Rising Sun Nations on the Move

By Tim LaHaye

The emergence of China onto the world scene as a powerful geopolitical force to be reckoned with during this generation has the attention of all the world leaders. It is not only the largest country of the world, with a population of 1.2 billion (almost five times that of the United States), but that vast empire is led by the most ruthless communist leaders. And they are looking hungrily at their Asian neighbors-Taiwan, India and the Philippines. They know the rest of the world is too cowardly to stand up to them with more than word threats. If they are not stopped, they will conquer the world, for communists are trained to envision imposing their brand of socialism on the entire globe.

Thanks to American capitalists who have invested heavily in developing this backward nation merely to gain incredible profits, China, which otherwise would never have been able to compete economically on the world scene, is experiencing its first real growth in hundreds of years. If allowed to go unchecked, those investors, or their grandchildren, will live to regret such profit motive investments without demanding internal social reforms that would have granted basic freedoms to the Chinese people. It will be interesting in the years ahead to see Russia and China contend for supremacy in the area. Without realizing it, they both could be fulfilling Bible prophecy.

The rise of China to such a dominant world political force during the past decade has enormous significance from a prophetic point of view. Many students of prophecy believe it signifies a trend that world geopolitical conditions are shaping up for the world's last great conflict described more than 1,900 years ago by the apostle John when he wrote: "And the sixth angel poured out his bowl upon the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, that the way might be prepared for the kings from the east" (Revelation 16:12).

These "kings from the east" have befuddled Bible prophecy scholars for many years, for few mentioned anything about them until the communist takeover of China during World War 11. Since then it has become apparent that this nation has a prophetic role, however minor it may be, in end-time events. Although China has been content to stay within its vast borders for thousands of years and live pretty much to itself, its communist dictators have changed all that. They seem to have the same obsession that characterized communists before them-world conquest.

America: Communist China's Primary Target

One hundred-eighty years ago Napoleon Bonaparte said, "When China awakens, the world will tremble." You don't have to be a prophet to recognize that the time of trembling has already come to Asia and, within one decade, will probably come to the whole world.

No longer is China, with the world's largest population, the paper tiger it has been for almost 5,000 years. In our lifetime, it has startled the world and frightened many in the military complex with her enormous economic and military potential. Many observers recognize that within 10 or, at best, 20 years, China could very well threaten the entire world even more than the Soviet Union did just a decade ago. China already has nuclear weapons or soon will-and has a delivery system feared by every country in the Orient. This country is trafficking in arms beyond belief by buying them from Russia and any of the former impoverished satellite countries that will sell them. Then it turns around and sells that which it doesn't want to keep to any of the oil-rich allies that can afford them (such as Iran, Iraq or even India).

China recently regained Hong Kong. Now its aggressive demand for Taiwan and the Sprately Islands indicates it has a strategy to control all of Asia. Whoever controls the Spratelys not only controls the oil check points to the oil dependent countries of the East, including Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines, but also Australia, Indonesia and Singapore-where 50 percent of the world's population lives. Basing claims to these almost uninhabitable islands to centuries old documents, China is probably more interested in the suspected rich oil fields under them than their location because no country can prosper today or in the foreseeable future without oil.

But China is not just interested in the Orient. In 1997, the Chinese almost negotiated an incredible coup in the Americas. First, it was disclosed that they had leased an important pier in Long Beach, California, that was being vacated by the U.S. Navy. The pier was to be used for the government- owned Chinese Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) to help speed imports into the United States. Our balance of payments with China already shows a deficit of $50 billion and is expected to go as high as $70 or $100 billion, a tribute to American capitalists whose concern for profits exceeds their concern for the safety of our country.

Another amazing effort was China's attempt to gain a foothold in the Panama Canal area when the United States withdraws from that region before the turn of the century. With long-term leases at each end of the canal, China could virtually control the shipping through the canal. Some military experts believe this could force the United States to have two separate navies because warships could no longer be sent to support our naval forces from one ocean to the other without China's permission. At this writing, neither of these negotiations have been finalized, but it does show the long-range goals of the Chinese government.

Keep in mind that China is not controlled by democracy-loving liberals like most countries in the world. Chinese leaders are among the most dedicated communists in the world. They are not "agrarian reformers" or "progressives," as our media tried to represent them a few years ago. Rather, they are a ruthless group of elite leaders who have stolen the opportunity for freedom from the 1.2 billion freedom-loving Chinese people, and they have never wavered in their plan to use China as a military platform from which to conquer the world. The events of the next two decades, if indeed we have that long, will prove that point.

