Weekly Newsletter – January 1, 2018
A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR JACK VAN IMPE
Ezekiel prophesied the formation of the State of Israel in the last days: “For I will take you from among the heathen and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land” (Ezek. 36:24).
But the long centuries rolled on and the promise was not fulfilled.
Students of prophecy insisted a time would come when the Jews would return to their homeland, and when the Zionist movement began to promote the settlement of Jews in Palestine some had the courage to identify this as the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy.
Others were skeptical. The movement seemed so small and the obstacles to its success appeared to be insurmountable. Propaganda against the Zionists by anti-Semites began to be circulated, associating the movement with a conspiracy to rule the world. It was not popular to be on the side of Jewish pioneers in Palestine.
Nevertheless, the settlement of the Jewish homeland continued. Although hampered by restrictive immigration quotas set by the British during their mandate, the Jews kept pressing forward, counting each new village as another step in the establishment of their long-awaited home. In the difficult years from 1939 to 1947 there were 94 new villages founded, making 349 Jewish settlements in that hostile land.
Hitler’s holocaust annihilated two out of every three European Jews, one-third of the entire Jewish race, and uprooted Jews who had become comfortable in their European homes. In their book, Israel, David M. Jacobs and Kees Scherer describe the impact of the holocaust as follows:
The shock of this terrible disaster finally gave the Jews the power of desperation so that against the logic of history and politics, a mere three years after the greatest catastrophe in their history, came one of their greatest triumphs: on May 15, 1948, the State of Israel was established.
But those three years were difficult ones.
Having given of themselves to the Allied war effort, the Jews had hoped for cooperation from the Allies in establishing their nation.
They were disappointed.
Balancing on the brink of bankruptcy, Great Britain was determined to cling to friendship with the Arabs for economic reasons, not wanting to lose their single most important resource: oil. Some of their pipelines ran through Arab lands and they were not willing to risk the loss of oil for the sake of the Jews. Consequently, the British continued to restrict Jewish immigration following the war.
Burdened by the plight of their countrymen in Europe and frustrated by the restrictive British mandate, the Jews went underground and began to prepare for a fight for freedom. Infiltrating several British military bases, they stole light arms. They also dealt in captured Axis weapons and engaged in pressure tactics designed to ultimately force the British out of their homeland.
In Europe, conditions for Jews remained difficult. Although delivered from Hitler’s death camps, they were still in serious trouble. By the end of 1946, more than a quarter of a million displaced Jews were packed into camps in western Germany. As a result, the British loosened immigration restrictions somewhat, but the trickle of immigrants allowed into Palestine was still tiny compared to the tens of thousands waiting in the crowded displaced-persons camps of Europe.
A Modern Exodus
Since they were unable to get realistic concessions from the British, the Jews tackled the problem themselves. Sending Jews from Palestine to infiltrate the displaced-persons camps, they began to organize the refugees and prepare them to enter Palestine under cover. They also took advantage of the poor conditions in the camps to draw world attention to the hardships still faced by European Jews.
Soon a modern exodus was under way from Germany to Palestine. Jews were taken from Germany to the French and Austrian borders, then through mountain passes on foot to the Italian or French coasts. It was a difficult route from Germany to Palestine, but these struggling people had been enroute to that land for nearly two thousand years. They had taken the most crushing blows tyrants could give and had survived. Terrain would not deter them now.
The chaos of postwar Europe cooperated in allowing the Jews to move across Europe to the Mediterranean. In Italy they found the hatred of British occupation working in their favor. This former Axis power now helped the Jews on their homeward trek.
Nearly all the ships that carried Jews from Europe to Palestine were Italian coastal vessels of prewar vintage. Few of these obsolete tubs were fit for the crossing. Nevertheless, they were repaired hastily at Italian shipyards and sent on their precarious voyages.
In Palestine the Jewish underground awaited the arrival of the immigrants and employed covert methods to smuggle the new arrivals into the country. They were often able to monitor official radio messages and then decoy the British while the refugees landed.
The success of the smuggling operation was short-lived. The British intensified their blockade, making it almost impenetrable; and by 1946, 80,000 troops patrolled the country.
Looking back, the scene seems unreal. These survivors of Hitler’s holocaust and the crowded camps of Europe were now crossing the Mediterranean in rickety ships only to be met by a mighty British blockade commissioned to keep them from entering the land of their dreams.
Once stopped by the blockade, the Jews were transferred to British transports on which they were taken to Cyprus, where more refugee camps waited. Long before this heartbreaking ordeal Solomon had written, “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick...” (Proverbs 13:12). The wise king’s observation must have described the experience of thousands of his people who were turned from their homeland after making the long journey to its very borders.
