The Abrahamic Covenant
God’s Word is advancing throughout the world, but many evangelicals are missing the message of God’s love for Israel and the Jewish people—and our responsibility toward them as well. It’s important to remember that our support for Israel is biblical, not political. We find the root of that support in Genesis 12: God’s covenant with Abraham. This promise has defined the Lord’s relationship with His Chosen People and our responsibility toward them ever since it was made thousands of years ago.
The Friends of Israel’s identity is inherently tied to the Abrahamic Covenant. In 1938 bold Christians stepped forward in faith to help the Jewish people persecuted by the Nazis. They established our ministry both to supply tangible help to the Jewish people in great need and to faithfully teach the truth of God’s Word concerning His Chosen People. God’s promise to Abraham means that we will always share this calling to bless and defend Israel and the Jewish people!
Steve Conover: Welcome to The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. With me is our host and teacher, Chris Katulka. We have an exciting show for you once again this week. But before Chris comes, I want to remind you to visit our website, foiradio.org. Again, that's foiradio.org. We have over seven years' worth of programming on our site for you to listen to. Again, that's foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Hey, everybody. Happy New Year! I am so glad that we can be back again for another year to be able to look at the scriptures together, to have great interviews with people, all surrounded around the idea that God has a plan for Israel and the Jewish people. I'm so thankful that we could be connected this way. Now, listen, to get our year started, I thought it would be a great time to go back to the basics. A great time for us to look at the reason why. Why we should support Israel and the Jewish people as Christians. In fact, today I want to share with you the history of The Friends of Israel and how it's connected to a promise that God made to Abraham.
Steve Conover: But first, in the news, earlier this month Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the Temple Mount, the most holy sight to the Jewish people. His 15-minute walk atop the sacred site created an international controversy. Within hours, intense condemnations from Jordan, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, with calls to ‘maintain status quo’ heard from the US and Europe. While the Palestinian Authorities said, "It's a plot to,” quote unquote, “turn Al-Aqsa into a Jewish temple."
Chris Katulka: Here's my take. Ben-Gvir is certainly a man of many controversies. If you've heard about him in the most recent election that took place, as Benjamin Netanyahu became the Prime Minister once again. But a Jewish man taking a stroll on the most holy sight to the Jewish people should not be controversial at all. The international outrage sparked by Ben-Gvir's presence shows that the international community is okay with intolerance and bigotry as long as the outrage is directed at Israel.
Chris Katulka: As we jump into 2023, I want to take you back to last December, actually, when the Israeli Government Press Office invited me to their sixth annual Christian Media Summit, a three-day event in Jerusalem which granted Christian journalists access to places and people who can share in-depth about the events happening in the Holy Land. The itinerary was packed from morning to night with meetings, travel, and discussions with leading Israeli journalists, politicians, and army officials. Now, one of the sessions really stood out to me. Jeremy Weber, who is the global director of Christianity Today, the magazine Christianity Today, described the condition of evangelicalism and support for Israel globally. He revealed statistics that I saw both exciting and ominous, but nothing is impossible for God.
In his lecture, he showed that over the past century there has been a drastic shift in the global spread of evangelicalism. And hey, that's a good thing. The numbers show that as the gospel continues to be shared around the world. More and more people are giving their lives to Jesus Christ. The stats show that in the early 1900s, North America and Europe comprised 92% of evangelicalism globally. That's a lot. But today, the numbers have completely shifted. Today, 72% of evangelicals can be found in South America, Africa, Asia, while North America and Europe only make up 23%. I've talked about this in previous programs, that support for Israel among American evangelicals, especially ages 18 to 29, is in a steady decline, with some polls showing only 33.6% of young evangelical Christians supporting the Jewish state. However, all is not lost. Nearly half of the evangelical young adults polled were unsure of what they believed about Israel and whose side they would take. That's a large number of undecided Christians who need to hear God's biblical plan about Israel and the Jewish people.
Definitely a concerted effort is needed to reach these young Christians. But as the stats show, what about the other 72% of evangelicals around the world? Take, for instance, the Hispanic evangelicals that are living in America. They're actually more likely to support the nation of Israel than the average American. According to the researchers, 59% of Hispanic evangelicals have a positive view of Israel, and 58% say Israel has a right to exist. These are numbers that cannot be ignored. Or just travel down to Guatemala. Guatemala was one of the few countries that moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Sara Angelina Solis, Guatemala's ambassador to Israel, credited the embassy move to their country's evangelical support for Israel when she said, quote, "People in Guatemala pray for the peace in this region, pray for Jerusalem, and they are excited." "I feel this is a gift from God," she said. "I know that a lot of blessing will come after this decision. This is a promise in the Bible, in Genesis, and I don't think, I'm sure many blessings will come for Guatemala."
