Interview: Joel Rosenberg
While everyone’s talking about Israel, not many people have a factual perspective on the nation. Since they don’t live in Israel, they don’t understand its politics and culture. But this week’s guest is here to help explain these things!
Continuing from last week’s interview, Joel Rosenberg offers valuable information about Israel, where he made Aliyah with his family after living in America for his entire life prior to moving to Jerusalem. He’ll give you firsthand details about that move this week, along with a focus on the big picture of Israel—specifically, how the movements we’re seeing in Israel today are leading to the fulfillment of the prophecy of Ezekiel 38 and 39.
As an evangelical Bible scholar living in the Holy Land, Joel is a respected voice in the arenas of biblical prophecy and Israel. You’re sure to learn something new through his insight, so enjoy this week’s interview!
To view Steve Herzig’s entire conversation with Joel, Click Here.
To learn more about Joel and the Joshua Fund, visit joelrosenberg.com.
Lastly, if you missed Joel on last week’s show, you can Listen Now.
Steve Conover: Welcome to The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. With me is our host and teacher Chris Katulka. I'm excited once again for you, our listeners, because we have Joel Rosenberg, an interview that was conducted with him for a special online event here at The Friends of Israel. We have him back once again this week.
Chris Katulka: Yeah. So Joel Rosenberg is going to be answering some questions. Last week, we heard from Joel on issues surrounding Israel, politically, their elections that are going on. He also talked about the new Biden Administration and how they're relating with Israel. But this week I'm excited, we're going to be looking into the Bible and God's prophetic Word. One of the things that Joel really specializes in is the battle of Gog and Magog from Ezekiel chapter 38 and 39, and really asking what's going on and is the return of Christ close? And so we've got some exciting stuff coming up. He's also going to be talking about what it was like for him to make Aliyah, to immigrate from America to Israel, with his family. So it's going to be a great interview, but first the news.
This came across my desk the other day, but London Mayor Sadiq Khan deployed more police after four people were arrested for shouting disgusting antisemitic rhetoric about Jewish mothers and daughters that cannot even be repeated on this radio program. The rise of antisemitism in London and elsewhere is in response to Israel's defense against the rockets that had been fired by Hamas on the Jewish state. Now here's my take on this. This happens all the time. Disagreement on Israel's response to Gaza always turns into antisemitic hatred toward the Jewish people globally. For me, this is exactly the reason Israel exists, so that Jewish people have the right to self-determination and self-protection or else they are left defenseless in a country of people that target them for simply being Jewish.
Last month, The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry hosted a special online event with Joel Rosenberg. Joel joined us to talk about what's going on in Israel. Steve Herzig, you know him probably because he's a friend of the program and regular guest. Now he had a chance to interview Joel, and they talked about everything from the Israeli elections to the Biden Administration. Really even what it's like sharing your faith in Jesus as a resident, as a citizen of Israel and whether or not we're close to Ezekiel 38 and 39, the battle of Gog and Magog.
So last week, Joel shared his thoughts on the elections happening in Israel, the future of Benjamin Netanyahu, what's in store for him and how the Biden Administration has changed and altered the US relation with Israel and really the rest of the Middle East as well. But today we're going to turn to prophecy, specifically the battle of Gog and Magog from Ezekiel chapter 38 and 39. Joel Rosenberg is going to share his thoughts about the alliances that are being formed in opposition to Israel that seem to be pointing to this prophecy that was written 2,500 years ago. But before we get to that, Joel has some very nice things to say about The Friends of Israel, I think you need to hear.
Joel Rosenberg: The Friends of Israel is a ministry that we have been so encouraged by. The staff that we know personally and well and respect deeply, these are really wonderful believers whose heart and whose fruit is really being born out as they care for, they love, as they minister to Jewish people, particularly here in the land of Israel so much so that we've been so encouraged by The Friends of Israel Ministry that we are financial supporters, have been for a number of years. Well, it's not a direct impact, but it is an impact that encourages us because a lot of ministries in the world today, they will describe that they love Israel and they will provide political support and all kinds of enthusiastic support for Israel, but they're not willing to get involved in telling Jewish people that our Messiah has come or helping young, new believers in Jesus, from a Jewish background to walk and grow in their faith.
