October 13, 2014
A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR JACK VAN IMPE
Daniel 3:21 – 23
Then these men were bound in their coats; their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace
Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the fiery furnace.
Think of the hottest steel plant furnace you have ever seen. Now imagine the temperature as seven times hotter-an increase of 700 percent. Anger often displays itself in overstatements, and Nebuchadnezzar was furious. A small fire would have sufficed. Heating the furnace twice as hot would have roasted these rebellious spirits, killing them ever so slowly. But true to his volatile nature, Nebuchadnezzar was determined to incinerate them, attempting to show the world that he was in charge. . . and that no God of Israel would be a match for his prowess. This would be one more graphic display of a king’s power-and a prediction of the earthly power of the Antichrist to come.
Can you feel the heat? But think also of this: Fire not only purifies gold, but it also gets rid of the dross-the flaws and the alien material that cling to the precious metal. That’s why gold is so valuable. It’s pure. Unadulterated. Free of foreign matter. It was the same that day when the three Hebrew children were shoved into the furnace. The dross-the “mighty” men of the kingdom commissioned by the king to do the terrible deed- were destroyed the moment they opened the fiery furnace door, while Daniel’s friends-wearing highly flammable clothing and bound head to foot-found themselves in for further purification of their lives.
Daniel 3: 24 – 27
Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counselors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True O king.
He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire.
And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.
The Fourth Man in the Fire
Nebuchadnezzar didn’t retreat to his private quarters to wait for an official report on the demise of the three Hebrew children later in the day. He sat there in rapt attention, eagerly watching what his decree would do to anyone who refused to bow to his image. The king was not prepared for what he was about to encounter. Scripture says that he jumped up, astonished at what he saw.
As he did, he asked his high officials what was certainly a logical question: “Didn’t we just put three men into the furnace? Why then do I see four men-all unhurt? Are my eyes playing tricks on me? And look. . . no one is bound. Didn’t I see you tying them up? Then, why aren’t they on fire? This makes no sense. They’re still walking around as if nothing happened. But what’s really got me confused is that fourth man. Who is he? How did he get in there?”
Perhaps the most telling comment of all comes from the mouth of the king when he says, “the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” (3:25). A more accurate translation of what the king said would be “like a son of the gods.” The Babylonians believed that their gods had progeny, so Nebuchadnezzar was commenting on what he thought was a supernatural being in the fire-the fourth man-a son of one of the Babylonian deities. Still unwilling to admit that the one true God might be involved in this miracle, the king continues to credit pagan deities for this bewildering turn of events.
The King on a Losing Streak
Braving the intense heat, and now bewildered, Nebuchadnezzar approaches the furnace door and personally calls for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to come out, addressing them as “servants of the most high God.” Has the king come a step closer to believing in this God of the Hebrews? How many miracles-or dream interpretations- will it take for this stubborn king to see the light? It does appear that Nebuchadnezzar is becoming somewhat impressed with the power of the God of Israel-the God, he realizes, who has now overruled his decree, leaving these Jewish boys unscathed.
At this moment he must also be rethinking Daniel’s prophecy-the dream of the statue that would be pulverized by a rock and encompass the whole earth. The scoreboard in the furnace room now reads:
Three Hebrew Children-1
The king is on a losing streak. He does not know that the fourth person in the fire is the pre-incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ. He does not know that Jesus has existed from all eternity-“from everlasting” (Micah 5:2)-and that He is “the mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6).
Jesus Will Never Leave Us
Jesus Christ is the “Son” from all eternity. So, therefore, it really is no surprise that He should appear as a protector of the three Hebrew children during their ordeal. Christ existed before He came to earth. He truly is from everlasting. He is God, the second member of the Trinity. But how did He appear in the fiery furnace, one asks? By a Christophany, an appearance of Jesus Christ occurring in the Old Testament.
And now we see Him, this time in the fiery furnace with three men who’d been faithful to their God. What is the message for you and me in this passage? Simply this: Whatever our trials may be, Jesus is always in our midst, administering comfort to us in our greatest hour of need. Hebrews 13:5 states: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” That’s the message for you and me. We don’t have to go through our fiery furnaces alone. Jesus says, “I’ll go through them with you.”
Daniel 3:28 – 30
Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship and god, except their own God.
Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nations, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill, because there is not other God that can deliver after this sort.
Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.
Here, again, God blesses those who are faithful to Him. The king has little choice but to praise God for delivering Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He now admits that an angel- which can also be translated “deity”-was sent to deliver them from the furnace. Now King Nebuchadnezzar switches gears again, this time decreeing that anyone who speaks against the great God of Israel shall be cut to pieces, and their houses made into dunghills-a threat, you’ll remember, reserved earlier for the wise men and magicians who could not interpret his dream.
