November 18, 2013
What about earthquakes, global crime, and the
many strange activities presently occurring in
space? How do these signs suggest that
Christs return is at hand?
When they read Matthew 24:7, Mark 13:8, or Luke 21:11, some men foolishly observe, “We’ve always had earthquakes. How can this be a sign?” The Lord made this prediction around A.D. 30. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, from 1890 to 1930 there were only 8 quakes measuring 6.0 or larger. From 1930 to 1960, there were only 18. From 1960 to 1979, however; there were 64 “killer” quakes. And from 1980 to the present, there have been more than 200. Think of it! More than 200 major quakes in less than three decades-an earth-rattling reminder that the Rapture is near.
Crimes against Humanity
Christ went on to say in His pronouncement of signs, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12). What a portrait of modern-day America and the world! The U.S. Justice Department reports that about 30 percent or more of the nation’s households are victimized by serious crime every year. The U.S. attorney general says that on average one of every sixteen American families is brutalized by violent crimes such as murder, rape, and aggravated assault. The FBI index also paints a grim picture, giving us the unsettling information that a murder occurs every twenty-four minutes, a forcible rape each seven minutes, a robbery every sixty-eight seconds, and an aggravated assault each fifty-one seconds. The total figures show that a violent crime is committed every twenty-seven seconds, a property crime every three seconds. Judge for yourself: Are things getting better or worse? The answer is obvious.
Signs in Space
Matthew 24:27-31 tells us: “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
I quote from these scriptures in Matthew because many believers are confused by this scenario. It is important to note that the reference here is to the Revelation-the revealing of Christ to the entire world as He returns to earth as King of kings-not the Rapture. The elect mentioned in this text are the elect Israelites of Romans 11:28. He gathers them together “from the four winds.” Gentile believers are not listed with the twelve tribes who mourn as Christ returns. Again, these are Jewish signs pointing to Christ’s coming as King of kings and LORD of lords. The people of the Tribulation Hour will know when the momentous event is near because Matthew 24:29 pinpoints the time: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.” The space signs are for the close of the Tribulation Hour. There is no way that they could point to the pretribulation Rapture, for we Christians will be gone when the dreadful bombardment of earth, probably with meteorites from space, occurs.
Luke adds to this account, “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken” (Luke 21:25-26). These signs point to the close of the Tribulation Hour because they signal the return of the King to earth. Verse 27 adds, “Then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” This describes the coming of Christ to set up His glorious millennial reign (Revelation 20:4).
Space signs, which are to take place at the conclusion of the Tribulation Hour or almost seven years after the believers’ departure via the Rapture, are already showing partial fulfillment. Such feats as humans walking, driving, and planting a flag on the moon make us realize these signs are only for twentieth-century citizens-for you and me. If a person had made such a prediction at the turn of the century, he would have become a candidate for a mental hospital. Space activity has become so commonplace today that no one even talks about the first step Neil Armstrong took on the moon in 1969.
“We have always had signs,” some skeptics say. “Nothing has changed. It’s the same as it was in Grandma’s day.” My response to that ostrich stance is simply to get your head out of the sand and fix your eyes on the heavens. The Space Age is with us, and Christ’s prophecies are occurring with such rapidity that only a hardened heart could doubt it. Each new venture will incorporate additional methods of placing the potentials of space on earth. Christ’s astounding prophetic statements about space are beginning to fill the skies. Some scientists and space writers are raising the possibility that the next large-scale war could be fought entirely in space. This possibility means that Satan and his demonic hosts could use the world’s inventions for the war of wars described in Revelation 12:7-9: “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
The Signs and Space Phenomena
I believe the rash of reports about UFOs are connected with the spirit world. The question “Is there life on other planets?” is unimportant. There is life in the heavens, for they are full of live, demonic spirits. This could easily explain the thousands of saucer sightings in recent years. Ezekiel 1 and 2 Kings 2:11 talk about angels and chariots of fire. Whoever controls them is incidental. What is important is that these strange signs in space are prophesied for the latter days. Those days are now upon us and should make us realize the coming of the Savior is near.
Do Old Testament signs primarily
speak of Christs return to earth?
What about the signs
in the Epistles?
I am asked this question repeatedly. While the Old Testament and four Gospels are filled with scores of references to Christ’s return or the Revelation, the Epistles also contain a rich storehouse of scripture that speaks about Christ’s return to earth. Look at the description in 2 Timothy 3:1-5: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy. Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good. Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”
Let’s look at several of the signs-as recorded in the Epistles-concerning the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to earth.
