God in Ancient China – Who is Shang Di?
- Introduction – Why Study This?
- Part 1 – Natural Attributes of Shang Di
- Part 2 – Moral Attributes of Shang Di
- Appendix – The Wise Men, Chinese Records, and Prophesy
Many people say that if the God of the Bible existed, why doesn’t he just make his presence known? Why doesn’t He just write across the sky in big, bold letters, “What’s up? I’m God! Worship me.” This is a huge question that involves discussion on the purpose of life, the nature of God, and whether that message-in-the-sky thing would even work! Ready to jump in??!
Okay, let’s hold up on the big “Why doesn’t God make himself more obvious?” question for a second and think pragmatically about what kind of God we’re talking about here. Besides, Christians would argue that He has done exactly what many atheists have demanded that He should do: He has made Himself known… just not in the flashy, in-your-face way they want God to reveal Himself.
We even have evidence that this wouldn’t work anyway! After God brought the Israelites across the Red Sea, while Moses is talking to God on a mountain top, literally right in front of the Israelites, they decided to set up a golden calf as an idol and worship it!
I mean, how much more “in-your-face” can you get? God was right there! Right there! All the Israelites had to do was look up for visible proof that God existed and was with them and they still couldn’t keep themselves from turning away from Him. What makes atheists think that people in this day and age would fare any differently? Do they seriously think people would give up their worldly pleasures just because God had an angel in the sky flying around crying out “Fear God! Worship Him, or you’ll be sorry!”
(By the way, in Revelation 14, God does exactly this in the future, and people still won’t follow Him.)
The thing that must be hammered home is that the God of the Bible is eminently concerned with relationships.
God The Suitor
Imagine that God is a suitor, trying to win our affections, to earn our love. Ladies, if a man you never met before came up to you, got in your face and started shouting about his undying love for you, what would you do? You’d think he was crazy! You’d shove him away from you and maybe even call the cops. Surely he would’ve put a huge damper on any chance of winning you over in the future. That’s no way to start a relationship!
In order to enter into a relationship with someone, the first thing to realize is that both parties must be willing. Even if a suitor does everything right (flowers, chocolate, cards, movies, letters, not creepy), and the other person doesn’t want to engage, or even worse, is married to someone else, then it’s not going to happen. Real, healthy relationships are possible only if both parties are willing.
As far as God is concerned, the Bible is clear about His desire to have a relationship with us. 1 John 4:9-10a says
“God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us…”
Also, Acts 17:26b-27 says
“… and He allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.”
So, if this is true, then God goes after us, just like any other person who wants to have a relationship with someone else. He pursues us so we’ll respond positively to His love. He sends love letters, flowers, offers to go out on dates, etc.
If that’s true, shouldn’t we see evidence for that?
Yes… and we do!
God sent a love letter (the Bible), sends flowers (the beauty of an incredible Universe that we can explore and enjoy), and offers to go out on dates (invitation to come boldly to the Creator of the universe).
But there’s more. There is evidence that He’s been doing this since the beginning of mankind, all across the world. And there’s evidence that people in the furthest reaches of the globe and in all times in history have responded to His advances! Before Jesus came as a man on Earth, there were humans engaging in relationships with Almighty God. And I’m not talking about the Jews in the Bible, either.
Evidence for the God of the Bible in Ancient China
Over several weeks, join me as I share the findings of a book I found studying the Ancient Chinese called Faith of Our Fathers, written by Dr. Thong, Chan Kei. In it, he discovers that Shang Di (上帝), which means “Supreme Lord” or “Lord on High,” the Creator of the Universe, bears a striking resemblance to YHWH in the Bible!
Coming soon, Part 1: Who is Shang Di?