And that's a shame because more Jews are coming to faith in Jesus as Messiah in the last 20 or 30 years than in the last 20 centuries. And that's true in America. There are now 871,000 Jewish followers of Jesus. That's an extraordinary number. We did a research project, The Joshua Fund to help fund a few years ago with the Southern Baptist. That's an amazing concept. Almost 900,000 Jewish evangelicals in the United States alone. Here we've gone from 23 Jewish followers of Jesus in 1948, 23, some of them, I still know. I mean, I know them personally. It's like knowing believers off the Mayflower or something. But we've gone from 23 Jewish followers of Jesus here in Israel to 30,000, according to the Israel College of the Bible study just a few years ago. That's growth. That's tremendous.
And what we need today are ministries like Friends of Israel that are not ashamed of the gospel, knowing that it is the power of God for salvation to the Jew first, but not only to the Jew, obviously to the Greek as well, to the Gentile. So I'm encouraged. That's what excites us. And that's why we're grateful for The Friends of Israel Ministry.
Chris Katulka: Joel, thanks so much for your prayer and support and even your financial support of The Friends of Israel. We asked Joel, his thoughts on the current political climate and how it connects to the prophecy of Ezekiel 38 and 39. And here's what he had to say.
Joel Rosenberg: You already sense in the first century that the Messiah is coming and he's coming soon. John the Baptist is telling you, he's coming soon. Hello! Now, okay. So that's the same approach we need to take to prophecy, which is what does the text actually tell us? What are the things that are watchable, that are knowable? And then what's happening in our world? Are we analyzing the present times in which we live from a biblical worldview, from a, what I call, the “third lens of scripture,” particularly prophecy? And so on that note, I'll just say this. If you look at Ezekiel 36, 37 and then into 38, what are you looking at? You're looking at a series of prerequisites prior to this big Gog and Magog war. And the Gog and Magog war is Russia and Iran and Turkey and a group of other countries building an alliance, surrounding Israel and coming to attack us in what the Bible calls "the last days", and that the attack will largely come from the north. Okay? That's the war of Gog and Magog. Right?
Now what are the prerequisites? Well, Israel has to be reborn as a sovereign nation state. Check. Jews have to be returning and resettling in the lands of Israel. I think you can check it. I'm not saying that all Jews are here. You're still obviously in New Jersey or wherever you are right now. Okay, so we're not all back yet. And I joke with Israelis, look, when five million American Jews come back, that's going to be a lot of traffic problems. You think we have problems now? Housing prices are high now to get an apartment, wait till all the American Jews come. Okay. But still, it's extraordinary. Here I am talking from Jerusalem. What are the prerequisites? In the text it tells us that the Jews will be rebuilding the ancient ruins. Well, that's happening.
I'm not saying these are fulfilled, but they're being filled. Maybe they're not fulfilled. Maybe they're not going to be fulfilled, emphasis on the ful, for hundreds more years in God's economy, but look at what's happening. That's the setup. And then Israel has to be prosperous. There's no question. Israel is more prosperous today than any other time since Solomon, right? We have natural gas, massive quantities of natural gas off our borders. We have Silicon Wadi, right, instead of a Silicon Valley. Most of the stuff that's made in your phone or in your computer or your high tech stuff was built or designed or invented in Israel.
Something big is happening here, but also Israel is still insecure. Yes, Iran is a threat and there are other threats. But at the same time, Israel does have a strategic relationship and alliance with America, the world's only superpower. We do have F-35 stealth fighter jets that can slip into our enemy countries, without even being seen. We have submarines parked, lurking right off the coast of Iran right now, as you and I speak. There are missiles that are not going to leave an insignificant scar on the Iranian regime and its military facilities, if they have to be used. They're parked right there and waiting. We have peace treaties with Egypt, with Jordan and now with four other countries.
