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HOW CHINA BECAME A WORLD POWER!

(SERMON #88 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. C. L. Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, February 7, 2016

“And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 9:1).


Today our church is celebrating Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year is the most important Chinese holiday. It began two thousand years before Christ, when the Emperor Huang Ti introduced the first calendar. Like the Western calendar, the Chinese calendar counts each year. But unlike the Western calendar, the Chinese calendar is based on the cycles of the moon. The Western calendar is based on the cycles of the earth around the sun. The earth goes around the sun once a year, which produces the seasons, summer, fall, winter and spring.

The Chinese calendar is based on the cycles of the moon around the earth. The moon does not go around the earth exactly twelve times a year. That is why Chinese New Year is celebrated on different dates each year, like Passover in the Jewish religion, and Easter in the Christian religion. The beginning of Chinese New Year can fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February. This year Chinese New Year comes tomorrow, on February 8. Traditionally the celebration goes on for several days, and it is proper to celebrate the New Year today.

A complete Chinese lunar cycle takes sixty years and is made up of five cycles of 12 years each. The Chinese calendar names each of the 12 years after a mammal, reptile or bird – the rat, the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the sheep, the monkey, the rooster, the dog, and the pig. This year (2016 A.D.) is the Year of the Monkey. Forms of this New Year’s celebration are done in countries that have been influenced by the Chinese, including Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Mongolia, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Chinese communities everywhere, and even in Japan until 1873, when the Japanese adopted the western calendar.

China is one of the great nations of the world. China has more people than any other country – almost 1.4 billion, more than four times as many as the United States. China has grown into a great political, economic and military power. With the decline of America and the West, China may soon be the leading country in the world.

Bible prophecy foretold a great spiritual revival in China. Seven hundred years before Christ Isaiah said, “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). The prophecy is being fulfilled by the explosion of Christianity in China. There are now over 130 million Christians there. “Sinim” is the ancient name for China. Dr. Henry M. Morris and many other scholars have identified “Sinim” as China (The Defender’s Study Bible; note on Isaiah 49:12). The prophecy is being fulfilled today. Every Sunday morning more people go to church in China than in the United States, Canada, and Europe – combined! Many young Chinese people have been coming to our church. Some of them have trusted Christ, and we thank God for them!

China has a long history. Civilization began in China, near the Yellow River, two thousand years before Christ under the Xia Dynasty. Chinese civilization grew stronger under the Shang Dynasty 1,600 years before Christ.

There were people living in China about two hundred years after Noah’s Flood. God judged the human race in the Great Flood. The world was covered with water. Only Noah and his family survived in the Ark. The waters then receded. Noah and his family came out of the Ark. Please turn in your Bibles to Genesis 9:1. That’s on page 16 in the Scofield Study Bible. God said to them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 9:1).

Someone may wonder, “Is that really true? Does it fit with Chinese history? How could mankind grow from eight people to millions in two or three hundred years – so that people built cities in China, India, Egypt, and elsewhere?” This morning I want to answer these questions.

First, think of what happened before the Flood. More than six thousand years ago, God said to our first parents, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28). God told them to have children and fill the earth.

Adam and his descendants did fill the earth. Back then people lived to be 800 or 900 years old. The environment was better than it is now. The earth was covered with a canopy of water vapor that gave protection from radiation coming from space. There was no rain. Instead “there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground” (Genesis 2:6). It was like a greenhouse, a pleasant place to live. Plants and animals flourished. So did people. They lived to be 900 years old or more. The Bible says, “All the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years” (Genesis 5:5).

But Adam had sinned, and brought sin and death to the human race. That’s why Adam’s first son Cain killed his brother Abel (Genesis 4:8). God said to Cain, “A fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth” (Genesis 4:12). Cain ran far away to “the land of Nod, on the east of Eden” (Genesis 4:16). “The land of Nod” literally means “the land of wandering.” Dr. M. R. DeHaan said, “Tradition relates that Cain went out to India and China and other remote lands” (The Days of Noah, Zondervan, 1971, p. 33). Cain built a city far away from his parents (see Genesis 4:17).

Cain had run away. Abel was dead. Adam and Eve had another son named Seth (Genesis 4:25). They had “sons and daughters” (Genesis 5:4). In his life of 930 years, Adam had many of them. According to Jewish tradition, Adam and Eve had 56 children!

