Our Bible lesson
this week portrays one of the ways that God communicates with us.
God communicates with us through Scripture, the Holy Spirit, experiences
of life, and lessons in nature. At other times though, when there
is something very special or very important to tell us, He may speak
to us directly. Sometimes He chooses individuals through whom He
communicates His messages of truth to the world. He talks to them
by means of dreams and visions. These people are called prophets.
The Bible is
full of stories of God's intervention in the affairs of men. He
spoke to His people through dreams, visions, impressions, audible
voices, strange events, and sometimes even through animals.
Our story for
today is an amazing account of how God used an odd event, a strong
impression, a voice, an animal, and a dream to speak to various
people, all for the sake of saving one man from certain disaster.
Jarvis was fast asleep in his own warm and comfortable Victorian
bed, two men got into an argument in a tavern in a country town
many miles away. One man, after being badly beaten by the larger
and meaner man, vowed that one day he would kill him. Even though
everyone in the tavern felt the same way about the detestable character,
he laughed at the poor man's revengeful statements and walked out.
A month later
Jarvis was in Plymouth for an overnight business trip. He had had
a long and tense day, could not sleep, and walked around to look
at the closed shop windows, the park, and the famous Plymouth courthouse
clock. Since the clock sounded off the hours with an unusual gong,
he decided to wait around another few minutes to hear its memorable
As he stood
near the decorated marble base, he noticed another man staring at
to hang around till it shakes this whole base with twelve loud gongs,"
the stranger said. "I've never heard it strike, much less twelve
times," Jarvis replied. "I'm sure that from the size of
those bells it must really make quite a noise. I wonder how the
poor folks near here can get used to it."
Just then the
first striking of the clock began. One, two, three, four. . . Jarvis
had to move away from the base somewhat as the vibrations in his
ears began to resound again after each note. . . eight, nine, ten,
eleven, and twelve. But before he could move away from his listening
place, the strangest thing happened. The clock struck one more time.
The clock struck thirteen!
over to the other man and asked him if he had heard anything unusual.
just thinking about coming over to ask you the same thing, but I
was afraid that you might think I was a little loony," the
other tourist said with a big smile. "You heard it strike thirteen
times, too, didn't you?"
did," Jarvis said. "And I thought that I might get laughed
at if I told you I heard it go one more time."
They both laughed,
discussed the most unusual incident, and then departed their separate
a number of friends about it shortly after returning home. But,
as things happen, the cares of business and his heavy involvement
in his beloved church work and personal witnessing for the Lord,
he soon forgot the clock that struck thirteen.
passed and Jarvis found himself unable to sleep. All through the
night the scene of the clock striking that extra time passed plaguily
through his mind. Then, before dawn he felt a deep impression that
he was to go outside his house. The impression came to him, three,
four, five times again. Each time there was a greater urgency pressed
on him to go downstairs and out the front door.
I get out of this warm bed, get dressed, and go outside at this
unearthly hour?" he asked himself.
Again an impelling
force tried to move his mind to accept the fact that he was to go
outside. "It's pitch dark out there," Jarvis told himself.
"If I do go outside, what could I see?"
But as the feeling
did not decrease but continued to greatly increase, he got up, put
on his clothes, and went downstairs. And when he opened the front
door there stood his groom with his horse, saddled and bridled,
ready to be mounted.
this?" he asked after he had momentarily gotten over the shock.
"What are you doing out here with my horse at this terrible
the faithful, long-time servant replied, "I know that you will
find this very strange to accept, but I could not sleep. All through
the night and up until an hour ago, I kept hearing some kind of
mysterious voice telling me that you would be wanting the horse
very early this morning. Since you had not given any orders like
that, I had a real hard time, trying not to pay any attention. But,
Sir, the strange sensation in my ears was like a human's voice and
there was no one in the room. I turned on the light and looked.
I sure do hope that I haven't done anything wrong."
you haven't done anything wrong at all," Jarvis said to console
the worried groom. "As a matter of fact you did exactly the
correct thing the thing I'm going to do. I'm going to obey those
same 'voices' you've been listening to."
the horse, but before moving an inch or giving the first command,
he prayed out loud. "Lord, some very strange things have happened
in the last few weeks. First that clock striking thirteen; then
my impressions this night to get outside; and the good groom's instructions
to get the horse saddled and bridled for me to ride. I cannot dismiss
this as some passing fancy or freak of mind. I believe that You
are telling me to do something very important. Now, since I do not
know where to go or what it is You want me to do, please let the
horse lead me there."
And with this
said, he let loose of the reins, gave the horse a gentle nudge in
its side and the horse started off at a healthy pace. It was strange
to be sitting up on top of the gaiting animal, and not holding on
to his reins. As they moved away from their house, it seemed as
if the horse was heading down towards the riverside.
taking me to the riverside then this is all a mistake. There is
only one ferryboat down there and the first run doesn't start until
after sunrise. No one would be there for another two or so hours."
