November 24, 2014
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
Through the Eyes of a Child
Just last week I met and talked with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. Right away I said, ‘You look so sad!” I could tell by her eyes.
Certainly our eyes do serve as a barometer of our inner being and can express deep-rooted feelings and emotions without a word being spoken.
The English poet William Blake said our eyes are “windows of the soul.” I’m sure you’ve noticed that the eyes of those around you communicate in a dramatic way their state of mind-anger, fear, mischief, tenderness, love, excitement, boredom, etc.
Doctors often look into the eyes of their patients while examining them to determine their state of health.
So it’s not really surprising to discover that the Bible has much to say about our eyes-there are numerous references throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Only recently have I begun to comprehend just how important our eyes are to our spiritual well-being-that where we look and what we see help determine who we are and what we become.
The Apostle John speaks of the lust of the eyes (1 John 2:16), and Peter warns against those having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin (2 Peter 2:14).
The psalmist, recognizing that what is fed into our eyes affects what we become, affirms, I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes (Psalm 101:3). And the Apostle Paul, in what may be my life’s foundation verse, urges us to continue looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
The lesson of a look
Several years ago, our ministry had an open house in which we invited friends and partners to come tour our World Outreach Center and visit personally with Dr. Van Impe and me and our staff. About 1,500 people toured our headquarters in a single afternoon-it was wonderful to greet so many friends.
I couldn’t help noticing how many little children came through with their parents. And inevitably, when I looked down at them, they would be looking directly into my eyes. I would find myself kneeling to get to their eye level… and happily, many times they ended up in my arms.
But I began noticing how children look at the world. They spend a lot of time looking up! And when they encounter an adult, they look into his or her face, up into the eyes.
Children are very perceptive. They can tell, almost at a glance, if a person is friendly or menacing, if they can trust the person or should run away. By looking into the eyes of the adults around them, they sense if they are welcome or are intruding. And they can tell almost instantly if their parents are pleased with them or disapproving.
Jack and I were having breakfast at a little pancake house not long ago when a mother and her two children came in. They sat at a nearby table-the little boy was unceremoniously dumped into a high chair and the little girl thumped into a chair across from the mother. Once seated, she paid little attention to the youngsters, staring away from them, with a disgruntled look on her face.
When the little boy peered up at the chandelier, pointed a chubby finger and said, “See! See!”-her response was a terse, “Eat!” And when the little girl squirmed and tried insistently to get her mother’s attention, the unseeing, uncaring reply was, “Be quiet- sit up.”
When Jack and I finished eating and he went to pay the bill, I walked over to the table where this mother and her youngsters were sitting.
“You are so fortunate,” I said. With a bit of a start, she asked, “Why?” “You have such beautiful children-they are so sweet.” I said. Then I leaned down and looked into the eyes of the little boy and said, “You are so good.” My reward was a bright, innocent smile.
“I’m good too,” said the little girl.
“I know you are, honey,” I acknowledged. “What a sweet sister you are…and so pretty!” With just those few words, the child blossomed like a rose.
The mother barely smiled, even during the little conversation I was having with her children-she hardly responded, managing a mumbled “Thank you” as I walked away.
I couldn’t help wondering how many children are rebuffed and desensitized by parents whose eyes are too full of other things to really see and respond to their own youngsters.
Suffer the little children
No wonder children were attracted to our Saviour during His earthly ministry. The New Testament tells how the children thronged about Him until the disciples were going to send them away. But the Lord said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God (Mark 10:14).
The Bible doesn’t tell us specifically, but I’m very sure each of those little ones came close to the Lord and looked up into His face, directly into His eyes. What they saw there-love, acceptance, safety-made them relax and feel free. I think they wanted to climb up onto His lap and just be near Him.
Many learned and wise theologians have speculated about the meaning of Jesus’ words concerning children and the kingdom of God. Certainly I do not claim to have greater knowledge or wisdom than they have. But I have my own idea about what He meant.
Perhaps He was suggesting that if we looked up into His eyes more often, we would find the peace, direction, and strength we need for our lives. We can find the answer for guilt, sorrow, pain, and loneliness in our Saviour’s loving gaze.
Keep your eyes on Jesus
Our problems come when we take our eyes off Jesus, when we look away from His love, guidance, strength, and sustaining power.
The Gospel of Matthew relates the thrilling story of Peter walking on the water toward Jesus. The Lord had come to the disciples as their boat was tossed by a stormy sea. As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he was fine. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and [began] to sink (Matthew 14:30).
I’ve found in my own experience that when I felt life’s problems were about to overwhelm me, it was because I had taken my eyes off Jesus and fixed them on my troubles. When I looked to Him, He saw me through.
From time to time, I meet an individual who is disillusioned-even cynical-about the Church. Sometimes they say they have lost their faith-they don’t believe in anything anymore.
As I visit with people like this, I usually discover that they have been disappointed in the mistakes and failures of a particular religious leader-their eyes had been fixed on a man. Once they looked back to Jesus, the bitterness and disillusionment lost its intensity, and the healing love of Christ could make them over again.
One of the most beautiful and powerful verses in all of the Bible, for me, is found in Matthew’s account of Peter, James, and John at the transfiguration of Christ. After the disciples had bowed down in the awesome presence of God, Jesus told them not to be afraid. And the scripture says-And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only (Matthew 17:8).
No wonder Jesus said we should become as little children to enter the kingdom of God. Their eyes are focused in the right direction. Lord help us to keep our eyes on You…to seek Your will by looking into Your face-through the eyes of a child!
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Dear Dr. Jack & Rexella Van Impe
All I can say is thank you for preaching the true word of God and not being afraid of the threats that has been placed upon you. God will watch over you and put his angels to surround you. I have been going through some trials like we all must go through. When I hear you and Rexella speak about God and things to come it makes everything seem ok and I know I can be an over comer no matter what comes my way. I love you both and may God richly bless you.
We wanted to let Drs. Jack and Rexella Van Impe know how very much we love them. Jack, you have been such a blessing to us. We are so grateful for the courage and power with which you teach the Cross and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ! Rexella, you are beautiful both inside and out. We love hearing your cheery “hello” on each program. We pray every day for protection from evil, good health, and long lives for you both. Also, that financial support will come in, so many more souls may hear the truth. Thank you both for dedicating your lives to the Lord, His Word, and the reaching of the lost for Christ. May God bless you both with many blessings.
H. & M. S.
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