God’s Promise to Abraham finds its “Yes!” in Christ
Can you believe we’re already in week 8 of The Common Thread series? We hope you are seeing how one covenant between Abraham and God has impacted the entire world. This week we see the blessing of this covenant through the Messiah. You’ve heard it said that the entire Old Testament points to the coming of Jesus. Chris will show us how the promise to Abraham in Genesis 12 points us to Jesus. But did Israel see it this way? They were looking for someone to rescue them from the bonds of the Romans. However, Jesus came to rescue them but not from the Romans, but instead to save them from their sins.
To the Jewish people in Israel, they were waiting for the Messiah to rescue them from physical oppression, just like with the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, and the Greeks. They saw deliverance as physical but God saw it as spiritual. Sometimes we can forget that this is all part of the plan of God. Jesus never said to His Jewish brothers and sisters that since they rejected Him, He was through with them. It’s part of a bigger plan to bless the world through Jesus.
This week we are ending the program by talking about our most recent issue of Israel My Glory. Steve Conover sits down with Chris to talk about his article on the resurrection, “Incontestable.” Chris will talk about the evidence of Jesus rising from the grave.
If you’ve missed the previous episodes of this series, you can find them in our Archives.
Steve Conover: In the Old Testament, there was a longing for God to fulfill his promise to Abraham. This longing from 4,000 years ago found its culmination in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. This is the Friends of Israel Today, I'm Steve Conover. With me is our host and teacher Chris Katulka. On this episode, we're continuing our series called the Common Thread.
Chris Katulka: Steve, I love what the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians, that all of God's promises find their yes in Christ. And even though we're still awaiting the day for God to completely fulfill the promise he made to Abraham, we know it's Jesus. We know He is the one who will make it possible at His Second Coming.
Steve Conover: Thanks Chris. We're looking forward to that. But first in the news. Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority has rejected all tax revenue payments given to them by Israel. The decision to reject more than $222 million every month comes in response to Israel withholding part of the payment over Abbas' choice to pay Palestinian attackers and their families.
Chris Katulka: Steve, first of all, you know there was a statistic done that showed that 91% of Palestinians agree with Abbas that Palestinian attackers, Palestinian terrorists, and their families should be paid for the act that they do, which is just mind boggling to me. But the other part is this, is that president Abbas rejecting $222 million every month could financially cripple his people. Over what? Paying Palestinian attackers and their families. This is poor leadership on the part of Abbas and all of this is happening just as the US has ordered banks to withhold sending money to the Palestinian Authority. I hope Abbas can see that his decisions are going to have serious ramifications for his people.
We're continuing our series on the Common Thread and I hope I've been able to show you from the very beginning, way back in Genesis when God made the original promise to Abraham in Genesis chapter 12, that this promise matters to God. And that God was using Abraham and his descendants to essentially become a conduit of blessing to all the nations of the earth. That through Abraham and this unfolding story of his progeny in the Old Testament, God was working to redeem what was lost too, to resurrect what was seen as dead through this promise. Throughout the Old Testament however, this promise never saw its complete fulfillment. The promise God made to Abraham never saw its completion. Every chapter you read in the Old Testament is uniquely connected to this promise, but at the same time, the promise is never fully realized. You know, we like saying things like this. The entire Old Testament is pointing to the coming of Christ and that's true, but how do we even know what direction to point in the Old Testament? How do we know we're pointing in the right direction?
Well, I believe the Old Testament is pointing to the coming of Jesus because of the promise God made to Abraham, and that promise sets our face in that direction. The very fact that there is a longing in the Old Testament for the one who would bring redemption, for the one who would bring salvation, for the one who would bring deliverance is because of the promise God made to Abraham. And the fact that it was never fully realized.
Now before we continue, if you're just tuning into our Common Thread series and you're thinking to yourself, "Chris, what are you talking about here?" Well we've been journeying through the Bible for the past few weeks, discussing the promise that God made to Abraham and really how it binds the whole Bible together, from Genesis to Revelation. So if you're interested in catching up with our series, you can go to foiradio.org that's FOI as in Friends of Israel, radio.org and there you can get our past episodes. That's foiradio.org.
