Untangling the truth of global trends is complicated, but what is clear, according to numerous commentators, is that a dramatic shift from West to East has taken place over the last 20 years in terms of power and wealth, and is continuing.
Paralleling this is the prayer movement, spiritual revelation concerning God’s heart for Israel, the spread of the Gospel, persecution of believers and manifestation of signs and wonders – indicators of a move of God and all increasingly more prominent in the East than the West.
Indicators of macro change are discernible in micro events. For instance, my neighbor here in Israel has just made two business trips to the Far East in one month for his high-tech company and is currently on a third. His destination symbolizes this global shift from the status quo, with an increasing choice of airlines, and new routes opening up by carriers such as Hainan and Singapore Airlines. Meanwhile China Southern Airlines, Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and All Nippon Airlines to Japan are also considering flights to Israel, and Australian Ambassador Dave Sharma says he is working on establishing a direct long-haul flight. It’s not that people do not still fly from the West, but rather that something new is appearing in the east.
The recent travels of Benjamin Netanyahu in late February also point to this shift.
“Israel is pivoting towards Asia in a very clear and purposeful way,” Netanyahu said in Singapore referring to economics. His trip continued on to Australia and he is scheduled to visit China and to host Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later in the year.
In November, KNI reported on his first ever trip to Fiji and President Reuven Rivlin’s trip to India, “centered on strengthening Indian-Israeli relations, particularly in the areas of trade, security and cooperation.”
West-East Economic and Power Shift
“This rise in Asia starts with Japan and South Korea and then moves on to South East Asia, but the real transformative event is when China joins that process of rapid industrialization,” asserts Gideon Rachman, Jewish journalist and author of Easternization, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph. He also claims that much of the West is in denial concerning the phenomenon. “Because of the sheer size of China, that begins to shift the whole axis of the global economy.”
The 1980s were dominated by Japanese technology and cars, followed a decade or two later by the invasion of Korean cars, flat screen TVs and phones. Then appeared toys and a wide range of basic products all made in China and currently increasing in quality and complexity.
Like Rachman, Christopher Layne author of the Global Power Shift from West to East, identifies a current “pose of denial” amongst Western leaders, such as that of Great Britain in the early part of the 20th century.
Diffusion of Power, Israel and the Global Power Shift
Joseph Nye juxtaposes the rise of Asia with another key global phenomenon: a shift from government to non-government actors attributed to the 1,000-fold shrinkage in the cost of information technology from 1970 to 2000, making participation in international affairs widely available. Interestingly, Israel is positioned both geographically and technologically at the center of the power shift with its 21st century high-tech innovation boom, and is poised to shift the focus of its technology based economy eastwards.
Prayer and Worship
Underlying this economic and power shift is a crucial parallel spiritual dynamic, with the Holy Spirit orchestrating a historic move of God in the East, while commentators such as Rabbi Jonathan Cahn in his 2012 book The Harbinger have argued that the United States is in a state of unprecedented decline due to a turning away from the God of its foundation and the resulting judgments of God.
“The Lord is determined to establish a culture of prayer in the entire body of Christ worldwide before He returns. Over the last 10 to 20 years, we’ve watched the prayer movement grow especially fast in Asia and Africa. Yet this rapid growth is only the first fruits of what Jesus is doing in His church in this generation,” prominent global prayer movement leader, Mike Bickle said – director of the 24/7 International House of Prayer (IHOPKC), Kansas City, USA.
The church in South Korea has been noted for its robust focus on prayer and resulting dramatic church growth. The nation itself is one of the very few examples of a major economy that has moved from third world to first world. From 1977 to 1997 the Korean economy was the fastest growing in the world at the same time as it experienced the world’s fastest church growth, far outstripping any Western nation – national transformation follows a turn toward God as ethics and aspirations line up with godly principles!
China’s prayer movement was born out of extreme persecution and, today, analysts estimate the size of its church to be between 100 to 200 million believers.
Currently Nepal “has one of the fastest-growing Christian communities in the world, tripling to more than 300,000 in the past 10 years,” according to CBN News. “Those numbers are continuing to climb. More than 80 percent of the Nepali population is Hindu.”
