Weekly Newsletter – April 25, 2016
A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR JACK VAN IMPE
Revelation 13: 4 – 18
Verse 4: And they worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
Another reason that verse 3 may speak of an actual resurrection is that millions who previously would not believe in the Antichrist now begin to worship him-and Satan.
In the second half of this chapter, we will see that the false prophet or religious leader of the Tribulation period actually enforces the worship of the Antichrist! Since the people think of him as God, they cry, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? Yes, who can combat this self-proclaimed god and be victorious?
Verse 5: And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
The Antichrist’s blasphemy during the final three and one-half years of the Tribulation hour most likely has to do with his mockery of the Almighty. One of the reasons God hates idolatry (the use of images in worship) is that He wants no rivals. Hear Jehovah in Exodus 20:4 and 5: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God. Think of the insult to the Eternal One when the Antichrist says, “I am God,” and teeming millions bow to him, to Satan, to the false prophet, and to the image-the abomination of desolation-erected in his honor. This blasphemy continues.
Verse 6: And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
Jesus, the true God, was accused of blasphemy in His day because He claimed to be God (see Matthew 9:3).
Ironically, the world accepts the Antichrist’s claim to deity, and this perpetrated lie is blasphemy to God. The blasphemy is undoubtedly intensified because Satan himself is speaking.
Now, here is a thought-provoking theory: during the first forty-two months of the Tribulation, the Antichrist acts under the influence of Satan. However, after Satan is cast out of heaven (in chapter 12) and comes to earth, he may actually incarnate himself in the dead body of the Antichrist who had the wound by a sword, and did live (chapter 14). Thus, the beast is raised from the dead by the counterfeiter (Satan), who dwells in that body for the final forty-two months, claiming deity. As a result, he is able to experience that which he sought when he was cast out of heaven, crying, I will be like the most high (see Isaiah 14:1214). Satan’s ultimate desire is now realized-he is worshiped as God. The blasphemy is unspeakable! He desecrates everything his filthy hands touch, including the Tabernacle and its worshippers.
Verse 7: And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
The fight is on for the saints of the Tribulation hour. Remember, this is not the Church. Satan battles the Church as they return with Christ (chapter 19, verse 14). In the scene before us, he is attempting to destroy the millions who washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (chapter 7, verse 14) and who also refused the mark of the beast (chapter 20, verse 4). Instead of experiencing defeat, they overcome (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony (chapter 12, verse 11).
During this time, the Antichrist controls the entire world. He is an international despot exercising power over all kindreds, tongues, and nations. Such a one-world government is almost upon us. Consider for a moment the global organizations which have become existent in our day: (1) the International Atomic Energy Agency, (2) the International Labor Organization, (3) the Food and Agricultural Organization, (4) the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, or World Bank, (5) the International Development Association, (6) the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, commonly called UNESCO, (7) the World Health Organization, (8) the International Finance Corporation, (9) the International Monetary Fund, (10) the International Civil Aviation Organization, (11) the Universal Postal Union, (12) the International Telecommunications Union, (13) the World Meteorological Association, (14) the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultive Organization, and (15) the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trades Organization. The formation of such international alliances has led outstanding thinkers to state that “a New World Order” is on the horizon.
Presently we may be witnessing mankind’s final approach to the much-publicized New World Order, or one-world government, of the Antichrist. At this point in history, all the world will be amazed as this self-styled deity takes control, and the majority will submit to his authority. However, God always has a remnant who will not bow to Baal or other deities.
Verse 8: And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
The true believers of the Tribulation hour will have nothing to do with this satanic monster, even though they will not be able to buy or sell without his approval (chapter 13, verse 17). Their love for Christ will mean more than life, shelter, and food. They will love Christ to the end, for John declares, I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years (chapter 20, verse 4).
Is the Tribulation hour approaching? Will a demon-possessed or devil-incarnate human claim deity and be accepted as world leader and be worshiped as God? I believe so. Why? Henry Spaak, a spokesman for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIET) in Brussels, Belgium, headquarters for the Common Market, made a profound statement relevant to that organization’s goals and operations a few years ago. He said, “We do not want another committee. We have too many already. What we want is a man of sufficient stature to hold the allegiance of the people and lift us out of the economic morass into which we are sinking. Send us such a man, and be he God or devil, we will accept him.” Mr. Spaak, your wish will soon become a reality! The life-and-death matter of verses 1 through 8 is so important that God repeats the warning He so often presented to the seven churches.
Verse 9: If any man have an ear, let him hear.
Beware! Take heed! Think seriously! Why?
