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Jonathan Bernis - Significance of the Jewish Calendar


Jonathan Bernis - Significance of the Jewish Calendar
TOPICS: Jews

Jonathan Bernis: Shalom and welcome to "Jewish Voice," and thank you for joining us today. I'm Jonathan Bernis, and I'm joined again by my co-host, Ezra Benjamin. Did you know that Moses, all the prophets, the apostles, even Jesus himself, lived, traveled, and worshipped based on a calendar you may never have heard of? And it's not the January to December calendar that we all know, that has 365 days broken down into 12 months. That's just one view of how the days and years are measured. We know we're living in the year 2021, but there's actually another calendar, and according to that one, we're in the year 5781. Almost sounds like science fiction, 5781! Understanding that calendar will open your eyes to understanding the fullness of the scriptures. Ezra, the difference between these two calendars may be new to many in our audience, but they really matter.

Ezra Benjamin: They do.

Jonathan Bernis: They really matter, not just for us, we grew up with this calendar.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: And it's not just the Hebrew calendar or the Jewish calendar, it's God's calendar, but it's important to Christians.

Ezra Benjamin: Exactly. You know, and I'm thinking of, right, the sons of Issachar, Jonathan. We all know the verse. The sons of Issachar understood the times and the seasons they were in, and I think - I think about that more often than not in a very macro way, right? Kind of we're approaching the last days. I think you probably feel that at home, right? Things are happening in the world and we say we are closer to the return of Jesus than we ever have been. I mean, we know, of course, that's true. Every day is a day closer to his return, but I really feel like we're in the last days. But on a more micro level, every year we have an opportunity to understand the times and the seasons we're in, and it's not the Gregorian, January to December calendar you mentioned. It's actually this biblical calendar. Some might know it as the Jewish calendar or the Hebrew, Hebraic calendar, but this calendar of times and seasons that God set out on a repeating cycle in the Bible for the children of Israel, and for all who would call upon his name and engage with his word.

Jonathan Bernis: So, here's why it's so important to you, because you may be thinking, "That's great for Jewish people, but I'm a Christian". And the answer is that this is not the Jewish calendar alone. This is God's timetable.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: I have a friend, Mark Biltz, that calls this, "God's day timer". He's following the calendar that he established in the Torah, in the first five books of Moses. It's a cycle, and that cycle is filled with specific days of remembrance.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: But, Ezra, they're deeper than that. They also have a prophetic significance and events that changed the world, that changed the world already...

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: When Messiah came, but also will change the world when he returns, are tied into that calendar.

Ezra Benjamin: Exactly. You know, and Jonathan, maybe our audience is listening and saying, "Is this some kind of secret corner on the truth that nobody knows"? No, we're gonna unpack scriptures today. It's right there in black and white for everybody to see who would engage with the Word of God. And then, maybe you're saying, "Am I obligated as a Christian to live according to this calendar? Isn't that for the Jewish people"? It's not an obligation, it's an invitation to engage with God's day timer. What is he doing on an annual cycle? And also, Jonathan, it's clear to me, I know it's clear to you as well, I hope it's gonna be clear to you today, that actually, the first coming of Jesus to earth and his return, I believe I see in the scriptures, are clearly tied to that same biblical calendar.

Jonathan Bernis: Absolutely! And don't take our word for it. Go back and study. We really encourage you to do that. Just don't believe what you hear.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure.

Jonathan Bernis: With different teachings. Go back and look at the scriptures, study the scriptures, and determine for yourself.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: I think that's pleasing to the Lord.

Ezra Benjamin: It is. We all need to be bereans, Jonathan, and as you said, don't take our word for it. Dig into the scriptures. There's gonna be references on the screens. We're sharing a few scriptures today, but dig in for yourself.

Jonathan Bernis: Ezra, one other thing I want to mention.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure.

Jonathan Bernis: I want you to understand this. I grew up in a Jewish home, following this calendar in terms of the different celebrations, and my understanding was that these were our Jewish celebrations, these were our Jewish holidays, and Christians had a different calendar of holidays. And in fact, there's some truth to that. You know, we have our - we have passover, Christians have Easter. We have Hanukkah, Christians have Christmas. Now, while there's some truth to that, God does have a biblical calendar with biblical observances that are for everyone that knows him, that's walking with him, because they're events that affect the entire world, not just the Jewish people.

