Weekly Newsletter – November 9, 2020
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
Listen to the Birds
My husband, Jack, and I have a special fondness for birds. We enjoy seeing them fly, darting from tree to tree, soaring and wheeling about, riding the wind in joyous freedom.
And it’s fun to watch them splash in a puddle or pool of water, bathing themselves and carefully preening their feathers.
We have two feeders and a drinking bowl in our backyard, and the birds have discovered this safe haven. Besides sparrows, cardinals, robins, blackbirds, and other small songbirds, we’ve seen crows, doves, mallard ducks, and even Canadian Geese in our yard. Sometimes there will he several different kinds of birds there all at the same time.
I especially enjoy listening to the birds. More than any other creature, it seems to me they have learned to serve the Lord with gladness: [and] come before his presence with singing (Psalm 100:2).
When God created the fowl of the air on the fifth day of creation, He gave them a song. And virtually all types of birds make some kind of joyful noise — it seems like they’re always praising the Lord. I’ve seen them after a winter snowstorm, sitting on top of the feeders, thankfully chirping and singing because the food is there.
Jesus once referred to the sparrows, which many consider an ordinary little bird with no apparent value. But He, who values all His creatures, said not one of them falls to the ground without God noticing (see Matthew 10:29).
Luke records what the Lord said about the common crow. Consider the ravens; for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? (Luke 12:24).
Watching the birds and remembering what God has said about them has really been a blessing to Jack and me.
Lessons from the birds
There is much we can learn from our fine feathered friends. The Bible is filled with references to birds as symbols of what we humans ought to be or can do with God’s help.
On the top of the pole where our American flag flies there often is the image of an eagle, symbol of strength and majesty. The Bible tells us that if we wait upon the Lord, He will give us strength to overcome every difficulty and to mount up on wings, as the eagle (see Isaiah 40:31).
Genesis 8 tells us that when the ark landed on solid ground after the great flood, Noah sent out a dove to see if the land was habitable. The dove found no place to light and returned to the ark. A week later, Noah sent the dove out again and it returned in the evening with an olive branch in its beak. So Noah knew it would soon be safe to go out into the unknown.
Of course, it is no accident that the dove is symbolic of the Holy Spirit who wings His way over the abyss of man’s sinful past, bridged by the sacrificial ark of the cross of Christ, and leads all who will follow step by step into the Father’s new beginning.
God used a common barnyard rooster to deal with the heart of Peter during the last days of Jesus’ life. After Peter had boasted that he would stay close to the Lord no matter what happened or who turned against Him, Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him before the cock crowed the next morning.
The gospels tell the awful story of how Jesus was betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane, then taken before Caiaphas the high priest to be sentenced to death. Warming himself by the fire at the edge of the angry mob, Peter was asked once, twice, three times if he knew or was a companion to this Jesus.
Once, twice, three times — with oaths — Peter denied knowing the Lord! And at that darkest hour, just before the dawn, a rooster crowed! Instantly Peter remembered his prideful boast and Jesus’ prophetic words… and he wept bitterly.
Of course, we know Peter repented and went on to become a leader in proclaiming the message of Christ’s death and Resurrection all across the known world.
Being fed by the birds
You may remember the story of how God used birds to answer the prayers of the Children of Israel. After wandering in the wilderness for many years and being fed on manna, the people cried out for meat. God caused coveys of quail to come near their camp until there was plenty to feed all the people.
The Old Testament tells of the Prophet Elijah being sent into the wilderness to wait beside the brook Cherith. Twice a day the Lord sent ravens to deliver his food. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening (1 Kings 17:6).
Imagine depending on crows to deliver your breakfast and supper! I’m not sure I’d want to trust them with my food. But Elijah did… and he never went hungry.
Are birds good parents?
I’m certainly not an ornithological expert, but I’ve been impressed about the strong parental instinct birds seem to have. It’s fascinating to watch them building a nest, gathering twigs, straw, string, and grass to fashion a fragile but sturdy place to lay their eggs.
In some species, both father and mother bird take turns sitting on the nest, keeping the eggs safe and warm. And once the little ones come out of the eggs, the parents feed the babies until they grow large enough to fly.
I’ve seen mother birds fiercely attack other birds, even animals that prowled too close to their nest. In many instances, the mother seems willing to give her own life to protect her young.
During the time the baby birds are being incubated, then fed and cared for until they can fly away, nothing is more important to the mother bird. Her babies are the center of her life and the sole reason for her existence.
