A mouth in Chinese is used to symbolize a person.
So the Chinese word for a boat or a ship is a vessel with 8 people in it. This accurately reflects the number of people who were in Noah’s Ark.
The proximity of China’s first dynasty to the Great Flood and the Tower of Babel gives us a clue as to why the word for boat has the meaning of 8 people in a vessel. The Great Flood is believed to have occurred 2348 B.C. and the Tower of Babel 2242 B.C. China’s oldest historical source is the Shu Jing which details the beginning of Chinese history. The Shu Jing states that after the Great Flood that much of the earth was destroyed and not yet habitable.
The Aboriginal people of Australia also have an oral tradition of a vast flood in which 8 people escaped in a canoe. Many ancient cultures from both the Western and Eastern hemispheres have stories of a world-wide flood.
How did the people of China know about the Great Flood? Noah was alive during the time of the first Chinese dynasty. Noah lived until about 2150 B.C. Emperor Yu became the founder of the first Chinese dynasty Xia in 2123 B.C. This is 119 years after the Tower of Babel and 225 years after the Flood. Yu became famous for fixing the flooding problem around the Yellow River. This made him a hero and he was appointed as leader. Some suggest that the flooding of the Yellow River was caused by remaining bodies of water left behind by the Flood.
If the Chinese people took the knowledge of the Great Flood from Noah, then what other knowledge did they take with them?
Knowledge of One God
Emperor Shun (2230 B.C.) believed in one God called Shangdi who was the supreme ruler of the universe. Shangdi means “Emperor”, “Supreme Deity” or “Highest Deity”. Shangdi was never made into an idol or image.
The Emperor functioned not only as ruler but also as high priest. The Shu Jing depicts Emperor Shun making the annual sacrifice to Shangdi. Sacrifices were made in the Temple of Heaven which contained Shangdi’s throne. A completely healthy bull would be sacrificed by the emperor and a tablet with Shangdi’s name inscribed on it would be placed on the throne at the north end of the Temple of Heaven.
The ancient ceremony that the Emperor performed while sacrificing the bull began with:
“Of old in the beginning, there was the great chaos, without form and dark. The five elements [planets] had not begun to revolve, nor the sun and the moon to shine. In the midst thereof there existed neither forms for sound. Thou, O spiritual Sovereign, camest forth in Thy presidency, and first didst divide the grosser parts from the purer. Thou madest heaven; Thou madest earth; Thou madest man. All things with their reproductive power got their being.”
This sounds quite similar to Genesis 1:1-2 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep”.
The ceremony continued with “Thou regardest us as a Father” and ended with:
“Thy sovereign goodness is infinite. As a potter, Thou hast made all living things. Thy sovereign goodness is infinite. Great and small are sheltered [by Thee]. As engraven on the heart of Thy poor servant is the sense of Thy goodness, so that my feeling cannot be fully displayed. With great kindness Thou dost bear us, and not withstanding our shortcomings, dost grant us life and prosperity.”
Once again we see a similarity to Isaiah 64:8, “But now, O Lord, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou our Potter and we all are the work of Thy hand”.
China had a revelation of who God was that had been passed down to them from generation to generation. It is clear that Noah shared his knowledge of God with his descendants.
Later other deities and ancestral worship were added in addition to Shangdi, but China began as a monotheistic people. Today, Shangdi is considered the God of the Christians in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
Christ is Coming
Let’s fast forward 2,000 years. Wise men from the east come looking for Jesus. How in the world did they know this?
[…] there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2
An explanation as to who these wise men were and where they came from can be explained by the record of the Chinese emperor Jianping (3 B.C. – 6 B.C.):
“In the second month of the second year, the comet was out of Altair for more than 70 days…It is said, ‘Comets appear to signify the old being replaced by the new.’ Altair, the sun, the moon and the five stars are in movement to signify the beginning of a new epoch; The beginning of a new year, a new month and a new day…The appearance of this comet undoubtedly symbolizes change. The extended appearance of this comet indicates that this is of great importance.”
Taken from Astronomy Records of the Book of the Han Dynasty.
Most Christian scholars agree that Jesus was born somewhere between 5-6 B.C. Emperor Jianping clearly recognized that the star Altair signified something very significant. Altair is one of the brightest stars in the Chinese sky. Altair was observed for about 70 days. Seventy days is the estimated amount of travel time needed to get from China to Israel.
What made Emperor Jianping realize the star’s appearance was important?
“The primary meaning of Altair, the key supporting pillar of the heavens, is the Perfect Sacrifice.” Historical records, Vol. 27, Book of Astronomy.
Altair is in the constellation Aquila. In Chinese Aquila means “the heaven eagle constellation”.
Chinese astronomers and emperors interpreted this information to mean that a king was coming and that He was worthy of worship. Possibly, they believed that Shangdi was coming for the throne that they had constructed for Him in the Temple of Heaven.
Emperor Guang Wu reigned during the time of Christ’s death and resurrection. The fact that he and astronomers knew Christ was God is shown in Chinese historical records dated around A.D 31.
“Yin and Yang have mistakenly switched, and the sun and moon were eclipsed. The sins of all the people are now on one man. Pardon is proclaimed to all under heaven.” History of Latter Han Dynasty, Volume 1, Chronicles of Emperor Guang Wu, 7th year.
“In the day of Gui Hai, the last day of the month, there was a solar eclipse. [The emperor] avoided the Throne Room, suspended all military activities and did not handle official business for five days.” History of Latter Han Dynasty, Vol. 1, Chronicles of Emperor Guang Wu, 7th year”.
Another historical record says:
“Eclipse on the day of Gui Hai, Man from Heaven died”. History of Latter Han, Annals, No. 18, Gui Hai.
As we know, when Christ died there was darkness that covered the earth.
“From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land.” Mark 15:33.
Three days after the eclipse this was recorded by Chinese astronomers:
“During the reign of Emperor Guang Wu, on the day of Bing Yin of the fourth month of Jian Wu, a halo–a rainbow–encircled the sun.” History of Latter Han, Annals No. 18, Gui Hai.
Christ’s resurrection also apparently caused a celestial event that was observable.
It is clear that Christ did not hide Himself from the Chinese people. I always found it odd that the far east is never mentioned in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit sent Paul and the apostles of His church throughout the ancient world to preach the Gospel, yet it always seemed that ancient China was overlooked. It was never overlooked. God knew that the Chinese people already saw the signs in the heavens.
The Chinese people recognized the King was born before the people of Israel did. They mourned His death when others were cheering. They recognized that something miraculous was occurring on the earth before it had ever been made public. God is not confined to our knowledge or our understanding of how He works. God has been revealing Himself for generations to the generations and He will continue to do so.