As biblical supporters of Israel, we need a more global outlook on teaching Christians about God's love for Israel and the Jewish people. Again, that task is ominous, but I saw hope at the Christian Media Summit when surrounded by 150 journalists from 30 countries spanning five continents from Africa, Europe, Asia, South America, and North America. According to the Israeli GPO, Christian media reaches nearly a billion Christians around the world from various backgrounds, ethnicities and denominations. From Ethiopia to Estonia, from Canada to China, from Germany to Guatemala, from India to Indonesia, from South Korea to Sweden, and from Ukraine to the United States. Right now, as you are hearing me speak on your radio or podcast, biblical truth about Israel is being produced and published all around the world on television, radio, podcasts, printed materials, online resources, social media, and more.
But listen, more needs to be done to expand our efforts to reach into those areas of the world where evangelicalism is growing and individuals are coming to faith in Christ. They need to know what the Bible teaches about Israel and the Jewish people, and really how their faith in Christ fits into God's plan that reaches back to the promise made to Abraham. Which is the reason I'm taking us back to the basics here. That's why I wanted to start this year taking us back to the basics, because it's the reason why we biblically support Israel and the Jewish people. A new generation of Bible-believing Christians need to know why it's important to support Israel and the Jewish people biblically. This isn't political, my friends. It's biblical. Over the next month we're going to go back to Genesis 12 and 15, and we're going to look at the three aspects of the promise that God made to Abraham.
So, just listen to this. When God called Abraham in Genesis 12, he made a promise to him. Let me read it to you, starting in Genesis 12:1. "Now, the Lord said to Abraham, 'Go out from your country, your relatives and your father's household to the land that I will show you. Then I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great so that you will exemplify divine blessing. I will bless those who bless you, but the one who treats you lightly I must curse so that all the families of the Earth may receive blessing through you.'"
Did you hear the three main components of the promise that God made to Abraham? This is crucial here. God promised Abraham a land. Which land? The land of Israel. And the land is going to play such an important part of the Biblical story of God's plan to redeem his creation. The second is that God would make Abraham a great nation through his family. That's the Jewish people. It's through the line of Abraham that God would bring salvation into the world. And the last part of the promise, it's the blessing. The multifaceted blessing. First, that God would make Abraham's name a great name, a name associated with blessing. And look, here we are thousands of years later, and we're still honoring Abraham's name in conjunction with blessing. The next part of the blessing is that God would honor Abraham and his family by protecting them. “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you,” ultimately. That's what the text says in Genesis 12:3. A promise of protection.
And finally, the most important part of the promise. That through Abraham, all the families of the Earth would be blessed. I can't stress to you how important this part of the promise is, because see, oftentimes it can seem like when God chose Abraham and the Jewish people, it was an exclusive club that nobody could be a part of or benefit from. But the whole point of the Jewish people being chosen by God is that they would bring spiritual blessing to all the families of the Earth. They were chosen to reintroduce the world to the creator God.
Here's what's most important about this promise. The promise that God made to Abraham is an eternal promise. It's not a human promise, one that's liable to be broken over time. This promise is an eternal promise that's connected to God's name, which means that it's his holy reputation on the line. He must fulfill this promise that he made to Abraham. Really, it's this promise that drives us here at The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We believe that God's promise to Abraham is eternal, and it matters as much today as it did 4,000 years ago. That's why, when we return from our break, I want to share with you how this promise to Abraham helped establish The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.
Steve Conover: There's a special promise in the Bible that extends from Genesis to Revelation. The Common Thread DVD traces God's faithfulness from Abraham to you, and presents that promise, God's covenant with Abraham. It's filmed on-location, and it's hosted by our very own Chris Katulka. It's an eight-session study, and it will take you from the Sea of Galilee, to Tel Aviv, to the Mount of Olives, and many historic Israeli sites in-between. As you track the story of God's faithfulness, you'll see how his promise with Abraham blesses the whole world through the Jewish people. Now, Chris, I know you enjoyed hosting this study, and it has been a few years, but do you have a special moment that comes to mind?
Chris Katulka: Yeah. I'm just thinking of me and Tom standing on top of Mitzpe Jericho, where we were able to look out and actually see where the Israelites would have crossed over the Jordan River into Israel, and to think of how God would be using them in the land, and that he wanted to fulfill this promise with Israel in the land that he promised them to give them. And yet here we are, still waiting for that promise to be fulfilled. So, we feel that tension that's still there as we were standing on Mitzpe Jericho looking out over the Jordan Valley. But can I just say too, Steve, the thing that really gets me about The Common Thread DVD is that if you really want to help somebody understand why they should support Israel and the Jewish people, and why it matters to them today, then I encourage you to get the DVD series. Because I really think, for somebody who might just be thinking about this, or a Sunday school, or a small group, this is a great way to introduce them to why God loves Israel and the Jewish people.
