God’s eternal covenant with Abraham included a surprising promise: A great nation would come from Abraham, and he would have innumerable descendants. This aspect was deeply personal to Abraham, who was an old man when the Lord spoke to him. How could he have any children at all? As humans, we look for immediate results—instant gratification. But God’s timing was perfect; and He kept His Word, giving him a son when he was 100 years old!
Part 3 of our 4-part series on the Abrahamic Covenant shows how God fulfilled His promise not only to give Abraham a child but to set in motion His plan to redeem the world through the Messiah, Jesus Christ. And we at The Friends of Israel aim to bless God’s Chosen People however we can throughout the world today. We hope your love for the Jewish people is stirred through this week’s show!
If you missed the previous episodes of this series, you can Listen Here on our Archives page.
Steve Conover: Welcome to The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. With me is our host and teacher, Chris Katulka, and we have an exciting show for you once again this week. But before Chris comes, I want to invite 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, and I invite you to browse around and enjoy the content we offer there. Again, that's foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Steve, we have a great program. We've been going through the basics. We're going back to the basics as we start 2023. What is it that drives us as a ministry here at The Friends of Israel? Well, it certainly isn't our own ambition, our own efforts. It actually all comes right from the scriptures. In fact, it comes from a promise that God made to Abraham in Genesis chapter 12, and so we're continuing our study here, going back to the basics and looking at the promise that God made to Abraham.
Steve Conover: But first in the news, in the remaining days of 2022, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced one of Jerusalem's most frequented archeological sites, the Biblical pool of Siloam, will undergo a full excavation and be open to the public to see. The ancient pool was originally built in the time of King Hezekiah some 2,700 years ago, and the Apostle John highlights a miracle of Jesus at the pool when he told the blind man to wash in the pool of Siloam after he put mud in his eyes.
Chris Katulka: Steve, this is an amazing thing. The excavations at the pool are a part of a larger archeological project that the city of David called the pilgrim's route that archeologists have recently uncovered. The pilgrim's route is the original Roman road that would've connected the temple mount with the pool of Siloam during the days of Jesus. Soon enough modern day pilgrims will walk the same path many Jewish people did on their journey to Jerusalem 2000 years ago.
Chris Katulka: For the beginning of 2023, I wanted to go back to the basics. What do I mean by that? Well, I've been sharing the unsettling statistics that the church is hungry for God's truth. Support for Israel among American evangelicals ages 18 to 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 would 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, Asia, while North America and Europe only make up 23%.
The reason I want to go back to the basics is so that we can return to the core values of what we believe. Vince Lombardi said it best at the start of training camp in 1961. Vince Lombardi walked into the locker room of the Green Bay Packers and said to his team what would become one of the most iconic quotes in sports history. "Gentlemen, this is a football." Vince Lombardi was a Hall of Fame football coach, an NFL executive, and the head coach of the Green Bay Packers during the 1960s. He led the team to five total NFL championships in a seven-year span. His namesake, the Vince Lombardi Trophy, is awarded to the winner of the Super Bowl each year. The iconic words spoken by him were all about getting back to the fundamentals. Without them, regardless of what profession you're in, we can easily lose sight of our core values or what we believe.
Listen, as people are coming to the Lord from all around the world, we need to share about our core values, why we believe Israel and the Jewish people matter to God biblically. I also want to show how this one promise drives our ministry, The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.
Last week I shared about the land component to the promise that God made to Abraham from Genesis chapter 12. I shared with you why the land is so important in the scriptures. I also showed you how The Friends of Israel seeks to uphold that promise by the efforts we have in the land of Israel today. I'd encourage you to listen to last week's program and you can do that by going to foiradio.org and finding it there in our archives page. Again, that's foiradio.org.
But I want you to remember the three components of the promise that God made to Abraham, especially if you're tuning in for the first time. The three components from Genesis chapter 12 are the land, the descendants, and the blessing.
In today's message, I want us to look at the second portion of the promise, the one concerning Abraham's descendants. When God called Abraham to leave his homeland of Ur by faith, trusting only in the Lord's voice, Abraham left on the premise of God's promises. And one of those promises was this, "And I will make you a great nation." That comes from Genesis chapter 12 verse two. Well, God already promised Abraham a special plot of land in Genesis chapter 12 verse one, that's Israel. Now he's assuring Abraham that he will provide the people to fill the land because you can't simply have a nation without people. Something to remember, God made this promise to Abraham when he had no children, so I'm sure this promise became very personal to him, a promise of God that he would have a son to inherit what God has given to him.
So when Abraham arrived in the land, a doubt set in that God would fulfill his promises since he and Sarah were still childless. In a very honest conversation between Abraham and God, Abraham says, "Oh Lord God, what will you give me since I'm childless and the heir to my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" That's Genesis chapter 15, verse two. Abraham explained to God in a simple way that he followed him to the land that he promised, yet Abraham's closest heir to inherit the divine promise is Eliezer. Here's a quick side note. It's questioned whether Damascus should probably not be used to refer to the place of Eliezer's origins, like the city of Damascus. There's actually a play on words in the Hebrew here that's occurring in Genesis 15:2 with the word heir and Damascus. The end of Genesis 15:2 should probably be translated Eliezer will possess it instead of Eliezer of Damascus.
