This program is a rebroadcast from January 7, 2017.
How God Relates With Us
Today we will look at how our great God relates with His people, both past and present. The God of this universe, Maker of the heavens and earth, wants a relationship with us. First we look at the Trinity, the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Son; God is three distinct persons who interact and relate with one another but are one. But how does God interact with us? We’re sinful, unreliable, and just plain messy! God relates to us through covenants. What is a covenant? It’s a promise initiated by God to a particular person or group of people. So how does that work exactly? Listen and find out.
Steve Conover: This is Steve Conover of the Friends of Israel Today. We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year holiday. And as we move into 2021, we've selected a favorite series of ours to start us off right. From the archives we are revisiting an important topic, the Old and New Covenants. Stay with us. This is the Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover.
Chris Katulka: And I'm Chris Katulka.
Steve Conover: Isaiah chapter 40 says, "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever." As we begin 2017, I want to thank you for faithfully supporting our ministry as we share the good news of the Messiah and stand with the state of Israel. We're looking forward to a new year, and 2017 is sure to be full of global change, but we're confident in our loving heavenly Father and his never changing Word. In fact, our motto here is, "We teach biblical truth for changing times." So I invite you to stay tuned for an exciting year of programming as we continue to stand firmly on God's Word in an ever-changing world.
And I'll remind you to visit FOIradio.org to get your free one-year subscription to our magazine, Israel My Glory. If you love Israel and the Jewish people, if you love great biblical teaching, and if you believe God has a future program for his people, Israel, call our listener line at 888-343-6940. Again, that's 888-343-6940.
Chris Katulka: Today on the program, we are going to be looking at an amazing concept about how God relates with us, how he keeps a relationship with us through his covenants. And then we're going to begin to unpack the recent United Nations resolution that was brought against Israel. And then finally, Apples of Gold.
Recently, President Elect Donald Trump has tapped New York real estate and bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman to be the United States ambassador to Israel. Trump's choice is definitely a change, as we're talking about change coming, in status quo, when it comes to past presidents' appointments to Israel, Friedman has a pro settlement philosophy in the West Bank. He desires to see the US embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. And he's been critical of liberal Jewish organizations like J Street. His views have created quite a stir among the media within the past few weeks. I believe Friedman's appointment, however, could strengthen our relationship with Israel after a rocky eight years under President Obama.
Steve Conover: Thanks Chris, to listen to past programs or to read our notes for today's show, visit FOIradio.org. Now we look into God's Word to see how he keeps a relationship with us through his covenants.
Chris Katulka: A new year means new beginnings and a fresh start on things, and so that's why I wanted to start the new year talking about something very important, a subject that I believe will help give us a firm footing spiritually as we begin the new year. And that's the subject of how God relates with us. How he related with us in the past, and how he relates with us today.
One of the most important concepts to try to wrap our minds around is that the perfect God who created the heavens and earth desires to have a personal relationship with you and me, that God would reach down into our world and seek to commune with us. This idea will almost take your breath away when you spend time thinking about it. And we often get caught up in our own individual worlds, our families, our careers, that we don't ever step back and think about just how big God is, and just how small we are. In some way, we create our own little universe.
But I had this moment for the first time when I found out just how little my world is. I was reading the news online a few years ago, and I read that a NASA spacecraft that was launched years ago took a picture of Earth from Saturn. And so I wanted to see what this looked like. So I clicked on the link and what I saw completely changed the way I think about God. Earth from Saturn is nothing but a tiny speck of light, just hanging there in the vast universe. When I saw that picture, everything that I was stressed about, everything that consumed my world at that moment meant nothing, when I saw just how tiny we are in the universe that was created by God. And then to think that the God who created this universe where the earth almost seems to haphazardly skip around, cares about me and desires to have a personal relationship with me.
And nothing is haphazard to God. He's responsible for everything, from holding the Earth in its place, to pursuing a relationship with me and you. And that's what I want to talk about for today and next week, how our great and mighty God pursues and keeps a relationship with his people.
First, I think it's important to understand that God himself is relational, the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit show that the one creator God of the universe is relational. God is three distinct persons, and from these persons, they interact and relate with one another. But at the same time, they are the same essence. They are God. But how does God relate with us? How can our Holy God interact with us? We, who are oftentimes unpredictable, unreliable, and definitely not holy like him. Well, he relates with us through covenants.