Verse 10: He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
This is the exact caution Paul stressed in Galatians 6:7: For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Verse 11: And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb [identifying him with Christianity], and he spake as a dragon [tying him in with Satan].
Verses 11 through 18 introduce us to the second beast (the religious fake, or false prophet) who is the third member of the satanic trinity. The devil imitates the Father, the Antichrist imitates the Son, and the false prophet imitates the Holy Spirit. This religious hypocrite fulfills the prediction of the Saviour who said in Matthew 24:24, For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Verse 12: And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
Clearly, the power of the false prophet is in the realm of religion. He is coequal in power with the Antichrist. One heads up the secular world, while the other controls the religious scene. These two work closely together. The Antichrist shares his authority with the false prophet, protecting him and his religious colossus in return for a promise of loyalty and devotion. Thus, as head of the world church, the false prophet sees to it that the Antichrist-who was wounded and resurrected-is worshiped. What a team! This second beast is also one of the greatest miracle workers in history.
Verse 13: And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.
These great wonders are called lying wonders in 2 Thessalonians 2:9. They are not magical, “sleight of hand” manipulations, but the result of supernatural power from the dragon that enables these men to even produce fire. Since God often revealed himself by fire (see Genesis 19:24, Leviticus 10:1, 2, and 1 Kings 18:38), the false prophet also uses fire. Satan shares his supernatural power for one reason:
Verse 14: And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
The sole purpose of all these miracles is to prepare the people for idolatry. The false prophet actually entices mankind to build the greatest statue in history in the very image of the Antichrist. This monstrosity will be erected in Jerusalem and will be placed in the Jewish Temple. Such a blasphemous act is against the Jewish conscience and is forbidden by the second commandment (see Exodus 20:4). This is why the image is such an obnoxious, hateful, and abominable thing and is labeled the abomination of desolation by the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 24:15.
Verse 15: And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
Since the image is able to speak, it might well be the ultimate achievement of our present-day computer systems, already capable of conducting intelligent conversations.
The processing power and speed of computers is growing each and every year. IBM’s Roadrunner computer has just shattered the previous speed record. It is capable of processing 1.026 quadrillion calculations per second. That is over 1,000 trillion calculations per second. The previous record was held by another IBM computer; Blue Gene/L which could process 478.2 trillion calculations per second. Personally, I believe that the Antichrist will enslave and control earth’s billions of inhabitants through such an all-knowing, monstrous computer. Such a system is absolutely essential to his having all the facts on every member of the human race at his fingertips. As a result, he will, with unerring precision, be able to know who receives his orders, obeys his commands, and honors his laws. His computer will also tell him who earth’s rebels are!
The Antichrist will most certainly use such a computer-and it will be fashioned in his own image.
Verse 16: And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
Verse 17: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Verse 18: Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
As we have seen, the Antichrist will undoubtedly use a computer to enslave earth’s population during the Tribulation hour. Also we discover that he will effect and maintain this control through commerce- the buying and selling of products. In order to make his plan operable, the Antichrist will also introduce an international identification system in the form of a mark (possibly a laser tattoo) placed in the right hand or forehead of every individual participant. Without this mark, no man-no man-will be permitted to purchase or sell even the smallest item of merchandise.
According to verses 17 and 18, this identification mark will be-or will include as a prefix-the digits “666.” The use of “666” as a prefix appears most plausible, as this is the only way one person could be differentiated from another. If all numbers were identical, mass confusion would ensue. Therefore, prefixes preceding the “666” or using the “666” as the prefix code are essential for marketing purposes.
With specific reference to verse 18, one should be aware of the fact that there have always been, and always will be, individuals who claim to know the identity of the Antichrist. They take the number “666” and, through all kinds of mathematical formulations, attempt to come to a conclusion. Their efforts, however, can amount to no more than mere speculation because we cannot know who the Antichrist is until he arrives on the scene, and he cannot arrive until the Church is raptured. Still, God’s Word admonishes the Christian to be wise (see Matthew 10:16) and watchful (see Matthew 24:42), especially as the day of Christ’s return approaches (see Hebrews 10:25).
As shocking as the information presented in this chapter may seem, such a day is at hand. A cashless, checkless society is in the planning stages and a number of countries are already experimenting. To be sure, “It’s later than you think!” The reign of the Antichrist is upon the horizon. This new Hitler, with a monstrous computer which will enslave millions, may soon control the earth. Unbeliever, Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near (Isaiah 55:6).
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
How could I ever find words to adequately express the great blessing of having a godly mother? Not only did this remarkable woman endue me with life, but also through her living introduced me to my heavenly Father. She was my first connection with God.