God reassured Abraham of his intentions to provide a son as his heir. "'This man Eliezer will not be your heir,' the Lord says, 'but one who will come forth from your own body. He shall be your heir.'" That comes from Genesis 15 verse four. The Lord not only provided Abraham a direct descendant in the person of Isaac, but God also promised to Abraham this. He says this, "'Now look toward the heavens and count the stars, if you're able to count them.' And he said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.'" A nation just as God swore in Genesis chapter 12 verse two.
Once again, in the right time, God fulfilled his promise. I want to stop for a minute and step back to see this passage more broadly. As believers, we place our trust in the promises of God and he's made numerous promises to us that we can count on, but I know that sometimes in our walk with the Lord, we can begin to question whether or not God will finish what he started in us. I'm sure Abraham thought that when he felt the absence of God in this area of his life. This passage struck me because God made a promise to Abraham and God kept that promise, but he fulfilled it in his time, not Abraham's.
In our world of just instant gratification when we get whatever we want almost on the spot, God sees fit to unfold his plan for our lives at times that are both beneficial to us and to him and his glory. However, I'm sure Abraham thought God's timing was off just a little bit when he gave him his son, Isaac, at the age of 100. Really, God's promise to Abraham was both a promise that involved Abraham's one son, Isaac, and then also a promise that he would be a father to innumerable descendants, which is the launchpad for God's ultimate plan of redemption for all mankind.
The term “descendants" in Genesis 15:5 is the Hebrew word seed. In the context of Genesis 15:5 the term descendant or seed is used in the plural, referring to the countless descendants that will originate from Abraham. In fact, you see this promise unfold throughout the book of Genesis when Abraham fathers Isaac and Isaac fathers Jacob and Jacob fathers the 12 sons and the 12 sons father the sons of Israel. However, in the epistle to the Galatians, Paul borrowed that term seed from the Abraham covenant and inserted a divine twist by reading it in the singular form to speak of the one descendant that originated from Abraham, Jesus the Messiah. Paul says this, "Now, the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say and to seeds as referring to many but rather to one, and to your seed, that is Christ." That's Galatians 3:16.
Johnston in his book, Jesus the Messiah, rightly says this, "God's promise of seed to Abraham would find its ultimate culmination in the Messiah as his descendant par excellence."
Abraham's family, the Jewish people, were chosen by God, selected to bring salvation into the world. And I'm reminded of what John the Baptist's father, Zechariah, said when John the Baptist was yet to be born and Jesus was still in Mary's womb. Zechariah saw the writing on the wall. He as a priest saw God moving and he said this in Luke chapter one, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel for he has visited and redeemed his people, and he has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to show the mercy promise to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham."
The Lord remained faithful to Abraham because it would be through this promise, a nation, descendants, that one would come to bring redemption and salvation to all people. When Jesus came, he came in response to the oath, the promise that God swore to Abraham.
Steve Conover: Chris, this Covenant series has been so eye-opening for 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. And in fact, as eye-opening as this series is, I would like 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 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 us foiradio.org. Again, that's foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back, everyone. We're going back to the basics as we start the new year. And by going back to the basics, we're going back to the promise that God made to Abraham, a significant promise that actually affects Christians today.
I want to show you something. The divine promise was extremely influential in the way God raised up The Friends of Israel to serve the Jewish people at its founding in 1938. Yes, the founders of The Friends of Israel believed that one day the Jewish people would return to their ancient homeland, but in 1938 there was no Israel yet. When Friends of Israel was established, their mission was to help save beleaguered Jewish people, the descendants of Abraham suffering under Hitler's tyranny. God says in the promise to Abraham in Genesis chapter 12, "I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you." The founders of The Friends of Israel wanted to be the conduit of blessing to God's chosen.
In 1938, we partnered with like-minded organizations in Great Britain and Europe to supply clothes and food and passports and passage out of Europe for Jewish people desperate to escape the horrors of the Holocaust. We stood up and spoke out against anti-Semitism, which is the hatred of the Jewish people. And let me tell you, that spirit of blessing God's chosen still exists today.
Our Friends of Israel representatives are serving the Jewish people in countries all around the world. In the United States and Canada, we volunteer and partner with Jewish organizations to show and share the love of the Messiah. In Argentina, our medical clinic in Buenos Aires sits in the center of the heavily Jewish populated area of Argentina's capital. FOI workers in the United Kingdom, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand are reaching out to Jewish communities to let them know that they have a friend who stands with them against antisemitism and the rise of antisemitism. Our colleagues in Eastern Europe are providing humanitarian aid and spiritual comfort to the Jewish communities that are still suffering under the effects of the Holocaust, communism, and now the Russian War in Ukraine. Finally, the pastors and church plants we partner with in Israel are shining the light of the gospel in cities all around the Holy land.
