The “Handwriting” on the Wall

See the source image

The “Handwriting” on the Wall

James R. Aist

“… I have now come to give you insight and understanding.” (Daniel 9:22)

From the time I was eight years old, God has been communicating with me, now and then, through visions. I was forty years of age when this vision came to me. It was springtime, 1985. One Sunday morning I began to pray earnestly, asking God what He wanted me to do with the rest of my life. Just four days later, in the middle of the night, I was awakened suddenly and sat straight up in bed, aware of the presence in the room of a “spirit being.” At first, there was nothing visible to explain this phenomenon. By this time in my Christian walk, I had enough Bible knowledge (e.g., 1 John 4:1) to “test the spirits”, so I said to it, “Who are you?” There was no verbal response, but something bright then appeared on the wall to my left. So, I looked in that direction and saw, in large, white, bold lettering, a Scripture reference: “DANIEL 9: 22…” As I was pondering that message, the writing slowly faded away. Through this vision, God was directing my attention to the book of Daniel, chapter nine, verses 22 and following. Realizing that this was no ordinary spiritual experience, I made note of the message on the wall and went back to sleep, with the intention of looking into the matter thoroughly the next morning.

Now, up until then, I had virtually no idea what was in the book of Daniel, except for the story of “Daniel in the Lions’ Den.” So, the next morning, with the aid of a study guide, I carefully studied the book of Daniel through twice. For our reference, here is the passage of Scripture to which I had been directed: 21 indeed, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. 22 He informed me and talked with me, and said, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. 23 At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved. Therefore understand the matter and consider the vision: 24 “Seventy weeks have been determined for your people and upon your holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make atonement for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy Place.

Let me share with you now my understanding of the message that God was giving me through this vision. First, in verse 22, Gabriel, speaking to Daniel of a prophecy given many years earlier by the Prophet Jeremiah, said “… I have now come to give you insight and understanding.” God was saying to me that He was giving me insight into and understanding of the Scriptures that I did not already possess. And second, I found out that Chapter 9 is considered to be the “backbone of Bible prophecy”, because, in Chapter 9, it predicted to the day when Jesus would make His triumphal entry into Jerusalem as the long-promised Jewish Messiah! God was confirming to me the accuracy and reliability of the Bible as His Word and calling me to become a student of the Bible then and there, no longer just a casual and occasional reader of it.

You may wonder how this vision impacted my life. Simply put, it set my life on a different course. After all, this vision was God’s way of answering my question concerning what He wanted me to do with the rest of my life! Since that day, my worldview has become thoroughly and unequivocally biblical, and I have become, not only a student, but also a teacher, of the Bible. And, I now have the courage of my convictions, courage to stand boldly and publicly for the truths of God’s Word. To God be the glory, all of it!

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

Only Believe…What, Exactly?

See the source image

Only Believe…What, Exactly?

James R. Aist

But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, “Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be made well.”

Jesus told Jairus to not fear, only believe, that his daughter would be healed (Luke 8:49-50). Here, Jesus made it clear exactly what Jairus was to believe; namely, that God would heal his daughter. Not just that He could heal her or that He was just willing to heal her, but that He would actually heal her. In struggling to understand what a “prayer of faith” (James 5:16) looks like, I have found that there are three successive steps in our journey toward believing God fully for a miracle: 1) believing that God can do it; 2) believing that God is willing to do it; and 3) believing that God will do it. Having done that, the rest is up to God.

The first step should be relatively easy, for those of us who really believe that the Word of God is true. The Bible tells us that God created the entire universe in all of its vastness and complexity, and that He sustains it with His almighty power (Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 11:3). It goes on to say that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37) and that with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). Both the Old Testament and the New Testament are replete with accounts of miraculous works done by God. Moreover, there are countless testimonies by reliable witnesses of miracles that God is doing in our generation. So, we can rest assured, based on the biblical witness and contemporary witnesses, that God is able to work the miracle that we need Him to work for us. We believe that God can do it.

The second step may be more problematic, however; is God willing to do it? This question gets to the heart of God’s attitude, purpose and desire for mankind, His heart toward us. We can see a man with leprosy struggling with this issue: “A leper came to Him, pleading with Him and kneeling before Him, saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus, moved with compassion, extended His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I will. Be clean” (Mark 1:40-41). In fact, the New Testament has no record of Jesus refusing a miracle for anyone coming to Him believing He could do it.  And, the Bible clearly teaches that God’s attitude and desire toward us is to enable us to prosper (Deuteronomy 29:9; Psalm 1:3; Philippians 4:10). But, there are at least two well-known biblical accounts of God being unwilling to grant a prayer request: one is Jesus’s request for His Father to let the cup of suffering pass from Him (Matthew 26:39), and the other is Paul’s request for God to remove the tormenting messenger of Satan from him (2 Corinthians 12:7). God was surely grieved to see His Son and His servant suffering like this, but He had a reason for their suffering that far outweighed the gravity of their suffering: Jesus would save from hell all who would believe in Him (John 3:16-17), and Paul would be kept from becoming swell-headed by the torment inflicted by the messenger of Satan (2 Corinthians 12:7). God was able, but He was not willing, and for a good reason.

This brings us to the third step which is, for many, the most difficult, and, it is often the most complicated. Will God always do what He can do and is willing to do? The answer, I believe, is “No”, and I will tell you why I believe that. The following encounter with God occurred during the first week after I returned home from burying my 20-year-old daughter, Liesel, who had been struck and killed by a car (Click HERE). I was so stunned and emotionally numb from the events of that “week from hell” that I couldn’t even go to work. I just sat around in my recliner all day trying to process what had just happened. Now, I had never asked God why He had allowed anything bad that happened in my life, but this bad thing seemed too awful to cope with. So, one day as I sat in my recliner rehearsing the details of the past week, I began to wonder why God had not healed Liesel instead of calling her home. I was about to ask God “Why?” when suddenly the Holy Spirit stopped me from saying it. Then, God spoke into my mind saying, “You don’t need to know why, because you know Me well enough to know that I had a good reason.” To this day, I can only speculate as to why God did not heal my daughter. Jesus knew, and Paul learned, why God said no, but I was told to just trust that God had a good reason for telling me “No.” In all three of these situations, I believe that, in some way and at some level, God wanted to say yes, but at the same time He wanted even more to say “No”, for a good, a greater, reason.

That brings us now to the conclusion of the matter. I believe that we should always bring our cares, our concerns and our needs to God in prayer (1 Peter 5:7; Hebrews 4:16). And, I believe that we should always pray with the conviction that He can do it, that he is willing to do it, and that He will actually do it. Anything less, I believe, is an offense to the nature and the heart of God, an offense to who He is in relation to us. That way, God is always honored by the manner in which we present our request. And, if God says “No”, then we can rest assured He had a good reason for doing so, even if we never find out what the reason was. In truth, God does not owe us an explanation, regardless of how badly we want our answer to our “Why?” If we pray expecting God to hear our request and expecting that He will actually respond to it, then, I believe, we can expect the best possible outcome, whether or not it is the outcome we had in mind. The Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). And remember, God always has a good reason; our God is a good, good God (Luke 18:19)!

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE.)