in the world?

Of course, all of these additional considerations and tests are secondary and insufficient without any literal biblical support. Therefore, let’s next set a foundation and investigate Scripture in these matters.

Biblical References to Far East Asia

The Bible is not silent about Far East Asia. Of course, all people of the world are contemplated in the general address of much of the prophetic literature of the Bible. However, there are several prophecies that clearly involve this region in a specific way.

Firstly, revealing the most eastern nation mentioned in the Bible, China itself is mentioned in a prophetic context in Isaiah 49:12:
“Behold, these shall come from far; and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.”
Just what and where is Sinim? Most sources agree that “Sinim” refers to the far eastern region of China today.1 Things related to China today are still referred to as “sino”; for example, the word “sinology” means the study of China.

In the Arabic language today, China is still referred to as “Sin.” The word “Sin” likely comes from the word Ch’in (or Tsin), as in the Ch’in Dynasty which ruled China between 221 and 206 B.C., or some other word derivation from before that time. The word “Sinim” in Hebrew would therefore simply be the plural form of “Sin.”

What we can deduce from Isaiah’s word, written some 2,700 years ago, is that Sinim (China) will most certainly exist in the last days and into the following Millennial period. Moreover, we can also reasonably deduce that China must be a substantial entity at that time, since its name is used in this prophecy to describe the general geographical direction of “east.” Isaiah indicates that the people of Sinim will also be in that number that will eventually go to worship in the new Israel of the 1,000-year Millennial Period.

But will China also play a significant geopolitical role in the last days, perhaps being a key member of a final world order? The answer, we believe, is both yes and no. Yes, in our opinion China (and some other select Asian nations) will play a prominent role in last-day geopolitical developments, but the Bible clearly rules out any role for China in the post-globalism, minilateralism period of a “10-king” ruling order just before the Antichrist comes on the scene. We will return to this point in our conclusions.

In the meantime, we must examine yet other Scripture references that may indicate a pivotal role for Far East Asian nations in last day developments before the Millennium.

Asia and the Euphrates

In Revelation 9:14-16, a somber picture is described. A command is given to the sixth angel of the Apocalypse holding the sixth trumpet:
'Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’ And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million. I heard their number.
These verses are significant for two potential reasons: firstly, the River Euphrates is involved, and secondly, a large army is mentioned. The great significance of the Euphrates is the fact that it represents the eastern-most border of the lands that God covenanted to the descendants of Abram2:
“On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18).
While this is a biblically-defined border, it also can be considered a dividing line between the Far East (or also variously called the Near East) and the Middle East. The definitions of these terms have changed over the years. Therefore, for the purpose of our topic, we will use the biblically-defined border of the Euphrates as the boundary between the Far East and Middle East.

With respect to the identity of the army mentioned in Revelation 9, there are a number of interpretations. While four angels are responsible for bringing about the killing of a “third of mankind,” it is mounted troops that appear to be the actual instrument of destruction. Were this to occur today, it would mean the death of 2.2 billion people … or 11 for every one of the mounted troops. What seems not to be open to conjecture, however, is the number of the mounted troops — 200 million. Apostle John is sure of this figure, saying “I heard their number.” At the time that he received this vision on the island of Patmos, sometime around 90-95 AD, the world had little need for such large numbers. Experts estimate that the earth’s entire population then was as little as only 165 million (perhaps as high as 300 million).

A mounted army of 200 million is not a development that could have occurred until at least some 2,000 years after John’s prophecies. While we cannot be certain as to the identity of the large army of mounted troops, there perhaps is implied an Asian connection, as the actions seem to be carried out from this region. Yet, Scripture is not conclusive on this point. While the four angels are released in Asia (at the Euphrates), the mounted troops could originate from anywhere in the world.

Revelation 16:12 mentions yet another event that takes place in the vicinity of the Euphrates River.
The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East.
Interestingly, whereas the account of the 2-million-strong army found in Revelation 9 occurs at the time of the sixth angel with the sixth trumpet, this verse provides an entirely different depiction, which occurs at a later time when the sixth angel pours out a sixth bowl of wrath. These are therefore entirely different events, though they could be related in some way. There is only one definite connection between them — the Euphrates River. And, as we learn from these verses, this important border for Israel will be breached when the Kings of the East go over to the west side of this river. Nothing more appears to be directly attributed to the “Kings of the East” anywhere in the Bible.