The Friends of Israel isn't just about the land of Israel. It's about supporting the Jewish people because God says, "I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you." And we here at The Friends of Israel want to love what God loves.
Steve Conover: Chris, picking up on what you just said, The Friends of Israel isn't just about the land of Israel, and we support the Jewish people. Now you are in North American ministries. Tell us how you're doing that here in North America.
Chris Katulka: Yeah, one of our most fun outreaches that we have that I think really makes a great impact in the Jewish community is our Hanukkah basket ministry, or we should call the Hanukkah box ministry now, where we pack these beautiful boxes full of really good Israeli products, and the boxes say Happy Hanukkah on them, and we go to our Jewish friends all around the United States and we just say Happy Hanukkah. And I don't think people realize it, but Jewish people, when someone says Happy Hanukkah to them, it hits them differently because they're used to hearing Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, never really Happy Hanukkah. And so as a Christian, when we say Happy Hanukkah and we share with them a very nice gift, it always lends an open door, an open opportunity to fellowship with them, to connect with them, and even to share our faith with them in many ways. So it's a great ministry that we have and just one of many here in North American ministries.
Steve Conover: Israel on the verge of becoming a state, a teenage 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: For many days I had been asking myself, how do I find people like me who survived the Holocaust so that I may bring them the gospel of Christ? Speaking to them about faith is not easy. They do not want to hear about the Bible. But as we say in Israel, if God wills it, even a broom can shoot.
Recently a friend came to my home to ask for my help. "Zvi," he said, "I know a 90-year-old man who is a Holocaust survivor and does not want to hear about the Lord. Would you please come and speak to him? He only wants to speak with people who have suffered as he did because only they understand what he's going through." "I'm ready," I said.
So I went to his home with my friend. We talked for quite a while and began to develop a friendship. I asked him how he dealt with all he endured during World War II, and I listened to his reply. Then he asked me the same question. "In the beginning," I said, "it was very hard for me. But over time I started to read the Holy Bible and grow closer to the Lord and he gave me hope and the courage to go on living. During the Holocaust, I was jealous of those who died. I was 10 when the Nazis came through Poland where I lived. I was separated from my family and have never seen them again. When the war was over, I came to Israel and someone gave me a Bible and I read Psalm 27:10 where it is written, 'When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me.' He gave me courage to live and even enabled me to encourage others who walked that same long road of suffering. And here I am today, no longer suffering because I put my trust in the Lord."
He had many questions and I told him how I came to know the Lord personally. At the beginning of my visit he was extremely distraught, but he paid great attention to everything I said, and in time I saw great joy appear over his face. Then I opened the Bible and began to read to him. He listened and I could sense the Lord's presence.
I have spoken to other Holocaust survivors, and they all ask the same questions. "How can you speak about faith in God? You know what I have lived through. Where was God then?" I asked him, "How old are you?" "I am 90 years old," he replied. "And who gave you this long life if not God himself? You could have died in Europe, but he brought you here and is taking care of you. So if you want to know where God was, look at yourself. He was with you the entire time so that you should come to know him and tell others about him."
I showed him how God has blessed his chosen people by giving us back the land he promised to us and to our descendants forever. Despite all we've gone through, God has not forsaken us. As it is written, "You are my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified."
Chris Katulka: The impact of Zvi's life and 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 think deeper about how we as Christians should think about a relationship to Israel and the Jewish people. Now next week we continue our series on the covenants.
Chris Katulka: Steve, built into the promise that God made to Abraham is actually a call to share our faith, evangelism, and we're called The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, which means everything we do is rooted and grounded in the gospel, and that goes back to our very beginnings, the foundings of who we are as an organization. And so I'm excited to share how the promise that God made to Abraham should compel us to share our faith as well.
I want to share with you really quick before we move on about an event that you can be a part of. Even the most faithful believers have questions about the Bible. Do you? Well, guess what? You're not alone. Join us online March 10th and 11th for our free Look Up Virtual Conference where we're going to Unravel the Mysteries of the Bible from the signs of Christ coming to the Millennial Kingdom. Learn more by going to lookup.foi.org.
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. Once again, that's FOI Radio PO Box 914 Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. And I'll give you one last 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: You Are My Servant Israel
“How do I find people like me, who survived the Holocaust, so I may bring them the Gospel of Christ?” Zvi often prayed this prayer asking for opportunities from God. One day he was asked to visit a fellow Holocaust survivor who desired to share his story. Zvi was able to talk through the heartache they shared but also the hope God had provided. See how Zvi’s faithful prayers to share his faith were answered in a big way.
North American Outreaches
Our North American outreach team tirelessly ministers to those in Jewish communities who need it most. Our team’s steadfast dedication to teaching biblical truth while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people is made possible because of you.
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.