India is also seeing dramatic church growth and even staunchly Islamic Afghanistan, shaken after years of war, is witnessing an emerging church with 16.7 percent annual growth according to Operation World. The same source places Islamic Iran at the top of the church growth list at 19.6 percent per annum, already with 2 million believers. Meanwhile, Arab countries are just beginning to see an emerging church, even Saudi Arabia.
“People are recognizing that the center of Christianity has shifted from the West to continents such as Asia, and that house church movements are often the vehicle God is using to produce extraordinary growth,” noted Felicity Dale for Charisma News, highlighting that with a diffusion of political power churches too are sometimes dispersed as persecution makes large gatherings more difficult, poignantly adding, “Most of us are aware of house churches in China, but India’s growth may have overtaken it.”
The West, meanwhile, has seen negligible or negative church growth, according to Operation World.
“While the examples of nations who have been blessed by favoring Israel are not numerous, there is a long list of nations who have been cursed by cursing the people of God,” Jim Gerrish of the Church and Israel Forum wrote. “This list began with the Amalekites in ancient times. We learn from the scripture that the Amalekites may have been the very first nation to persecute Israel just as the latter was emerging from Egypt. As a result, the God of the universe chose to destroy the whole nation of Amalek and to blot out their memory from under heaven.”
“I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” – Genesis 12:3
This foundational principle is key to understanding the eastward shift. While parts of the Western world flirt with the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) campaign, Jews living in the West feel increasingly threatened by Islamic terrorism and Western governments are more active in cooperating with Islamic nations to divide Israel. Meanwhile, Eastern nations tend to have a more relaxed business relationship with the Jewish state and engage more freely in academic and cultural exchange. It is such factors that explain why economic blessings are steadily flowing eastwards.
Like a pent-up flood
“From the west, people will fear the name of the Lord, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory. For he will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of the Lord drives along.” – Isaiah 59:19
Church growth and national blessing follow a pattern. Many centuries ago, Europe was blessed. Then America, which was built on Judeo-Christian values. Now we see South Korea, China and the Indian sub-continent being blessed.
The dynamic is long term. According to Scripture when this dynamic flood is completed the whole world will have heard the Gospel (Matthew 24:14) and “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26). Israeli pastor Peter Tsukahira, author of God’s Tsunami argues:
“The leading edge of this tidal wave of spiritual transformation is defined by the fact that in Asia today almost all are first-generation believers. As Asian Christians mature spiritually, they are growing in the revelation of God’s faithfulness to His original covenant people, the Jews. There is also a growing vision to bring the gospel ‘back to Jerusalem.’ Moving west from Korea and the Chinese coastal regions, the gospel of the kingdom is now impacting India and Southeast Asia with unprecedented and amazing force.
“Where is this giant wave of revival and transformation heading? Westward, across Central Asia, through the ‘back door’ of the Islamic world and back to Jerusalem where it all began. The two great end-time predictions taught by Yeshua to His disciples on the Mount of Olives (where He will return) are now being fulfilled. Through the witness of Israeli Messianic Jews in the face of deep cultural and spiritual resistance, Jerusalem will eventually say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ to Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah. This will coincide with the “fullness of the Gentiles” coming to faith through the gospel of the kingdom in every previously unreached nation. The point of convergence is in Israel where the joining of Jew and Gentile in one body through the sacrificial work of Yeshua, the Prince of Peace will demonstrate God’s shalom for Jerusalem and the nations.”
One reason God is blessing Asian countries is to fund the spread of the Gospel. South Korea, for example, sends out more missionaries per capita than the USA – often to the most difficult and dangerous situations. Many commentators anticipate a vast Chinese missionary force emerging.
Much of the Asian population has yet to hear the Gospel. Indeed, the late Bob Jones once prophesied that 1 billion souls will be saved in the final and greatest harvest of human history. Simply due to demographics, the majority of them will be in Asia.
The Return of the King
After the great harvest and a brief period of intense trouble, when Yeshua establishes his eternal throne in the city of Jerusalem a new flow of blessings will emanate – living water that will bring healing to all nations in the East, the West, the North and the South – devastated by the anti-Christ’s final acts of carnage and desolation.
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.” – Revelation 22:1-4