Ezra Benjamin: It's an invitation to engage at a deeper level, really a 3-d level with what God's doing.

Jonathan Bernis: And Ezra, we're not trying to invalidate the Gregorian calendar.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure.

Jonathan Bernis: We celebrate new year's.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: Right?

Ezra Benjamin: January 1, exactly.

Jonathan Bernis: And we're not trying to invalidate the Christian celebrations. We're not about that on this show. We're not gonna tell you that it's pagan. You may believe that. We're not gonna tell you that, but what we're telling you is that God wants you to be included in his calendar, in his day timer, to fully understand the times and the seasons.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: It's really that simple.

Ezra Benjamin: Jonathan, I think we can make a promise to our audience that if you engage with God's calendar as you read the scriptures, you're gonna have a full - like, it's gonna go from 2-D to 3-D. You're gonna have a fuller, a deeper understanding of what's happening in the Old Testament, as well as the new, than you ever have before.

Jonathan Bernis: So, Ezra, let's jump in.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure.

Jonathan Bernis: Go ahead.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah, well, let's begin at the beginning, Jonathan. I'm thinking of Exodus 12, and by the beginning, I mean the beginning of this biblical or Jewish calendar. Exodus 12, God's getting ready to deliver the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt, and he's put his finger, he's put his hand on Moses and his mouthpiece, Aaron, to accomplish this, and it says - I'm reading from the "Tree of life" version here. Exodus 12:1, "Now Adonai spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt saying, 'this month will mark the beginning of months for you: it is to be the first month of the year for you'". It's interesting - deliverance, freedom from slavery is the beginning of the calendar. I hope that speaks to you, to your heart, at home, right? The beginning of our story is our deliverance from slavery to sin, into what God has for us.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, I love that. You see the parallel, though. It's a national deliverance out of Egypt, but spiritually, Egypt is the world, and we're being taken out of the world and out of sin, and crossing over into a new life. So, that's the beginning. So, you have two birthdays, by the way, right? You have your natural birthday, but you also have a spiritual birthday - the day you were born, but the day you were born again.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: So, this really begins with Israel being born again.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah.

Jonathan Bernis: Let's jump in. Let's dig down a little bit though, because this creates questions for a lot of people...

Ezra Benjamin: I already know what you're gonna ask.

Jonathan Bernis: This is the first of the year. This is the new year.

Ezra Benjamin: It's the first month.

Jonathan Bernis: And there's two names for this, okay?

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: Nisan and Abib, that you'll find them both in scripture. Nisan and Abib speaks of this first month.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: And on the tenth of that month is when the Exodus is going to take place.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure.

Jonathan Bernis: But this is the new year, the month of Nisan. It's springtime. But we also have an official Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, and we have new year's eve on January 1.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right. And maybe you're listening at home, going, "Okay, you're saying this is the Jewish new year, but wait a minute. Every September, October, when I go into Walmart or target, I see happy new year cards for the Jewish community. What gives? That's six months later". So, what's happening here? The first versus the seventh month are both called the new year.

Jonathan Bernis: Well, we have two new years on the Hebrew calendar, one being ordained by God and one being determined by the rabbis at a later date.

Ezra Benjamin: Interesting.

Jonathan Bernis: Which is really the seventh month, Ezra. It's the seventh month. That's Tishrei and it's the first day of the seventh month. Now, why did the rabbis - and incidentally, there is an appointed time on the seventh month, day one, which is the blowing of the shofarim.

Ezra Benjamin: Of the trumpets, right.

Jonathan Bernis: Blowing of the trumpets. We're not even clear what it means. It's making a noise. There's not a lot said about it, but it is a marked day where we remember something through blowing trumpets, blowing the ram's horn.

Ezra Benjamin: It's a wake-up call.

Jonathan Bernis: It's a wake-up call and it begins a season, a very important season.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: In God's calendar, but I believe that the events of the last days actually begin on the first day of the seventh month with the blowing of the ram's horn or the trumpets in heaven, which we'll talk about later. I'm jumping ahead.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: The rabbis determined that this was the day of creation. You have another understanding as well.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: And they memorialized the day that God created the world by calling this Rosh Hashanah, the head of the year. We have so much more to talk about, but we have to take a short break. Before we do that, I want to let you know that we need your help right now. I know that you may be presented with a lot of different opportunities to give, but please understand that your support of Jewish Voice is truly making a difference in the lives of Jewish people that need to hear the Gospel. Take a moment to listen to our announcer and consider joining us as a monthly shalom partner. Watch this.