Now, it's interesting to think about, but when you get to the birth of John the Baptist and to the birth of Jesus, the gospel of Luke records what John the Baptist's father, Zechariah says. And listen to Zechariah’s song as it's called, listened to this. Luke 1:68-75: “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, because he has come to help and has redeemed his people. For he has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David. As he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from long ago that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. He has done this to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant.” Listen, here it is everybody. “The oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, the oath grants that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, may serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, for as long as we live.”
Zechariah the father of John the Baptist saw what was coming on the horizon. He saw that God was responding to his people, the descendants of Abraham, and he said, "Blessed by the Lord God of Israel, because he has come to help and has redeemed his people." God was doing something the people all throughout the Old Testament had longed for. God was sending a king from the line of David, King David, who would deliver his people and did you hear what Zechariah said? God remembered his holy covenant, the oath, that promise that we've been talking about to Abraham that he swore to our ancestor Abraham. And so Zechariah, like many Jewish people before him, were waiting for God to remember the covenant.
I'm reminded of when we were talking about Exodus way early on in our series here. It says that as the Israelites were in the land of Egypt, it said that God remembered the covenant he swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And you almost see that happen again as Zechariah is talking here. You know, how this promised covenant was supposed to give Abraham a land and descendants and a blessing that would be realized when they were in the land. But sadly during Zechariah's day, the Jewish people were in the land, but they were occupied by the Romans. And the people at that time, during the days of Zechariah felt oppressed by Caesar. And you know, this doesn't look like a blessing from God. This actually looks more like a curse. And friends, remember throughout Old Testament, history the story was the same. The Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, and the Greeks. They oppressed the people and occupied the land that God promised them. So this feeling goes way back. It's not just a feeling that was unique to Zechariah or the Jewish people of Jesus's Day. This feeling of wondering when God is going to fulfill his promise to Abraham is embedded in their culture. It's embedded in the way they worship God. It's embedded in the way they talk to one another. It's embedded in the politics of that day.
And here's what's interesting about Jesus's coming. I'm sure men like Zechariah and Simeon, who speaks a little bit later in Luke chapter two after the birth of Jesus, I'm sure that these men thought that with the Messiah's arrival, when Jesus came, God would knock out those pesky Romans and establish his kingdom on earth. But when you read through the gospels, you quickly realize something. Jesus doesn't spend any time on the Romans. Jesus doesn't spend any time cursing the Gentiles who oppress the Jewish people. Instead, do you remember what he says? Give back to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God, what is God's. Do you remember what Jesus was so focused on in the gospels? What he was so passionate about, what angered him? It definitely wasn't the Romans.
What angered Jesus the most in the gospels was the spiritually bankrupt leadership of the Jewish people who were leading the lost sheep of the House of Israel away from God, not closer to God as shepherds should do. Instead, they were leading them away from God, and Jesus knew this. Listen, what prevented Abraham's promise from becoming a reality wasn't the Romans. It was the spiritual status of his people. God has always wanted to bless the Jewish people throughout the Old Testament. God has always wanted to bring them back into the land of Israel. He promised them. God has always wanted to increase their numbers, and God has always wanted to use them to be a blessing to the nations, but what has prevented them from experiencing the fullness of that promise has always been Israel's spiritual status. That's why Jesus was less focused on the outside forces moving against Israel and the Jewish people, and more concerned about the internal spiritual condition of his people.
Seriously, the major problem the Jewish people had with seeing the promise made to Abraham, see its culmination in the Old Testament, was the law itself, the law that God made to the Jewish people, to the Israelites, through Moses. God said to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy Chapter 28, "If you don't keep my law," think about this. "If you don't keep my law, then I will kick you out of the land I promise to you through Abraham." God said to them, if you don't follow the law, you won't be a blessing. You'll be a curse. Now hear me when I say this, just because God punished Israel for not keeping the law, for not remaining spiritually obedient to him, that didn't mean God was through with the promise he made to Abraham. It's the reason Jesus came. See, the prophet Jeremiah envisioned a day when God's law would no longer be written on stone tablets.
Jeremiah chapter 31. But instead his law would be engraved on the heart of his people. Jeremiah called it the new covenant. And do you know what was surrounding that conversation about the new covenant in Jeremiah Chapter 31? God's telling Jeremiah how he plans to essentially make sure Israel and the Jewish people stay in the land, and how finally Abraham's promise will find its realization, it will find its culmination. How's he going to do that? He's going to make a new covenant and he's going to take that law away from the stone tablets and he's going to place it on the heart of his people. And friends, through Christ, God is going to change the spiritual condition of his people. He's going to give them a new heart that finally creates a spiritual environment for God's promise to Abraham to find its completion. And listen, when we return, we're going to see how Jesus Christ becomes the fulcrum, the crux this promise hinges on. So be sure to stick around.
