January 2, 2012
A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR JACK VAN IMPE
Daniel Admonishes the Young Ruler
Daniel 5:17 – 24
Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.
O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour:
And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.
But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.
And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this;
But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:
Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.
Now, after waiting for Belshazzar to stop talking-probably babbling out of sheer nervousness-Daniel begins to speak. I can see him in my mind’s eye: strong, erect, courageous, with all of Belshazzar’s guests wondering what on earth is happening. This was supposed to be a fun evening at the palace. But instead, it had become “sermon time,” and Daniel took advantage of his captive audience by talking about his relationship with Belshazzar’s grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar. He was giving Belshazzar a refresher course in the life of the former king. He pulled no punches. There was no revisionist history here. Daniel told it like it was, and his poignant message was:
“Nebuchadnezzar genuinely learned his lesson when one day he called on the only true God for mercy. But you, young man, have not yet gotten up to speed, and you’re going to pay big time for throwing this wild orgy and for desecrating the sacred utensils set apart for temple worship.” This was the sermon to an unhumbled heart, addressed to a man who was drinking out of God-honoring vessels to gods that could neither see nor hear. That’s what idolatry was all about then, and that’s what worshipping other gods is about today.
God Versus the gods
King David said in Psalm 115:4-8,
“Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.”
Daniel is saying the same thing to Belshazzar: “Look, it’s just a piece of wood covered with some metal. You made it with your hands. It can’t see, hear, talk, move. . . and yet you worship it. Won’t you learn from the example of your grandfather Nebuchadnezzar? He paid a terrible price, eating grass like an animal and wandering around insane. But even after knowing this story, you still remain unconvinced of God’s power. Because of your unbelief, you took the vessels from God’s house and made a mockery of the utensils representing redemption.”
Shame on You, Belshazzar!
I’d call that an earful, and Belshazzar had little choice but to sit there and listen patiently to Daniel’s lecture. But the prophet wasn’t finished with his scolding. He concluded by saying that the young ruler, too, would pay a dreadful price for his wicked, reprehensible deeds, because God promises to bring every work into judgment (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
Daniel Interprets the Handwriting
Daniel 5:25 – 28
And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL,UPHARSIN.
This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.
TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
Take another snapshot of the occasion. The party revelers have slowed down. No more dancing or drinking at the moment. The orchestra has played its last tune, and the cavernous hall is now silent as Belshazzar and his guests wait for Daniel’s interpretation of the words written on the wall by a disembodied hand, words which in Aramaic appeared as Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.
The reason for repeating the word Mene-“your days are numbered”-is that the Medes and the Persians were, at that very moment, waiting to make their move into the city to subdue it, so there was a Mene for each one-one for the Medes, and one for the Persians. They were already assembling beneath the city walls, gathering for the attack, just as God predicted the event on a plaster wall for all at the party to see.
Then Daniel turned to the word Tekel-meaning “you are weighed in the balances, and are found wanting.” Belshazzar was lacking in everything: in morals, in integrity, and in the fear of God. He had done nothing to honor or glorify the one true God. Here, God engages in the kind of irony He so often has used in the Book of Daniel by changing the word Upharsin to Peres-just a few vowels away from the word Persia. He said that not only will the kingdom of Belshazzar be divided, but right at this moment, one of those enemies-Persia-was but a spear’s throw away.
While the foolish young ruler and his irreverent guests had been drinking themselves into oblivion, the “predicted ones” were almost in the hall, weapons poised to murder the brash young ruler.
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO CHANGE?
How would you feel if you knew you could never again change anything about yourself or your life? Would you be happy with who you are, what you have, what you have accomplished, and the way things are now…from now on?
Or do you have a to-do list of improvements you’d still like to tackle in your personal life-some changes that will result in progress and growth? Chances are that you may have put off getting started simply because the familiar is more comfortable and going in new directions can be a little bewildering at first.
But someone has aptly pointed out that if we keep on doing exactly what we have been doing, we’re doomed to continue getting the same disappointing results. Which means that a little dissatisfaction from time to time may be good for you!
No one enjoys dissatisfaction, but it is not always bad. Without it, we probably wouldn’t be motivated to change, so we wouldn’t grow. And if we didn’t grow, we would atrophy.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that satisfaction is the same thing as smugness. Smugness is a sort of self-satisfaction which is not true satisfaction at all. On the contrary, self-satisfaction breeds apathy, pride, and a holier-than-thou attitude. It is a work of the flesh, not a fruit of the Spirit.
