The Promised Land
God created and controls the whole universe. So why does He care so much about the land of Israel, one little piece of real estate in the Middle East? Because of His covenant with Abraham! He made an eternal promise that ensured this land would belong to Abraham’s descendants forever. This week, Chris teaches about the incomparable land of Israel in part 2 of our 4-part series on the Abrahamic Covenant.
The Holy Land is universally important and influential. Scripture speaks of it as the center of the Lord’s plans for the world and the site of the Lord Jesus’ throne when He returns to Earth to reign. So while this land is greatly important in the past and the future, it also deserves our attention and affection today. The Friends of Israel strives to carry out the Lord’s work in the Holy Land, as we work daily to save lives and lead souls to the love of the Messiah. As you listen, you’ll find your heart stirred to love this Promised Land, Israel, that God gave to Abraham so long ago and will love forevermore!
If you missed the first part to this series, you can Listen Here.
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’d like to remind you to visit our website, foiradio.org. Again, that's foiradio.org. We have over 7 years worth of programming on our site for you to listen to, and I invite you to browse around and enjoy the content we offer there. But also on our main ministry website, that’s foi.org. It’s there you'll find trustworthy and accurate news on Israel in the Middle East, and while you're there, you can support our ministry by clicking on the donate button and help us continue teaching biblical truth about Israel and the Jewish people. Once again, that's foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Steve, as we launch into 2023 we wanted to do a series that was really going back to the basics. Why are we doing what we do here at The Friends of Israel? What compels us to support Israel and the Jewish people? What compels us to stand up against antisemitism? All of it roots back to a promise that God made to Abraham. Last week we looked at the foundation of the Abrahamic Promise. This week we’re going to start looking at the three aspects of the promise. Today we’re going to look at “why does Friends of Israel support Jewish people living in the land of Israel?”
Steve Conover: We look forward to getting back into the series. But, first in the news, Israel’s new Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich blocked nearly $40 million dollars in tax revenue from the Palestinian Authority. He redirected it to families of terror victims. Reporters asked Smotrich if he was concerned his decision would bring about the collapse of the Palestinian Authority. He responded, “As long as the Palestinian Authority encourages terror and is an enemy, I have no interest for it to continue to exist.”
Chris Katulka: Steve, here’s my take, I believe Smotrich is using his power to try to get the Palestinian Authority to step up their security to prevent future terror attacks on innocent Israelis. However, he should be very careful what’s on the other side of that coin. The collapse of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank could be an open door for Hamas to take control.
Chris Katulka: For the beginning of 2023 we are going back to the basics… that’s right… back to the basics. What do I mean by that? Well, last week I shared that the church is hungry for God’s truth. Support for Israel among American Evangelicals ages 18 - 29 is in steady decline, with some polls showing only 33.6% of young evangelical Christians supporting the Jewish State. However, nearly half of the evangelical young adults polled were unsure of what they believed about Israel and whose side they should take. That is a large number of undecided Christians who need to hear God’s biblical plan about Israel and the Jewish people.
I also shared last week that in the early 1900s, North America and Europe comprised 92% of evangelicalism globally. But today the numbers have completely shifted. Today 72% of evangelicals can be found in South America, Africa, and Asia while North America and Europe only make up 23%.
As people are coming to the Lord from all around the world we need to share about the significance of the promise that God made to Abraham. But I also want to show how this one promise drives our ministry The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.
Last week I gave an overview of the Promise that God made to Abraham from Genesis 12. Specifically the three components to the promise: the land, the descendents, and the blessing. And I showed how that one promise was influential in the founding of the Friends of Israel in 1938. I’d encourage you to listen to last week's program. You can do that by going to foiradio.org and finding last week's program in our archives pages. Again that’s foiradio.org.
But I want you to remember the three components to the promise that God made to Abraham. Do you remember what they are? Land, descendants, blessing. Again one more time, land, descendents, blessing. Today I want to focus on the land component to the Promise God made to Abraham.
God proclaimed to Abraham (Abram) that if he departed from his hometown of Ur, his family, and friends, and followed God he would receive a particular area of land. Listen to this, Genesis chapter 12 verse 1:
“Now the LORD said to Abram,
“Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you;” (Gen 12:1)
The “land” promised in Genesis 12 was the land of Canaan, which over the course of time became known as the land of Israel. When Abraham arrived in Canaan by Genesis 15 he realized aspects of God’s promise in Genesis 12 were not being fulfilled as He said they would. Abraham questioned God’s faithfulness and asked how he could be sure God would give him the land that He promised.