In our day, necessity sometimes forces both parents to work outside the home. Still, I can’t help feeling there are lessons both fathers and mothers can learn about parenting from the example of the birds. Most of all, we must understand how precious the lives of our children really are, worth any sacrifice to protect and nurture in the fear and admonition of God.
Once for a lifetime
I’m impressed with the instinct of birds to be good, faithful partners. I’ve heard that some species, including the turtle dove, mate once for a lifetime. Once a male and female come together, they stay with their mate and remain faithful to each other until separated by death.
Oh, that these beautiful creatures could teach the men and women of America the lessons of fidelity and faithfulness. In a society where there are more divorces being granted than new marriages performed, surely we need to turn again to the example of these beautiful creatures for instruction in living as God intended.
Listen, my friend, to the voices of the little birds, and hear God speaking to you today. Observe the life-style and the joy of these beautiful creatures and learn anew of God’s plan for your life.
A CLASSIC MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR. JACK VAN IMPE
Chapter 19 is exhilarating because it begins with a heavenly host singing an Alleluia chorus, and this is a Hebrew word meaning “praise Jehovah” or “praise the Lord.” Chapter 19 contains the only mention of the term in the New Testament, and we will find it four different times in the following six verses.
Verse 1: And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God:
John says, after these things. After what things? After the destruction of religious and political Babylon. Then what? Then he hears the tremendous sound of a multitude conducting a praise and testimony meeting in heaven. Probably led by the martyred saints of the Tribulation hour (chapter 7, verse 9), this group eventually includes all the redeemed in glory. They are rejoicing because (1) evil has run its course; (2) the Tribulation hour is concluding; (3) Christ is preparing to return with His saints; (4) the armies of the world are about to be demolished; (5) swords will then be remade into plowshares and spears into pruninghooks (see Isaiah 2:4); and (6) Christ will soon establish His millennial kingdom upon the earth. Such “good news” would make anyone shout, “Amen! Praise the Lord!”
The reason this praise is directed to One whose attributes are: (1) salvation, (2) glory, (3) honour, and (4) power is revealed in the next verse.
Verse 2: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.
Verse 3: And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.
The refrain is repeated as God’s people acknowledge the fact that Babylon’s doom is eternal. Never again will religious or political alliances bring men into bondage. Never again will man be duped, deluded, and destroyed through pompous ceremonialism. No, Babylon’s smoke ascends up for the ages of ages-forever and forever!
Verse 4: And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshiped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.
At this point the twenty-four elders (those we observed casting their trophies or crowns at Jesus’ feet following the Rapture and Judgment Seat of Christ in chapter 4) join the praise session. The world system that so harassed and persecuted them has finally been judged. The four beasts (identified as cherubim and seraphim in chapter 4) also lend their voices in glorifying God. They are rejoicing over the fact that they did not follow Lucifer, the head angel, as so many of their group did when he rebelled against the Almighty (see Isaiah 14:12-14). Now they are eternally secure, whereas the fallen angels are everlastingly damned.
Verse 5: And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.
This voice is undoubtedly an angel encouraging the heavenly host to continue the praise session. He is the celestial cheerleader at one of heaven’s most momentous and climactic hours.
Verse 6: And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
This is the final chorus as all heaven joins together in song. The multitudinous voices resound so loudly that the roar is likened to the sound of many waters and mighty thunderings. Why not? The prayer of the ages, Thy kingdom come, uttered by millions upon millions through the centuries, is about to be answered. Thus, the exclamation: [Praise Jehovah!] for the Lord God Omnipotent [soon] reigneth.
Verse 7: Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
Verse 8: And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
At the hour of Christ’s return to earth with His bride (the Church), His honeymoon is launched for 1,000 years. These verses are further proof that the Rapture is a pre-Tribulational event. The marriage of the Lamb takes place in heaven, not on earth. The Bride prepares herself at the Judgment Seat of Christ (which also takes place in heaven) before the wedding. These are time-consuming events. Then she returns with her lover-the Lord Jesus Christ-from heaven.
The Saviour is the Bridegroom because He is the Lamb of God, [who] taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29). The marriage partners at this glorious event include the Lamb (Christ) and His bride (the Church). Question: Where have they been during the Tribulation hour depicted in chapters 6 through 18? The answer: Heaven! You see, the Church was raptured in Revelation 4:1 and has not been mentioned again until this point-the time of preparation for the wedding.