“Men shall be lovers of their own selves.” What a picture of the hour in which we live. You do not need to watch CNN for more than a few minutes to understand that people are living a life dedicated to self. Moreover, it is not only unbelievers who live such lives. When church members are so busy satisfying their flesh with the world’s goodies and pleasures that they have no time to pray or witness to lost souls-that is the height of selfishness. You will remember the Bible passage about the scribe who came to Jesus in Matthew 22:36-40 and said, “Master, which is the great commandment… ? Jesus said unto him. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.“
How different are we today, really? We, too, are lovers of our own selves. A person might expect this attitude in the ungodly world of pagans, but how sad when it occurs among those who are supposedly of the family of God. As selfishness accelerates and becomes the central theme at the beginning of a new century, you can be sure it is a sign that the end of the age is near.
The Love of Money
In the first century, Peter could say, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee; In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6). Churches today have incredible wealth. We build huge buildings and enjoy elaborate campuses. Much of this is good. However it is also a problem for many ministries, because the tail is wagging the dog. Furthermore, money does not have the power to perform miracles. As we approach the return of Christ, we need to recognize that we are living in the Laodicean age. Revelation 3:15-16 declares, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” God is saying, “You lukewarm parishioners make Me sick!” Why? “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing: and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (v. 17).
In our churches, many regard themselves as “upper crust.” They have money, power, and influence. Many of these Christian elite personalities feel they are too important to help others or to carry out acts of kindness in the Savior’s name-no time for anything except to earn a few more dollars. God declares, “The love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10).
God says, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:10). Satan fell because of pride. Moreover millions more have followed in his wake. Imagine the gall Satan must have had to say, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14).
Satan has infiltrated the hearts of millions of Christians. A man with tears in his eyes once came to me and said, “I was trying to win a young lady to Christ. She was poor and needy. Her parents are alcoholics. She was so destitute that all she had to wear was an old tattered dress. I took her to our church-a Bible-believing fellowship. When she and I walked down the aisle to our seats, I overheard a few snooty people behind me say, “Why do they bring that kind of trash to our church!'” That kind of story breaks my heart, and I hope it breaks yours. However, if you feel your pedigree is better or more important than others, then I pray that God will speak to you and show you that you are one of the signs that Jesus Christ is coming again. Our Savior said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
WHO ARE YOU?
I grew up with a healthy appreciation of the arts. All through my school years, I learned to recognize the genius of the great masters of painting, sculpture, architectural design and, of course, music. As a singer at school and in church, I was in awe of the classical composers who could hear, create, and capture such glorious melodies and rich harmonies, making them come alive again and again in different places and times.
So when Jack and I were married and made our first trip to Belgium to meet all his relatives, it was an unbelievable joy to me. In addition to the welcoming and wonderful fellowship with the extended Van Impe family, the history and culture of old Europe was everywhere-the food, the traditions, the sights, sounds, and smells-the very atmosphere itself. Except for being seasick on the voyage over (we decided to fly on future trips), I loved every moment of our adventure.
When we strolled through the streets of Brussels and suddenly came upon the Grote Markt/Grand-Place, the amazing marketplace and celebration center of the capital city, my mouth flew open in amazement. There were flowers everywhere surrounding little booths and open-air shops that offered fresh produce, baked goods, candies, handicrafts of all kinds, and wandering troupes of street entertainers. There was color, sound, and life as far as the eye could see in every direction! And surrounding it all, framing the pulsing heart of the inner city, were the great, historic seventeenth century buildings with elaborate facades of brick and stone and glass, filled with shops, offices, and apartment flats. Amazing!
To this day, Brussels Grand-Place is one of my favorite spots in all the world, an ever-changing spectacle of vitality and excitement. But on my first trip to Europe as a young bride, the experience was almost overwhelming.
To further highlight my first visit to Europe, Jack and I got a car and drove from Brussels to Paris! I dont have the words to describe my excitement at seeing the countryside, villages, and towns-most of them with their own marketplaces bustling with life-and soaking up the sounds of old languages accented with laughter and shouts. The people were real, live characters from folk literature, with costumes that would have seemed too elaborate even for my active imagination.
And then we were in Paris, standing outside perhaps the most famous art museum in the world, the Louvre! Could this really be happening to me? Id always loved great art, and enjoyed visiting fine museums during family outings and school field trips. But the Louvre? As we walked through galleries filled with some of the most famous works of art in the world, I was literally overwhelmed. My mind could barely take in the reality of seeing the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Aphrodite, and works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Renoir, Mondrian, Monet, Cézanne, El Greco, and scores of other great masters from the past. Too soon my brief visit was ended-I could have spent days there.