But the horse
made its way directly to the ferryboat. And standing on the ferryboat
was the conductor himself. "I can't believe this!" Jarvis
said to himself.
As he approached
the ferryboat, he saw that the ramps had been lowered for passengers
believe my eyes! What are you doing down here so very, very early
when I've heard you say so many times that you love to stay in your
bed to the very last minute, then quickly dress, and run out of
the house eating your breakfast as you run?"
conductor told Jarvis another bewildering story.
mighty right, mate, when you said that I love me sleep. Well, I
had a terrible time sleeping. It seems like around the midnight
hour I had a dream where I had to run down and ferry a man and his
horse across the river. I dream about taking people across the ferry
all the time and I still get me sleep. But this dream was different.
It was like if I didn't get down there something terrible was going
to happen. I woke up and I had been really sweating. I tried to
get back to sleep, but sleep just wouldn't come. I kept feeling
more and more like that wasn't any dream. So, I decided that if
I got me down here and did find a man with his horse waiting to
go across, then it was a supernatural thing. So, I had no choice
but to come. And I just got here about a minute ago."
Jarvis led his
horse up onto the ferry. And as the ferry slowly made its way across
the river, he prayed even harder for God to give him the wisdom
and strength to handle whatever his job was, wherever it would be.
horse on the other side of the river, Jarvis once again let the
horse go his own way. Soon the horse was off at an even faster pace.
After what seemed an eternity, they approached a large country town
where it seemed that not much was going on.
a man walking away from town, Jarvis stopped and talked with him.
"Sir," he inquired, "is anything of real importance
going on in this town today?"
I guess some folks think it's important," the man answered.
"There's a trial going on in the courthouse. Don't mean much
to me, though."
of a trial?" Jarvis asked.
no-gooder shot and killed another no-gooder, that's all."
went to the courthouse, hitched the horse, and walked in just as
the judge was addressing the prisoner. The courtroom was crowded
and Jarvis slipped in the back and stood up against the wall.
anything to say for yourself?" the judge asked the prisoner.
back was to Jarvis and he could not see his face. The prisoner quietly
answered the judge, "Your honor, I have nothing to say except
what I've said before. I'm innocent of these charges. It's true
that I disliked that old sot, and hated him something fierce when
he beat me up like that in the tavern. A lot of people told you
that they heard me tell him that I was going to one day kill him
for what he did, but I was mad, hurt, and ashamed. I had to say
something. But, honestly, judge, I didn't kill him."
was hushed. It seemed as if everyone was on the accused man's side.
Then the prisoner added something that shook Jarvis terribly.
the prisoner said. "I was not here the night of the killing.
I was on my way home from over beyond Plymouth. There is one man
who can prove that I wasn't here at midnight of the killing 'cause
we stood and talked together about the Plymouth clock striking thirteen.
rocked with laughter, and the judge rapped his gavel on the desk
to quiet things down.
that you can prove that you didn't kill him because you were in
Plymouth the night of his death, and that you can prove it if some
man who talked with you there when the clock struck thirteen (the
audience laughed again at this) instead of twelve would come up
and attest to that. Well, all I can say is. . ."
minute, your Honor," Jarvis said as he walked directly up to
the judge's desk and chair. "This man is telling the truth.
I would like to be sworn in as a witness and a friend of the court."
In a matter
of thirty minutes the condemned man was proved innocent, and was
at once set free.
As Jarvis and
the liberated man talked together outside the courthouse, the stunned
man asked him what brought him to the trial.
my friend," Jarvis answered, "some time back I came to
know the Lord as a personal Saviour and friend. He redeemed me at
Calvary. Now, through His mysterious intervention in the affairs
and minds of my servant, a good ferryboat conductor, my old faithful
horse, and myself, He has given you redemption from a death sentence."
As the two men
spent the remainder of the day discussing the plan of salvation,
the freed man vowed to look into his becoming a Christian, too.
Two months later, Jarvis received a small note from the happy and
most appreciative man. It simply read, "Redeemed Twice!"
to know that God could be so interested in us. "Nothing that
in any way concerns our peace is too small for Him to notice. .
. . No perplexity is too difficult for Him to unravel. No calamity
can befall the least of His children. . . of which our heavenly
Father is unobservant, or in which He takes no immediate interest."
Happiness Digest pp. 49,50.
we can be that God will still reveal His secrets of the future to
us just as He did to Daniel in today's Bible lesson.
Have you ever
wondered why, from the days of the pagan Roman Empire until now,
there has never been a united Europe? It is not that no one has
wanted it so indeed, many ambitious and talented men have tried
to unite it. There was Charlemagne who tried to do so in the eighth
century, Charles V in the sixteenth, and Napoleon in the nineteenth.