Look, it's a conundrum, right? Two things are true at once. Israel is the most targeted country on the planet and Iran is becoming more dangerous than ever. I just said that. And yet Israelis feel more secure than we ever have. We're Jews. We get that people hate us and they want to kill us and they want to annihilate us. That's not new. You go back to Haman trying to say, “we're going to annihilate the Jewish people,” or the Pharaoh, and right up to Hitler and right up to the Ahmad genocide, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad genocide in his day, the President of Iran, and now the - look, people hate us. They want to destroy us. But yet God is favoring us. This is exactly the dynamic, Steve, that the Bible speaks of that would be in motion before this Russian-Iranian-Turkish alliance happens. And now in the last 20 years, particularly in the last 10 years, even more particularly in the last few years, Russia, Iran, Turkey are forming an alliance. That is not normal. It hasn't happened in the 2,600 years since Ezekiel wrote the prophecy, but it's happening now.
Now one curveball. I'll just give you one and then I'll stop because now I'm giving a sermon. So I don't mean that. But one country that's interesting is the country in the prophecy of Kush. Now, historically a lot of English translations of Ezekiel 38, will describe Kush, will translate it as Ethiopia. And it's certainly true that Ethiopia is part of what ancient Kush was, but ancient Kush is really the country we would today call Sudan. Now, when I wrote a book called Epicenter 15 years ago, which really goes into these prophecies and what was happening then 15 years ago, it looks, wow. Things are really moving. The trajectories are so interesting and compelling that we're getting closer to the fulfillment of this prophecy. But at the time I said, well, Sudan, that's interesting because Sudan is a country that's a radical jihadist country, aligned with Iran. When President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wanted to give a speech, talking about destroying the evil cancer of Israel, he gave it in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. Sudan has a military relationship buying weapons from Russia.
So at that time, 15 years ago, seemed like, well, I can see Sudan being in a coalition against Israel, but today, Sudan has just signed a peace treaty with Israel. So it's actually moved us back slightly from the brink. And it's interesting. What's going to happen there? Turkey, when I wrote the book 15 years ago, was a friend of Israel and Israelis took cheap vacations by flying up to Antalya and other coastal cities in Turkey. It's beautiful. I've done it. It's just a gorgeous country. But in the last few years under President Recep Erdogan, the Turkish President, he is taking them to the dark side, hassled Israel. And yet this week, now he's talking about maybe lightening up a little bit on Israel and maybe Egypt.
So, let me stop there. I'm happy to talk more about it, but there are things that are happening that are very consistent with the prophecies. There's some things that are happening that are not consistent with the prophecies.
Chris Katulka: I totally agree with Joel. And I think Jesus speaks to this issue when he says to the Pharisees and Sadducees, "When evening comes you say, 'It will be fair weather, because the sky is red,' and in the morning, 'It will be stormy today, because the sky is red and darkening.' You know how to judge correctly the appearance of the sky, but you cannot evaluate the signs of the times." As Joel said, these events may not be the fulfillment of prophecy, but they are definitely filling what God has in store for us. And we need to be people who wait and watch for what God is doing in the future, evaluating the signs of the times.
And to do that, we actually want to help you. We have an upcoming online conference that I'm very excited to share about. In a little bit, Joel's going to explain his process of making Aliyah as a Jewish person from America to Israel, immigrating from America to Israel. And he lives in Jerusalem. And you know, Jerusalem really is the heartbeat of what God is doing in the world. It's such a significant city to God and to the world. World powers have been wrestling for control of Jerusalem for 3000 years, but really God has the final say on its destiny.
So I want to encourage you. We're going to be doing an entire conference all about Jerusalem from the very beginning of Jerusalem, its origins in the scriptures to the very future of it, prophetically the new Jerusalem. We're going to be hearing from Dr. Jim Showers, Dan Price, Dr. Mike Stallard, Bruce Scott, Steve Herzig and a very special guest, Dr. Randall Price, an archeologist, a specialist when it comes to Jerusalem. It's going to be a fantastic conference as we look forward to seeing what God has in store for Jerusalem.
