Israel My Glory In Depth: Interview with Paul Pierce
The book of Job is not for the faint of heart. Job dealt with the greatest losses a person can face and was tasked with remaining faithful to God through it all. Yet there is a subtle but undeniable presence of the gospel message woven throughout the book. As Job did throughout his trials, we look forward to the coming of our Redeemer in the midst of our suffering.
We welcome Friends of Israel Field Representative Paul Pierce to the show this week. He discusses the heart behind his Israel My Glory magazine article “The Message of the Gospel” and what we can learn about Jesus and our human condition through the life of Job. Come with open ears and an open heart, and discover how this Old Testament narrative teaches us about Jesus and the Good News even today!
Take a look at Paul Pierce’s article, “The Message of the Gospel.”
If you’d like to support Paul’s ministry, please visit foi.org/pierce.
If you’re interested in booking Paul as a speaker, Click Here.
Lastly, don’t forget to check out Chris Katulka’s editorial, “God Doesn’t ‘Cancel’ Us.”
Steve Conover: Welcome to the Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. And with me is our host and teacher Chris Katulka. I'd like to encourage you right at the offset to visit foiradio.org. Find out more information about The Friends of Israel Today Radio Program, you'll also find our archive pages to listen to six years worth of Chris's teaching. Again, that's foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Now, Steve, if our listeners have been tracking along with us for the past couple of weeks, we've been in a series called the Kidron Saga where we've been studying, we're getting to this place called the Kidron Valley to see the tension that exists between Mount Moriah, the prophetic tension that exists between Mount Moriah and the Mount of Olives. But we're going to take a little break this week and we're actually going to be looking at our most recent issue of Israel My Glory. I hope a lot of our listeners get Israel My Glory. I know I get excited anytime I see our magazine come in the mail, I get notified online that it's coming out, our latest issue. So we want to plug our latest issue of Israel My Glory, which is called When We Hurt, A Devotional Look at the Book of Job. I'm going to be reading my editorial from this particular issue. And then we're going to have Paul Pierce, who is a church ministries representative with the Friends of Israel to talk about his article from When We Hurt, A Devotional Look at the Book of Job.
Steve Conover: Yeah, we sure hope you stay with us for the entire program. But first in the news Israeli men's gymnast Artem Dolgopyat took home the Olympic gold medal in floor exercise, giving Israel its second ever gold in any Olympic event. Dolgopyat was born in Ukraine and he moved with his family to Israel when he was 12 and began training at Maccabi Tel Aviv, an acclaimed sports club that has produced multiple Olympians. Prior to this year, the only gold medal ever won by an Israeli was Gal Fridman in 2004 for windsurfing.
Chris Katulka: Well, here's my take. First of all, gold medal to Steve Conover for pronouncing the gold medalist's last name. You are a pro my friend as all of our listeners know, but also congratulations to Artem for his hard work and diligence. Prime minister Naftali Bennett summed up this moment for Israel perfectly in a phone call to the gold medal winner saying, "Thank you, Artem. You have made blue and white history." Bennett added, "The win caused great pride and excitement to all Israelis."
Chris Katulka: A missionary and church planner found himself in a difficult position. The cancel culture was endeavoring to silence him. His message was influencing the city and hearts were being turned to the Lord Jesus, but the locals were frustrated with the spiritual impact it was having on their community and their economy. The new believers who placed their faith in Christ were living by biblical values, the kind of values that contradicted the city's culture, which actually, like I said, had a direct effect on their economy. The local businesses actually were very offended, which led to a riot erupting. City officials attempted to quiet the crowd, but soon the whole city was in an uproar. The missionary wanted to speak to everyone, but even his friends and fellow believers were telling him to remain quiet. They felt if he spoke, it would only add gasoline to the fire. The city clerk stepped in to encourage the rowdy mob to calm down, and instead of instigating a riot to use the courts.
He told them that they could press charges against the missionary instead of pursuing violence. The missionary knew that this wasn't going to end well, so he left. Now, if you're wondering who is this missionary? Actually, I bet you know him. All of you, listening right now. I bet you all know him because his name is Paul. Like the apostle Paul. That's right. Paul was canceled by the Ephesians for the way the gospel of Jesus was changing the pagan culture of that town. The Ephesus riot recorded in Acts chapter 19 verses 23 through 41 gives us a peek into the biblical history of cancel culture. Friends listen, cancel culture isn't a modern phenomenon. It's an age old method of ostracism by marshaling power through public shaming. The angry crowd in Ephesus that sought to ostracize Paul sounds no different than the privileged college students who interrupt guest speakers with whom they disagree, or the self-righteous Twitter mob who boycott and drag anyone or anything they consider offensive into the public square of social media, shaming them until they cry and scream “uncle.”