So God reassured Abraham in Genesis 15 that every aspect of His promise would be fulfilled by making, or literally in the Hebrew, cutting, a covenant with him. So what God does is he commands Abraham to prepare particular animals for the covenant by cutting them in half. This act of cutting animals in two-pieces in Genesis 15:9-21 is an ancient covenant or treaty ritual, which was a customary practice in antiquity. Technically, Abraham and God should have walked through these animals together, the pieces of these animals. However, in an interesting literary twist, Abraham falls into a deep sleep and God Himself becomes the only party to enter into the promise. The writer of Hebrews will later draw on this and say that, “... when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself” (Heb. 6:13). When God passed quietly through the animal pieces He both guaranteed and signed the deed for Abraham and his descendents to claim the land promised to them.
Here we see how God in His infinite wisdom designed a covenant that could not be broken and would remain eternal forever because it’s God’s name written on the ledger! Unlike human promises that can easily be changed, manipulated, or broken, God’s divine name is forever attached to every aspect of the promise that God made to Abraham. Ultimately, if this promise to Abraham fails... God fails... and if God fails, then he’s not God. Therefore, the land promised to Abraham and his descendents was deeded to them with an eternal promise and earnest guarantee that is still legally binding today.
It’s the reason we here at The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry support the State of Israel today… but I’ll share more about that later.
Sadly, the land component of the Abrahamic Covenant is often the aspect overlooked and neglected by the church because it demands two things. Number one, it demands a distinction between Israel and the church. It demands a distinction..that God has a separate program for Israel and the church. But it also demands that there be a future for Israel in the land God promised to Abraham.
Folks, we cannot simply overlook the future of Israel as it relates to the land portion of the promise. This section of God’s covenant to Abraham plays a major role in his redemptive plan for everyone.
The Lord gave a vision to Ezekiel the prophet, a vision of the Jewish people returning to the land of Israel from all over the world, “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land (Israel).” (Ezk. 36:24). Upon God’s supernatural restoration of the Jewish people to the land promised to them, God says He will use their restoration as a divine tool to show the unbelieving nations He is the One True God! “Then all the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight” (Ezk. 36:23).
The Lord’s vision to Ezekiel shows that the Land plays a major role in God’s plan of redemption. Did you hear? How God wanted to draw the nations unto himself, by what? By bringing Israel back to the land.
But why is it so important?
One time after I finished speaking at a church on the land of Israel from the scriptures, a very nice individual approached me and he said, “Since when did God enter into the real estate business?” which was his way of saying this, “Why would God care so much about one little portion of land? Isn’t he the creator of the heavens and the earth?”
It was a great question, but yes God does care about this real estate. He does care about the land of Israel. In Ezekiel 5:5 the Lord says this:
“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: This is Jerusalem; I placed her in the center of the nations with countries all around her.”
Clearly, God cares about the real estate he promised Abraham. He chose that land because it’s at the center of the nations. The truth is Jerusalem is the capital of God’s kingdom and that’s why the prophet Micah says this in Micah chapter 4 verse 1:
“And in the future days the LORD’s Temple Mount will be the most important mountain of all; it will be more prominent than other hills. People will stream to it.
Many nations will come, saying, “Come on! Let’s go up to the LORD’s mountain,
to the temple of Jacob’s God, so he can teach us his ways and we can live by his laws.”
For instruction will proceed from Zion, the LORD’s message from Jerusalem.”
Israel and Jerusalem are the epicenter of God’s presence on earth! Yes, the nations will stream to Jerusalem in the future to receive truth when the Lord Jesus sits on his future throne in the city of peace.
Yes my friends, the Land of Israel matters.
Now when we come back I want to share with you some of the ways The Friends of Israel is involved in the Land of Israel and why we believe it matters.
Steve Conover: Chris, this covenant series has been so eye-opening for so many of us as to how God’s promise to Abraham is what ultimately helps connect why God remains faithful through the ages.
Chris Katulka: That’s right, Steve. Even today, when we see God’s Chosen People still living, breathing, and thriving in their ancient homeland we can be confident that the Lord never breaks his promises.
Steve Conover: It’s really incredible! In fact, as eye-opening as this series is, I wanted to share with our listeners another eye-opening (and eye-catching) resource that will help enhance their understanding of God’s faithfulness through the Bible.
It’s called Charting The Bible Chronologically and it’s a visual guide to God’s unfolding plan.