At least one kind of dissatisfaction is both beneficial and desirable. Check out Paul’s words in Philippians 3:12-14-Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (emphasis added).
Room to grow
In this passage, Paul affirms that he did not feel he had arrived at a point of perfection. He was, in a sense, dissatisfied. He knew there were things he could do better. He was aware of certain areas in his life that could be improved. In other words, he had room in his life to grow.
The great apostle responded to this inner feeling of need in a beautiful way. Rather than brooding over his past failures and allowing his sense of imperfection to become an excuse for depression and self-rejection, he acknowledged and accepted them. Then, refusing to abandon himself to failure, he dedicated himself more completely to his purpose of striving to be what God wanted him to be.
We need to develop the same attitude if we are ever to be truly fulfilled. We must forget our past failures and press on toward the mark. We must refuse to sink into self-pity or apathy. Above all, we must refuse to become discouraged. Real satisfaction is within reach, but it requires that we have a healthy dose of the right kind of dissatisfaction.
Signs of a life out of order
Both men and women can recognize signs of a need to get our act together and change our priorities in life. A heart in disarray can magnify itself in many ways.
Sometimes our work may suffer; our social life becomes non-existent, and even our health may deteriorate through discontent and bewilderment. Mother’s may ignore their families, and father’s may become aloof, preoccupied because of inner turmoil.
Dissatisfied enough to change
God often uses our dissatisfaction to make us the best that we can be. Surely when we’re dissatisfied with something we become more willing to change, more eager to improve. God can take our yearning to be better and, through His power working in us, begin to transform us to be more and more like He wants us to be.
I have always been slim, and I even remember a time in my teenage years when I was literally gangly. Like most teenagers, I was self-conscious and not entirely satisfied with my appearance. I thought my teeth were crooked, that I was too skinny, that everything was wrong with the way I looked.
One day I went to my wise and understanding mother who was always completely honest with me. In tears, I cried, “Mother, I think I look awful!”
“Well,” she said, “you don’t look your best, honey, but let’s work on it.” Rather than minimize my dissatisfaction, she wisely decided to use it for my benefit. First of all, she began to build up my confidence. She tried to help me see which of my features could be emphasized and which ones could be improved. She helped me realize that I could look better with a little work and determination, but she brought into focus the importance of accepting the areas that couldn’t be changed. With her tender love and wisdom, she taught me that what we are is, after all, more important than how we look.
So many women today are dissatisfied because they, too, are frustrated with their appearance. Still, instead of doing what should and can be done about it, they allow themselves to be trapped in an attitude of self-pity and despair.
Ladies, I want to encourage you to sit up, think straight, and replace self-pity with self-determination-the determination to look, feel, and be your very best!
Neva Coyle has written two best-selling books about feeling better about yourself. From a defeated, discouraged housewife who didn’t like how she looked or how the world was passing her by, she became a free woman. These books tell the story-Free To Be Thin and Living Free.
At one time or another, each of us needs to be encouraged to improve our appearance (if you don’t believe me, just ask your husband!) And for those of us who are married, this is an important consideration. Our concern serves as an indication that we still care-that we want our husbands to continue to be satisfied and happy with the choice they made. Those of you who are still single need to remember that man [does look] on the outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7), and accept the validity of that portion of the verse.
While I still disagree with contemporary humanity’s obsession with outward appearances and insist that we must not allow outward things to control us, we must remember that they are important. It is true that “first impressions are lasting impressions.”
The central point, then, is one of attitude. If we know we have done all that we should do and can do to look and be our very best, then we are our best. Problems in this area arise only when we allow our dissatisfaction to overrule rather than help us to improve the aspects of our physical appearance that can be changed. Perhaps the entire subject can best be summarized by a familiar quote: “Lord, grant me the grace to change the things I can, to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Hard work, even in the area of trying to better our appearance, is important. If we can improve ourselves by working at it, God expects us to do so. All too often we ask the Lord to give us more than we deserve simply because we are not willing to apply ourselves.
Florence Littauer has written a very down-to-earth book that every woman should read. It’s entitled, It Takes So Little To Be Above Average. The gist of her message is that we shouldn’t be so satisfied to be just average when it’s so easily within our grasp to be above average. So whether it’s dissatisfaction with your weight, your personality, your intellect, your home, your family relationships, your other relationships-set some new goals, take aim, and then go for it.