Fortunately, Jack and I got to go back to Europe to spend time with his relatives about every other year, and on each trip we tried to take in some notable or worthwhile place. I learned so much each time we went for a visit.
Life is all around you-dont miss it!
Here at home, my husband and I also try to keep up with significant news developments and often visit historically important places. Connected with our ministry on our trips abroad-weve been in about fifty countries-weve explored noteworthy local sites and sought to better understand the people and cultures. Of course, Jack is always aware and sensitive to people, places, and events around the world with prophetic significance.
So many times as weve visited some historic site or an area with prophetic importance, suddenly the realization would hit me that I was seeing something important…that I was literally part of something significant or noteworthy. I felt a little nudge that I should pay special attention to what was around me at that moment-as if the Holy Spirit was whispering, “He that hath an ear, let him hear…” (see Revelation 2-3).
That happened to me again just this week! While Jack was getting his hair cut, I wandered through a little antique shop nearby and soon found myself browsing a small art exhibit. Id never heard of the artist before, but he was extremely talented-Id put him in the category of a great master-painter. I was drawn to a powerful work he had done that captured the images of two young girls. As I looked at them, it seemed they took on a life of their own as they laughed together and looked out on the vista before them.
The girls seemed so much more real than just a painting. They seemed so relaxed, so comfortable, so real. I felt that I should know them…that Id like to know them. As I stood there for several long moments, I actually said aloud, “Who are you?”
It was the kind of deeply introspective moment a person may have in his life on occasion when he looks into a mirror and wonders, “Does anybody know who I am? Do I even know? Does God know that Im here?”
As I looked into the skillfully created faces of those two youngsters in the painting, I whispered again, “Who are you?” And I thought in response, “I know Someone who knows you better than this artist, and that is the Lord. No matter where you are today, He knows you!”
I didnt see anybody else in the quietness of that little gallery, but in that instant I became keenly aware that the “Someone” Id just thought about had seen me…and recognized me…and knew me!
God knows us even before we are born
God spoke to Jeremiah and said, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee (Jeremiah 1:5). What a phenomenal statement. When did Jeremiah become a “viable,” individual person? At conception? At some point in the prenatal process? At birth? According to the Lord God, He knew Jeremiah long before.
When Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me” (Mark 10:14), the Greek word used for “children”-brephos-can refer to born and unborn, Im told. This would mean that Jesus was not just saying, “let these children come unto me, but all children-those who have been born…and those who are not yet born.”
I have a little sister in heaven who was miscarried. I have a brother in heaven who was born but lived only three hours. I will see them both in heaven someday! Every child who was ever conceived is known of God. He declared that before a child is formed in the belly or is born, He knew that baby! Before I was completely developed in my mothers womb, God knew that I would be born and called Rexella Shelton. He knew who I was before I was!
I know He knows our names because in Revelation 3:5 He declares that He will not blot our name out of the book of life. Every name is in the book-it can only be blotted out if a person rejects the Lord. Thats why every child goes to heaven, no matter what. Jesus himself said that our names are written in heaven (see Luke 10:20).
What a great promise! So many childrens lives have been snuffed out in wars, epidemics, and famines. Millions more have been destroyed by abortion. But, thank God, how wonderful to know that every child is safe with Him…and He knows them all by name! Every single one of these precious lives is now with the Lord. Oh, that blesses me!
God walks with us in life
Have you ever needed to know that you were not walking lifes road all alone? Did you ever need the strong shoulder of the Lord to lean on in lifes hard places?
Thank God, the Word says, For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee (Deuteronomy 23:14).
I believe all of us have plenty of occasions when we need to be delivered. The longer I serve the Lord, the more times I recognize His presence in my camp, walking close beside me to deliver me from all harm and danger.
I remember getting up to sing one night to an audience of eight thousand people. As I looked over the crowd, I saw four men in the fifth row with stockings over their heads. God gave me peace so I was not afraid to go ahead and minister although it was obvious the men were there to try and disrupt the service or intimidate Jack and me. We later learned there was great turmoil in that city because a number of drug dealers had been converted, and the drug bosses wanted to threaten our lives. But God protected us from violence.
Another time in South America, we were on our way to the airport when a huge riot broke out. We were trapped in the middle of the violence, but Gods hand kept us safe.