Chris Katulka: I completely agree. The authors, Ed Hindson and Thomas Ice, did an amazing job putting together this colorful panoramic view of the events recorded in Scripture, all laid out in chronological order.
You’ll see 40-plus full-color charts that include timelines of biblical history, overviews of major empires,and a master fold out chart of the entire Bible.
Steve Conover: It’s the perfect resource to help deepen your understanding of God’s faithfulness. To learn more or to purchase a copy visit foiradio.org that’s foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back everyone. We’ve been talking about the Land of Israel! Yes my friends… the land matters in the Bible. The land is practically a character in the Bible… and the land matters to God. You know The Friends of Israel was founded in 1938, 10 years before Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion declared an Independent Jewish state in 1948. That means the founders of The Friends of Israel knew the land mattered and that at some point God would return His people to the Land. Now bear in mind, they named the organization “The Friends of Israel” during the darkest moment of the Jewish people, yet they still believed biblically that God would return them to the land. Well God was faithful and Israel became a nation just 10 years later.
I have to tell you a story. When I was a student many moons ago at Dallas Theological Seminary, I asked Dr. Dwight Pentacost, who was still teaching in his 90s, what it felt like when Israel became a nation again in 1948. That day at lunch he told me he was driving in his car in the Philadelphia area at night and he said he always taught that one day Israel would become a nation again. And as he was driving in the evening the news came on and announced that Israel had declared their independence.
Dr. Pentecost said that he pulled off on the side of the road that evening just after teaching a Bible study and just sat there stunned because he just couldn’t believe it happened. The Jewish people declared an independent state in their ancient homeland Israel. The prophecy had come to fruition.
Today, The Friends of Israel is active in the land of Israel. First and foremost, we want to show the Israeli people that they have a right to exist in their ancient homeland tangibly and one of the ways that we show support is to help protect them from the enemies that wish to see Israel disappear. The Friends of Israel financially supports an Israeli organization called Operation Life Shield, an Israeli non-profit lead by Rabbi Bowman. Operation Life Shield is protecting Israelis by providing bomb shelters to place in communities that exist around the Gaza border. Many of these communities have seconds to get to safety. They have seconds to get to bomb shelters to find protection from missiles launched by Hamas. The Friends of Israel has purchased dozens of bomb shelters to help Israelis living on the Gaza border.
We partner with an Israeli non-profit that helps the homeless and drug addicted find freedom from their addictions by connecting them with the love of Jesus the Messiah. We also partner with an Israeli pregnancy center that provides resources to mothers to prevent an abortion and to encourage the mother to keep her baby.
But most of our activity in the Land of Israel can be found in church plants in Jerusalem and the suburbs that surround Tel Aviv. Friends of Israel supports the work of Meno Kalisher, pastor of Jerusalem House of Redemption. Meno is the son of Zvi Kalisher who is one of our first ministry representatives in Israel. You know and love Zvi Kalisher from his ministry stories we air here on The Friends of Israel Today.
Meno and his family, and congregation continue to share the good news of Jesus the Messiah to Jerusalem and the surrounding towns.
My friends, the land of Israel still matters because of the promise that God made to Abraham. The land isn’t just a bygone part of the Bible that doesn’t mean anything anymore. It's very important to our faith as Christians. Remember, when Jesus returns he isn’t coming to Washington DC, or London, or Singapore, or Shanghai… he’s coming to Jerusalem. His return to Jerusalem shows that God is still concerned with the Land of Israel and we should be too.
Steve Conover: Chris, from your first segment, I’ve been reflecting on the astounding way God made the land covenant and how its fulfillment is dependent on God’s performance, not Israel’s. It’s encouraging as I think of the promise he made to us as believers when we trust his Son.
Chris Katulka: I always like to say, “Israel’s story is my story,” and it’s because the God that we serve is the same yesterday, today and forever. So we can see ourselves often in the ups and downs of the spiritual relationship that Israel had with God. Sometimes I can see my life as well, and yet God remains faithful to them. I love what Paul says in Romans chapter 11. “Is God through with his people?” He says, “May it never be.” Why? Because of this promise that God made to Abraham and the fact that if Israel can rely on that promise, then we can certainly rely on our relationship with the Lord Jesus. We have been sealed until the Day of Redemption.
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: I recently noticed several posters announcing a famous rabbi would be speaking at our community center. I decided I must see him in person, rather than on television.