What's different about the modern cancel culture is that it's become its own legalistic religion with no expiation or forgiveness, just public shaming for your past, present and even your potential sins. Just to show you how foolish cancel culture has become. Earlier this year, Winston Marshall, a banjo player for a popular British folk rock band, Mumford & Sons announced that he was taking a break from the group after he publicly praised the book “Unmasked” by Andy Ngo. Ngo’s book is critical of Antifa and its anti-democratic ideals. Well, Marshall tweeted, "Finally had the time to read your important book. You're a brave man." He said that about Ngo's book. Well, I'm going to tell you, Marshall received so much backlash online that he had to delete his post. He apologized to his audience and even stepped away from the band. He recently quit the band completely because he didn't want to drag the rest of his band mates into the pit of the cancel mob.
And when I say cancel culture will go after anyone or anything, I mean, think about it, they silenced a banjo that nobody knew for a book he enjoyed reading and thought it was profitable. So yeah, they can cancel anybody. It doesn't get any more random than that. The apostle Paul was canceled by both the Jewish and Gentile crowds. He was physically forced out of Poseidon Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Thessalonica for what he preached. He was jailed in Philippi, Jerusalem, Caesarea and Rome for what he believed about the Messiah Jesus. Paul was shut down. He was forced out. He was jailed, stoned, silenced, but notice, Paul himself never canceled anyone. I actually think it's a lesson for the church today. Prior to his arrival in Ephesus, the apostle made a stop in Athens where he was invited to share with a council on what he was teaching about Christ.
As a Jewish man, Paul could have used the opportunity to cancel all the pagan gods that encircled him as he spoke. Think about it. The 10 Commandments say you shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20 verse three. You know that. But instead of condemning the Athenians, canceling them and leaving, Paul opted to leverage his pagan environment for the benefit of the gospel. Instead of canceling, he chose to do a few things to change hearts. First, he comprehended his surroundings. He took inventory on who was around him, and what was surrounding him, the culture that they grew up in. He knew all of this. And after that, he brought clarity to the message of the gospel for his audience and then he challenged him. So he comprehended his surroundings, he clarified the gospel and then he challenged them. But how did Paul comprehend his environment? Well, “he observed carefully,” as the text says, he observed carefully his environment.
He wanted to comprehend the culture around him in order to build an argument. In order to build even a bridge to create a conversation. So he found an altar in the area where he was speaking, where everyone was standing around and on it was an inscription that said, "To an unknown god." Paul used the ambiguity of an altar to an unknown god, a god the Athenians maybe never even thought about to clarify God's plan of salvation through Christ for the Athenians. Paul says this in Acts chapter 17, starting in verse 23, "For as I pass along and observe the objects of your worship," he's speaking to the Athenians here, "I found also an altar with this inscription to the unknown god. What therefore you worship as unknown, I proclaim to you the God who made the world and everything in it being Lord of heaven and earth does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands as though he needs anything since he himself gives to all mankind, life and breath and everything.
And he made from one man, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet actually he's not far from each one of us, for in him, we live and move and have our being. And even some of your own poets have said ‘for we are indeed his offspring.’ Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance, God overlooked, but now he commands all people, everywhere to repent because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed and of this he has given assurances to all by raising him from the dead."
Did you hear that? Without being forceful, without canceling even, he left them with a challenge to ponder the resurrected Christ and some of the Athenians disagreed with Paul and they walked off, and others ignored him while others became followers and believed. Here's what's amazing. The religious Jewish people of Paul's day would have never stepped foot in this area. They would have canceled the Athenians with their absence, but Paul compassionately sought to comprehend, clarify, and challenge the Athenians to consider Christ, but he would never cancel them. Why? Because Paul wrote it himself. God never cancels us. Do you remember Romans five verse eight? "But God demonstrates his own love toward us, and that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Christians don't write off people because our loving Father didn't write us off. Do you hear that, my friends? God didn't write you off for your sins or my sins, past, present and future. In fact, God stepped into the sin of the world in order to cancel sin, to forgive sin, not cancel people.
The church should never be in the business of canceling. Statistically Americans are turned off by the thought of it and consider cancel culture a threat to our freedoms. Let's show the world that the love of Christ doesn't compel us to cancel, but to compassionately comprehend, clarify and challenge our neighbors with truth in love.