Steve Conover: If you would like to learn more or to purchase The Common Thread DVD, you can visit us at foiradio.org. Again, that's foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back, everyone. We're going back to the basics on why Christians should support Israel and the Jewish people and stand up against antisemitism, the hatred of the Jewish people, by taking you back to the promise that God made to Abraham. In the previous segment, I shared that unique eternal promise and connected you to the three aspects of it. The land, Israel, the descendants, the Jewish people, and the blessing. But it was also this promise that compelled Christians to establish the organization that we serve with here, The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.
Let me share how this happened. You don't have to be a historian to know what was happening in the 1930s in Europe. Hitler and his army wanted to expand the Third Reich into Eastern and Western Europe, with an eye on global dominance. And really, caught in the crosshairs of his fascist rule, were the Jewish people. That's when pastors and Christian businessmen gathered in Philadelphia. Now, listen. America was silent on the issue of the Jewish plight under Hitler, but that didn't stop the requests for help. They were coming in regularly, actually. These believers knew that they had to act, and verbal support was not enough.
Kristallnacht was the Night of Broken Glass, a major moment for these Christians who loved the Jewish people. Kristallnacht, which happened in November of 1938, was a Nazi-led act of antisemitism. Spread throughout Germany and Austria like wildfire as mobs burned down thousands of Jewish synagogues, homes, and businesses, and killed hundreds of Jewish people. The writing was on the wall for them as Adolf Hitler's intentions became crystal-clear. These pastors and businessmen decided now was the time. They would help the Jewish people who were scrambling to escape the surging Nazi threat. Many Jewish people attempted to immigrate to America, but the United States required that they have a sponsor who could guarantee the desperate immigrants would not become a financial burden to the US government.
The men meeting in Philadelphia knew their decision would have consequences. Time, money, and resources would be needed in order to make a difference. So they made room in their busy schedules, because they knew the time was urgent and the need was great. Some of these men that helped start The Friends of Israel were Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, and Harry Ironside, the beloved pastor of Moody Church in Chicago. All of these men and women made a choice to stand with the Jewish people ,and to give them the much-needed help and relief as they fled Nazi tyranny. The men met on December 1st, 1938 to begin the ministry, and they called themselves the Friends of Israel Refugee Relief Committee. They knew that the Jewish people occupied a special place in God's heart as his Chosen People. As we've been talking about, God's Word made it clear.
Their biblical conviction resulted in their compassionate action. They used their pulpits to make needs known, to confirm to their congregations God's plan for the Jewish people. They called on Christians to give generously so that the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would know they had friends they could depend on during troubling times. Christians responded in prayer and giving. And through that, The Friends of Israel was able to work with like-minded organizations in Great Britain and Europe to supply clothes, food, passports, and passage out of Europe for Jewish people desperate to escape the horrors of the Holocaust.
Look, these amazing men and women who stepped up more than 84 years ago knew that God's promise to the Jewish people wasn't based on a condition or a requirement, but was totally unconditional. Remember, God said in Genesis 12:3, "I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you." In fact, our founders gave us the name The Friends of Israel in 1938. The nation of Israel wouldn't be reestablished until 1948, 10 years later. They were so confident in God's Word, they named themselves The Friends of Israel before there was even an Israel. Look, over the next few weeks, we're going to take a deeper look into all three aspects of the promise made to Abraham, the land, the people, and the blessing, to show you that this promise isn't just important for the Jewish people, but it's important to us as believers as well.
Steve Conover: Chris, I can't help but think about that point that you made. That our founders knew something 10 years before the State of Israel was named the modern State of Israel. And I think it's so unique that they base that on the promises in the Bible, and it's really one of my favorite stories in our history.
Chris Katulka: It's a great one, and it shows that the men and women who founded this organization were rooted in the scriptures.
Steve Conover: Israel, on the verge of becoming a state. A teen-aged Holocaust survivor arrives on her shores alone. His name is Zvi Kalisher. Little did he know his search for a new life in the Holy Land would lead him to the Messiah. Zvi, enthusiastic to share his faith, engaged others in spiritual conversations, many of which can be found in our magazine, Israel My Glory. While Zvi is now in the presence of his Savior, his collected writings from well over 50 years of ministry continue to encourage believers worldwide. Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life of Zvi.