A covenant in the Bible is a very special promise that's initiated by God to a particular person or to a group of people. And one of the striking features of the two covenants that we're going to look at this week and next week is this. It's faith in God that allows us to enter into a covenant relationship with him. And then that covenant relationship is what will set the boundaries on how we relate with God.
And so today, we're going to look at the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant is often known as the Mosaic Covenant, the covenant God made with Moses, where God promised to enter into a special relationship with his people. It's called the Mosaic Covenant because Moses was the mediator. He was the one that would stand between God and the people of Israel. And so it often became known as the Mosaic Covenant.
It's important to notice that the relationship between Israel and God can often be pictured as a marriage. Check this out. The heart of the Old Covenant comes from a passage in Deuteronomy chapter six, verses four and five. In Judaism, it's called The Shema. It's the single most important saying in Judaism, and it reads much like this. It reads like a marriage ceremony. Just listen. Hear O Israel, the Lord, our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and with all of your soul, and with all of your might.
So at the heart of the Old Covenant was supposed to be a relationship whose foundation was faith in the Lord, and from that faith, both a purpose for Israel would arise, and then from that purpose, a desired obedience to God's law would arise on the part of Israel. Faith is the bedrock to a relationship with God. And from that faith, God gives us a purpose and a call to obey, follow, and trust him.
Here's Israel's purpose from Exodus chapter 19, verses six and seven. God tells Israel that if they enter into this relationship, this covenant with him, by faith, if they trust in him, then he will set them apart from every other nation of the world, and he would give them a purpose as being a kingdom of priests, that Israel, as a whole, in this relationship with God, would be chosen to minister the truth about God to the nations of the world.
The Old Covenant was a special promise that God would use to enter into a unique relationship with his people, Israel. Remember, Israel entered this relationship in faith, and as a result, God's desire was for his people to obey the rules he established in the relationship. Yet Israel wouldn't be able to fulfill their covenantal purpose with God if they didn't obey him.
Listen to what Moses says here in Deuteronomy 11, verses 20:12 through 22. I'm going to read selected verses here. Now Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you except to revere him, to obey all his commandments, to love him, to serve him with all of your mind and being, and to keep the Lord's commandments and statutes that I am giving you today for your own good. The heavens indeed, the highest heavens, belong to the Lord your God, as does the Earth and everything in it. Revere the Lord your God. Serve him. Be loyal to him, and take oaths only in his name. He is the one you should praise. He is your God, and the one who has done great and awesome things for you that you have seen. When your ancestors went down to Egypt, they numbered only 70, but now, the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars of the sky.
The Old Covenant, everybody, was the means by which God would establish a relationship with his people. It was a relationship built on faith alone, but from that faith came a special purpose God gave Israel. And in order for Israel to fulfill that purpose, they needed to love and obey God's law and keep his commandments.
The problem in this structure was never God, or never his covenant or the law. The problem was us, and our inability to completely obey God. We broke the relationship God so desires to have with us.
We are no longer under the Old Covenant, praise God. But remember, the Old Covenant wasn't the problem. We were the problem. The law and all of its commandments were perfect. And from a Holy God, but we were the ones incapable of obeying God's commands. We fell short of the standards of God. But God wasn't through. He promised something better. He promised a New Covenant, a new way of maintaining a relationship with us.
So here's what I want you to. I want you to remember a few things as we begin this year. One, any act of God communicating with us, telling us about who he is and telling us what he expects from us, is an act of his grace.
Two, faith is the bedrock and the foundation to our relationship with God. It was that way in the Old Covenant, and as you'll see next week, it's the bedrock for the New Covenant.
Three, faith in God kick starts a divine purpose god has for each of us to accomplish his will. Just think about that for a moment.
And finally, faith in God should produce a desired obedience to him, to follow him, to trust him. Now notice I didn't say perfect, it makes us perfect. I said desired obedience. We are all human. Our flesh fails us. But the spirit of God dwelling in us should urge us to obey him.
Steve Conover: If you take a step back and look at one of the Bible's overarching themes, you'll see it's a beautiful story of redemption. And what's even more beautiful, is how God chose Israel to be central in his redemptive plan to repair the world.
Chris Katulka: Which is why last year's Friends of Israel Annual Prophecy Conference focused on this very topic, Repairing Our World, Israel Through the Ages. This eight CD box set features the Friends of Israel teaching staff, with messages including Israel's Passover, A Picture of Redemption, Israel's Promised Return, and a message I taught that I'd love for you to hear, Israel's Redeemer Repairs Our World. The 2016 Prophecy Conference highlights are now available for purchase as a CD set or individual MP3 downloads. Enjoy excellent teaching from the Friends of Israel Bible teachers. And think about joining us this summer at one of our annual conferences.