He was scheduled to appear at 8 p.m., but he did not arrive until 9 p.m. More than three hundred people were waiting to see their hero. When he did not arrive, I asked some men around me why such a well-known rabbi could not keep his word; but they all defended him, saying he was very busy.
When he finally came, everyone stood and cheered. He immediately started to speak, without so much as “Shalom.” He spoke about the fictitious stories passed down from generation to generation—nothing new. He concluded by saying the most important thing a Jew can do is study the writings of our fathers, which he stated is even more important than having faith in God! Knowledge and the traditions of Judaism are all that count.
The people listened to him as if he had been sent from heaven. Although I knew the crowd would go against me if I spoke up, I silently prayed, asking the Lord to give me courage. Then I rose to my feet. I said to the rabbi, “Please explain how knowledge can be more important than faith in God, when the Scriptures clearly tell us, ‘the just shall live by his faith’” (Hab. 2:4).
The rabbi seemed annoyed and replied, “I do not have time to answer you.”
I continued, “Do you have some kind of an insurance policy to get you into heaven? What about our father Abraham? He never went to a great university; but the Scriptures say, ‘he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness’ [Gen. 15:6]. Was Abraham’s faith in God of no value because he did not go to a great school and study all his life?”
The rabbi now was very unhappy because I had diverted everyone’s attention away from him. Almost all were looking at me, waiting to hear what I would say next. The rabbi asked me to explain what I meant. The Lord reminded me of Hebrews 11; I shared all the things our forefathers experienced because of their faith in God. I told them, “‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, but without faith it is impossible to please Him’” (Heb. 11:1, 6).
The rabbi was growing nervous. He said, “The posters advertised my speech; you have no right to take the spotlight away from me.” Everyone was quiet—even the bodyguards, who were listening to me instead of to him. I was surprised, but I knew it was the Lord’s doing.
The rabbi said, “Explain how you arrived at your strange beliefs.” I said, “Wisdom is good, but wisdom without faith is useless. How can you point others to God if you do not consider faith as important as knowledge?” I then asked the crowd, “Who is greater, the wisest professor who has no faith, or a man who has spent his life in the desert, but is faithful to the Lord? Which will God bless?” Most responded to the one from the desert.
“You are correct,” I said, “Isaiah 40:3 says, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’” This voice did not come from Oxford University, but from the Judean desert.
The rabbi was now furious. He said, “You have wasted my valuable time. I never want to see you at one of my meetings again!” He then stomped off the stage.
I was happy these people had listened to me with such interest and patience. I would never have believed such a thing could happen, but the Lord is able to do the impossible. I pray the small seed that was planted in that large group will grow into a great, fruitful tree.
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 where we’re headed.
Chris Katulka: Yeah, so today we looked at the land, well, next we’re going to look at the descendents. God promised that Abraham would have a great family and that family would make a great impact spiritually in the world. So we’re going to look at the importance of the Jewish people and why it’s important for us to stand up against antisemitism.
For our listeners, I’m excited to announce our upcoming Look Up Virtual Conference where yours truly will be teaching. You can learn more by going to lookup.foi.org. It’s March 9th & 10th and we’re going to be Unraveling the Mysteries of the Bible. Signs of Christ’s Coming to the Millennial Kingdom. Again, I want you to visit lookup.foi.org. This entire conference is online, it’s virtual. I hope to see you there.
Steve Conover: Our Look Up conference is free. Again that’s March 9th & 10th. You can learn more at lookup.foi.org.
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. 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, 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.
Charting the Bible Chronologically
The start of a new year for many of us means reading through the Bible. We’d like to share with you a book that can be a powerful companion to your Bible reading, Charting the Bible Chronologically. This hardbound, full color piece by authors Ed Hindson and Thomas Ice gives you a panoramic view of the events recorded in Scripture.
Apples of Gold: Wisdom Without Faith is Useless
Zvi noticed that a popular rabbi was coming to his town to speak. He decided to go and see what the man had to say. With over 300 people in attendance the rabbi told everyone that they needed to gain knowledge over faith in God. After praying for courage, Zvi stood up and asked the rabbi some hard questions that didn’t end the way he expected. Listen and find out how God used him!
Israel Relief Fund
The Israel Relief Fund saves lives all over the country of Israel. Those who have given have been able to build bomb shelters in vulnerable areas, help to free men and women who are trapped in lives of drug addiction or prostitution, and provide alternatives to abortion so mothers will choose life over death.
Genesis 12:3 says “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse.” When you give to the Israel Relief Fund, know that your gift goes to helps to save lives both physically and spiritually.
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.