Weekly Newsletter – September 30, 2019
A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR JACK VAN IMPE
Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream & Daniel’s Vision
Skeptics dislike the prophet Daniel. His outline of the future is too accurate.
Taken captive in his teens by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, this young Hebrew was chosen to be one of the king’s advisors. The king chose well; Daniel would become the most valuable man in the kingdom.
Nebuchadnezzar, powerful king of the Babylonian Empire, conquered Jerusalem and carried away the people of Judah for a captivity of seventy years. He rebuilt Babylon after its former decline and transformed it into one of the most unusual and beautiful cities of history.
Babylon covered an area of two hundred square miles and was surrounded by walls wide enough at the top to have rows of small houses with a space between them for the passage of chariots. There were fifty temples in the city as well as a huge complex of impressive buildings. The palace was built of blue enameled bricks; its construction carried the mark of master craftsmen, many of whom were probably captives chosen for this special project because of their abilities.
Here, too, Nebuchadnezzar built the famous hanging gardens as a special gift to his wife, a Median princess. They consisted of terraces, supported by massive masonry arches, on which carefully tended gardens had been laid out on different levels. These gardens contained a variety of Persian and Babylonian plants and trees. Vegetation transplanted from the queen’s mountain home was intended to comfort her when she was homesick. The Greeks considered the hanging gardens one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Into this beauty and splendor, four young Hebrew men were brought to become members of the king’s staff of advisors, or wise men. Among them was Daniel the prophet.
Not long after arriving in Babylon, Daniel and his three friends found themselves in serious trouble. An order went out from the king to execute all the wise men, due to their inability to interpret a dream that had come to Nebuchadnezzar. They might have been able to bluff their way through an interpretation, but the king could not even remember his dream, and so he had required that they tell him both the dream and the interpretation.
Stumped, they had grumbled: “There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king’s matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean” (Dan. 2:10).
The king’s reaction? Fury! “For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain” (Dan. 2:12, 13).
Upon receiving word of the order for execution, Daniel asked for time to pray and guaranteed that he would reveal the king’s dream and its interpretation. In fulfilling that promise, Daniel gave us what has come to be known as the “ABC of Prophecy.” Commenting on Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and Daniel’s interpretation, the late Dr. H. A. Ironside wrote: “I suppose it contains the most complete, and yet the most simple prophetic picture that we have in all the word of God.”
Why did God give a preview of the future to a Gentile king who had taken the Jews captive? We do not know. But that he did so is without question. History has proved the accuracy of that assessment. Fulfillment of the greater part of the preview has already taken place, and the stage is set for the remainder to develop. Pointing out the relevance of the king’s dream to those who live near “closing time,” Daniel said: “But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days…” (Dan. 2:28).
He then explained the dream and its interpretation:
“Thou, O King, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” (Dan. 2:31 — 35).
The dream was of an image of a man with a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, midsection and thighs of brass, legs of iron, and feet that were part iron and part clay. The interpretation was simple and yet profound, easy to understand but veiled without Daniel’s explanation. It is understood now by those who know the history of the rise and fall of Gentile empires from that day to this, and it is intriguing in its implications for the end time.
The head of gold represented Nebuchadnezzar, whose power in the Babylonian Empire was absolute. He must have listened with satisfaction to this part of the interpretation of his dream.
The breast and arms of the image represented the empire that would rise after the fall of Babylon, the Medo-Persian Empire. Though this kingdom was larger, the Medo-Persian leaders were less powerful than Nebuchadnezzar, since laws were enacted that limited rulers’ decrees.
The third kingdom, represented by the belly and thighs of brass, was the Grecian Empire, headed by Alexander the Great.
The legs of iron symbolized the Roman Empire. The feet of the image, part iron and part clay, spoke of the revival of the Roman Empire in the last days, with the ten toes representing ten leaders of that coming European federation.
The great stone cut out of the mountain that fell on the feet of the image and destroyed it represents the coming kingdom of Christ that will be established upon His return to earth. Note that He will come when the final stage of the image is developed. If it can be shown that we are now at that point in history, there can be no doubt that closing time is near. The prophet Daniel was definite:
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure (Dan. 2:44, 45, emphasis mine).
Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s forgotten dream not only caused the king to spare Daniel’s life and the lives of his friends, but it also lifted him to an important position in the government of Babylon. This man of God would now have influence throughout the world, and his prophecies would never be forgotten.
The prophet Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream when he was a very young man. Nearly forty years later he was given a vision that confirmed and further explained his first preview of the future. In this vision Daniel saw the major world empires represented by four beasts (Dan. 7).
The first beast was like a lion with eagle’s wings (7:4).
The second was like a bear that raised itself on one side, having three ribs in its mouth (7:5).
The third was like a leopard, having four wings and four heads (7:6).
The fourth was described as “dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly.” It had ten horns and after a time another little horn grew and plucked up three of the other horns by the roots. The little horn had eyes like a man and a mouth speaking great things (7:7, 8).
What do these four beasts signify? Could they be interpreted in the light of nations now on the world scene? Is the lion with eagle’s wings a reference to the British Empire and the United States, as some contend? Is Daniel’s bear really Russia? Does the leopard symbolize the African nations, since that area is the leopard’s natural home?
If not, why not?
Historically, students of Bible prophecy have seen Daniel’s vision as a further development of the preview given in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
The reason? The context of the Scripture portion demands it.
The lion then represents Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian Empire.
