Sid: Now, I have in the studio with me a Messianic Jewish friend and I do say friend that I’ve known so many years, but last month you and I did a fund raising banquet for a friend that has a Messianic Jewish Congregation in Tel Aiv Israel and so I found out how many years we have known each other. How many years is it Jonathan Bernis?
Jonathan: Twenty-eight, Sid. Twenty-eight years.
Sid: That’s a long…
Jonathan: I was just a kid when I met you.
Sid: Actually you were, and a boy I have some funny remembrances, you do too on second thought. So you keep them to yourself.
Jonathan: I have many; do you want me to start? I’m ready to begin.
Sid: Oh, no, no, no. Zip your mouth. Any way I am interviewing Jonathan because of his book and it is a must read for every Christian in America. Why do I say this, let’s start out with the title “A Rabbi Looks at Jesus of Nazareth.” Now when I hear the term Rabbi, I think of a Orthodox Jewish Rabbi looking at Jesus of Nazareth. And to be quite candid with you Jonathan, that interests me minus zero unless they know who He is. But many Messianic Jewish Leaders call themselves Rabbi and personally I have a little bit of difficulty with that title. And were friends so we can discuss this. I have a little difficulty with the title because when I hear Rabbi I think on a Orthodox Jewish Rabbi that has all the trappings of tradition and not as much scripture as I would like.
Jonathan: Well, I have a problem with the title also because I was brought up being taught that there was Judaism and Christianity to distinct religions that had nothing in common. We had Rabbi’s and Christians had Pastors. But one of the reasons I wrote the book is to break down that wall of misconception. You talk about the wall between Jew and Gentile becoming one; well I believe there is a wall that’s been falsely erected between Judaism and Christianity that needs to be broken down. And Rabbi is a biblical term, the reason I had trouble with it…
Sid: We know the word Rabbi means teacher and the Hebrew word for teacher. However that’s not the way it’s defined in our society, it’s defined with having a beard and having a black hat or having a yamaka on or having tradition at a higher level than the Word of God. That’s what I have trouble with.
Jonathan: Right, but we’re also taught that a Jew, the definition of a Jew is one that believes in a different Covenant, a different God and so on than the God of Christianity.
Sid: Well, their wrong.
Jonathan: Well, I say no that’s one of the reasons I wrote the book. I made some amazing discoveries when I read both the New Testament for the first time and went back and read my own Jewish scriptures which I had never read before, were the people of the book, you said this in the banquet last month. But we don’t read our own book and the reality is Sid is that Judaism is defined today as much by what Jews don’t believe as what Jews do believe. And the miss conception is that Jews can’t believe in Jesus, that’s what I was taught and I’m trying to bring back the Biblical understanding that to be a believer in Jesus from a Jewish background is to be completed or to be fulfilled as a Jew. Not to be converted to Christianity and in that I assert that our spiritual leaders have every right to be called Rabbi because we’re defining Biblically.
Sid: Well, I look at it differently on another subject, Jonathan. I have a theory if the word Jew comes from the Hebrew word that means a worshiper of God then every Jew and every Christian must become a Yehudah a Worshiper of God.
Jonathan: Well, we’re in agreement there.
Sid: It’s really the olive tree is the Jewish olive tree and it’s wonderful the gentiles now are grafted in and taking the parable of prodigal son where the Father said of the older brother who I look at as a type of the gentle believer that’s worked for 2000 years in the harvest and then there’s this big deal coming into their own olive tree and the Father representing God says to the Gentile Believer, wait a second, you’ve been grafted in everything I have is yours. So I see it as one olive tree, one new man. Anyway it’s a you know its semantics and yet I see there’s only one people of God. It’s not Jews and Christians it’s one people
Jonathan: I agree though Sid, but a marriage is a male and a female that become one flesh. And my issue or my problem with the one new man, Jew and Gentile being one in Messiah, is what are all the Jews? There’s plenty of gentiles but where all the Jews and that’s what I talk about in this book. Why aren’t more Jewish people believing in Jesus today? There’s many reasons.