Perhaps the Bible best describes her in Proverbs 31:28, 29—Her children arise up, and call her blessed…Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. I can truthfully say that out of all the many fine women in the world whom I have known, my mother, Esther Shelton, was by far the best of them all.
My earliest recollection of anything is of being in my mother’s arms and hearing her singing. Mom used to sing continually—it was a joy for her. She sang as she ministered to my brothers and me. She sang as she did her housework. In the kitchen, especially, she was singing…joyful music, always about the Lord. Whether she was happy or had a heavy heart, she always had joy that came out in her singing.
So since the passing of my dear mom to her eternal home a couple of years ago, I’ve been trying to adjust to a world that seems a bit empty now because of the absence of her physical presence. Her earthly song has ended…but the melody lingers on.
Accepting Mother’s home going has required letting go of a little of the spiritual part of myself. There is a vacancy inside me that the Lord is filling up with blessed memories…and the comfort of His presence.
Mother’s influence continues
Not only did Mom’s life bless my brothers and me and the rest of the family, but she also had a profound and far-reaching influence on so many others. Since my husband, Jack, mentioned at the end of one of our weekly telecasts that she had gone home to be with the Lord, I’ve received a multitude of beautiful cards, notes, and letters from my mother’s friends all over the country.
People wrote such loving tributes—”She was a great woman of God.” “She was my best friend—the one I could always confide in.” “Esther met my need when I had no one else to turn to.” “My memories of her are nothing but precious!” “I shall never know anyone like her again.”
Mom had a stroke and was only in the hospital for a little more than two weeks before she died. She had been living in an assisted living center that she had chosen as a place to minister. She not only knew the name of every person in the place, but she also knew each individual’s burden and prayer requests.
Two days after Mom had the stroke, a worker from the assisted living center came to the hospital and asked, “Could I please see Esther?”
I said, “Yes, she can still communicate, and I’m sure she’d love to see you.”
She came into the room and said, “Esther, I had to come to see you,” and she started weeping. Through her tears, she told how five months earlier God had led her to go to work at the center where my mother lived. “Just a few weeks later,” she said, “you led me back to the Lord!” (Interestingly enough, this lady was the daughter of the pastor who led Jack Van Impe to the Lord many years ago!)
Others from the living center also came to visit my mother in the hospital. The lady in charge of all the activities sat beside the bed and held Mom’s hand. “Esther, you were a blessing to all of us,” she said. And Mother just smiled.
One of the ladies who used to sit at Mom’s table at mealtime came and said, “Esther, everyone loves you! Everyone will miss you!” The couple who conducted the morning service at the living center on Sunday came to visit, and told me, “We’re going to miss your mother so much. She’s the one who got everyone together for the service, and she would always close in prayer.”
Mother had chosen the assisted living facility close to our International Ministry Headquarters. Some of our ladies would often join Mother for lunch. Oh, how she loved having them – not just for the lunchtime, but for the fellowship in the Lord. I remember thanking our ladies for taking the time to be with Mother, but in unison they said, “Oh, we have received the blessing by being with her.”
Almost exactly a year before Mother’s promotion to heaven, her friends at the living center voted her their queen for Valentine’s Day. They presented her with a crown that she wore for the day, and took her picture and put it in a frame that was engraved “Queen Esther.”
I couldn’t help but smile at that—Queen Esther! But in many ways her friends’ tribute is so apropos. There are many apt comparisons between the lives of my mom and Queen Esther in the Bible.
The beauty of a queen!
First of all, both of them had great physical beauty. The Jewish maiden, Esther, undoubtedly was strikingly beautiful to have been selected as queen to the ungodly king of Persia. My mother was also extremely attractive, with a regal bearing. She had gorgeous platinum-gray hair, a lovely complexion, clear blue eyes that could look deep within a person, and a magnetic smile that drew people to her.
Often when I’d take Mother out to lunch or Jack and I would take her to dinner, total strangers would walk up to the table and say to her, “You are so beautiful!” She would graciously acknowledge the compliment, and then quickly change the subject.
As I was growing up, my mom always taught me that inward beauty was much more important than outward appearance. When I was about 14 years old, I went through an awkward stage. I was tall and thin—five foot five, as tall as I am now!
I went into my mother’s bedroom one day and said, “Oh, Mom, look at me. My skin isn’t clear, my teeth aren’t quite right, I’m taller than other girls—I’m just a mess!”