During the seven years that earth dwellers suffered judgment from heaven, the Bride was being investigated in heaven, for 2 Corinthians 5:10 states: We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Second Corinthians 11:2 continues: For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste [pure] virgin to Christ. For many who were unfaithful to Christ during the engagement period (their years of service upon earth), this will be a time of humiliation (see 1 John 2:28).
Since we are then betrothed or engaged to Christ from the time of our conversion until the moment of the Rapture, God commands that we live consistently holy lives (see 1 Peter 1 :16). Then, immediately after we are called home in the “twinkling of an eye,” the pre-marital examination concerning our faithfulness as His sweetheart begins. Today’s signs definitely indicate that the hour is near. Our next appointment has been scheduled. How heartbreaking the report should the Bridegroom say, “I have discovered a problem.” Child of God-don’t be among the losers-live victoriously!
In preparation for the marriage ceremony itself, every believer will be attired in the wedding garment he made upon earth. The material will be composed of the good works remaining after the Judgment Seat has occurred. Someone may ask, “Doesn’t the Bible teach that believers are clothed in the righteousness of Christ?” Definitely (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). This is how one becomes a Christian in the first place. However, the word righteousness in the original Greek of verse 8 is not singular-(righteousness based upon Christ’s work) but plural-(righteousnesses based upon the believer’s life and deeds upon earth). At the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10), every work-good or bad-will be investigated. Then those works will be placed in the fires of testing (see 1 Corinthians 3:13). At that time if any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss [of rewards]: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire [by the skin of his teeth] (1 Corinthians 3:14, 15).
The two texts just referenced describe the preparation of the bride of Christ (all Christians) for the wedding (the marriage of the Lamb). Clearly, the wedding gown is composed of the believers’ righteousnesses (good works) performed on earth in honor of the lover of her soul. When this great moment arrives-undoubtedly soon, yes, perhaps today-what will you have? What will your wedding garment picture? Oh, I plead with you to live for Christ. Give Him your very best and all that you have. If you do, your rewards will be great, your joy complete, and your heavenly entrance abundant (see 2 Peter 1:11).
Verse 9: And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
This verse discloses the fact that the marriage of the Lamb will include a reception with many guests invited. Please note that the Bride and the Bridegroom are never guests. They are the ones for whom the ceremony is performed. Who, then, are those in attendance at the Marriage Supper? The guests include all believers up to Pentecost as well as the Tribulation saints. John-the disciple Jesus loved (see John 19:26) and the one who wrote the Book of Revelation-said, He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled (John 3:29). No wonder our text states: Blessed [or happy] are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.
The bride is composed of all believers who become members of the body of Christ from the Day of Pentecost until the Rapture. Now we find that the guests are those who trusted in the Lord either prior to Pentecost or following the Rapture. Since the marriage takes place in heaven, and the Old Testament and Tribulation believers are part of the earthly group, their only hope of participating in this event of the ages is that the wedding reception and Marriage Supper take place on earth. This is exactly what happens.
The fact that the marriage takes place in heaven and the supper occurs on earth is beautifully portrayed by the parable of the ten virgins: Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh (Matthew 25:113).
Notice that verse 6 of the above text states: Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. The reason the emphasis is on the Bridegroom instead of the Bride is because the Lord Jesus is all in all. Even John says, Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come (Revelation 19:7). Believers-members of the Bride-ought always to remember that the glory is His. He redeemed us. We would be nothing were it not for Jesus. These texts, then, explain the marriage, the supper, the guests, and the location.
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Dear friends at JVIM and especially Rexella:
Rexella, your message in the 26 Oct email newsletter was perfect timing. I have been struggling lately with self-doubt and no end of recriminations from things in my past that weren’t very Christian – especially late at night when sleep escapes me. Your message reminded me that the Lord sees me differently from the way I occasionally see myself. Your message hit me as if I reminded the Lord about my past, and He said, “What past?” Thank God for His wonderful gift.
May the Lord continue to bless JVIM.
HIGHLIGHTED MINISTRY OFFERS
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In the final weeks of his life, Bible prophecy expert Dr. Jack Van Impe poured his heart into preparation for a powerful television special that he wanted broadcast around the world.
He gave clear direction for content for the program, and interfaced with Dr. Rexella Van Impe and the board of directors to make sure this message went out.
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