The bear finds fulfillment in the Medo-Persian Empire that followed. The bear was raised on one side because the Persians were stronger than the Medes. The three ribs in the bear’s mouth indicate three major conquests of that empire.
The leopard, having four wings and four heads, was a prophetic picture of the Grecian Empire. Led by Alexander the Great, the Greeks were swift and devastating in their conquest of the Medes and Persians. Alexander declared himself emperor of the world and great honors were paid him. But the young military genius died in his early thirties and his empire was divided between his four generals, fulfilling the prophecy that the leopard would have four heads.
The fourth beast, described as “dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly,” represents the Roman Empire.
Daniel’s interpretation of his vision of the four beasts gives little explanation of the significance of the beasts themselves or the empires they represent. That is not strange since they are but an enlargement of his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. But the prophet is fascinated by the ten horns, which correspond to the ten toes on the great image, and especially by the little horn that rises later, portraying a powerful leader in the end time. Note Daniel’s warning about this coming evil person:
And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time (Dan. 7:24, 25).
Who is this persecutor whose evil power seems unchecked for three and one-half years (a time and times and the dividing of time)? Why does the world accept him? Why is he allowed to bring such destruction? We will learn more about the earth’s most evil ruler through the study of another of Daniel’s prophecies, this one concerning his own people, the Jews in our study next week.
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
What’s In a Look?
The instant I saw her I knew she was special.
She was only about 5 years old, and her smile simply captivated my heart. Something about her moved me and compelled my attention.
It was the closing night of our crusade in Roanoke, Virginia, and after the service Dr. Van Impe and I were sitting on the edge of the platform, shaking hands and visiting with people.
A young couple came over to me and smiled up at me so sweetly. There was such a wonderful expression of the Lord on their faces. I leaned over and shook their hands and greeted them, but they didn’t say a word.
That’s when I saw her — their beautiful little daughter with a cherub face and an angelic smile that wrapped itself around my heart. I motioned to her with my finger and she came up on the platform and stood in front of me.
As I looked into her eyes, suddenly I realized that she couldn’t talk — both she and her parents were without speech. So with the little bit of sign language I know, I asked, “Do you love Jesus?”
And she signed back — not only with her hands, but with her eyes and her heart — “YES… OH, YES!”
I was so moved… so overcome with emotion that I also was mute for a long moment. There was something in her look that spoke volumes. Somehow I realized that this child knew the Lord in a way that few people ever will. She had an inner relationship with Christ so real and powerful that His radiance glowed in her face and His joy flowed out of her tender young life to touch everyone around her.
I looked down into the faces of the child’s mother and father and saw their love and pride. And I also saw that they had that special look. One glance… and people could tell they had been with Jesus.
Because I couldn’t understand the meaning of all their signs, I was unable to converse very much with them. But I had no doubt that they were able to speak to Christ, perhaps in a much deeper and more meaningful way than most of us do.
And they had taught their daughter well, and had led her to know Jesus. Somehow I was absolutely convinced that she had been on Christ’s lap often, even as little ones were centuries ago.
Do you have “the look”?
What do people see when they look at us? Can they tell at a glance that we’ve been in the presence of the Lord?
I love the beautiful Old Testament account of how Moses went up to the mountain to meet with God and to receive the Ten Commandments. When he came back down into the camp of the Israelites, his countenance shone — the light that emanated from his being told all the people at a glance that he had been with Jehovah God.
Some time ago, a local television program featured a man who was talking about how to have the look that was right for you. He was stressing the importance of choosing just the right makeup, hairstyle, clothing colors, etc.
I believe that this is important. But as I watched that program, I was struck with the thought that even if we make the outer person look his or her best, without the abiding presence of the Lord within, we can never achieve the look that sets us apart from the world.
What does it matter if people can look at me and say, “My, doesn’t she have an up-to-date look — her make-up, her hair, her clothes, her grooming are just impeccable!” If they do not see beyond the outer shell, how real is my Christian testimony?
For all believers, one of our greatest joys should be having people see Jesus in us — sensing that there is something different about us without our saying a word.
The look of love
Not long ago, I had a beautiful, blessed experience. I was trying on a dress in a shop when the girl who was assisting me began to talk, and in minutes she was pouring out her heart to me. She told me her problems and asked for advice and help. After I counseled with her concerning her personal need, I proceeded to explain God’s plan of salvation and her greatest need of all — to accept Christ. So we were praying, and she opened her heart to the Lord. Later, when I asked why she came to me for help, she said, “There was just something about you — a certain look that touched me.”
What’s in a look?
God help us to be so filled with His presence and so overflowing with His love that we have our Lord’s look — the look of love.
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Thank you so much for the opportunity to continue receiving your teaching… I was a Christian at a very young age. Regretfully I strayed away from the Lord. I am happy to report that I have surrendered my life to Him. I am so happy and realize all of the wasted years I spent without Him. I have learned to trust Him with every need even the small things. Life is so much better and I don’t worry anymore. Thank you both again for your dedication to your viewers.
I will always remember going with my church to see both of you in person many years ago in Huntington, West Virginia. You were and still remain such a striking power team for God. May the Lord continue to bless and sustain you.
Please know that your newsletter is so very welcome — I truly look forward to receiving them and always are blessed and come away way more informed and blessed to say the least! Will continue to look forward to receiving them and pray that they will continue on until Our Lord Returns! Thank you so very much and God Bless!
Will keep you and the ministry in prayer!
In His Name,
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