Steve Conover: To purchase your set, or download individual messages, visit FOIradio.org. That's FOIradio.org.
It was big news at the close of 2016 that the United States abstained from the UN resolution concerning Israel settlement communities in the West Bank. And Chris, I know you're itching to talk to our listeners about this absurd resolution. Now that some time has passed, can you share with us exactly what this resolution means, especially for Israel?
Chris Katulka: Yeah. Now that the dust has settled a bit, we can have a better understanding of what the United Nations' resolution is, and how it impacts Israel's hope for true and lasting peace in the region. So my hope is this, this week we'll look at the resolution and what it means for the Israelis and the Palestinians. And then next week, I'm going to share with you some of my concerns on how the UN's push for a two-state solution right now is a bad idea.
On December 23rd, the United Nations Security Council met, not to talk about Russia's push into Crimea, or Iran sponsorship of terrorism, China's human rights violations, or even the complete ruin of Syria. The number one issue for the United Nations was to scold Israel once again, and one more time before the end of 2016.
The United Nations routinely imposes their unfair resolutions on Israel, while neglecting the real issues of the world. And even UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon admitted that the UN has a disproportionate focus on Israel. Resolution 2334 went after Israel settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, essentially calling all the Jewish people that live in the West Bank in East Jerusalem illegal residents with no legal validity. The best way to put it is this. When you see a Jewish person at the Western Wall praying or dancing and celebrating, they are in direct violation of Resolution 2334. When you see a Jewish person in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, they are in direct violation of Resolution 2334. Jewish people that live in homes peacefully in their ancient homeland of Judea and Samaria, they are in direct violation of Resolution 2334. This UN resolution neglects history completely, by calling Jewish people illegal residents of Judea and Samaria, their ancient homeland.
My friends, Jewish people have lived in these areas for millennia, and actually have legal validity, opposite of what the resolution says, to be there under International Law. This is the Obama administration's legacy on Israel. President Obama has always had a distaste for the Netanyahu government. And I believe this was his parting present for Israel as Obama is stepping off of the world stage. And here's why I disagree with Obama and the United Nations. They consider the West Bank occupied by Israel when Israel took it from the Jordanians after the 1967 Six Day War.
Under International Law, to call a country an occupying force, they must take the land from a country that has sovereign control over the land. Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in Israel, Meir Shamgar, wrote in the 1970s that there is no applicability of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention regarding occupied territories to the case of the West Bank and Gaza strip since the convention is based, listen to this, based on the assumption that there had been a sovereign who was ousted and that he had been a legitimate sovereign, which was never the case for Israel in the West Bank.
The problem is this: no country had sovereignty in the West Bank, except Israel. Under International Law, Israel has every right to live in Jerusalem and to build communities in the West Bank, because the world gave them the right to do that back in the 1920s. Think of it like this. If Israel gives the West Bank to the Palestinians for peace, they are giving their own land.
The land is not occupied. Occupied makes it sound like Israel took the land from another country, but they didn't. The land is disputed. When you say the land is disputed, you're saying that the parties, the Israelis and Palestinians, must sit down to work together through negotiations to determine who will get the rights to certain areas of the land.
See, the settlement building, as much as the UN and the Obama administration want to make settlement building the obstacle to peace with the Palestinians, it's just not the truth. When Israel became a nation in 1948, think about it, they wanted Jews, Muslims, and Christians to live together in peace. Remember, Israel is a democracy. The true obstacle to peace for the Palestinians is the presence of Jewish people, which is antisemitism. They want every Jew out of a future Palestinian state.
This is a serious problem, my friends. And it's one that I am absolutely surprised at the United Nations, which is based on the premise of human rights and promoting peace would look to, to create a Palestinian state in this way. This absolutely gets rid of any leverage that the Israelis will have to create a long lasting peace with the Palestinians. So it was all hopeless.
No. First think about this. If President Elect Trump does what he says he'll do and move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, then the United States will be sending a signal to the world that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of the state of Israel. That's very, very important, because no other country has their embassy in Jerusalem.
And the most important is this, everybody. God is sovereignly in control of all things. He wasn't surprised by this resolution. So instead of getting ourselves all worried, let's trust him, even during these times of uncertainty.
Steve Conover: Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life and ministry of Holocaust survivor Zvi Kalisher.
