We have a good chance when we buy a product in these days that is made in China or in India. Last month I bought some electronic devices of real, longstanding American firms and I took it for granted that they were made in the United States. I must be honest I was a little disappointed when I read in small letters on the sticker on the back ‘made in China.’ This same surprise we have when we buy the ususal household electric machines. And what do you think of this? A real looking Dutch shawl or a warm peace of underwear that we need in these cold, winter days – they are ‘made in China.’ We understand also that more and more Dutch firms are moving departments or transferring work to India or China, for it is there much cheaper there than here.
Experts predict that the Far East, especially China, will become a great economic and political power in the world. And military experts are sure that China will also become a great military power. Chinese leaders did not want to react when they were recently asked how great the budget for the military development was. Of course, no doubt, it must be an astronomic high figure, for the country is in rapid speed modernising her armies.
As a teacher of the Bible, grown up with the Scriptures from my youngest childhood, I will try to answer the questions: “How must we interpret these modern developments in China.” And “How relevant are they for the time in which we live right now?”
The Bible about the powers that come ‘from the rising of the sun’
We read in Revelation 16:12 about ‘preparing the way for the kings from the east.’ (RSV) Another way to translate in verse 12 is: “The kings from the rising of the sun.” Many interpreters of Revelation agree that here the powers that reside in the Far East are meant and then we cannot bypass China. In verse 13 we read: “And I saw, issuing from the mouth of the dragon and from the mouth of the beast and from the mouth of the false prophet, three foul spirits like frogs.” The dragon stands as the archetype of the gigantic, very dangerous devourer of men. The dragon is at the same time the legendary and symbolic animal of the Chinese – think of their feasts and plays in which great heads and bodies of dragons play an important role. Really we do not need to doubt about it: China is appearing on the scene of apocalyptic literature as a formidable power in the end time.
We really can be sure, it is prophesied in Revelation: China is advancing to the west. What is her goal? This becomes clear in Revelation 16:16: “And they assembled them at the place which is called in Hebrew Armaged’don.” Armaged’don is the valley near the mount Megiddo in Israël. The purpose of the military action from the east is at once clear as crystal: To subdue Israel, that nation that is in the eyes of the world extremely arrogant and irritant.
Revelation makes it clear that the powers of the east advance through the Middle East. Revelation 16:13 states that the water of the great river Euphra’tes was dried up to prepare the way for these kings from the east. It is however not necessary – neither geographically nor topographically – that this great river must dry up to prepare a way for the advancement of a great army. So, what does the Spirit want to tell us here? This: The powers of the northern part of the Middle East, this is the region of the once so powerful Assyrian and Babylonic nations – the land of the Euphra’tes and the Tigris – presently the country of Iraq – will come to nothing, their powers dry up – so that the kings of the (far) east can advance without any resistance to the country of Israel. And if one thing has become clear in our days, it is this: The power of the Euphra’tes, the power of Iraq, is broken, and it is the United States that has been used to do this! Experts agree that whatever happens: Iraq, the Euphra’tes, will more than likely never become again a country of importance in the middle east – too much has been destroyed. And let us not forget it: Saddam had even tried to rebuilt Babylon. But he has been cut off in a dramatic way! Old prophecies agree: The LORD has decreed it: Babylon shall never be rebuilt!
The nations assembled for battle!
There is another detail in Revelation 16:14 on which I like to focus your attention: Evil spiritual powers, under which also the dragon, motivate the nations to participate in the battle against the nation of Israel. Evidently do the powers of the rising of the sun now have so much influence – inspired by evil spiritual, demonic, forces – that they can call with authority on other nations to cooperative action against the people of God.
Some years ago I wrote an article in which I said that I think it very possible that the United Nations will send an army to Israel within twenty or thirty years – perhaps even earlier – to force that nation on its knees. To this I add now that I foresee a great shift of the power centre of the world from the West to the East – the European Union fears already for this – and then China will become the great leading nation. China, inspired by the great demonic dragon, leads here in Revelation the military action against the Holy Land, where the historic people of God dwells.
The LORD will come and conquer!
The armies meet in the valley of Armaged’don. Undoubtedly, they make here their gigantic military camp to attack Jerusalem from this location. The attentive Bible reader will remember Zachariah 14:2,3 where the prophet wrote about the great army of nations that attacks Jerusalem. It will be an overwhelming great army that wants to destroy or at least subdue Israel for ever. The little nation can no longer expect help from any nation. The power of the United States has diminished grealy, the East is dominant, inspired by dark, unclean spirits.
But the LORD will not allow that his earthly people will be destroyed. This great international military intervention will see the return of the LORD. For notice what is written in Revelation 16:15: “Lo, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who is awake, keeping is garments (of righteousness in Jesus) that he may not go naked and be seen exposed.” (RSV) Here He comes, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. His coming is the answer to the cry for help from Gods old nation. He descends on the mount of Olives, there is an earthquake and the mountain splits in two and a river is beginning to flow from Jerusalem. Everybody gets frightened not the least the soldiers of the enormous army of many nations. The prophetic word is sure: The LORD will destroy the enemies of His people and will establish His Kingdom!
No one can be certain when all this is actually going to take place. However, the developments for the end time have however begun right now – that is certain. The present situation in the Middle East is very explosive but can still be contained as the Western powers are still very strong – but for how long?
We, Christians, should not relax, sit down and just watch passively what might happen. We should pray and watch the signs of the times. The Spirit encourages us in Revelation 16:15 to stay awake, to remain alert and to keep our hearts right before the LORD. We should be true to our mission as a Church and testify of the saving grace of the LORD, pointing people to the only real hope for this world: Jesus Christ and His coming Kingdom of peace and righteousness. Yes, we proclaim: Jesus Christ is the Saviour and the King of kings and LORD of lords!
T. J. de Ruiter, 30 January 2006
Foundation Christian Revival Ministries
Pastor & Bible teacher T. J. de Ruiter
This article has been published by FCET with permission.