The Flaming Flame Will Not Be Quenched
Again, this is more than just a story. The deeper meaning of this passage-and of this entire chapter-is this: During the Tribulation period the false prophet will set up an image of the Antichrist and make people bow to it. If they do not worship the image, they will be put to death. During that same Tribulation period the entire world will become a fiery furnace. Psalm 97:3 says, “A fire goeth before him.” Ezekiel 20:47 reads, “The flaming flame shall not be quenched.” Zephaniah 1:18 tells us, “The whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy.” Malachi 4:1 reads, “The day cometh that shall burn as an oven.”
The Great Tribulation is going to be a horrendous time for earth’s inhabitants. But remember . . the three Hebrew children went through their fiery trial unscathed. Their clothes were left intact, and not even a hair on their heads was singed. There was no smell of fire or smoke on their bodies-all a dramatic picture of the remnant of Jews who are going to be spared during the Tribulation hour as well as millions of newly converted Christians. God always has, and always will, have a way of protecting His own. There is a terrible time coming. Jeremiah 30:7 says,
“Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.”
That’s the good news. In Daniel 12:1 we also read:
“There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.”
Yes, this will be a time of great difficulty for the Jews. But there are also two great statements of encouragement: “they shall be saved out of it” and “thy people shall be delivered.” Jesus said in Matthew 24:22,
“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.”
This is a key verse because of the word elect. Some Christians believe the Church will be compelled to endure the Tribulation hour because the elect are present. But it’s important to determine which group of “elect” God has in mind. The elect group mentioned here is that group meeting on the Sabbath day, in synagogues, and fleeing from Judea to the mountains of Petra. This cannot be a reference to Christians, but rather to the Jewish elect, referred to in Isaiah 42:1, 45:4, 65:9, and 65:22. Yahweh is speaking here about His wife Israel. They are going to be spared the wrath of the Tribulation period, and this is what the Hebrew children represent and, essentially, what the entire chapter portrays.
Now, as we move on to chapter four of the Book of Daniel, will we continue to encounter a hostile, volatile King Nebuchadnezzar? Or will we begin to see some permanent changes in his attitude toward Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to the one whom he now admits to be the true God? I think you’ll be amazed-not only at how the drama unfolds, but how chapter four takes us another step closer to the further unsealing of final end-time mysteries.
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
Looking Through the Window
Have you ever heard the old gospel song that says, “This world is not my home, I’m just ‘a passin’ through …?"
Lately that’s how I’ve been feeling – like “a stranger in a strange land.” I’m completely out of step with a world filled with child abuse, wife abuse, animal abuse … with a world filled with hatred, violence, war, and famine. I can’t adjust my mind and heart to a place where many people accept no responsibility for their actions and feel no remorse for the bad things they do to others.
Nor am I able emotionally to cope with the throngs of homeless people on the streets of major metropolitan areas. It’s one thing to watch the news and hear statistics about the down-and-out people living in alleys and under bridges – something else altogether to meet these unfortunate ones face to face and look into their eyes. While in Toronto, my heart was abruptly opened to the real tragedy of homeless people.
One night Jack and I went to dinner in a downtown area and decided to walk back to our hotel several blocks away. Our route took us past Eaton Center – an enclosed mall which is open late, with people milling around inside until all hours. We started across a busy intersection near a major department store, amazed at the throngs of people out and about so late at night. Jack and I have always felt very safe in this wonderful Canadian city.
Before we made it across the intersection, a beautiful young girl we’d passed on the corner came running after us. She came up behind me and fell into step. “Hello there,” she said. “Where are you going?”
“Well, my husband and I have been to dinner and we’re on our way back to our hotel,” I said, noticing that she seemed to be one of the homeless crowd. Her face was smudged, and her clothing wrinkled and soiled. But I went ahead and asked, “Are you going home?”
“Oh, no,” she responded, “I am home!” And she pointed to the streets.
We walked the final step or two across the street and stepped up on the sidewalk – beside the department store, its window ablaze with a display of television sets and video equipment. The girl touched my arm and peered up into my face and Jack’s. “I told my friends who you were,” she said. It was obvious she seemed to recognize us.
“Sometimes at night when I can’t sleep,” she continued, motioning toward the display of TV sets, “I look through the window and watch you!”
As soon as she said it, she was gone, running, back to her friends on the street. Then a rush of people gathered behind and carried Jack and me on down the block. I looked back but I never caught sight of her again.
But I will never forget the touch of her hand and her simple words that seemed to bring the whole burden of her desperate situation crashing down upon my heart. “I look through the window and watch you,” she said.
How I wished I could have held her hand and brought her along with me, to tell her she could have a better life. I have no idea what she had run away from or where she was trying to go. I do know that life on the streets so often ends in tragedy. If only I could have a little more time to talk with her, I would tell her about God’s love, about the saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I feel almost compelled to go back to Toronto soon and spend some time in the area where I first saw her. I can only hope the Lord will allow me to find her and spend some time witnessing to her. Somehow, my heart is so impacted by her words that I just can’t let go until I’ve at least tried to find her again.
