CHINA IN BIBLE PROPHECY

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, November 1, 2009

“Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim” (Isaiah 49:12).


Dr. Edward J. Young said of this verse,

Thus, both the first and last members of the verse express the thought of great distance, whereas the two middle members point to specific directions. In any attempt to identify the land of Sinim we must look for a place far from Palestine. An ancient interpretation [identifies] it with China (Edward J. Young, Ph.D., The Book of Isaiah, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972, volume 3, p. 282).

The word “Sinim” (pronounced see-neem), according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance (#5515, p. 82), means “plural of…Sinim, a distant Oriental region.” Brown, Driver and Briggs identify “Sinim” “with the inhabitants of Southern China” (note on Isaiah 49:12). Heinrich Gesenius (1786-1842), in his Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon (1821) said,

The context requires that this must be a very remote country [from Judah]…I understand it to be the land of the Seres of Chinese, Sinenses; this very ancient and celebrated nation was known by the Arabians and Syrians…and might be known by a Hebrew writer living at Babylon…at what period this name was given to the Chinese, by the other nations of Asia, and what its origins may be, do not plainly appear (Gesenius, Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, Baker Book House, 1990 reprint, pp. 584-585).

Dr. John Gill (1697-1771) pointed out that Manasseh ben Israel (1604-1657), a Hebrew scholar, identified Sinim as China, as did Ptolemy (c. 90-168 AD), an Egyptian scientist and geographer (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the Old Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume I, p. 289; note on Isaiah 49:12). Some modern scholars, as seen in the footnote of the NIV, seem to be confused by a “gloss” in the Dead Sea Scrolls, but the Masoretic Text, giving the older reading, definitely has the word “Sinim.” The older reading in the Masoretic Text is correct, and points with certainty to China. This was the position of the German scholars C. F. Keil and Franz Delitzsch, who pointed out that the word “Sinim” refers to the Chinese (C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1973 reprint, volume VII, pp. 266-268). James Hudson Taylor also held this view.

“Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim”
       (Isaiah 49:12).

Why is that important to us today? Why should we be concerned that the ancient word for China appears in the prophecy given by Isaiah? I will give you three reasons from the Bible.

I. First, the Chinese will receive the Redeemer of Israel.

Look at Isaiah 49:6. Please stand and read it aloud.

“And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6).

You may be seated.

This refers to “the Redeemer of Israel [God] and his Holy One” [Jesus, the Messiah] (Isaiah 49:7). God the Father, and Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, will be “a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6).

“Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim”
       (Isaiah 49:12).

Dr. Edward J. Young said, “[This] refers not merely to those who are Israelites after the flesh but to all whom He has chosen to life eternal” (Young, ibid., p. 283). Please turn to Isaiah 60:3. Stand and read it aloud.

“And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” (Isaiah 60:3).

Now read verse 5 aloud.

“Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee” (Isaiah 60:5).

You may be seated.

“The Gentiles shall come to thy light.” “The forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.”

“Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim”
       (Isaiah 49:12).

II. Second, the Chinese will come from the east and sit down in Christ’s coming Kingdom.

Please turn to Luke 13:29. Read it aloud.

“And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God” (Luke 13:29).

Here Christ plainly tells us, “They shall come from the east.” Dr. John MacArthur, though wrong on the Blood of Christ, correctly says of this verse,

By including people from the 4 corners of the earth, Jesus made it clear that even Gentiles would be invited [to the Kingdom of God] (John MacArthur, D.D., The MacArthur Study Bible, World Bibles, 1997 edition, p. 1542; note on Luke 13:29).

“Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim”
       (Isaiah 49:12).

III. Third, the Chinese will come to Christ in the end-times.

I believe that Luke 13:30 should be interpreted in that way. Please read verse 30 aloud,

“And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last” (Luke 13:30).

Notice the end of the verse, “and there are first which shall be last.” Who were the “first” in verse 29? Those who “come from the east.” Thus, I believe, that the end of verse 30 refers to the Chinese and other peoples of the Far East coming to Christ last, near the end of this age.

Doesn’t this hold true as we look at the world-scene today?

“Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim”
       (Isaiah 49:12).

When did the peoples of Sinim [China] begin to pour into Christ’s Kingdom? Not until after the Western missionaries were forced out of China by the Communists in 1949. When the Western missionaries left China there were only about one million Chinese Christians there. Today it is estimated that there are now between 70 and 90 million Christians in China. David Aikman, former Beijing Bureau Chief, Time magazine, wrote that

China is in the process of becoming Christianized…it is possible that Christians will constitute…30 percent of China’s population within [two] decades…It is worth considering the possibility that not just the numerical, but the intellectual center of gravity for Christianity may move decisively out of Europe and North America as the Christianization of China continues and as China becomes a global superpower (David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing, Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2003, pages 285, 291).

Dr. C. L. Cagan, who is a professional statistician, estimates that there are over 700 conversions to Christ every hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in China. I am convinced that this is a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy,

“Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim”
       (Isaiah 49:12).

I am certain that this is a Bible prophecy of the great revival that is now going on in the People’s Republic of China. That is why I urge you to come to Christ! He is the Saviour of all mankind! John the Baptist saw Jesus coming and said,

“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Whether you are Chinese, or from another ethnic group, Jesus came to die on the Cross – to pay the penalty for your sin. Come to Christ by faith and His Blood will wash away your sin and you will be saved from sin, Hell and the grave!

“Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim”
       (Isaiah 49:12).

Make sure that you are one of those who "come" to Jesus and are saved! Dr. John R. Rice wrote a beautiful song that says,

We have a story of love past all measure,
   We tell how sinners forgiven can be.
There is free pardon for Jesus has suffered,
   And made atonement on Calvary's tree.
Oh, what a fountain of mercy is flowing,
   Down from the crucified Saviour of men,
Precious the blood that He shed to redeem us,
   Grace and forgiveness for all of our sin.
(“Oh, What a Fountain!” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

Let us stand and sing “Just As I Am”! It’s number 7 on your song sheet.

Just as I am, without one plea,
   But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee,
   O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
(“Just As I Am” by Charlotte Elliott, 1789-1871).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers’ sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Isaiah 60:1-5.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Oh, What a Fountain!” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).


THE OUTLINE OF

CHINA IN BIBLE PROPHECY

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim” (Isaiah 49:12).

I.   First, the Chinese will receive the Redeemer of Israel, Isaiah 49:6, 7;
Isaiah 60:3, 5.

II.  Second, the Chinese will come from the east and sit down in
Christ’s coming Kingdom, Luke 13:29.

III. Third, the Chinese will come to Christ in the end-times, Luke 13:30;
John 1:29.