It is obvious that the obsession of America's leadership to appease these ruthless communists will strengthen their position and weaken ours. Many American leaders have never been able to deal successfully with communists in general, much less with Oriental communists. Our leaders have assumed when strong communist leaders become dictators or "presidents" of their countries that they become nice people whose word can be trusted or, for that matter, whose signatures on treaties can be trusted. History shows that is a naive concept. In recent years only former President Ronald Reagan, who regarded communism for what it really is ("an evil empire"), understood them. He dealt with diplomacy backed by force, which is why the Soviet Union finally collapsed.

Appeasement seems to be the watchword of the present leadership in our country. For this reason the World Bank, which is controlled and financed by American taxpayers, has financed the Chinese economy until all experts expect it to challenge our own economy for world markets in 10 to 20 years. When I was in Beijing in 1995, 1 read the English version of the Asian Press and saw the Chinese government bragging about the fact that they had obtained the highest loans from the World Bank of any country on earth. Twenty-two billion dollars! For several years they allowed American companies to buy 25 percent of corresponding companies in China to gain capital. If you were to drive through Beijing you would no doubt be dumbfounded by the names of countless American companies that have affiliates in China. This, of course, has contributed to our enormous trade deficit that has provided China untold billions to support its socialistic economy.

Further evidence that China has indeed awakened from her centuries-old economic slumber includes a recent TV special that reported that seven of the ten tallest buildings in the world are in China. (Not exactly ideal places to be during the enormous earthquakes prophesied for the coming tribulation period.)

China and the Bible

The Bible says very little about China. In fact, the reference to China, "kings of the east," includes more than just China. That phrase really means "kings of the rising sun," which would include Japan and possibly other Asian countries. As Dr. John Walvoord, a scholar and writer considered to be the dean of prophecy scholars living today, writes of this expression:

There has been some tendency to take the expression "the kings of the east" literally, "the kings of the sunrise"-as referring specifically to Japan where the rising sun is a symbol of its political power. However, it is more natural to consider the term, "rising sun" as a synonym for east.'

Some Bible teachers suggest that "the Sinites" referred to in Genesis 10:17, and again in the prophecy of Isaiah 49:12, are where the "land of Sinim" is located. After God scattered the Sinites from the Tower of Babel, they evidently settled in the East in what we know today as China. Then they became isolated from the rest of the world.

After the great flood, those earliest settlers carried with them the stories of creation and the one true God. Early missionaries to China pointed out the truth of God in the Chinese pictographic language. My brother-in-law, a missionary to Taiwan for more than 20 years, told me the Chinese name for God is "ShangTi," which is made up of two pictographic symbols: "above" (or heavenly) and "emperor." Together, they mean "Heavenly Emperor." In a country that worships many gods, it is interesting that the earliest of Chinese characters (going back as far as 4,500 years) indicate that they recognized one God above all the emperors and other gods. Chuck Missler gives other illustrations of Chinese pictographs:

For example, the word "boat" is made up of three Chinese characters: vessel, eight and mouth, which could be a carry over from the eight mouths on the ark. The word "beginning" (of sin) combines the pictographs for "woman, secretly and mouth." The Chinese word for "devil" combines four words: motion, garden, man, and privately. Even more obvious is the word for "desire or covet." It is made up of two trees and the symbol for woman. Doubtless there are many other Chinese characters that could be traced to Genesis before the Tower of Babel.'

Another interesting factor students of China find is that the most ancient Chinese calendars are seven-day calendars. Given their pagan background, we can only speculate that this, too, is a carryover from the book of Genesis. Geographically, the Euphrates River, one of the first rivers mentioned in the Bible, has served for centuries as the natural dividing line between East and West. It is evident to Bible scholars that Judaism and Christianity had an enormous impact on the world west of the Euphrates River, but very little influence on the East. Instead, the master deceiver has condemned the billions of souls of the peoples of the East with a succession of false religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and combinations of all of them. The dragon, the official, symbol of China, overpowered the primitive biblical teachings possessed by the first settlers with the polytheistic pantheism they have today. The idea that "god is all and all is god" is really a rejection of the God of the Bible.

The early settlers of Asia carried with them the account of the one true God and His early acts of creation, the Garden of Eden, the fall and the worldwide flood in the days of Noah. Unfortunately, the devil, the deceiver of the minds and souls of mankind, made the Orient his chief capital for the religions of Babylon. Religion in Rome was Babylonian mysticism mixed with Christianity. China has the pure religion of Babylon-polytheism-- the worship of many gods.

Joseph Lam, born to missionary parents who spent most of their lives in China, believes the national symbol, the dragon, is the true symbol of the god of China. In the book of Revelation, our Lord called Satan a "liar and deceiver." The apostle John calls him a dragon and predicts that when he is cast out of heaven, he will deceive billions of people into taking the mark of the beast and worshiping his image (Revelation 13). During the tribulation, that old serpent the devil will lead billions to reject Christ and worship himself.