In spite of the blockade, however, the Jewish spirit was not broken. Palestine was still the goal of this persistent people, and they intended to reach it. Their determination was expressed by the immigrants on board the Beauharnais when their ship was towed into Haifa Harbor, having been captured by the British. Its passengers unfurled a long banner over the deck that said: “We survived Hitler. Death is no stranger to us. Nothing can keep us from our Jewish homeland. The blood be on your head if you fire on this unarmed ship.”
Records show that all but five of the sixty-three refugee ships were intercepted in efforts to reach Palestine between 1945 and 1948. Estimates of the number of displaced persons confined in the Cyprus camps ranged from 26,000 to 65,000.
In an effort to discourage immigration and attempts to run the blockade, the camps at Cyprus were anything but comfortable. They were extremely hot in the summer, water was generally short, and the food was poor and scarce. In spite of the risk, however, they continued their efforts to enter their land with the force of a battering ram, never relaxing their pressure on the British to allow them to come home.
We will continue our study in the birth-pangs of Israel in our next newsletter.
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you (Philippians 1:3)
In the past few weeks of the holiday season, Jack and I have heard from so many of our friends and partners. How we enjoyed receiving all the beautiful cards, notes, letters and e-mail. Every personal message was appreciated, especially those which said, “Dr. Van Impe and Rexella, I’m thinking of you and praying for you.” I treasure these precious expressions of love.
And at the same time, what a special joy it was for us to remember many of our friends, sending cards, letters and small tokens of appreciation. When Jack and I see what God is doing through the outreaches of this ministry, we always remember special people like you who have helped make it all possible with your prayers and faithful support.
Remembering is a wonderful thing. It is the means the Lord has provided for us to relive and enjoy anew the special experiences, people, and blessings He sends into our lives. Remembering can fill us with joy over and over again as we recall and give thanks for what God has done.
During the past year, we’ve all had occasion to observe the news coverage of great calamities such as hurricanes, floods, fires and other disasters in which people lost all their possessions. One thing that always strikes me is that the victims do not mourn over the loss of cars, houses, furniture and other “things.” The most bitter loss, it seems, is the destruction of personal momentos, family pictures, children’s scrapbooks, heirlooms and other items with relatively little monetary value. But they were priceless and irreplaceable because each item was inexorably linked to a memory. These keepsakes were important because each time a family member looked at them, he or she remembered a part of the family’s heritage – a person, place, or event – with loving and significant meaning. People grieve over the loss of such treasured items because of the threat to their ability to remember what is really important in their lives.
As a child, I loved to get my dad or mom started by recalling special stories from their childhood. I’d sit in rapt fascination as my parents remembered simple, down-to-earth stories about life and living in their generation – how things were different, and yet how things are still the same. I truly learned so much from their memories.
Remembering the good things – the important values of life – is tremendously important. It is especially essential for us to remember the work of God in our lives.
I started singing when I was five years old, and one of the first songs Mother taught me was a wonderful message wrapped up in a lovely melody. It said – Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done. One reason that song was so powerful is that it caused one to stop and remember! God is so good to us. In fact, some of my childhood friends used to change the words of that song a bit to say, “Count your blessings, weigh them ton by ton.”
Have you been blessed? Has God blessed you and your loved ones? Remember … and be thankful.
Remember, too, the instructions and directions of the Lord. For example, God’s Word says in Galatians 2:10, remember the poor. We are to remember those in affliction – and minister to them of our means, encouraging them and lifting them up. I’ve found that reaching out to bless others comes almost naturally IF we first remember what God has done for us. Jesus said, freely ye have received, freely give (Matthew 10:8).
I love the beautiful words of the Psalmist David – I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old (Psalm 77:11). Throughout the rest of his song, David gave thanks and praise to God as he remembered Who He was and what He had done. He recalled that God is the Maker of all things, including such wonders as the waters, the sky and the clouds, the lightning and thunder. How great and wonderful is our God!
Remember to forget
Certainly it is good for us to remember certain specific events and blessings and the great things about God. But there are also times in our lives when we must remember to forget! Hear the thrilling words of Paul: "Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13,14). What are we to forget? Things of the past! Things like faults, failures, mistakes – things that would hinder or discourage us in pushing forward to fulfill God’s calling for our lives. Forgetting doesn’t mean that yesterday’s mistakes didn’t happen – that they’re not a part of history. In this context, forgetting means not allowing the past to negatively impact the present. To remember yesterday’s sins that Christ has forgiven is to carry a burdensome weight that hinders our efforts and slows us down.