Chris Katulka: Now, you can read my editorial in our most recent issue of Israel My Glory, which is titled When We Hurt, A Devotional Look at the Book of Job. You can get your one-year free subscription to Israel My Glory, if you've never subscribed before. That's six free issues that will come right to your door, either paper version or a digital version that you can access online.
So I want to encourage you to get your one-year free subscription if you've never done it before of Israel My Glory, our award-winning Christian magazine, that really wants to make sure that you understand what's going on with the Israel and the Jewish people, not from a media perspective, not from the perspective of the world, but really from a biblical worldview. What does God's Word say about what's going on in the world today, specifically in the Middle East and with the Jewish people in Israel? We want to bring that to you through Israel My Glory. Steve, how can our listeners get their hand on a one year free subscription of Israel My Glory?
Steve Conover: Yeah, if you've never subscribed to Israel My Glory, simply go to foiradio.org. That's foiradio.org. There you can learn more about Israel My Glory and subscribe.
Chris Katulka: Well, I want to welcome a dear friend and colleague to the radio program. His name's Paul Pierce. He lives in Washington. He's one of our church ministries representatives here at the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry and if you don't know what a church ministries rep is, I was one of them at one point, when I used to live in Dallas, Texas. It's actually one of the funnest ministry jobs I think that exists. You get to go around and speak and represent Friends of Israel in different churches all around the country. You get to teach about Israel and the Jewish people, about the feasts of Israel, about God's plan and program for Israel and the Jewish people, and why God still has a plan and a future for this amazing people, really to do this type of job, you have to have a heart for God's scriptures and a hope and future for the Jewish people. So Paul, would you agree with me? It's a pretty fun ministry, isn't it?
Paul Pierce: Absolutely. I only wonder why it took me so long to get to it.
Chris Katulka: That's right. You're originally from more of the West Coast part of Washington State, and you recently moved to Spokane. So if anybody's in the West Coast and you're listening right now and you think your church might be blessed by having a church ministries rep come to speak in your church from Friends of Israel, take a listen to Paul. I promise we're going to find ways for you to connect with him. I think it'd be a blessing for him to come and speak in your church, but Paul, we're not really here for that. We're actually here for the article that you wrote in Israel My Glory. The title of the magazine is called, When We Hurt, A Devotional Look at the Book of Job, and you wrote an article that really talks more about the gospel and really this concept of what it means for God's sovereignty, God's purposes as looking out over this man who is suffering, and who is dealing with his torment and how he was wrestling.
Job was wrestling with these issues of God's righteousness. So, when I was reading through your article, you list out a lot of the despair that Job is going through in the text. How he lost his family, his wealth, his health. Job's friends thought that he was suffering due to sin in his life and as a result, Job felt hopeless and helpless. But you say this about Job's friends, which I actually thought was very interesting. You write this, "They were blind to the fact that there are purposes for suffering other than retribution." And Paul, I know this... I hear this a lot from people, actually. "God is punishing me because of this, that or the other," or I get this a lot because I'm in ministry. "God loves you, Chris, more than me." Is suffering God's retribution or is God doing something more intentional when we suffer?"
Paul Pierce: Well, that's a great question. And I remember someone telling me one time that they could never be successful in their life because God really hadn't forgiven them for their sins. So they felt they were continually being punished by God. But when I look at the text of Job, we realize that it begins in the opening chapter there in Job chapter one, verse eight, where the Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There's none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man." Now, Job wasn't a perfect sinless man, but this is more than a compliment. This would be God's assessment of Job and as a godly man. So that's our first clue that this isn't about retribution. I think we could look at some examples in scripture, for sure. Joseph, for example, when he was sold by his brothers and ended up suffering in Egypt for quite a while.
And what did Joseph say to his brothers when they feared his retribution? That, "You meant it for evil, God meant it for good." The apostle Paul was beaten up and left for dead and he recognized he suffered for the sake of Christ. The blind man of John chapter nine, verse three, he's with his disciples and they see the blind man and they say, "Is this a result of his sin or his parents?" And Jesus said, "Neither."
Chris Katulka: That's right.
Paul Pierce: "It was so that the power of God might be seen in his life." So in that case... There's many examples in scripture course where we can see suffering and I would only add to that, Chris in this way, yes, there are times when there's cases of sin, and I think Paul, in his letter to the church of Corinth, a church riddled with divisions and unconfessed sin and such, when he addressed the Lord's table in first Corinthians 11:28-30, he said, "There are some who are weak and sickly among you and have fallen asleep." Why?