It is not difficult to see how, at the end of the tribulation period, the master deceiver of the souls of man will easily deceive "the kings of the east" and their followers into making the long trek west to the Meggido Valley to do battle with the King of kings. Already steeped in humanistic religions for centuries, and currently controlled by humanistic communists with an obsession for world conquest, their vision of spreading their might and culture over the entire world will make them easy targets for one last gigantic deception-Armageddon.

China Suffered the Effects of Israel's Sin

When God performed a biological miracle on the loins of Abraham and Sarah over 3,500 years ago, He created a nation He intended to be his "torchbearers" to bring the light of His grace and truth to the whole world. His blessing on the nation during the early reign of Solomon that caused the queen of Sheba to say "the half was not told me" (1 Kings 10:7) indicates that God wanted to use Israel as a powerful testimony to the peoples and nations of the world that He blesses those who obey Him. Unfortunately, Solomon later disobeyed God and permitted his wives to bring in their pagan worship. After his death, many Israelites followed them into paganism, so many that God finally permitted a pagan nation to take them into captivity, and their lamp was almost extinguished. Instead of being a nation blessed of God, the centuries showed they had incurred the curse of God for their disobedience. The rejection of their own Messiah was, of course, the last straw, and they were driven from the land for 1,800 years.

In all probability, one of the areas of the world God intended the Israelites to evangelize was east of the Euphrates. Joseph Lam reminds us:

King Solomon traded with China. The ancient Silk Road superhighway went from the New Testament port of Antioch to Changan (Sian). Silk routes also went by sea from Jerusalem to Ningbo in the Tang and Song dynasties. The caravan land routes went through Baghdad and connected with nearly all the ancient capitals from Babylon to Khanbalik (Beijing).'

Had Israel only been faithful to God instead of worshiping idols, there would have been plenty of ways to get the message behind those vast mountain passes.

China's Anti-Christian Obsession

The story of missionary efforts in China during the eighteenth century is a heroic tale, but not nearly as successful as in other countries where the people were not so exposed to demons and spirits of devils. After more than 100 years of courageous missionary efforts, there are estimated to be 60 million Christians in China. We all rejoice at this number of born-again souls, but that is only one-half of 1 percent of the population. Few countries boast of more continuous persecution of Christians than China-even today. It has long seemed that the U.S. State Department and the current administration are blind to the human rights violations of Christians throughout the world, especially in China. Much more than politics is involved. A satanic struggle rages in the Orient today between the spiritual "powers of the air"-Satan against the Spirit of God.

When I was in Beijing, I secretly interviewed several Christians who know what it is like to be persecuted and to live under the constant threat of persecution. Several of those I talked with indicated they first heard the gospel over shortwave radio, through which the Spirit of God witnessed to their empty hearts. Several were former Buddhists, another a committed communist. All admitted emptiness in their hearts prior to turning on the shortwave radio to gospel broadcasts out of Hong Kong. There is something satanic to the opposition that Christians are subjected to behind the Bamboo Curtain. While in their country, I learned they had two kinds of churches: 1) the approved, or "mainline," churches that had to agree not to teach the forbidden doctrines of the inerrancy of Scripture and the second coming of Jesus Christ (two doctrines Satan has always opposed!); and 2) the underground, or house churches, that teach the whole Bible until the worshipers are discovered and imprisoned. It is in these house churches where thousands are coming to Christ each week. Joseph Lam puts it in perspective:

In the West, we think of bomb-making instructions on the Internet as dangerous. Not to the dragon. To him, the "most dangerous" message on the Internet is the "Second Advent of Christ." The soon return of Christ is the message the thought-police most want to censor out. In fact, in many areas the police are registering modems and even fax machines in order to keep the end-times message of Christ's return from being circulated. You see, Chinese Christians believe passionately that Christ is coming again, not just someday-but "in this generation." The dragon knows he must stop this Apostolic message of hope. If somehow he can stop these New Testament-style Bible studies, he knows he will cripple Church growth in China.

The kingdom of God and the Second Coming of Christ are the rarest sermon topics preached in China's government-controlled pulpits.... The dragon persecutes the house churches because he is terrified of the end-times gospel they preach. This message liberates the people from bondage to their control and so it has to be denounced as "antirevolutionary" superstition.

Christians are consistently forbidden the right to do any public evangelism of any kind. Private worship is reluctantly permitted but gospel preaching is banned.

Directives to the state-controlled churches warn pastors not to preach the message of Revelation.

Pastors in congregations of the "Three Self Patriotic movement" skip liturgical readings about the second coming of Christ such as Hebrews 9:28 and Revelation 19; 22:20,21.

Sunday School teachers are not allowed to discuss the "day of the Lord" predicted in both the Old and New Testaments.