Seth lived for 912 years. He had “sons and daughters” (Genesis 5:7, 8). Seth’s son Enos lived to be 905. He had “sons and daughters” (Genesis 5:10, 11). Enos’ son Cainan lived to 910. He had “sons and daughters” (Genesis 5:13, 14). The fifth chapter of Genesis gives the names and ages of the great men of that time. Most of them lived for over 900 years. They had many children. The human race filled the earth.

There were many millions, even billions of people at the time of the Flood. They had to spread out over large parts of the earth. That fits with the worldwide nature of the Flood. The Flood covered the whole earth because people had covered the whole earth!

They had filled the earth as sinners. “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11).

God judged the human race in the Flood. The waters covered the earth for 150 days (Genesis 7:24). Only Noah and his family – eight people – stayed alive in the Ark. The rest drowned and went to Hell. The Flood waters went down. The Ark landed on Mount Ararat, in Armenia (Genesis 8:4). When Noah and his family went out of the Ark, God said to them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 9:1).

This was the same command God gave to Adam and Eve. It was easy to do. People still lived for centuries – not as long as before the Flood, since the canopy had come down. But a couple could still have 20, 30 or more children.

Stand and sing “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven.”

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven, to His feet thy tribute bring;
   Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, Who like thee His praise should sing?
Praise Him! Praise Him! Praise the everlasting King.
   (“Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven,” from Psalm 103;
      by Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847).

You may be seated.

It was easy to spread throughout the world. The weather was colder after the Flood. Scientists call this period the “Ice Age.” Much of the water was locked up in sheets of ice. Mountains had been pushed up, and the oceans had receded. It was easy to cross from Asia into North America. The water between Russia and Alaska had receded. There was a bridge of land between Russia and Alaska. Scientists have shown that the indigenous “Indians” – from Alaska to South America, are related to the people of China.

There is another reason why it was easy to fill the world in two or three hundred years. People already knew the geography of the world. Before the flood they knew the layout of the land. Their ancestors had been to India and to China. They knew where they were going!

To fill the earth again would be easy. It took longer than it should have. I’ll explain why a little later. But when the people did spread out, they filled up a lot of ground and they filled it fast! The sons of Noah were Shem, Ham and Japheth (Genesis 10:1). Shem became the ancestor of the Semitic peoples, the people of the Middle East. Abraham was a descendant of Shem. Through his son Isaac, Abraham was the father of the Jewish people. Through his son Ishmael, Abraham was the father of the Arabs. Both the Jews and the Arabs are Semitic peoples.

Japheth became the ancestor of the nations of Europe and Asia. One of his sons was Gomer, the father of many nations in Western Europe. Another son was Magog, the ancestor of the people of Russia and Ukraine. A grandson of Japheth was Tarshish, the ancestor of the people of Spain. The people of China are descendants of Japheth.

Ham was the ancestor of the Hamitic peoples, the nations of Africa. One of the sons of Ham was Mizraim (Genesis 10:6), which is the Hebrew name for Egypt, the first country in Africa that people reached.

The descendants of Noah filled the world in a short time. But this didn’t happen right away! At first they refused to obey God. As the New Testament says, “the carnal [unconverted] mind is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7). It is the nature of sinful man to rebel against God. The people refused to spread out and fill the earth. What happened?

One of the sons of Ham was Cush, who was the father of Nimrod (Genesis 10:6-9). Nimrod was a proud and evil man. He built a kingdom, ruling from the city of Babel (Babylon), in the land of Shinar (later called Babylonia). With King Nimrod, the people refused to fill the earth. They said, “Let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4). They didn’t want to spread out. They wanted to build a city and a tower, a power-center to show their own glory.

But God judged them. He stopped them from building the tower. Up until then everyone spoke the same language. “The whole earth was of one language, and of one speech” (Genesis 11:1). And God said,

“Let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel [the word ‘Babel’ means ‘confusion’]; because the Lord did there confound [confuse] the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:7-9).

God confused their languages. The name “Babel” means “confusion.” The people couldn’t understand each other. Each person could only talk to his own language group. They couldn’t finish the tower. Their society fell apart. Everyone separated and left with the people they could talk to – close relatives. They filled the earth – when they were forced to do so. The Bible says that in those days “was the earth divided” (Genesis 10:25).

This happened about 100 years after the Flood. The human race was one people. It still is! The Bible says God “hath made of one blood all nations of men” (Acts 17:26). That’s why any man can marry any woman and have children. All the biological diversity of the human race was contained in Noah and his family. But after the Tower of Babel, people divided into smaller language groups. For hundreds of years, they married only within their group. Soon one set of people didn’t look like another. This is where the different races and languages and nations came from. Some went to Europe and spoke their languages there. Others went to Africa. Some went to China and spoke to each other in Chinese.