She smiled and patted my hand. “Beauty is as beauty does, Rexella. You’re going to turn out just fine—you’ll see! So for now, just concentrate on letting people see the real you…who you really are right now.” And she impressed on me the importance of inward beauty.
I am so thankful for my mother’s godly wisdom. One day, when I was a teenager, I went into her room and found her reading her Bible. I thought, This is a good time for me to confess something to her. So I knelt down beside her and said, “Mom, you told me not to do this thing, but I did.”
“Oh, Rexella,” she said gently, “when did you do that?”
With tears streaming down my face, I replied, “About three months ago!”
“Oh, honey,” she said, “I’m so sorry you had to bear that all alone for three months.”
That’s the kind of wisdom she had. I have so many rich memories of our long talks, the godly advice she shared, the unique phrases I never heard anyone else say but her. She had tender and loving ways. She could comfort, correct, encourage, and offer support. No wonder everybody loved her.
Strength to endure
Queen Esther must have had great inner beauty and inner strength to help deliver her people, the captive Israelites, from the evil plans of those who wanted to destroy them. Truly, God had brought her to the kingdom for just such a time!
My mother, Esther, also had great courage and strength. My parents had some serious financial setbacks during their marriage. My father had to move north in order to find work. They went through very difficult times, and knew firsthand about poverty. But my mother was always there by his side, encouraging him, helping him. She never complained about money, and became an expert in making something from nothing. She managed to stay calm and collected, inwardly serene, through very trying circumstances.
During that time, Mom lost two children who died as infants—I have a brother and sister in heaven—but she never wavered. Her faith in God was steadfast and sure.
Mother had been converted at age 14. She was baptized and dedicated her life to the Lord’s service. She knew where she was going all of her life, and I never knew her to waver. I never saw her anxious or angry.
Oh, she could be firm, with strong convictions. But she got her point across without resorting to shouting or violence. She never yelled, and I never felt a slap. But by example, she taught me how to live and always to do the right thing.
Overcoming through resourcefulness
Esther the queen was a very resourceful woman. Although she lived in the palace of a cruel and powerful oriental despot, surrounded by evil men who were plotting to destroy all the Jews in the kingdom, she found a way to gain favor with her husband, the king. And she devised a way to counter the evil plot of her enemies and save her people.
My mother, Esther, was very resourceful too. Even with limited resources, she always seemed to find an answer to every problem and need. She could take little or nothing and make it into a wonderful dinner. She baked bread that was absolutely irresistible. And I never had to ask if I could bring a friend home to dinner. My brothers and I just brought our friends home, and they were always made to feel welcome. There was always room at our table.
In fact, one of the cards I received not long ago was from a high school friend who often experienced my mom’s hospitality. She wrote, “I remember your mother—what a blessing she was to me!”
My mother’s resourcefulness was an inspiration to me. When Jack and I got married, I joined him traveling in evangelism. It wasn’t easy. Although my husband had a strong call of God on his life and even then was especially anointed by the Holy Spirit, in the beginning years it was a struggle to get established and earn the respect of pastors and people. But because Mom had helped to prepare and train me for ministry by her words and example, I found courage and stamina deep within my heart that was a reflection of my mother.
Solving life’s problems…serving others
Like the beautiful queen of Bible times, my mother, Esther, was skilled at finding solutions and a place to be of service. As a lay person in a church of 1,500 people, she became the choir mother. She made sure the robes were clean and pressed, and she was there every Sunday morning to help everybody get ready.
When I would go out to sing—especially to do a solo—she was there to give me a hug and a pat and say, “God bless you.”
When the church had a visiting evangelist, Mother was the one who invited him over for dinner. And when missionaries came to town, there was always room for them at our house.
She was a great prayer warrior. One reason her pastor preached powerfully was that he had mother praying for him faithfully. One reason God blessed Jack and me in our ministry is because my mother prayed. Everyone counted on her to pray. She prayed a lot of people into the kingdom of God because she recognized that praying was a powerful ministry that she could have.
She was extraordinary in that she always had a word of comfort or encouragement for people in need. She would send out cards to the sick, make phone calls, and make pies. She extended herself to everyone—no one was left out.
That’s why I say that Mother was like Queen Esther who found a solution to overcome the sentence of death that evil men had decreed on her people, the Israelites. My mother could have been there. She would have devised a strategy. She would have created the banquet that Esther prepared. She would have invited just the right people, and she would have found the right opportunity to make her case and persist until she prevailed. I can say that with absolutely no reservation!