Steve Conover: Yeah, Chris, as I mentioned last week, this is our third online conference since the beginning of the pandemic. And it really has been an exciting way for us to connect with you, our audience and those we regularly see in person. So we hope you join us in July to learn more, visit foiconferences.org. Again, that's foiconferences.org.
Chris Katulka: If you're just joining us, we're airing a special recording of an interview that we had with Joel Rosenberg a few weeks ago. God has used Joel to be an American evangelical representative to the Israeli people and really to the entire Middle East. In a previous segment, Joel explained the prophetic events surrounding Ezekiel chapter 38 and 39, the battle of Gog and Magog, but now we're going to transition for a moment. Joel Rosenberg seven years ago made Aliyah with his family to Israel. That means as an American Jew, he immigrated to Israel and he now lives in Jerusalem with his family. His youngest two sons have served in the Israeli Military. And I want you to listen to how Joel describes what it was like immigrating from America to Israel, the blessings, and also the hardships.
Joel Rosenberg: I meet Jewish believers who have been denied or fear being denied the right to immigrate into Israel and make Aliyah. And it's very painful. And they ask me, "What is your secret?" I don't have a secret. I mean, there was no secret. We applied, we wrote them a cover letter that says we're evangelicals. We didn't want to hide it. I'm pretty high profile, so there was no point in hiding it. In fact, for me, it was sort of like, that cover letter to the application was sort of like Elijah pouring gallons of water on the sacrifice. Like if it lights, it's God. Nobody's going to give the Rosenbergs any credit. And we don't deserve any. The Lord in His still small voice called us to come, mid-career, teenagers, like not a convenient time to sell your home, do Genesis 12, "Leave your home, leave your father's house and go to the land I will show you." No, it was easier for us in the sense that we had a plane to take us there.
But we had phones, and Waze, which is the GPS system, but it's difficult. So God just did it sovereignly. Job 42 tells us nothing can thwart his will. If God wants you in this country under any visa setup or under citizenship, he will do it. Nobody can thwart that. And we have to trust the God of Israel. If he's calling us in, he's going to make a way. So there's no secret for us. Now, we had some good counsel, right? We tried not to do things that were foolish.
But I think the larger point is having come here, having brought our kids many times, they love Israel, but it was hard, Steve. Americans mostly don't make Aliyah. Right?
Steve Herzig: Very difficult.
Joel Rosenberg: Most Jews who moved to Israel, they are coming from countries where they are in danger, or they perceive themselves to be incurrent or not too far from danger. Danger. And so when they hit the hard moments, which I've wished there are many in this country, more than we have time for, they... It's cross-cultural, it's food, it's relationships, it's politics, it's trying to get a driver's license. Like you cannot even believe how hard things are. You're like, how's a people this bright, how do they have systems that are so messed up? It's like, unbelievable. Nevertheless, when you hit those moments, relationally or structurally, bureaucratically, whatever, legally, financially, if you're from Yemen, you're like, well, thank God I'm not in Yemen. Thank God I'm not in Ukraine where they're beating the snot out of me. Like okay, we're here, we're safe, but it's hard. Okay. Americans don't think that way.
Now when you leave the world's wealthiest, most powerful country on the face of the planet, in the history of mankind where everything's been made to be as easy as possible and you come to Israel, a developing country, a mix between East and West, it is not easy. And it hasn't been easy for us, but it's what we're supposed to be doing. We see fruit. We're so glad. We're grateful, but it's hard. And I don't want to kid anybody. It's not for the faint of heart. And therefore I don't try to go out and persuade people to make Aliyah. It's between you and the Lord. He's got a timing. When he's ready to call you, say yes.