The Olivet Discourse, recorded in three of the four gospels, is forbidden (the most important outline of prophecy in Scripture).

Many Chinese hymns of advent, missions, judgment and the millennial reign of Christ are no longer sung in registered Chinese churches. Such music isn't politically correct.

Lam concludes, "Nothing so upsets the dragon as the mention of Christ's return, and nothing so comforts the Chinese church and

I could not help thinking that in America, where pastors have the freedom to preach anything they please, thousands of churches never hear that second coming message. Not because they are forbidden by government, but because they have been tricked by seminary professors into thinking it is confusing or not relevant for today. Satan uses different tactics in different cultures- anything that will produce silence on the blessed hope of Christ's soon return. Why? Because there is no more spiritually motivating teaching in the entire Bible!

A 200-Million-Man Army?

As early as May 21,1965, the author of a Time magazine article on China threw a hand grenade into the laps of prophecy preachers by stating that the Chinese had the potential of yielding an army of "200 million troops.

That specific number identically coincided to the one found in Revelation 9:16, which predicts that 200 million horsemen would be unleashed and go out to slay "one-third of men" at the blowing of the sixth trumpet judgment during the tribulation period. This reference triggered an outbreak of speculation that found some suggesting that the 200 million would come with the kings of the east to do battle with Christ at the consummation of the end of this age known as the battle of Armageddon.

There is no question that the armies of the Orient that come to that battle at the very end of the tribulation will be enormous, due to the incredible population of those countries. However, this definitely does not describe the Revelation 9:16 army. Consider the following reasons:

1. That army goes out during the sixth seal, which occurs near the middle of the tribulation; the Revelation 16:12 army goes out at the end of the tribulation.

2. The 200 million in Revelation 9:16 are not humans; they are demons, doing things that man cannot do. They have a supernatural effect on the earth.

3. That army kills one-third of the world population, or approximately one- and-a-half-billion people, from the Euphrates to the Holy Land. There aren't that many people in the entire region. In addition, Revelation 9 has a worldwide view. They must have a worldwide mission to find that many people to kill.

4. The Time magazine article included all the men and women under arms in China, including their local militias or defense forces. There is no way in this world the communist government could risk committing all its military and armament to the Middle East, for they know their freedom-hungry citizens would revolt before they got back. Besides, the logistics of moving an army of 200-million people from the Orient across the Euphrates and the Arabian Desert to the little land of Israel seems impossible, even with today's modern means of transportation. That would consist of four times as many troops as were utilized in all of World War 11-and that stretched from the South Pacific through Europe and into the Near East and lasted more than five years. This battle is accomplished in a matter of days. To involve 200 million people in such a short period of time would be impossible.

For these and other reasons, it is not realistic or scripturally necessary to assume that the armies of Revelation 16:12 are synonymous with those of Revelation 9:16. It is more likely that when the Euphrates River (the natural boundary between East and West for 1,600 miles) is "dried up," the "kings of the east" will march a sizable army across to battle with the King of kings. That army will probably be more like three to five million people strong. Remember, they will be joined in the valley of Megiddo by huge armies from all over the world, and while that valley is vast (as Napoleon has said, "the most ideal natural battlefield in the world"), even it has a limit to how many people it can hold.

When Will These Things Be?

The significance of the rise of China to the point that it is becoming a principal player among the nations of the world at this time in history has not been lost on perceptive prophecy expert Dr. John Walvoord. Seeing the prophetic significance of China's rise to prominence back in 1967, he wrote:

The fact that the rise of Asia has occurred in our twentieth century with so many rapid and unexpected developments is another evidence that the world is moving toward its final climax and the end of the times of the Gentiles. In Asia, as in other parts of the world, the stage is being set for the final drama in which the kings of the east will have their important part.

If Dr. Walvoord were writing on that subject today, he might be inclined to say the curtain is about to rise. I am convinced that the rise of China to world prominence economically and militarily in our day is, prophetically speaking, a most significant event. We are the first generation that has witnessed the sleeping giant of China reach the potential of fulfilling this prophecy. No one doubts that unless something drastic and unforeseen occurs soon, China will gain control of most of the countries of the East, with whom it shares many religious and cultural similarities. That China could be led in these very days by her master, the dragon, "that old serpent, the devil," the deceiver of man, to so rebel against God that it would join the armies of the world in opposition to the coming of Jesus Christ is realistic. What is needed to bring China to that capability? Very little! Just the deceiving spirit forewarned by John the Revelator. China is almost there today and could gain control of the entire Orient in 10 or, at most, 20 years.

And remember, this does not take place until seven years after the rise of the Antichrist, which follows the rapture of the church. That is more than enough time to prepare to fulfill Revelation 16:12! And it is one more reason we have to believe Christ may return for His church in our generation.