Sid: Well, you know what I think before we get to that, what I believe and here’s the thing that you know but, maybe our Mishpochah don’t know and that is my wife came from a Baptist background, when she got into college she had atheistic professors and they took away all her faith from her. She wouldn’t have called herself an atheist she called herself an agnostic, just in case. And then when we got married she converted to Orthodox Judaism, she didn’t know Jesus in any of these camps so to speak. And it was only when we started a Messianic Jewish Congregation and our first Rabbi preached Jesus out of the Old Testament that she said, I have to believe, I have no choice. And the average Gentile Christians never had to have it proven to them, never had to have that dimension and so therefore if an Orthodox Rabbi tried to talk them out of their faith which, they would not if they are not Jewish, if that were to occur they would not standing on as firm a foundation.
Jonathan: That’s right, you said as simple as this statement is often shocking to Christians. That the first disciples, the apostles revealed or proved that Jesus was the Messiah to their Jewish brethren out of the Old Testament, not out of the New Testament, the New Testament hadn’t been written yet.
Sid: No, it was just letters that were circulating also, it was never in a nice big brown leather Bible.
Jonathan: But Christians are shocked when I say that, you’re kidding me I didn’t know that. But that’s the truth, it was the Tanakh it was the Jewish scriptures.
Sid: You know after all these years of reading the Jewish scriptures and the New Covenant I don’t find anything new in the New Covenant. I find everything in the New Covenant in the Jewish scriptures if you have eyes to see.
Sid: And when you find this Jonathan, it just, you marvel at the brilliance of God.
Jonathan: I agree, the New Testament it’s been said, it’s concealed in the Old. And the Old Testament is revealed in the new. And I think that’s very accurate. It’s amazing when you really study there’s this incredible harmony congruity between the Old and the New Testaments from Genesis to Revelation.
Sid: So Jonathan, tell me a bit about your background, today Jonathan and for those that aren’t familiar with him, he literally, I hate to use the term, Rabbi, I hate to use the term apostle, I hate to use any titles to be quite candid with you. But so I can say this, my friend Jonathan is truly an apostle in the New Covenant sense, I was there at his very first outreach in the former Soviet Union and from there they started congregations and we saw Jews not walk to the altar we saw Jewish people for the first time in our life, run to the altar and it’s still kind of gives me goose bumps so to speak when I think about that moment.
Jonathan: I remember it almost every day just vividly Sid, because it proved to us that the blindness is truly coming off the eyes of the Jewish people. And this is a prophetic fulfillment Sid of prophecy relating to the soon coming of Jesus to this earth. Which is why it’s so important for Christians to understand the relevance of the Jewish people coming back to the Lord in great numbers. It signals the near return of the Messiah to this earth. He’s coming back soon.
Sid: I am absolutely convinced as it says in Matthew 25, the nations will be divided in the last days, there will be goat nations and there will be sheep nations. And the issue is found in Matthew 25:40 “Which says as you have done to the least of these my brethren, on the Greek that means from the womb, so obviously the Jewish people, it’s going to be done unto you and all of end time prophecy is centered on the Middle East and in particular Israel. And all the blessings of God are being poured out on those that are on the right side of the fence that are not only sheep nations and goat nations but there are sheep people and goat people.
Jonathan: Absolutely, Sid you know recently a month ago our President made the statement that “Israel had to return to their original 1967 borders.” Do you know literally within an hours of that statement we experienced the worst tornados in American history or certainly in the worst in the last sixty years. Over fifteen hundred people that lost their lives, I believe it’s directly connected to that statement. Any time America’s interfered with Israel and tried to force Israel to give away Covenant land we have experienced the curse that Genesis 12 talks about.
Sid: Well, you know the one example you gave, that’s a fresh example, but throughout the history of modern day Israel, if you study the times the United States has gone against Israel, I’ll tell you the greatest example, FEMA. Since they’ve been keeping records of the cost of natural disasters nine out of the top ten worst economic disasters in the history of America, since they’ve been keeping records, were within hours of the United States doing something negative with Israel. Nine of the ten worst economic disasters that is not coincidence!
Jonathan: And Sid, I think that makes the statement very clear, God cares how the nations respond to Israel and the Jewish people. Let me say this in Genesis 12 is very much in affect today, “I will bless those that bless my people and curse the one that curses my people. Which is why Christians must, I say must understand how to bless the Jewish people because in response they’ll be blessed.
Sid: Well, it’s the heart of God; I want to catch the heart of God.