Setting goals is most essential. I learned very early in life that to succeed, a person must have goals. But above all, they must be the right kind of goals. They must be realistic and attainable. Set your personal goals so they are within reach. Then when you accomplish them, set higher ones-establish a new plateau of achievement.
Recognizing your areas of need
The key to growth, improvement, and maturity is to have a realistic picture of the deficiencies in your life. Don’t make excuses for your shortcomings, but do not be obsessed with them either. One attitude leads to pride, the other to discouragement. Both are detrimental to your growth as a person.
I’m glad my mother did not try to convince me that there was nothing wrong with the way I looked as a teenager. By telling me honestly that I could improve myself and then helping me to do it, she instilled in me a sense of self-confidence and a desire for growth. Through it, I learned to live with an accurate picture of myself, understanding both my needs and my strengths. And that is a healthy step in the right direction toward the kind of satisfaction God wants us to have.
At the beginning of this chapter, I quoted Paul’s words from Philippians 3. Obviously he never saw himself as faultless. None of us should either, for we all have shortcomings.
Most Christians tend to think of Paul as a “super saint,” and truly he was an extremely godly man. He was disciplined, dedicated, and mightily used of God.
But he was also painfully aware of his great spiritual needs. Romans 7 describes his inner struggle between flesh and the spirit. Finally, in desperation, he cried out, O wretched man that I am! (verse 24). Paul’s cry was not one of defeat, but rather the deep, heartfelt yearning of a godly man who wanted to be more godly. Far from giving up in defeat, Paul was simply using his inner dissatisfaction to spur himself on to greater victory!
This message of determination runs throughout Paul’s writings. Please notice a significant truth from his life-as he grew and matured, his sense of personal need only deepened. One would think that as a person wins new victories and attains higher goals, his sense of need would begin to diminish. Just the opposite is true. As we grow closer and closer to what God wants us to become, the more deeply we sense our shortcomings.
Paul’s life beautifully illustrates this truth. In one of his early writings (1 Corinthians), he described himself as least of the apostles (15:9). What humility for one to see himself as last in order of importance and first in order of need.
Later, Paul wrote in Ephesians, [I] am less than the least of all saints [or Christians] (3:8). Now he had demoted himself even further. Not only did he see himself as the least of the apostles, but he also placed himself at the bottom of the list of all believers.
Finally, toward the end of his life, in a letter written to Timothy, Paul described himself as the chief of sinners (see 1 Timothy 1:15). He remembered he had slaughtered hundreds of believers in his persecution of Christians in earlier days.
Thus he had moved to seeing himself as chief among sinners. Here is a man who knew the right kind of dissatisfaction-the kind that spurred him on to greater consecration and, in my opinion, to becoming one of God’s choicest servants.
I am glad for the kind of dissatisfaction that leads one to look for ways to bring about self-improvement. Like Paul, we need to cultivate this kind of dissatisfaction. We need to let it drive us to a greater dependency on the Lord. Indeed, we need to search for and cooperate with His master plan for our lives.
When the work of God is complete in us and we reflect His glory, never again will we be baffled, bewildered, or befuddled by anything life places in our pathway.
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
I am 16 years old, and I love to watch your program. I always ask mother, when is Jack Van Impe coming on! It is so interesting to watch you talk about Jesus’s return! God bless!
I received my precious Prophecy Bible yesterday for Christmas from my sister and her husband. I must say it is the best gift I could have received and it took little time before I became engrossed in my continuing study of God’s Word. Thanks Jack & Rexella for all the hard work and God’s inspiration in putting together such a wonder work. God bless and it’s my hope to double my monthly gift for the Service Of Our Lord.
G. J. F.
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Could various cultural and secular sources be right about earth’s final day?
- Ancient Romans believed 2012 would be an historic year.
- Ancient Mayan prophecy of the world’s end revolved around 2012.
- The Ancient Chinese I Ching predicted doomsday in 2012.
- In the 16th Century, English prophetess Mother Shipton said history would end in 2012!
Do these prophecies from all over the world correspond with the truth of God’s Word? In their exciting video teaching, Drs. Jack and Rexella Van Impe demonstrate the very real possibility that 2012 could be a year of culmination – could December 21st 2012 be history’s final day?