Esther Shelton always put everyone else’s needs and feelings ahead of her own. Very few times did I ever see my mother lying down in the daytime. She must have gotten tired and weary from her labor, but I never saw her stop for a nap. If I looked for her and found her in her bedroom, she’d always be praying or reading the Bible, but never sleeping! Mom was a truly wonderful person who demonstrated her faith by her good works (see James 2:18).
My legacy of love
Mother bestowed upon me the richest and most beautiful legacy that any daughter could have received. My memories of her have become a precious treasure. The faith she left with me links me with eternity and clothes me with peace.
Not long ago I picked up the New Testament she kept by her chair. Inside I came across a note she had written to Jack, her son-in-law. It said, “I wanted you to know that Daddy and I had our prayers answered. We wanted the best for our precious daughter, Rexella, and you are the one-in-a-million son-in-law we prayed for. Thank you, dear son, for being so sweet to our daughter. God bless you both as you look to the years ahead. We love you.”
I also found a page torn from one of her several devotional books—I just know she left it for me. The highlighted line said, “Death to the Christian means heaven, happiness, and Him!”
I never saw these notes before I found them in her New Testament. Mom left messages to my husband and me when she became aware that the Lord was going to take her, knowing that we would find them after she was gone. How resourceful is that? And how thoughtful!
The day before she went into a coma, I spent some time beside her bed at the hospital. When it was time to go, I said, “Mother, I won’t be here tomorrow because Jack and I will be in the TV studio all day.” She shook her head that she understood.
“You pray for me while I’m taping the TV program,” I said. Then, putting my face close to hers, I whispered, “Will you be praying tomorrow?” And she said, “Yes.”
Then I said, “I love you.”
And she softly replied, “I love you more!”
The next morning while I was at the studio, someone at the hospital called my brothers, Bob and Don, and said, “Mrs. Shelton is asking to see her sons.” Mom didn’t ask for me because she wanted me to be at my post, serving the Lord.
When Don got to Mom’s hospital room, he said, “Mama, you called for me, so it must be really important.”
She smiled tenderly and said, “Yes, son, I want to go home.”
Then my brother, Bob, walked in and sensed what was happening. “Oh, Mama,” he cried, “you’re going to go home. You’re going to see the Lord, you’re going to see Daddy, and you’re going to see your mother and all the saints!”
And with all her remaining strength her face brightened at the thought and she replied, “UH-HUH!” She was expressing, “Oh, yes, that’s my choice!”
So her last words to her children were—”I love you more.” “I want to go home.” “UH-HUH!”
And in a little while, with no pain or struggle, she quietly slipped away to be with Jesus and her loved ones in heaven.
Mother’s doctor, Kathleen Norton, who cared for her the last twelve years, came to the viewing at the funeral home. I said to her, “Doctor, Mother is going to have a big crowd of welcomers in heaven!”
“Oh, Rexella,” she said, “Esther has been such a blessing to so many that when I get there, if I stand behind her, God won’t even see me!”
Mom’s funeral was a day of remembrance, a time of celebration and rejoicing, filled with flowers, friends, and beauty. I kept envisioning her arrival on the other side, with the Lord reaching out His hand and saying, “Welcome home.”
I certainly can identify with the songwriter who penned the poignant words—”Heaven seems nearer since Mother is there!” Now, more than ever, I know I want to go to heaven when this life is through.
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Dear Jack and Rexella,
I just watched this week’s program, and I’m in tears! Not only did it mean so much, to see the photos and hear the stories from Jack’s youth, his Dad, and how the two of you met one another, and how Rexella’s brother lead her to Christ; but my memories of the years that I’ve watched your show, memories of so many revelations of the Word that have shaped me into the Christian I am today, my heart is overflowing!
Overflowing with love and more appreciation that I could ever express with words. Thank you Jack, for your complete and unwavering commitment to the Great Commission. Your memory, and instant recall of scripture is a gift to the world and a glory to God.
Thank you, Rexella, for your beautiful spirit and very special way of touching even the hardest of hearts. Christ’s love shines through your eyes, in your voice, and your undeniable sincerity.
I love both of you, with all my heart; and Chuck too. Thank you for standing in the gap in my life. I can’t wait until the day that I get to meet ya’ll in Heaven – along with our beloved pets. I still have that VHS tape 🙂
Hi Jack and Rexella,
I am writing from Australia to let you know that I watch your program every week.
I love Jesus and my soul is blessed and encouraged as I watch and listen to you both. I pray that you both get stronger as you get older like Caleb and Joshua. Jack you remind me of Caleb in the bible who in advanced years said ‘…give me this mountain….’ Josh 14:12.
God bless you both as you continue the great work you’re doing for the Lord.
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