Weekly Newsletter – March 29, 2021
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
I’m Looking . . . But Which Way?
What is the first thing you notice about a person? Some would say the color of their hair, their stature or even their weight. I must admit that I am immediately drawn to the eyes. Perhaps this is why I like the statement; The eye is the window of the soul. It was Benjamin Franklin who related this good thought, Learn to be gracious with the eyes; look deep into their eyes, and say with your eyes, I like you.
I especially enjoy looking into the eyes of children. Often I find myself wanting to get down to their level since they, above all, have that gentle, yet intense and honest way of looking directly into our eyes. They have discovered a secret which sometimes gets lost as they move into adulthood – it is this, the eyes reveal so much. Perhaps it’s the child in me, but conversation seems more personal when I am able to look into the eyes of the one with whom I am conversing. There seems to be an openness in communication when we can express our thoughts through our eyes as well as by our words.
The eyes also can be a barometer revealing the state of our health. Doctors, for instance, look into the eyes when one is sick, and ophthalmologists detect many bodily illnesses the same way. The Bible has much to say about the eyes. The writer of Proverbs speaks of the bloodshot eyes of those who drink (Proverbs 23:28, 29). In fact, there are 499 references to eyes, and 98 to the eye in God’s Word. Since God has given such prominence and importance to the eye gate, Satan, with all of his sly and cunning ways brought sin into the world by persuading Eve to look and then partake of the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:5-7).
God often speaks of His own eyes. How comforting it is to know that His eyes are lovingly upon us. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him (2 Chronicles 16:9 – also notice Deuteronomy 11:12; Job 34:21; and Psalm 33:18).
Why are our eyes so important? It is because what we see goes into our emotions (the soul). The light of the soul is what gives understanding, sound judgment, and the ability to discern between good and evil, truth and falsehood. Jesus spoke of this: The light of the body is the eye; therefore when thine eye is single (a clear conscience), thy whole body is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness (Luke 11:34.35).
What do others see when looking at us? If they are to be rightly influenced, how important it is that what they see is God-like. We are walking visuals. The Apostle Paul cautioned that we should be careful how we walk, not as unwise, but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15, 16).
I heard the story of a little girl who told her pastor she knew Jesus and was saved. Which one of my sermons brought you to Christ? he asked. It wasn’t your preaching, it was my aunt’s practicing, she responded.
Indeed! What we do and say is being noticed. Man looketh on the outward appearance (I Samuel 16:7). That’s why we are to let our light so shine before mankind, that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father which is in heaven (Matt. 5:16).
On one occasion, when the Apostle Paul was accused of being a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews and a ringleader of the Nazarene sect, he stood before his accusers and Governor Felix saying, I strive to always have a conscience without offense toward God and man (see Acts 24:16). What a wonderful way to live!
With all the discouraging news in the world today, seeming inconsistencies in the lives of those around us, and despair on the faces of millions of people, which way can we look to find peace and satisfaction?
Three Different Directions
We can look in three different directions: (1) Backward, to be discouraged; (2) outward, to be disheartened; and (3) upward, to be delighted.
More often than not, looking back leads to defeat and discouragement and possibly self destruction like Lots wife. We have a good biblical example in the Apostle Paul, who said, 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).
God can be counted on to give a silver lining to our dark clouds if we’ll begin looking forward. A friend has written: Let your life be a statement, more than your words, that Someone else is in charge. Let your demeanor reflect quality inner control, stability that comes from knowing and accepting that God is in charge. In God’s perfect timing wrongs will be righted, circumstances will change, He will come to your rescue. To believe this is to move ahead and live with hope.
I have been asked, How do you forget the bad times, the hurts, the injustices? My response is that we can’t blot out the past, but forgetting means not allowing the past to affect the present.
We can put whatever has hurt us under the blood of Christ. We can forget by imitating the way Christ forgives us – just as if it never occurred (Hebrews 8:12).
As one looks around at the world today, he or she could become disheartened and disillusioned. The world is in a mess. Just pick up the newspaper, or turn on the evening news and it’s enough to disturb any thinking person.
How do we avoid the disillusionment and anxiety? David the psalmist said, It will not fasten its grip on me (see Psalm 101:3). There you have it; don’t allow it to grasp hold of your thinking.
What does God say? He tells us to cast our burdens on Christ (I Peter 5:7). We are human and feel concern, but we can turn it over to Him saying, God, this is too big for me to handle. By keeping our eyes on Jesus and the eternal truths of God’s word, we will be focusing our attention on that which enables us to handle all the bad things happening around us (see Hebrews 12:2).
Remember what David the psalmist said? I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help (Psalm 121:1). This is surely the only direction to look for help, comfort, and yes, for delight in our souls and lives. We can bring our thirsty and wilting minds and bodies to the everlasting well of water, Jesus Christ Himself (John 4). All He asks is that we keep looking up, and as we do, look forward to an eternity with Him. Let us pray this beautiful prayer of the psalmist, I will direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up (Psalm 5:3).
I WILL LIFT UP MINE EYES UNTO THE HILLS…
A CLASSIC 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.
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
I have watched Jack Van Impe for perhaps 50 years. So good to see you pressing on with the message you both have preached for many years. Miss the program on TCT, but still get your updates.
Bless you and the loving message you still end every program with!
Love reading the newsletter. So full of information. My husband and I read and discuss it. Please keep it coming. Look forward to each issue and share the Word!
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And I looked, and behold a pale horse; and his name that set on him was Death, and Hell followed with him Revelation 6:8
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