October 27, 2014
A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR JACK VAN IMPE
Daniel’s Response to the Dream – Daniel 4: 19 – 27
Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.
Even though Daniel had been given divine truth directly from God, it still was not easy for him to express those thoughts to the king. He stood there astonished, virtually unable to speak for one hour. Then we see a small crack in the king’s pride as Nebuchadnezzar becomes compassionate toward Daniel, telling him not to let the dream or its interpretation get him down. The king seems to be stiffening his upper lip; since he’s been in a similar situation before with Daniel, he’s probably gearing himself up to hear an interpretation that may not be favorable.
Essentially Daniel says, “O, king, I’ve got bad news for you.” It’s always difficult to bring bad tidings to a friend or a colleague, and Daniel, a trusted servant of the king, must have felt great pain in his own heart. Yet, he remained courageous and spoke the Word of God, even though it was a terrible confirmation of what God would do.
Speaking the Truth in Love
Comfortable or not, it is always the role of the believer to speak the truth in love. Just as a doctor is obliged to cut out a cancer if he is to fulfill his role of worthy physician, so we are compelled to speak the truth of God’s Word with compassion. God says that we must warn people of the wrath to come, or their blood will be on our hands. It’s the same message Paul communicated to young Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2:
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”
This is what Daniel did once again. The prophet of God was not afraid. He had been given a message from God, and he would deliver it. Daniel was prepared to stand firm in his convictions. Even in a direct one-on-one situation with the king, Daniel did not hesitate to say, “Thus saith the Lord.”
Daniel’s Interpretation of the King’s Dream
The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth;
Whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation:
It is thou, O King, that art grown and become strong; for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.
And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven time pass over him.
This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king.
That they shall drive thee from men and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have know that the heavens do rule.
Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable into thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility.
The first piece of discomforting news for Nebuchadnezzar was that he was, in fact, the tree. It was a big, strong, sturdy tree, providing food and sustenance for all, seemingly invincible. But Daniel’s message was that this power could not last forever- a recurring theme, and one you’d think would now be settling deep into the king’s heart. As the tree in the dream, Nebuchadnezzar would literally be “cut down to size,” with only a stump remaining: alive but ineffective. He would one day be revived, but only after a terrible mental sickness had afflicted him.
Here I must submit that God is not only a God of irony, but also one of considerable humor. You’ll recall the passage where Nebuchadnezzar determined to make his great image all gold because he believed that nobody was ever going to defeat him. When he made that decision, he essentially was saying to Daniel, “Look Daniel, I really don’t care what you told me about all that gold, silver, bronze, and clay . . . my statue is going to be all gold. Period!”
So what does God do as He gives Daniel the interpretation of the tree dream? He says, “By the way, King, I want you to notice something about this tree- which is you. There are a couple of things on the bottom you need to know about, like a little band of brass and iron!” I have a feeling this irony was not lost on the king as he probably said to himself, “Come on, not that brass and iron stuff again!” God was saying, through Daniel, “King, the secret I’ve revealed to Daniel, which you accepted at the time, is going to happen; whether you like it or not, the ‘ brass and iron are still major players in your ultimate demise.”
The “Watchers” Among Us-Today!
And who was telling the king about his future? The “watcher” and the “holy one”-angels, sent to do the bidding of their Father. These watchers see all and tell all-to God. They are all around. They protect you, and they protect me. You’ll remember when Jesus was on earth He said, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53).A legion in the Roman army consisted of a group totaling seven thousand soldiers. Hence, twelve times seven thousand, or eighty-four thousand angels, would appear instantaneously at the word of Jesus Christ if He requested help.
These were angels who would come from the “third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2). That’s so far into space it’s mind-boggling. However, here’s an attempt to describe the third heaven and the distance God’s elect angels travel, coming from that location to earth. The atmosphere, troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, ionosphere, and exosphere are all part of the first heaven and reach upwards into the first six hundred miles of space. The second heaven begins at that point and is so astronomical that it’s practically impossible to comprehend.
Recently astronomers discovered a new quasar some fourteen hundred billion light years from earth. How far is that, you ask? Well, light travels at the rate of 186,000 miles per second. This produces a total of six trillion miles annually and is called a light year. Thus, the second heaven extends upwards into space some fourteen hundred billion times six trillion miles. Beyond that is the third heaven-the heaven of heavens- God’s throne. It’s from this seemingly immeasurable distance that these “watchers” and “holy ones” brought Nebuchadnezzar his message of doom in the dream.