Steve Conover: At The Friends of Israel, we want to provide you with every available resource for understanding the depth of the culture and history of the nation of Israel.
Chris Katulka: And that's why we're pleased to offer the video Israel My Home. This DVD captures the spirit of the Jewish people as they turned adversity into opportunity. Beautifully filmed to capture the landscapes of the Holy Land, this film is a new look at the state of Israel and the fulfillment of God's promise. One of the best ways to experience Israel is to see it yourself. But next to that is Israel My Home. Whether you've been to Israel or not, I highly encourage anyone who desires to encounter the holy land to purchase this DVD.
Steve Conover: If you love Israel, then you are sure to love this DVD. Don't delay. Visit foiradio.org and get your very own copy of Israel My Home. Again, that's foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back everyone. We're continuing our series on the Common Thread, which is all about how one promise God made to Abraham binds the whole Bible together. Every character of the Bible was looking back to this promise. And now we've been talking about how the rubber meets the road with this promise in Christ. And earlier on the program. I was arguing that from the outside, it looks like the thing that's preventing Israel from experiencing the promise God made to Abraham was the Romans or the Greeks or the Persians of the past. But what Jesus shows us in his ministry is that he's more concerned with the spiritual condition of his people than the Romans who oppress them. And I believe Jesus willingly went to the cross and died a sinner's death and resurrected three days later to change the spiritual condition of his people, so that the promise God made to Abraham can one day find its completion.
And look, this is why Paul says in Galatians chapter two verse 16, we too have put our faith in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law. Because by the works of the law, no one is justified. How is one deemed as righteous in the eyes of God? It's certainly not found in the law. It's found in the faith we place in the one who willingly suffered a sinner's death so that we might take on his righteousness. And here's what's amazing. The promise to Abraham still hasn't seen it's complete fulfillment. Jesus came to show us God in the flesh, to see and to hear from God, and Jesus also died and resurrected to change, think about this, our spiritual condition. But the sad reality is this. As you look at what happened in the New Testament and even today, most of the Jewish community of Jesus's Day rejected him, they turned away from him. The one who could change Israel's spiritual condition and welcome in the promise God made to Abraham was rejected.
And that's why Jesus says to Israel in Luke chapter 13 verses 34 and 35, "Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it. Look, your house is forsaken, and I tell you, you will not see me until you say blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord." Notice friends, Jesus didn't say to his people, you rejected me. I'm done with you. No, instead, Jesus says to his people, you have treated me the same way you've treated the very prophets God sent to you in the Old Testament. Instead of listening to them and turning to God, you stoned them and you killed them, and I tell you, you will not see me until you say blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
Jesus is saying this, even though you rejected me, just as your forefathers have rejected the prophets of old, I'm not through with you. You will see me come again when you cry out to me and accept me as Messiah. It's that moment at Christ's second coming when the promise God made to Abraham will find its completion. And all of this is possible. All of this is possible because of the very resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without the resurrection, none of this would have been verified. None of what Jesus' words or suffering. It wouldn't have mattered at all if Jesus just died, but Jesus' resurrection is the very thing that verifies all of the words and actions he did on earth.
But even now in Christ, the promise that God made to Abraham, think about this. It finds its yes because of his resurrection. Even now, Jesus Christ is the promised one who is welcoming and accepting and blessing all the families of the earth, just as the promise said. And think about it. Billions of Christians around the world from different nations speaking different languages, with different cultural backgrounds. They all believe in the Jewish Messiah, Jesus. Who reconciles them to who? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Steve Conover: Chris, you've been talking about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as it relates to the promise God made to Abraham 4,000 years ago. In our latest issue of Israel My Glory magazine, you wrote an article called Incontestable, which examines the evidence of the resurrection. And really the resurrection is what validates everything about Christ. How can we know or can we even prove that the resurrection is real?