It just follows on the heels of him talking about an examined life. So yes, there are times when we might be suffering the consequences and by the way, Hebrews 12, six and seven, the Word says that God disciplines those he loves and the need to humble ourselves before God. So there are times when suffering may be the consequences of our own sin and choices, but not always. And Job it's certainly an example of a case. It's not because of Job's sin. So yeah, and it's not because God loves somebody more than somebody else. There are reasons and it's in God's mind with that.
Chris Katulka: It is. And I'm often reminded of the fact that it appears over again in scripture, the question of why do the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer? This really goes right back to the issue of Job. Do you think Job was mad at God for his tormented condition? Because you mentioned Job wanted to take God to court. That's kind of the imagery that we get in the book of Job. When you say that, what do you mean that Job wanted to take God to court?
Paul Pierce: Well, first of all, I don't sense that Job was mad at God. Job 3:1 does say he cursed the day of his birth, but in chapter one, verse 22, he doesn't blame God. In fact, he rebuked his wife who said, "Curse God and die." So I don't sense he was mad, but I think he was perhaps disillusioned and confused at what was going on.
Chris Katulka: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Paul Pierce: And so to take God to court in that day... Well, even in our experiences today, why do we go to court? We want to resolve the situation. And so there was a desire on Job's part to have this experience or that specific circumstance resolved. His suffering was very real and it was incredible.
Chris Katulka: Yeah.
Paul Pierce: And he desired to have that resolved.
Chris Katulka: Yes. And really the issue of vindication. Vindication, I think for a lot of reasons, vindication to his friends who were telling him you're sinning. This is the reason you're dealing with God's punishment on your life. You're dealing with this suffering moment in your life, is because of sin. And there was a sense of vindication that it seemed like Job wanted, but he needed somebody to represent him in this court mentality. I love what you draw out here. And we only have about two minutes left, but you draw out the idea of the fact in your article that no, we don't see images of substitutionary atonement that God would provide a substitute, a sacrifice, but what we do see is the theme of a Redeemer, a mediator that would stand between Job and God. Could you just really quickly highlight that?
Paul Pierce: Sure. And part of this goes back to a courtroom scene. Job knew he didn't stand a chance if he was just going to go up against God. How could he do that? In Job 40 verses one and two, he says, "I can't do it." So he needed someone to mediate for him. And we have the same situation today. Maybe not suffering like Job, but in our sinful condition to unpack that, we need one who is righteous and holy, that would satisfy the demands of a righteous God. We are unable to do that in our sinful condition. There's no way for us to do that and we can't please God in that way. We need Christ who is our mediator to do that.
Chris Katulka: Yes. And this is what's so amazing is that Christ stands as our mediator. I love what Job writes in Job 19, that “he is confident that he will find vindication that he will stand in flesh before his Redeemer,” an amazing picture. And you know what? I just want to end with this too, Paul. It's that Job is just that reminder that God never promised us a happy life.
Paul Pierce: Right.
Chris Katulka: That by becoming a believer, all of a sudden everything's going to be okay, we're going to be taken care of, all this... In a really physical sense or in a financial sense or whatever the case might be. But he did promise us spiritual blessings, but it doesn't mean that life is going to be perfect.
Paul Pierce: Right.
Chris Katulka: But that there is suffering. And that suffering actually does produce growth. Suffering produces in many ways, righteousness, if we follow God, and I really think that's one of the pictures that we pull from Job.
Paul Pierce: Absolutely. And that text you quoted in the middle of Job there, Job, 19:25 and 26, his confidence was right in the... Smack in the middle of all of the bad theology and bad advice he was getting. And he expressed that great confidence and it's really the confidence that we do have as an eternal perspective as well.
Chris Katulka: That's right. Amen. Hey Paul, thank you so much for joining us. Hey, listen, if you're interested in wanting to support Paul, both in prayer or financially as he goes around and speaks on behalf of Friends of Israel, teaching biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, I encourage you to go to foi.org/pierce. Again, that's foi.org/pierce. Paul, thank you so much for joining us.
Paul Pierce: Thank you, Chris. I appreciate it.
Steve Conover: As we close today's program, we'd like to thank Paul Pierce for sharing about his article from Israel My Glory, and a reminder to support Paul's work with FOI. To learn more about that, you can visit foiradio.org. Chris, what can our listeners expect next week?
Chris Katulka: So Steve, I was telling them we took a break from our Kidron Saga series and now we're going to come back to it again. We're going to look at part three. We're getting to the Kidron Valley now. A very important part of that prophetic tension that exists between Mount Moriah, the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives.
Steve Conover: 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, and I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. Our mailing address is FOI Radio, P.O. Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. And one last quick reminder to visit us at foiradio.org. 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.
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