From the East to the West
One of the concerned readers of this blog site asked, “Is there any prophecy in the Bible regarding the Philippines?” It immediately flashed into my mind when sometime in the 1980’s, a critic in Pampanga where I was preaching nightly asked, “Can you read Philippines in the Bible?” And there followed a lot of discussion about what cannot be read in the Bible. For example, although the name bitter gourd is not in the Bible, ampalaya in the vernacular, the very essence and the very being of such vegetable is in the Bible. I will read to you the book of Genesis 1:11-12, 29 –
“11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.”
It is clear in the verse that God created every herb for food. “Every herb.” Every herb means every plant and every vegetable that is after its kind. I want you to notice the word “after its kind” and “bearing seeds”. The bitter gourd falls into this category. Exodus 12:8 proves this.
“And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.”
When God commanded the Israelites to observe the Passover, they were admonished by God to eat the Passover lamb with bitter herbs and there is no doubt that ampalaya is bitter. So it does not mean that if a particular name is not mentioned in the Bible, it is not in the Bible. In fact, the Bible is the mirror from which we can gauge or see things that exist since creation. Even those that have gone extinct can be found in the Bible. For example, dinosaurs, even though they are now extinct, are mentioned in the Bible. They are now extinct, but they are in the Bible. The same thing goes with the Philippines. It was discovered by Ferdinand Magellan on March 16, 1521, and was named in honor of King Philip II of Spain, sometime in 1543. So it was called “Las Islas Filipinas” or The Philippine Islands.
There are great nations in the world today that exists whose name is not in the Bible. There is a hint of the nation of Cyprus, even though the word “Cyprus” is not mentioned, The Bible mentions it as Chittim; but the word Cyprus is not in the Bible. America, Great Britain or the United Kingdom are also nowhere to be found in the Bible. There are prophecies in the Bible that do not mention the name; therefore, it is logical that we cannot find those names in the Bible.
The last book of the Bible was written in the concluding part of the 1st century of our era . The Old Testament books and the prophets were written from as far back as 1300 years before Christ. So a name which was given to a particular nation only in the 1500’s of our era cannot be found in the Bible and it is logical. But it doesn’t mean that because the name of a particular nation or a country cannot be read in the Bible, that nation is not included in the Biblical prophecy – just like the case of my country, the Philippines.
Whatever truth that happens which is in accordance to the will of God is in the Bible. I believe the advent of the preaching of the true church in the Philippines is in the Bible. Let us read from the prophecies of the scriptures. There is a prophecy in the book of Malachi 1:11, which says –
“For the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.”
This is clear in this prophecy among the heathen or the Gentiles. The word “Gentile” means “outside Israel”. For reference, we may read Ephesians 2:11-12:
“11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:”
All nations outside Israel, which is the first nation under God, are called Gentiles. And according to the Bible, in the prophecy of the Book of Malachi, the name of the Lord God of Israel will be great among the heathen or the Gentiles. And that starts from the rising of the sun.
I want to invite the meticulous attentions of those Bible reading scholars. The east mentioned here is not the east of Jerusalem but it is the east where the rising of the sun commences. We know that the sun rises in the direction of the Far East and that is where my country lies. The Philippines is in the Far East and not in the near east. If we are to consider the wordings of the prophecy in Malachi, it is among the Gentiles. So, it is not in the Middle East or in the near east where Christianity was first established but it is in another east which is different from the near east where Christianity was first preached, the near east. Therefore, it is another east and this east is very clearly defined in the Bible as the east from where the sun rises. According to the prophecy “…from the rising of the sun and to the going down thereof, the name of God of Israel shall be great among the Gentiles…” Why? It is because incense will be offered unto the name of the Lord God of Israel. Incense in the verse tells us not of literal incense. It is in the book of Revelation 5:8 (REVISED STANDARD VERSION) –
“And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints;”
Incense signifies the prayers of the saints. So there will people in the east offering prayers to God and God acknowledges their prayers. These are people of God in the east. In relation to that, there is another prophecy in the book of Zechariah 8:7 –
“Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country;”
So, there will be people of God in the east. Let us not discount, however, the possibility that when we say the word “east”, it may mean Japan because it is also in the east. In fact, it is called the Land of the Rising Sun. It may also mean Indonesia. It may also mean the Philippines and other countries in the Far East but what is striking in the prophecy is that it speaks of people praying unto the God of Israel. Never was in the history of Japan or other countries in the Far East that the name of the Lord God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was praised among the Gentiles or the heathen in Japan.
Most oriental countries have their own religion. For example, Buddhism is very prevalent in Japan and other oriental religions. They do not believe in the Lord God of Israel. But in the Philippines, it is the only country in Asia that believes in the Bible and that takes the Bible as the authority of their faith. And in the Philippines, I believe, is the fulfillment of this prophecy that there will be a people of God and these people will be offering incense or prayers to the Lord God of Israel. But how do we know they are the people of God and how will they become the people of God? He said, “I will save my people from the east country…”
Before there can be people of God, somebody must be used by God in preaching the truth. In the book of Acts 15:14 –
“Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.”
“But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:”
The verse speaks of the person of the Apostle Paul. For there to be a people of God, there will be a chosen vessel like the Apostle Paul. Paul was commissioned by God, firstly, in the Christian dispensation, to be the front runner of Christianity among the Gentiles. “He’s a chosen vessel unto me to bring my name before the Gentiles…” he said in the prophecy. And this was accomplished by the Apostle Paul. When he was preaching, he said in the book of Acts 13:46-47 that–
“46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.”
It is clear in the verse that Paul said to the Israelites, who rejected his preaching that he was going to the gentiles “…the word of God must be preached first unto you, but seeing you put it from you, you do not want to accept it, you judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, then we turn to the Gentiles…” Why? For this is the essence of the prophecy (in verse 47) “For so hath the Lord commanded us (in the prophecy)…” it is in the prophecy of Isaiah saying “I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.”
So when the name of the Lord God of Israel was first preached unto the Gentiles, the Apostle Paul was the chosen vessel. But let us remember that the Gentiles being spoken of by the Apostle Paul are not the Gentiles in the Far East since he did not preach in the Far East. The Gentiles, to whom God sent the Apostle Paul, are the Gentiles in the surrounding areas of the Holy Land and extends as far as Greece, the Gentiles in the domain of the Roman Empire. But the prophecy in Malachi specifically speaks of Gentiles in the east. So, in that particular prophecy, it is not Apostle Paul who will be the instrument of God in gathering his people in this particular part of the globe. There will be another vessel like Paul who will preach the greatness of the name of the Lord God of Israel in the east; and that east, the rising of the sun, is different from Jerusalem or from the Holy Land that is in the Middle East.
Now, is there such a person like the Apostle Paul in the east who will preach the name of the Lord God of Israel? Is there a prophecy that tells about his being and is there a prophecy that tells us the time when this vessel of God or instrument of God like the Apostle Paul will preach the name of the Lord God of Israel in the east? Of course there must be in the Bible because as I have said earlier, there’s always a fulfillment of the truth of God written in the scriptures, especially in the prophecies.
To be continued...