This process took only a short time. These language groups were spread throughout the whole world. The descendants of Japheth went to Europe, to India and China, and finally to the American continent. The descendants of Ham went to Africa. The descendants of Shem filled up the Middle East.

Wherever they went people remembered the Flood. That’s why tribes all over the world have legends about the Flood. The Native Americans of the Northwest speak of a man who built a boat. The people of the Fiji Islands have a legend of the Flood.

Wherever they went people had a belief in one God. They had learned this from Noah and his sons. The tribes of North America believed in a God who they called the Great Spirit. In the Proto-Indo-European language, which led to the languages of Europe and India, we hear of “Dyeus-Pater,” the “God-Father,” the Father-God in Heaven. From Dyeus-Pater came the names of the Greek god Zeus and the Roman god Jupiter.

The Mongols believed in Tengri, a great Sky-God derived from God the Father. The ancient Chinese believed in one God. Dr. James Legge (1815-1897) was professor of Chinese Language and Literature at Oxford University. In his book, The Religions of China (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1881), Dr. Legge showed that the original religion of China was belief in one God, whom they called Shang Ti (King of Heaven). Two thousand years before Christ, long centuries before Confucius and Buddha were born, the Chinese people worshipped one God – God the Father, the King of Heaven.

The original religion of China was not Buddhism. Buddha was not Chinese! He lived in India. Buddhism was brought into China from India. The original religion of China was monotheism, the belief in one God – Shang Ti, the King of Heaven. Later, superstitions and errors were added. But Shang Ti, the King of Heaven, was the original God of China! “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven.” Stand and sing it!

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven, to His feet thy tribute bring;
   Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, Who like thee His praise should sing?
Praise Him! Praise Him! Praise the everlasting King.

You may be seated.

Why did the Chinese people get away from the true God? Because they were sinners. All the people of the world are sinners. The ancient people in every land were sinners. They were at “enmity against God” (Romans 8:7). They did not want God. So they invented superstitions and idols and false religions. The Bible says,

“When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (Romans 1:21-23).

This happened to all humanity. It happened in Egypt, in Babylonia, in Europe, in India, and it happened in China. This is where the false religions of the world came from. Sinful men rejected the truth and accepted all manner of lies. The light grew dim. The darkness grew. With man there was no hope.

It was God who reached out. God looked down to a sinful city called Ur of the Chaldees. There He said to a man named Abraham, “Get thee out of thy country...And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee...and thou shalt be a blessing...and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3). God said to him, “I have a calling for you.” Abraham believed in the true God. He became the father of the Jewish people, the chosen people of God on earth.

God used the Jewish people to give us the Bible. And God sent His Son Jesus to be born of a Jewish girl named Mary. There in Israel Jesus grew to manhood. There in Israel He died on the Cross to pay for our sin. He gave His Blood to wash our sin away. He rose from the dead to give us life. Jesus died for all mankind – not just the Jews, but the people of China and all the world! Christ “is the propitiation...for the sins of the whole world” (I John 2:2). Christianity is the only true religion for all humanity. It is not “the religion of the Americans.” Most Americans are not real Christians. Christ is not for one nation or culture. There are Christians in every country of the world, because Christ died “for the sins of the whole world” – for the Chinese, the Koreans, the Hispanics, the Africans – and for you! People from China and all over the world are trusting Jesus. Jesus says to you, “Come unto me” (Matthew 11:28). Come to Jesus. Trust Him.

Man could never find God on his own. The Bible says, “Canst thou by searching find out God?” (Job 11:7). In fact, no one wants to find God. The Bible says, “There is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11). It is God who reaches out to save us sinners.

Before the world was created, God planned to redeem some people on the earth. It was always God’s plan to send His Son Jesus to die for sinners. The Bible speaks of Jesus, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). This was God’s plan for His people everywhere. Christ died for everyone that He saves.

The Bible says, “God [shows] his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The Bible says, “Herein is love, not that we loved God [we did not], but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation [the payment of satisfaction] for our sins” (I John 4:10). God loves you so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die on the Cross to pay for your sin. Jesus shed His Blood to wash your sin away. I pray that you will trust Jesus soon.

Stand and sing it again - “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven.”

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven, to His feet thy tribute bring;
   Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, Who like thee His praise should sing?
Praise Him! Praise Him! Praise the everlasting King.

Amen.

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Romans 1:21-23.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Jesus Shall Reign” (by Dr. Isaac Watts, 1674-1748).