TO AND FROM “THE LAND OF SINIM”
“It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth…Behold, these will come from afar; and lo, these will come from the north and from the west, and these from the land of Sinim. Shout for joy, O heavens! And rejoice, O earth! Break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people and will have compassion on His afflicted!” (Isaiah 49:6, 12-13 NASB; Emphases ours.)
Sunday afternoon Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara landed in Beijing. Several of his ministers accompanied him on the three-day visit to China where he is scheduled to meet with China’s three most senior officials, President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Li Keqiang, and parliament-head Zhang Dejiang.
Mr. Netanyahu has timed his trip to China to coincide with and celebrate 25 years since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1992. Since his last visit there in 2013, China has become Israel’s largest trading partner in Asia and the third largest in the world, a relationship the Prime Minister will seek to nourish and advance during his visit.
One thing setting this trip apart is that accompanying Netanyahu and his ministers are around 90 Israeli businessmen representing various industries—the largest-ever business group to join an Israeli Prime Minister on a foreign trip. On Tuesday they will take part in a business forum chaired by Netanyahu with over 500 invited guests. (1)
As we see gateways widening between Israel and China in the area of governmental and economic relations, we are aware also of passageways which the Holy Spirit has been opening and networking between believers within the two countries! Each year sees multiple thousands of Chinese brothers and sisters pouring into Israel—to praise and worship in Jerusalem, to connect with the Body of Messiah here, to intercede over God’s purposes in the Land, and to cry out for harvest from Zion. And their number is increasing.
Many are part of the Back to Jerusalem movement, a vision birthed in China almost a century ago, with a fervent goal of spreading the Gospel from the east coast of China through Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim lands westward until it reached the birthplace of Christianity, Jerusalem. Surviving intense persecution, that vision endured and has grown in recent years into a mighty wave. With this mobilized passion, has come an awakened hunger for understanding and re-embracing the Jewish roots of their faith, and a desire to bless Israel.
At the same time, Messianic believers from Israel have been welcomed into China, to teach and share—some long-term, others traveling about the nation, praying over the land, visiting with the Brothers and Sisters. Leaders from houses of prayer in Israel have been invited to visit and teach in houses of prayer in China; large groups of Chinese have visited houses of prayer in Jerusalem. Only this week a Messianic pastor returned from a visit to China, where he was very graciously honored by the Church there. Also this week, a Messianic congregation in Tel Aviv were presented with a gift of a golden trumpet from believers in China.
Isaiah 49:12 (quoted above) speaks of a time when along with His people Israel, the LORD will bring other peoples from far-away nations who have seen His light—including a people from the “Land of Sinim.” The Modern Hebrew name for China is Sin (pronounced “seen”); the name for “Chinese” is Sinim. From ancient times many Biblical authorities have supposed China to be the people referred to in this passage.
Believers in Israel are humbled and strengthened by the blessings released through the Chinese brothers and sisters whom God is presently bringing into our land. On one occasion, we personally witnessed a shift in atmosphere of intense violence hanging over Jerusalem as a large group of visiting Chinese interceded fervently for two hours over the city from a prayer house overlooking the Temple Mount. We have been privileged to host gatherings of leaders from Sin in our home, some of whom have endured years of suffering, even imprisonment for their faith. We think it very possible that God has brought some of these seasoned and tested brothers and sisters into Israel to impart grace for when the Body here may be called to face similar testings in days ahead.
* That the hand of God rest on Mr. Netanyahu for graciousness, sensitivity, integrity and insight as he visits China. That relations would be strengthened; that only those ties which are in line with God’s good purposes between the two countries would be made.
* That Chinese leaders would sense the “fear of the Lord” in their dealings with Israel. That on behalf of their people, they will bless the “seed of Abraham”—and that Israel will be a blessing to China.
* That with the opened doors between the two nations, there will be a flow of grace between the believers in China and those in Israel.
* That the Messianic body in Israel will be granted insight and unction in praying God’s redemptive purposes over China.
* That we will graciously receive the strengths and blessing which God wishes to impart to His Body in Jerusalem and Israel through the Church in China.
* We believe that there is a deposit of grace over Shanghai, which opened its gates to twenty thousand Jews during the Holocaust, when many nations closed theirs. We pray for this deposit to be released in the gift of a deep love and support for Israel, in a time when many nations will bring judgment upon themselves by turning in another direction. “How great is Your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you!” (Psalm 31:19)
–Martin and Norma Sarvis
(1) Information on the PM’s trip drawn from, “Eyes on boosting trade, PM lands in China…”: The Times of Israel, 19 March 2017, 4:51 a.m.