Chris Katulka: This is interesting, 'cause I think a lot of times when we think about proving the resurrection, what we want to do is find some hard evidence, show me the stone or the cloth or something like that. Just physical evidence, archeological evidence. But you know what? We don't have to go there. You know, the Bible itself actually gives us some really amazing insights to prove that the resurrection was real. So let's go back actually to that early, early Sunday morning, the very day Jesus resurrected and Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary, the mother of James and other women went to the tomb to complete Jesus's burial process, in Luke chapter 24. And according to their testimony, this is really important, their testimony. When they arrived at the tomb, they found the stone rolled away. And out of curiosity, they proceed to enter the tomb and found Jesus' body missing.
The women recall in their testimony that two men stood beside the tomb saying he's not here, but he is risen. So interestingly, the gospel writers consistently and purposefully place Mary Magdalene as the first eye-witness of Jesus's empty tomb. And when you read through the post resurrection accounts, her testimony. Do you hear? I keep repeating testimony here, her testimony alone actually lends to the validity of Jesus' resurrection. If you want some proof that Jesus resurrected, the fact that Mary Magdalene is there first, and she has the first testimony actually gives us some good insights this was a real story. And here's why. A woman's testimony in the culture of that day during the days of Jesus was never well received. It was actually intentionally overlooked.
Think about this, even within Luke's account when the women rushed to share the news of the empty tomb with the Apostles, the men considered the women's report pure nonsense. That's what it actually says in the Greek, pure nonsense. So Peter was the only Apostle of the 11 who ran to actually substantiate her testimony and the women's claim. If Jesus's Resurrection was fabricated, the Gospel writers would have never placed Mary Magdalene in the front row to the most significant event in human history. During that time, you would think if this was just a made up story, what would the gospel writers have done? They would have placed Peter there. You know, they would have placed a man there, somebody whose voice mattered, someone whose testimony would have actually stood up in the court of law.
So Mary Magdalene's presence at the tomb provides good internal, so it's called internal evidence, internal and cultural evidence that Jesus's resurrection is true. Now, the women's account of the empty tomb was only the beginning of what would become a whole slew of a series of post resurrection appearances as Christ is appearing to the Apostles. Even Paul says in First Corinthians 15, that after Jesus's Resurrection, he appeared to Peter, the 12, 500 followers, James and then Paul himself. So when Paul puts that out there, in first Corinthians 15, he's actually telling his readers, you can verify my words about the resurrection because I just gave you a whole list of witnesses, eye witness people who have seen Jesus post resurrection.
And finally, I just want to end with this. The very fact that these men were willing to die for Jesus, they were willing to give up everything, to suffer and die and to really become a martyr for the faith, is a great testimony of the validity of Jesus' resurrection. No man will die for something they've made up. But see, what they saw really changed who they were forever, even enough so to die for it. So I think there's a lot of great internal evidence right from the Scriptures themselves to show these testimonies they matter and prove the resurrection is real.
Steve Conover: So what I hear you saying, Chris, is that the internal testimony shows or proves that these are not legends. These are historical events.
Chris Katulka: That's exactly what it is. These events matter, and they were backed up with eyewitness testimony.
Steve Conover: Thank you, Chris. I know there's a lot more to your article and the entire March/April issue of Israel My Glory is about the resurrection. You listener can get a free one year subscription to our magazine by visiting foiradio.org, sign up there to purchase or to sign up for a free one year subscription. And thank you for joining us for the program today. We've been speaking about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Chris, as we close, you wrote in your article for Israel My Glory, that without the Resurrection, Christ would have never been proven to be the Messiah of Israel. Without the resurrection, Christ would have never been vindicated for the slanderous words spoken against him during his life and the vicious suffering he endured on the cross. Without the resurrection, Christ's teaching and eternal sacrifice made for the atonement for our sins would have never been verified.
Chris Katulka: Yeah, and I'll add one more thing. The very resurrection of Jesus Christ is what verifies the fact that he will be the one to complete the promise that God made to Abraham.
Steve Conover: Amen. Thanks again, Chris. Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione, co-written by Sarah Fern. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide Christian ministry, communicating Biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while fostering solidarity with the Jewish people.
Israel, My Home DVD
This DVD captures the spirit of the Jewish people as they turned adversity into opportunity. Beautifully filmed to capture the landscapes of the Holy Land, this film is a new look at the state of Israel and the fulfillment of God’s promise. One of the best ways to experience Israel is to see it yourself. But next to that is Israel My Home. Whether you’ve been to Israel or not, we highly encourage anyone who desires to encounter the holy land to purchase this DVD.
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.