“Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem”
With Noah’s words of blessings, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem” God has given a prophecy to mankind. Shem is one of Noah’s three sons. Yahweh is the God of Shem and the Lord Jesus Christ is a direct descendant of Shem. (Lk. 3:23-38) We know that Shem had five sons named Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram. (Gen. 10:22) Jesus’ ancestry came from Arphaxad. The genealogy of Shem is traced to Abraham. (Gen. 11:10-32) In Genesis 12 God made a covenant with Abraham.
“I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen. 12:2-3)
The blessings that God bestowed to Abraham have been fulfilled in the nation of Israel and the Messiah Jesus. Indeed “all the families of the earth” are truly blessed by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is also the God of Shem.
There is much information in the Bible concerning the descendants of Arphaxad but little is written about the other four sons of Shem. The line of descendants of Joktan continued in their migration towards the east after the flood (Gen.10:30-32) There is evidence in anthropology that some of the descendants of Shem gradually settled down in Asia particularly China. Some Chinese family names are traced to Shem. Many scholars believe that Isaiah 49:11-12 refer to China. The Chinese, who are believed to be descendants of Noah's son Shem, called themselves the Sine people. The Chinese word was Chin. The three criteria of Isaiah 49:11,12 are that the country must be east or south of Jerusalem; must be far from Jerusalem; and must be an important country to mention. China meets all these criteria.
The earliest civilization in China showed their belief in the One True God, the Creator of the Universe. They were worshiping the God of Shem. The first prehistoric dynasty is said to be Xia () from about the twenty-first to the sixteenth century B.C. The beginning of this period corresponds with the time that God called Abraham and made a covenant with him. This is also the same period when China first developed its own form of writing.
I confess that my knowledge of Chinese writing is very small and limited, but I do know enough of it to share with you what I have learned through research on its co-relationship with the belief in the One True God. Whereas the Abraham line of the Semitic race has developed the Hebrew written language based on sounds, the Chinese written language is based on pictures, symbols and signs. God gave the Hebrew people the Torah and He has given the Chinese picture words as a way of revealing His truths to them. Let me show you a few of these words.
The first Chinese word I would like to illustrate is “create”.
zao - create
This word has a combination of four symbols or picture words
A combination of these four symbols or picture words gives us the description of how God created man.
“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Gen. 2:7)
yi - righteousness
This word has two words one above the other.
The Biblical meaning of “righteousness” refers to that only which God can impart on sinful man when He takes away his sin through the shedding of blood. Abel’s sacrifice of an unblemished lamb was acceptable to God. (Gen. 4:4) Abraham’s sacrifice of a ram in the place of Isaac is also acceptable to God. (Gen. 22:7-18) The Chinese people have understood this truth at the very beginning of its civilization when they composed the word for righteousness by placing the word for lamb above the word for “I” or “me”. The Chinese word for righteousness consists of the word at the top for “lamb” or sheep which, of course, refers to our Lord Jesus Christ who is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. (Jn. 1:29) We can only receive God's righteousness when we have the "Lamb of God" over us.
Now let us look at the Chinese word that means I or me which is composed of two words.
The Chinese word for righteousness has the word for "Lamb" over the word "me". The Lamb of God has become my substitute in death. It is also a prophecy of our Lord’s atonement for sin on the cross at Calvary.
“But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.” (Jn. 19:34)
This miracle combined the two events of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His baptism on the Jordan River. This is the reason why our Lord said to John the Baptist at His baptism, “Permit it to be so now, for it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (Mt. 3:15) The apostle Paul wrote: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, . . . (Rom. 6:3-4)
chuan - ship
This Chinese word is composed of three words
When you have a pictogram of eight people in a boat what do you think this Chinese word refers to? Noah’s Ark, of course. Just read what the Bible says.
“On the very same day Noah and Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the Ark.” (Gen. 7:13)
“. . . who formerly were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the Ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls were saved through water.” (1 Pet. 3:20)
How did the Chinese people know that eight people were saved in the Ark during the Great Flood? It is easy! Shem is the ancestor of the Chinese people. When Shem’s descendants migrated to China they also brought with them stories of the Great Flood. In fact many other countries also have stories of the Great Flood. When the Chinese formulated their written language they just composed the word “ship” by using the three symbols of a floating vessel, eight and people. This is also their way of preserving truth and history.
t’a - tower
This word is a combination of several words.
means earth or world
“Now the whole earth had one language and one speech . . . And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over face of the earth.” (Gen. 2:1-4)
lai - come
The Chinese word is God’s invitation for all peoples of the world to come to Him for salvation. The two criminals who hung on either side of the Lord Jesus Christ represent mankind who is filled with sin and in need of salvation. One believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, repented of his sins, was saved and promised a place in Paradise. The other criminal did not. The Big Man at the bottom of the cross represents the Lord Jesus Christ who bore the sins of mankind on His body.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” (Psm. 33:12)
Although the One True God had revealed His truths to the Chinese people through their writings for thousands of years yet they have rejected Him and worshiped other gods. Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism have been the major religions in China. But Confucianism had the greatest impact on the Chinese society. It was the State religion of China from 100 B.C. to 1,900 A.D. Buddhism was first introduced to China about 65 CE. With the downfall of the Han Dynasty in 220 CE and the troubled chaotic period that followed, Buddhism was able to spread to different regions of China. By the late 4th century, 90 percent of the people in the northwest region of China (closest to central Asia and the Silk Road) were Buddhists. In 1949, the Chinese communists gained control of China. The Government officially condemned religions. As a result, most followers of religions lived outside mainland China. In 1970's, however, the Communist Government relaxed its policy against religion and so, religion enjoyed a revival on the mainland.
In 1949 the estimate of the number of Christians in China was put at one million. "The growth of the church in China has no parallels in history." Researchers estimated 30-75 million Christians in 1990 as likely. The State Statistical Bureau in China confidently estimated 63 million protestants and 12 million Catholics in 1992. Compare this to the estimated 1,812,000 Protestants and 3,300,000 Catholics in 1949. Most of the growth is in the unofficial house fellowship networks, and through the work of itinerant preachers and numerous local revival movements. The number of Christians in China has grown to an estimated total of between 100 million to 200 million. It is possible that in China currently thousands of new converts each day believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, the God of Shem.
Our God is righteous and fair in all His dealings with mankind that consists of many nations with different languages. This is only one of the ways that He reveals His truth to one ethnic race of people. God wants to give every person on earth an equal opportunity to know Him.
“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” (Acts 10:34-35)
“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:3-4)
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal. 3:26-29)
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the God of Shem. “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem”
May God bless you
A Sermon based on this Article was preached by Paul Wong
This Article was published on this Website on September 9, 2009
Paul Wong is a Christian minister and the President of ARK International.