When we read a detailed history of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, we see how proud the king was of his great accomplishments, among them a nation he had fashioned into a peaceful shelter and granary for all-full of nutritional abundance. Because of his superb administrative abilities, no one in Babylon would go hungry. Now that great tree of plenty would be destroyed.., and there, again, was this annoying little band of brass and iron.
Here’s an interesting footnote of history. Nebuchadnezzar often took his military campaigns into the great forests and woods of Lebanon and had become infatuated by the great cedars there. We also read that the king so loved the cedars of Lebanon that he cut many of them down with his own hands. Now that which the king loved would be cut to a mere stump in the ground, meaning that he would soon be removed from office and forced to live away from the palace as a mentally incompetent vagabond, scratching the earth for food as an animal. How long would he be forced to live like this? Until he acknowledged that the true God in heaven was sovereign ruler over the kingdoms of earth.
An Invitation Is Extended
As any good preacher would do after a powerful sermon or illustration, Daniel gave his friend the king an opportunity to repent of his evil ways. Up to that time, Nebuchadnezzar had been immensely cruel to thousands of his subjects, especially during his massive building campaigns (Habakkuk 2:11-13). So, Daniel did not flinch on his interpretation of the dream. There would be no promise that the king would escape from the wrath to come. But Daniel did indicate that perhaps-just maybe- almighty God might extend the king’s era of tranquility if he would repent of his terrible acts of oppression, engage in acts of righteousness, and demonstrate a greater degree of mercy to the poor in Babylon.
We will see the king’s response in our next newsletter.
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
The Easy Burden
Talk about busy! For many months Dr. Van Impe and I have been going from early to late, working harder than we ever have in our lives.
In addition to our normal activities and responsibilities, every hour is filled with reading, praying, studying, writing, planning… working on our weekly telecasts, and the in-depth teaching videos we produce!
Don’t think I’m complaining — I’ve never been so excited and thrilled. There are so many tremendous opportunities before us that I can hardly wait for morning to come… and sometimes I’m reluctant to turn off the lights at bedtime.
The other day someone said to me, “Rexella, don’t overdo it. You’ve got so many responsibilities — it’s really a tremendous burden!”
I appreciated the concern of this friend, who had only my best interests at heart. But although I’m working harder than I have in all my life before, I am not overloaded and burdened down!
I have discovered the secret of the easy burden.
The lesson of the ant
A biologist once was doing a study of ants. One day he watched a worker ant carrying a piece of straw. Compared to the ant’s size and weight, that straw must have been a heavy and unwieldy load. But the ant kept working — kept carrying his load.
After a while the ant came to a large crack in the earth. He explored to the left and the right, but there was no way to go around — and the crack was too wide and too deep to get across.
The ant stood there on the brink of the precipice as though pondering the situation. Then, he took the burdensome straw off his back. Stumbling, tumbling, and straining, somehow he managed to put one end of the straw on one side of the crack and let it fall across the span! Then the ant walked across the straw safely to the other side.
With a few tugs and strains, he pulled the straw across the crack, put it back on his back… and went on his way again! He triumphed by using his burden as a bridge to the other side.
What a lesson for us!
In this life we will have burdens. The Apostle Paul noted, For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened (2 Corinthians 5:4). But we need not be unduly crushed to the ground by our load if we allow the Lord and His strength to sustain us. The psalmist cried, Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee (Psalm 55:22).
Jesus 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 1 1:28-30).
Did you notice that Jesus did not say, “Come throw down your load and walk away with no burden at all. “He only promised to give us rest. Then we are to take on His yoke and pick up His burden. And what kind of load is it?
It is a light yoke, an easy burden!
The Lord has not promised that we will not have to work in this life. There is no guarantee that we will not face difficulties and trials. Nowhere does He tell us that the road will not be long or the night not so dark.
Rather, He promises that where we go, He will go… and never will we be left alone. For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Hebrews 13:5). And He also promised, Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (Matthew 28:20).
If Jesus is with us, and His burden is always light, why do we get so loaded down at times? I think it is because we pick up the burdens of the past along with tomorrow’s burden and add it to the load allotted for today.
John Newton once wrote, “I compare the troubles which we have to undergo in the course of a year to a great bundle of fagots, far too large for us to lift. But God does not require us to carry the whole at once. He mercifully unties the bundle and gives us first one stick, which we are to carry today, and then another, which we are to carry tomorrow, and so on. This we might easily manage if we would only take the burden appointed for us each day. But we choose to increase our troubles by carrying yesterday’s stick over again today and adding tomorrow’s burden to our load before we are required to carry it.”