Mike Kellogg: Most of the world is against God's Chosen People of Israel. This nation occupies a very small piece of land, yet it is the subject of more news reports than any other nation. Jealousy fuels this animosity. Throughout the Bible, God tells Israel not to fear. As the Lord protected us from Pharaoh in Egypt, so he will protect us from our present-day enemies. Now, we are in a situation similar to when Pharaoh chased the Israelites to the Red Sea. We're surrounded by Arab nations whose favorite slogan is, "Butcher the Jews! Cast them into the sea!" But we must never repay them with hatred. We must show them the love of Christ. Often, I have the opportunity to speak with my Arab neighbors. Just as with the ultra-Orthodox Jews, we sometimes speak for many hours before we get around to the most important subject of all, faith in Christ. When I speak with Arabs I must first draw them away from the blind hatred of Jewish people, and then we begin to speak about faith in Christ. They're usually interested in continuing our dialogue about Christ.
Recently, my neighbors sat with him, a sheik, one who knows the Quran. I spoke with him, and he began by asking, "Where does the Torah say this land belongs to the Jews?" Quickly, I showed him Genesis 13:14-17, Genesis 15:8, and Exodus 23:31, where the Lord promised the land of Israel to Abraham and his descendants forever. The sheik immediately said, "Oh, that cannot be. The Quran says it is not so. I replied, "Ask your teachers when the Bible was written and when the Quran was written. They will have to tell you honestly, the Bible was written first. It is the authentic Word of God." He asked, "How can you, a Jew, speak about Christ?" I replied, "I believe because Christ is written about in the Jewish scriptures. As a good Jew, I must believe what is written there. I believe in the one who was pierced for our transgressions as it is written in Isaiah 53:5."
By this time, more of my Arab neighbors had joined the group, and they seemed interested in what I was saying. I told them, "Perhaps one day all Arabs and Israelis will be able to come together and speak, as we are doing now." As it is written in Isaiah 11:6, "One day, the wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them." But this prophecy can only be fulfilled once we all believe in Christ, the only one who can enable people to put aside the differences in hatred and love, and serve one another through him. Jesus commanded, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." I pray we will soon see a great harvest among the Arabs as well as among the Jewish people here in his Holy Land.
Chris Katulka: The impact of Zvi's life in ministry in Israel, it didn't end when he went home to be with the Lord. In fact, Zvi's legacy lives on. Our Friends of Israel Ministry representatives continue to share the gospel in Jerusalem, Israel, and really all throughout the world. We also serve Holocaust survivors and their families. We provide free food, medicine, and clothing, and we even promote the safety and security of the State of Israel and the Jewish people everywhere. So when you give to The Friends of Israel, your donation actually allows us to advance the gospel of our Messiah Jesus. You can give online by visiting foiradio.org. Again, that's foiradio.org. You can click right there on our donate link. Also, be sure to let us know where you listen when you contact us.
Steve Conover: Thank you so much for joining us today. I hope you were challenged to maybe think deeper about how we as Christians should think about our relationship to Israel. Next week, we continue our series on the covenants. Chris, tell us more.
Chris Katulka: Yeah. One time I got done speaking and a gentleman came up to me and said, "Hey, Chris, this concept of Israel. Is God in the real estate business?" And I thought that was such a great question. That's right. Is God in the real estate business? Why does the land matter so much? Well, next week we're going to look at the spiritual significance of the land. Not only what it means to the Jewish people, what it means to us as believers as well.
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. Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold, and I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. Our mailing address is FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. Again, that's FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. And I'll give you 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.
The Common Thread DVD
There’s a special promise in the Bible that extends from Genesis to Revelation. The Common Thread: Tracing God’s Faithfulness from Abraham to You presents that promise—God’s covenant with Abraham. Filmed on location, hosted by Chris Katulka, this eight-session study will take you from the Sea of Galilee to Tel Aviv to the Mount of Olives and many historic Israeli sites in between. As you track the story of God’s faithfulness, you’ll see how His promise with Abraham blesses the whole world through the Jewish people.
Apples of Gold: Arab Neighbors
Arab nations proudly shouted the slogan, “Butcher the Jews! Cast them into the sea!” Despite this inborn animosity Arabs had for Jewish people and their right to the land of Israel, Zvi always tried to treat his Arab neighbors with love and kindness. Once he could break down their blind hatred of Jewish people, he then tried to share the love of the Messiah with them from the Scriptures. Listen and find out how he shared his faith with one very important man in the Arab neighborhood.
The Friends of Israel Today theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
Your gifts help us to continue proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.