For days now the Lord has been impressing upon my mind the fact that there are countless other people floundering in life who are looking through the window of our lives, seeking for answers and hope. Oh, you may not be on TV like Jack Van Impe and I, but your life, your light, is on view to someone trying to find a better way.
What would people see if they looked through the “window” at you? Are you living a life “like Christ,” filled with love, joy, peace, and purity?
Is the glass of that window dingy and soil-streaked, or is it bright and clear, clean and sparkling? When someone who has lost their way looks through your window, can they see Jesus in you? Or is what you claim blurred by who you are and how you act?
Since I met that homeless girl who said she looked through the window and watched me, I’ve been checking up on myself. The Lord has given me three checkpoints:
1. Living the life.
The great gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson, cried out, “I’m going to live the life I sing about in my song!” The life we live for God must be the same on Tuesday as on Sunday. We must treat our family and neighbors, the people at work and in the marketplace, the same way we treat the people at church when everybody is watching. I promise you that the way you act when you think nobody is looking is exactly what someone will see when they look through your window!
2. Offering a pure and simple testimony.
The most effective testimony is simply to uplift Jesus – He will do the rest. We do not have to know scores of scripture verses, or be able to explain the complexities of doctrine. All that is necessary is to say, “This is what Jesus has done for me.” As one great Christian described it, “Our witness is really just one beggar telling another where to find bread” – the Bread of life!
3. Being consistent.
A nursery rhyme describes a little girl who, “when she was good she was very, very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid.” Have you ever known a person who, on one day, was helpful and kind … and on the next was cranky as can be? What does this kind of erratic behavior say about the depth and validity of our Christian experience? Our Lord is described as Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). And we are to be like Him!
Being on television these last several years has been a real challenge and amazement to me. One thing I’ve learned is that the TV camera sees through our facades and reveals us as we really are to the view of the people. On screen you simply can’t hide who you are. I believe this is why people say so often, “I know you. I’ve seen you on TV!”
I can never forget that the Lord has His divine TV camera on us all the time. He looks past our outer front and sees inside us to our very heart and soul. Lord, help me to live for You consistently.
Although I know our programs are seen throughout the United States and Canada, and in numerous places overseas, it still boggles my mind to consider the numbers of people and the kinds of individuals in different walks of life who are being reached and touched by the program.
I could never have imagined a homeless street girl going up to a department store window late at night to watch Jack and me on TV through the glass. I hope and pray that something she saw and heard will stay with her … and that God and His wonderful grace will reach her.
On that day when we stand before the Lord, this young woman will discover that she need not stand outside on the sidewalk wistfully watching through a glass. For as her eyes catch a glimpse of Jesus and she reaches out to take His hand, He will throw open that window and make it a door – a grand entrance through which she can walk freely into His presence.
Waiting to go home
Never in my life have I felt more of a longing for the coming of the Lord than in recent days. “Oh I want to see Him, look upon His face, there to sing forever of His saving grace.” I long to see Him and feel His arms wrapped around me. I can’t wait to hear His voice saying, “Welcome home, thou good and faithful servant!” Oh, how I pray that my life will allow this salutation to be so.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). How wonderful that will be.
God is so good to me even here in this life. His presence never leaves me, and I take joy in intimately communing with the Holy Spirit inside my heart. But more and more I feel a strange longing to be in heaven. And I sense that time is running out. Our Lord Jesus is coming soon.
First Corinthians 13:12 says, For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
But until then, I will keep on keeping on. I will try to use all my time, all my talents, all my opportunities to shine out the story of Jesus to help all who may be looking through the window of my life. With God’s help, I will keep on living the life of love, joy, peace, and purity. I will keep on giving my pure and simple testimony about what the Lord has done for me. And I will endeavor to be consistent in my living for Jesus, daily keeping the window glass, looking into my life, clean and unsmudged.
You can do it, too, God will help you. Join me in making a new commitment to Christ’s commission and calling. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Mathew 5:16).
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Dear Drs. Jack and Rexella,
I want to thank you for your courageous work for Our Lord for all of us. You are in my everyday prayers. God be with you always; to bless and keep you both healthy and safe. Your preaching of Gods’ Holy Bible is like no other. I just wanted you to know how much both of you are appreciated and loved. God Bless and Protect you and all those you love,
I’ve been watching with you Rexella and Dr. Jack Van Impe since I was a kid; you were two of my first Christian family members. I am 37 now. I know that the Father matures us in our walk with Him but am so glad that the way you have and deliver the gospel hasn’t changed over the years. You are such a blessing to us. God bless you and keep you.
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