Jesus says, “Come rest. Lay down yesterday’s burden, and don’t lift tomorrow’s load yet. Just pick up today’s burden… and it will be easy!”
And like the resourceful ant, we may discover that at times we can use our burden to bridge the chasms in the path before us. It can literally become a stepping-stone to higher ground.
A burden of joy
What an exhilarating realization! And here is another load-lifting thought. When we realize what our burden is — or to be more exact, who our burden is — our attitude changes.
I heard about an American soldier during the Vietnam war who saw a little 7-year-old girl carrying a 2-year-old baby on her back. As he passed her trudging along a dusty road, the G.I. said to her, “Honey, it looks like you’re carrying an awfully heavy load.”
But that little child had learned part of the secret of the easy burden. She replied, “Oh, no, this is no load — this is my brother!”
And it is true — the load of egotism and self-pity is tremendously heavy. No one can stand up under it for long! But if our burden is for others… for the lost and unreached, it can become a burden of joy.
We are reminded of Jesus, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).
For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross! What joy? The joy of seeing you and me in heaven! He carried the cross for us. He died that we might live. And now, His work completed, He is at the right hand of God.
Oh, I want to see Him! I am so homesick for heaven. And I believe it will not be long until our Saviour comes for us — perhaps today!
Until then, I know I can carry the easy burden He has for me. And so I can truthfully say that every television program I help to host, every article I write, and every letter I answer — the workload is not a depressing or oppressing burden. I can do it — I’m glad to — because of the joy that is set before me …the joy of knowing that I am doing it for the Lord to reach souls for eternity.
Stepping-stones to higher ground
I have no way of knowing what kind of burden you have been asked to bear. But I urge you to catch sight of the joy set before you. If it is to be a good mother to your children — do it with joy and blessing. If you are a father who gets up at 5:30 a.m. to go to work and earn a living for your family and to help support the work of God — do it with joy and a blessing.
My father got up at this hour almost every day of his adult life and yet always found delight in driving to every meeting that my husband and I or my brother Bob (who also is an evangelist) might have within a 100 mile radius of my parents’ home. Dad found strength in the Lord and got hold of the easy burden and made it a stepping-stone to higher ground. May you also, as mothers and fathers, find stepping-stones to higher ground.
The day will come — and soon, so soon — when you will stand before God and lay down your burden for the last time. What a thrill, what unspeakable joy, to hear the voice of your Father say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!”
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
I have been following the JVI Ministries on TV for the past couple of years. I am glad I found your website as I can only catch the last 10 minutes of your show after we finish with church Sunday morning. I can view the entire program and even ones I have missed.
I feel vindicated as I have been trying to raise the attention of anyone concerning the Islamic problem often to no avail. You have brought this subject into the spotlight; hopefully it is not too late. Like Dr. Rexella, I see the good that will come out of this: the coming of Jesus!!!
While I would love to donate for the DVDs you offer, my wife and I are retired and living on our SS. But, thank you for all you do for us.
John & Jeanne M.
Just wanted to express my thanks for your ministry in Utica, NY 45 years ago. Our family came to your meeting one evening and at the end of the service I was convicted and convinced of God’s call, but somehow felt stuck to my chair and could not come forward. On the way out I told this to my sister and she said she had the same experience, so we vowed that the next night we would respond to the invitation no matter what. At the end of the next meeting we were so excited that we jumped up before you finished getting the words out of your mouth and stood ready to receive Christ’s forgiveness and give our lives to Him. Of course God has shown Himself faithful all these years and I just wanted to thank you for your faithfulness in preaching the Gospel and bringing God’s love and truth to so many.
HIGHLIGHTED PRODUCT OFFERS
You love your country, but how can you protect it from radical Islam?
Radical Islam is coming to North America. How can you protect yourself and your family? Drs. Jack and Rexella Van Impe help you answer this critical question and others with crucial information on Islam and Bible prophecy in a compelling two-video combo pack.
- How Islam and demonic powers are intertwined
- How President Obama demonstrates support for Islam
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- Where four demons will be unleashed in our lifetime in the Middle East
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Are we now living in the era of the final three Popes? How do these final three Popes signal Christ’s imminent return?
Acclaimed Bible scholar and teacher Dr. Jack Van Impe draws upon his lifetime of research and study to make a definitive case for Christ’s imminent return.
This power-packed volume is thoroughly documented yet easy to read; an inspiring account proving beyond any shadow of doubt that Jesus is coming soon!