Paul said, in effect, “Forget the sins and failures of the past. Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily bests us, and run with patience the race that is before us” (see Hebrews 12:1).
Do you suppose the sin that so easily trips us up could be the heaviness of remembering the past? It seems to me that so many people cripple themselves and make their efforts ineffective by allowing memories of the past to make them bitter. One thing is for sure – if we are brooding over the past, we cannot be pressing on to attain the prize of Christ’s high calling in our lives.
Why should we keep dragging up the sins and failures of the past? Christ doesn’t. Once He has forgiven us, He forgets our transgressions and never remembers them again! Read – and remember – God’s remarkable promise in Hebrews 8:12 – For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities I will remember no more.
The Bible is filled with examples of things that God does for us, but this is one thing He refuses to do: He will not recall the sins of the past! The record of all those shameful, hurtful, sinful deeds is no longer on the books. It has been washed away by the blood of Jesus.
Perhaps you’re saying, “But Rexella, how can I expect Him to keep on forgiving me when I come back again and again – ten times … eleven – with the same failure, the same sin?”
If you have honestly confessed that sin to the Lord and accepted His forgiveness, forget it! Why? Because He also remembers to FORGET your sin. He wills not to recall it. And if He will not, why should you? I love this saying that Jack shared on our program recently: when we confess our sins God takes them and buries them in the depths of the sea and puts up a "NO FISHING" sign.
What a great weight you can lay aside! Never again do you need to agonize over the lie you told, the angry outburst, the date with a sweetheart in which you allowed things to go too far, the jealousies, the broken promises – whatever haunts your memories. Remember to forget the sins of the past. Once you have accepted Christ’s forgiveness, the past can be forgotten forever.
Start a brand new year with a brand new record
Starting a new year is one of my favorite things. It always seems to me that each January is a fresh start, a new opportunity, a clean slate. And I look forward to it with faith and joy.
Of course I’m aware that crossing this new threshold takes me into the unknown. I’ve never been there before. I don’t know what to expect or what lies ahead. Will Jesus come back this year? Will death strike a loved one? Will I face unseen hardships or unexpected blessings? In the words of an old gospel song – “Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand, but I know Who holds tomorrow, and I know Who holds my hand.” God knows what is ahead, and He is walking by my side. He is with me … and with you.
So we can walk boldly into the new year, not with trepidation or dread, but with glorious expectancy. We can choose not to allow the ghosts of the past to haunt us in this new year. Because He remembers our sins no more. Remember when the Lord speaks this year, it will not be with a voice of accusation.
Yet, we have the assurance that God remembers us – He knows who we are, where we are and what we’re going through. He never forgets us in times of need, but comes to us just when we need Him most.
What more can we ask than the assurance that comes from remembering the good things and the unfailing promises of God? And what an exciting challenge to start a brand – new year with a fresh, clean record! Something inside me tells me that 2018 is going to be a year to remember!
So begin this month, this week, this day expecting good things from the Lord. His will for you is GOOD. Remember to let God be your guide in 2011, and it will, indeed, be a happy new year.
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Hello Jack and Rexella,
As I sat down at my computer today to do Bible studies, you came to my thoughts. I was wondering what ever happened to you because I used to watch you every Sunday before going to church, then you weren’t there anymore. I sure do miss seeing you both. So I thought I would try to get you on the internet. Guess what? I found you. Happy days are here again. I can’t tell you just how happy it makes me. I look forward to watching your programs on the internet. I am going to be here awhile because I have some catching up to do.
You Sister In Christ with lots of love
Fifteen years ago, my pregnant wife and I talked to you and Rexella outside of Zender’s restaurant in Frankenmuth. You saw my bible and asked what I had been reading. I said Jeremiah 2. Then I told you our baby lept in his mother’s womb recently. You said, "Maybe he will be another John the Baptist! Another prophetic friend had just told us the same thing! That February 20, our Elijah was born. It was miraculous as I was 54 and up to that point was unable to father children. We had just finished a mission trip to Spain- hundreds of souls saved! P.T.L. I like to think that helped. Also, you were my inspiration to memorize much scripture! Thanks. Now Carla, Elijah, and I are praying for your and Rexella’s health, wellbeing, & rapture attaining! God bless you!
Terry & Carla L.
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Dr. Jack Van Impe’s wonderful year-long devotional, Soul Food: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread is the perfect daily reading to keep you growing in God, looking forward to His return, and finding peace, comfort and hope for each new day, every day of the year. There’s a daily memory verse to help you keep learning new Scriptures throughout the year, plus powerful insight from the man called “The Walking Bible.” This is great devotional material for you, and it makes a wonderful gift for a loved one.