Over the years weve received threats in the mail and over the phone, but Jack and I never were afraid, knowing that: There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways (Psalm 91:10-11).
More recently, I was not afraid when Jack was attacked by a serious, life-threatening physical illness. Somehow the Holy Spirit reminded me that God was in control and that my husband would be delivered. And he was!
How sad when people-even believers-lose contact with the presence of the Lord who is always with us. How tragic when they can no longer see the hand of God at work in their lives and are overwhelmed by despair. Thinking that nobody cares for them or is looking out for them, they try walking alone through the dark valleys of this world and are overwhelmed. The sad statistics reveal that more and more people are committing suicide, taking matters into their own hands.
Recently our long-time friend and team member, Chuck Ohman, told us of a friend of his who committed suicide. Some time ago, a pastor friend of our family in Detroit, took his own life. Another Detroit pastor we knew well had lunch with his daughter, kissed her and sent her on her way, then went into his office bathroom and hanged himself.
How sad to see these precious souls reach such a state of futility that they ended it all. Oh, if we had known their need! It hurts so much to see people destroy themselves in despair. Oh, if they had just come to us-or some other believer-for encouragement and help. Perhaps someone could have helped them find the answer to the question, Who are you? The answer for them-and for all of us-is: “I am the beloved child of my Father, God almighty!” If we know who we are, then we know there is help for the helpless and hope for the hopeless in Jesus. Nothing or no one is more powerful than God, and no one cares more than the Lord.
God remembers us in death
Several years ago I was in Israel interviewing some of the more influential members of the Israeli government, including members of the Knesset and various other leaders. One person I was to interview was the heroic military leader, General Moshe Dayan.
He was standing on a staircase, in uniform, complete with his trademark eye patch, ready to begin. As I greeted him, he suddenly said brusquely, “I am not going to do this interview!”
I was stunned because I had worked hard to make all the necessary arrangements, and politely inquired what had happened to change his mind. “Oh, its nothing you have done,” he said. “Ive just realized that this is pointless because no one will remember me when I am dead anyway!” And he walked away.
I believe General Dayan was wrong. A great many people knew and cared about him. They appreciated his patriotism, and his heroic efforts to preserve the nation of Israel in the face of overwhelming odds. To this day, his name is remembered and revered as a great soldier and leader.
But even if no one on earth remembered Dayan after his career and his life were ended, there is Someone who will not-who cannot-forget who you are in birth, in life, and in death. This friend is aware of even the most minute details of our lives-He is the Lord!
The Bible says, But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered (Luke 12:7).
I have interviewed some 250 outstanding leaders and world figures, and I made it a practice to try, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to share something uplifting with them as well as seeking information and comments from them. I wish Id had the opportunity to witness to General Dayan. Id love to have been able to tell him that, indeed, someone would remember him-and walk with him-after death. Someone would remember, and walk with him through the valley of the shadow of death. He is God almighty!
Perhaps you think your life has been less distinguished and noteworthy than someone like General Dayan. But you are not less important to God. He has been with you before birth, and throughout life. And He will not desert you when you come to the end of life in this world. Who are you? You are Gods child…and one of His favorite traveling companions!
The time will come for all of us when it is time to cross over from this world to the next. And the Lord will walk with us, faithful to the end, until the shadows of life are illuminated by the light of heaven. So we can make that final walk in confidence.
The Bible says, We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). My husband, Jack, says that the phrases “absent from the body, present with the Lord” in the Greek are both instantaneous and simultaneous! When the time comes, just as you close your eyes-youre there!
And He will have been with you all the way!
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Dear Drs. Jack & Rexella Van Impe
I am emailing from Kenya to Thank you both for teaching the worldwide church the Whole Truth of the Gospel of Our Saviour Jesus Christ and preparing us of His soon return on earth.
God bless you both and keep preaching the True Word of God.
I enjoy very much your newsletter it is like my daily bread. I would like to grow more in the word of God but I find it hard because of all that is around me, but by your words of encouragement I find the way to the light. I ask for prayer and guidance through these hard times.
I just want you to know that in a world so gone wrong that one of the only things which brings a comfort to me is listening to you no matter how bad things get. Your faith Dr. Van Impe is unbreakable. Without your newsletter and knowing God does exist I do not think there would be anything to ease ones mind. May God bless you and Rexella for bringing this comfort into our home in such times when evil has so much control; yes it is good to know Gods word can still be heard.
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