While there are a number of specific references to Far East Asia in the prophecies we have reviewed, the most clear of these is the reference to the “Kings of the East” which cross the Euphrates. Why will these kings do this? Just who might these kings represent?

Aligning Trends in the World Today

Undoubtedly, the Kings of the East will be the leaders of a number of countries in Far East Asia — namely, nations on the east side of the Euphrates River. However, to this point in our discussion, we have only drawn attention to the sudden economic and geopolitical awakening of these countries during the past 60 years. Our outline in Part I established that these nations have come into a position of worldwide influence. We assert that this particular development is purposely coincident — not an accidental coincidence — with many other epic and unprecedented worldwide developments. In addition to these sudden economic developments in Asia, there are other factors to be observed today that could align with some aspects prophesied in Revelation 9 and 16 about the Euphrates and regions east of this river.

Fitting Asian Population Dynamics
“Women are missing in their millions — aborted, killed, neglected to death. In 1990 an Indian economist, Amartya Sen, put the number at 100 million; the toll is higher now.”
What does this quote from a recent Economist magazine article on gendercide have to do with Asia? Quite a bit, not to mention there being a likely prophetic connection. Let us explain.

Firstly, just what is “gendercide”? The term was coined by the aforementioned economist and refers to the practice of killing baby girls in order to have more sons. It is an atrocity that has become epidemic in many Asian nations … a horrible slaughter of human life. These heinous practices will surely not go unpunished, neither on earth nor in heaven. We can only speak here to its earthly repercussions.

Normally, between 103 and 106 boys are born for every 100 girls. This ratio of slightly more boys has been stable over time. Yet, in many Asian nations this ratio has become sharply biased toward boys in the recent decade. For example, in China, the sex ratio for the generation born in 2000-2004 jumped to 124. By contrast, for the generation born between 1985 and 1989, this ratio was only 108 boys for every 100 girls (a little above average). A similar trend is evident in India, the second most populous nation in the world after China. Documented here is a recent and dramatic shift. Mostly, this has been the direct result of government-sponsored family planning policies. (Taiwan and China, for example. China is the top user of contraceptives in the world.3,4)

Just what will be the consequences of this distortion in male births? They stand to be far-reaching. Writes the Economist ominously:
“Throughout human history, young men have been responsible for the vast preponderance of crime and violence — especially single men in countries where status and social acceptance depend on being married and having children, as it does in China and India. A rising population of frustrated single men spells trouble. […] Over the next generation, many of the problems associated with sex selection will get worse. […] within ten years, China faces the prospect of having the equivalent of the whole young male population of America, or almost twice that of Europe’s three largest countries with little prospect of marriage, untethered to a home of their own and without the stake in society that marriage and children provide.”
South Korea, an advanced nation (and a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), early in the 1970s experienced a similar birth skew favoring boys. While the birth ratio since that time has nearly normalized, the impact of its earlier misalignment has been significant. In 2008, more than 11% of marriages were “mixed,” mostly between a Korean man and a foreign woman. But what will be the future implications for China and India? For one, it would be impossible for all of its future single men to find enough “mail order” brides in the world (certainly not without depriving other men), given that these two nations account for 40% of the entire world’s population.

Today, China’s army (the People’s Liberation Army, or PLA) has a high number of recruits that are the single child in their family. Quoting Foreign Policy magazine, already in 2006 “only-child soldiers made up more than one half of the PLA force, giving China the largest-ever military with a majority of only-children.”5 With so many single, non-family-rooted men soon coming of military age in the future, this trend could move into rapid alignment with events prophesied in Revelation 9:14.

(In the next article, we conclude this series with Part 3: Geo-prophecy or Geopolitics?)

1. James H. Strong, Exhaustive Concordance, p. 5515. “Sinim is a distant Oriental region.”
2. This promise is repeated two more times in Scripture. “Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighboring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates. See, I have given you this land” (Deuteronomy 1:7-8). “Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates — all the Hittite country — to the Great Sea on the west” (Joshua 1:4).
3. Marie Stopes International, a family planning charity, United Nations Population Division, 1996.
4. Asian culture emphasizes the importance of a male heir. Inheritance practices often discriminate against women. In some Asian countries, for example India, bridal dowries are required. Few families can afford this cost, and therefore wish to avoid having daughters. Also, religious influences can play a role. For example, Hindu tradition that the eldest son must light the funeral pyre and free the spirit of his father is one of these influences.
5. Drew Thompson, “Think Again: China’s Military.” Foreign Policy magazine, March/April 2010.