The answer to
that question is simple. God has decreed that it will not happen.
In today's lesson, you will find that through His prophet Daniel,
God foretold the future kingdoms of this world. A strange image
made up of different kinds of metals symbolized the progression
of the ancient world empires. The feet and toes, however, were different.
Daniel 2:42,43 states:
toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the
kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. As you saw the
iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of
men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does
not mix with clay." (NKJV)
For many years
the royalty of Europe attempted conscientiously to assure permanent
peace by means of intermarriage. At the outbreak of the First World
War almost all the ruling houses of Europe were interrelated. Yes,
at the outbreak of the First World War! The words "they will
not adhere one to another," even though they did "mingle
with the seed of men," proved only too true.
"I wanted to found a European system, a European code of law,
a European court of appeals." There would have been but one
people throughout Europe. Europe would have become one nation.
II and Adolf Hitler tried in the twentieth century. Millions still
living remember Hitler's piercing voice as in seemingly endless
harangues he portrayed the Nazi goal, "Germany over all! [Deutschland
uber alles!]." But the seven simple words "they will not
adhere to one another" were shown to be true in his case also.
C. Mervyn Maxwell
was fourteen when Hitler violated Poland's Danzig Corridor. His
family hovered around the radio listening to Britain's declaration
of war as the short-wave came in, successively loud and soft, clear
and garbled. The future was dark, but they had been brought up on
Daniel 2, and were sure that sooner or later Hitler would be defeated
by the Allies or by the second coming of Christ.
divisions swept across Europe. Hitler, like Belshazzar, defied the
God of Daniel. In March 1941, Hitler boldly declared, "See
my people? We do not need anything from God! We do not ask anything
from Him except that He may let us alone. We want to fight our own
war, with our own guns, without God. We want to gain our victory
without the help of God." His tank divisions swept across Europe.
The Allied forces had their backs to the wall at the English Channel.
At that stage of the war, it appeared that, in a few days, Hitler
would conquer all of Europe. He had every military advantage. His
generals carefully studied the weather patterns. They attacked at
a time when the weather was pleasant, to enable the tanks to move
swiftly against the Allied forces, and to keep the British from
evacuating their trapped army from the shores of Dunkirk.
At this time,
and after the fall of France, some students of prophecy cautioned
young Mervyn's father, Arthur S. Maxwell, editor of Signs of the
Times, not to continue writing editorials on Hitler's future defeat.
"How do we know that the prophecy of Daniel 2 will apply in
this case?" they asked. Maxwell replied by dedicating his next
issue to this interpretation of Daniel 2 and inviting his readers
to preserve their copies.
is the only one in the Bible," he wrote buoyantly, "to
which the words 'certain' and 'sure' are both attached [Daniel 2:45].
If for no other reason, with these two seals upon it we can surely
trust it with complete confidence. It cannot fail."
One night, while
the Allies seemed hopelessly trapped, a strange fog settled in.
Winston Churchill, in an emergency broadcast, appealed to the British
civilians to assist in an evacuation. Power boats, family boats,
yachts, barges, anything that floated was sent over under the cover
of fog to rescue the trapped Allied troops. The Allied forces, rescued
and regrouped, went back finally to win the war. Hitler had said,
"We don't need anything from God!. . . We want to fight our
own war." But seven words of Bible prophecy "they will
not adhere to one another" forbade such a takeover.
Arthur S. Maxwell,
the beloved 'Uncle Arthur' to many children around the world, loved
to tell his children of the important part that the prophecies of
Daniel played in his life. In England, when Arthur was fourteen,
an evangelist's sermon on Daniel 2 attracted his widowed mother
to the study of the Bible. It did not at first attract him to study
the Bible. More than once young Arthur locked himself in the upstairs
bathroom to escape the evangelist's house calls, then climbed to
freedom down the outside English plumbing.
At the age of
sixteen, however, he gave his heart to Christ. Two years later,
World War I began. During the terrible conflict he watched Kaiser
Wilhelm II match his might for four years against the image of Daniel
2. Arthur S. Maxwell's confidence in the impregnability of the prophecy
was ready when Adolf Hitler took his turn.
The toes of
that great image hold special interest for us today. We can see
that if the image represents a timeline, we are at the end of it.
Rome no longer rules the world. There is no single ruling power
today. We are living in the time of the feet and toes of iron and
clay that will not adhere to one another. The next event, as you
see in today's lesson, cannot be far in the future. Friends, Jesus
is coming very soon. Wouldn't you like to get ready for Him?
May God bless
you as you seek to understand some of the mysteries that God has
told us about through Daniel the prophet.
From your friends
at Steps to Life