Mike Kellogg: One day a few weeks ago, my son went to his music school to be tested on the saxophone, which he had only been playing for a month. The teacher gave him the choice of what to play and he played Holy, Holy, Holy. Everyone was very surprised at this. They said it was a nice song and he had played it well, but they wanted to know how he knew it. He told them it was an English song, but that he could sing it in Hebrew for them, which he did.
After this, they asked him where he had learned such a song. And he told them his father had taught it to him. They ask how his father knew it. And he replied that his father had learned it at the assembly. "I want to tell you that your boy is a very diligent student, to be able to play even Christian songs in only a month." I said to him, "If you think it's a nice song, why can it not be for Jews also? Is it not true that God has forgiven our sins too, as it says in the song?" He replied, "This melody is very nice, but the words are only for Christians." He then asked me, "Are you a Christian? You can feel free to answer me without fear." I answered, "I am a Jew who has accepted Messiah, promised in the Old Testament. And I believe in the promises of God and his fulfillment of them." He was only interested in whether or not I was a Christian.
I told him, "I am a Jew, and a good Jew, because I believe what Moses and the prophets wrote. Christ came to fulfill the Bible. And if you want to know more about him, read the Bible and you will find the answers to all your questions." And I asked him if he would refuse to teach my son now, because of me. "Oh, no. You can be sure of that. The only thing I want to know is how you came to have this faith."
"I came to my faith in the Lord by reading the Bible." He then said, "I know now that you are a believer in God, but I think that there is a big difference between God and Jesus. God is God. But Jesus was just a man who claimed to be God." I said, "If a small child had told me this, I would not be surprised. But you are a teacher. You know better." He replied, "I'm still interested in knowing how you came to receive in your heart this man whom you call your savior." "Please take the Bible and read it. And the answers will come to you as they did to me and many others like me."
I then gave him my complete testimony about how I came to know the Lord, and why I gave my heart to him. After this, he seemed to change his mind. He continued to ask me more and more about the Lord. In love, I continued to witness to him, revealing more things about Jesus, things which to him were unknown. I thank the Lord that he has changed his mind, which before was full of hate. And now my son can continue to play Christian songs at the music school without fear.
Steve Conover: I'll remind you once more that our latest conference audio set series is available for purchase. Visit FOIradio.org to learn more, or call our listener line at 888-343-6940. Again, that's 888-343-6940. Or you can write to us at FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099, or simply visit us, as we've mentioned, at FOIradio.org. Again, that's FOIradio.org.
The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry is supported by the generosity of people like you. And in fact, our ministry could not have existed since 1938 without Christians sensing the importance of what God is doing through our ministry. Would you prayerfully consider financially partnering with us? You can find a donate link on our website to learn more about the ways you can support us.
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.
2016 Prophecy Conference CD Set
If you take a step back and look at the Bible’s theme you will see it’s a beautiful story of redemption. And what’s even more beautiful is to how God chose Israel to be central in His redemptive plan to repair the world.
Our 2016 Prophecy Conference highlights are available for purchase as a CD set or individual downloads. Enjoy excellent teaching from The Friends of Israel’s Bible teachers. And think about joining us at one of our annual conferences!
At the end of 2016 the United Nations passed Resolution 2334 against Israel. This resolution essentially called the Israeli residents living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem illegal residents. Chris explains how the UN ignores Israel’s right to their homeland and does anything but promote peace.
Support the Vital Work of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry Before Midnight, December 31!
Help fund vital ministry outreaches at The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. Our year-end goal is to raise $500,000 to ensure the services, assistance, and care to the Jewish communities continue without missing a beat.
Thank you for giving toward the life-changing work of The Friends of Israel before midnight, December 31.
Every dollar you can give makes a difference.
Apples of Gold: This Man Whom You Call Your Savior
One day during music class, Zvi’s son chose to play “Holy, Holy, Holy” on his saxophone for a test. His teacher loved the music and inquired about the lyrics. When he heard them, the teacher decided to inquire with Zvi that evening at his home to see where and why his son knew a Christian song. Zvi feared the teacher would refuse to teach his son if he found out they were Christians. Listen how God had already worked out the details and Zvi was able to share his faith in Christ with this man.
Read Zvi’s life story by Elwood McQuaid in Zvi: The Miraculous Story Of Triumph Over the Holocaust.
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
Also heard on this week’s show:
»Walk By Night, Ketsa
»Last Look, Ketsa
»There’s a Wideness In God’s Mercy, Timothy Shaw, Timothy Shaw at the Piano