Chris Katulka: I hope that you were blessed by this interview with Joel Rosenberg. God has put Joel in such a unique position for such a time as this, to represent the evangelical Christian to the Israeli people, and really to represent us to much of the Arab world as well. There's so much more to hear in our interview with Joel, so please go to foiradio.org to watch the full interview online. I promise it's going to be informative, enlightening and encouraging.
Steve Conover: Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life and ministry of Holocaust survivor Zvi Kalisher.
Mike Kellogg: I've lived in this part of Jerusalem for more than 35 years. And my children grew up playing with their Arab neighbors. Today, my children's Arab friends are adults and they blindly hate Israel. Recently, after many years, I ran into some of them. They recognized me and asked about my sons. One said, "Your sons were our friends. Now they hate us." I replied, "They don't hate you. I have taught them to love."
"Even to love those who hate you?" one asked.
"We believe in the living God and the Lord teaches us not to hate, but to love one another."
"What books do you read that you speak such nice words, even to your enemy?"
"Would you like to see the book?" I replied.
"Yes," they all agreed. "We want to read it. And we want to know who wrote it." I showed them the Holy Bible. They were very surprised.
"You know," one told me, "we want to read this book, but our parents are fanatic Muslims. They would kill us if they saw us reading the Jewish Bible." I told them that the Bible was given to all people, not only Jewish people.
"Do you have a Bible in our language, Arabic?"
While we were talking, two other Arab friends were listening. "We, too, know your sons," one said. "Many years ago, we played football together." By football they meant soccer. "We also want one of those books, but in Arabic."
I told them, "This is the Holy Bible. And here it is not written to hate your friends. It tells us about faith and love. And those of us who have believed in the Lord no longer hate, because God enables us to love." Now they all wanted a Bible.
"Are you sure this book is not only for Jews?" one asked.
"I am sure. This book is for everyone." They asked me many questions. They even asked in what language they must go to the Lord.
"The language does not matter. What matters is that you go to Him with your heart. You pray to Him and He will answer you."
I showed them Isaiah 49:5, which says, "And now the Lord says, who formed me from the womb to be His servant, to bring Jacob back to Him so that Israel is gathered to Him, 'Is it too small a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel? I will also give you a light as to the Gentiles, that you should be my salvation to the ends of the earth.' Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, their Holy One, 'To him whom man despises, to him whom the nation abhors, to the servant of rulers: Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, Because the Lord who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel; and He has chosen you.'"
They wanted very much to read what was written there.
"This is the beginning," one said. "We will come one day and speak with you about what we have not spoken about. Are you ready?"
"It is my duty before the Lord to be ready."
Please pray for these men. We know in prayer, we see the mighty power of God.
Steve Conover: Thank you for joining us today. Chris, tell our listeners where we're headed next week.
Chris Katulka: Steve, I'm actually texting with Lorna Simcox right now, as we speak to line her up for an interview that she's going to be talking about. She's our editor-in-chief of our flagship magazine, Israel My Glory. She's going to be sharing about our most recent issue, which is called The Power of the Gospel. It's a fantastic issue of how God can reach down through the work of Jesus Christ to deliver anybody. Lorna's going to talk about this. I got her lined up, Steve. She's texting me, letting me know that our listeners are going to be able to hear from Lorna Simcox.
Steve Conover: We can't wait. It's always great to have Lorna in the studio with us. Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold. 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 evangelical ministry, proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
Jerusalem in Prophecy Online Conference
July 18-20, 2021
Discover the fate of Jerusalem in our special 3-day, 12-session online conference! You’ll learn through Scripture what has made this city the subject of world powers’ attention throughout history, what is still to come, and how God is guiding its destiny.
Apples of Gold: This Book is for Everyone
A man’s children can play a big part in his ministry. Zvi’s children helped him be an effective witness by their loving attitude toward others. They grew up playing with their Arab neighbors, and when Zvi saw these neighbors 35 years later, he found that prejudice had overtaken them. They assumed that his children hated them, but Zvi explained that he taught his children to love. This opened the door for a discussion about the Book that they lived their lives by.
The Friends of Israel Today theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
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