Jonathan Bernis: Welcome back to the program. Before we get back into our teaching, I just want to take a moment to say thank you. We could not do the work that God has called us to without you. Honestly, we could not do it, so thank you for your generous giving and especially for joining Jewish Voice as a monthly shalom partner. Your ongoing support of this ministry is so valued. We appreciate you so much. So again, thank you for your partnership. Ezra, we couldn't do this...

Ezra Benjamin: That's right. Thank you for sending us out to proclaim good news to Jewish communities and their neighbors.

Jonathan Bernis: Amen. Well, Ezra, we're talking about Rosh Hashanah.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: Which is a rabbinic addition to a feast called Yom Teruah, the blowing of the trumpets or the ram's horn. I believe it's prophetic, but the rabbis determined that the seventh month, the first day of the seventh month, was Rosh Hashanah, the head...

Ezra Benjamin: Head of the year, Rosh Hashanah, yeah.

Jonathan Bernis: Of the year, and one teaching, oral tradition, is that God created the world on the first day of the seventh month, seventh month being of course the day of completion.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: So, what do you understand?

Ezra Benjamin: You know, it's interesting, right? Because we have the first of months, as we read in Exodus 12 in Nisan-Abib, and then, the seventh month, which is called the head of the year - you know, we understand from the historical accounts of Israel and the Jewish people that it was actually the month when kings were coronated. So, when you read, you know, for example, "It was the seventh month of king Josiah," that's counting from a coronation month, which corresponded with this blowing of trumpets. And it's an interesting thought, isn't it? The blowing of trumpets corresponded with the recognition that there is a king in Israel, and not just a king, lower case k, there is a king in Israel. And that, I think, Jonathan, is part of the ultimate significance of what we and what all of us are supposed to remember every year at this blowing of trumpets, is wake up, there's a king. It's not me, it's not you. He's on his throne.

Jonathan Bernis: He's on his throne, and regardless who the president of America is, regardless of who the prime minister of U.K. is, that's changing, but God remains on the throne and his kingdom is never changing.

Ezra Benjamin: Amen.

Jonathan Bernis: Thank God for that.

Ezra Benjamin: Thank God.

Jonathan Bernis: Great, great point. So, there's something very significant about the first day of the seventh month. But Ezra, we were looking back at Leviticus, or at rather... At Exodus 12, and God clearly establishes Nisan, or Abib, both names are used, the month that passover falls, and the Exodus, as the beginning of the calendar.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: Of his calendar.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: So, let's go on from there.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah, and it begins this cycle of what we know as the spring feasts, right? We have the spring feasts, beginning with this month of Nisan or Abib, and then, the fall feasts beginning really with Rosh Hashanah, the blowing of trumpets or the head of the year, beginning in the seventh month. But focusing on the spring feasts for a minute, Jonathan, there's this cycle of passover happening in Nisan, right? This idea that God says, "This is going to be the first of months. Ten days into this month, I want you to take a lamb without blemish in its first year, one for each household in Israel, and if you can't afford a whole lamb, get together with your neighbors and get one together. And then, on the fourteenth day of this first month, I want you to slaughter that lamb at twilight and put the blood on the doorposts of your house, because i, myself," not an angel, not a messenger, "I, myself," God says, "Am coming to purchase your freedom". That's a crazy thought, to purchase the freedom of the children of Israel with the blood of every firstborn in Egypt. "But when I see that blood on the doorpost of your house, I will pass over". That's the word, where we get passover in Hebrew. "Pesach" is God passing over, sparing the children of Israel from death when he sees the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of their house.

Jonathan Bernis: I just heard a really interesting teaching that the Hebrew nuances the idea of guarding the door, so it's not just passing over, but, "I will stand guard".

Ezra Benjamin: Wow.

Jonathan Bernis: "Over the doorposts that have the blood. I, myself, will stand guard and protect the decree of death over your household".

Ezra Benjamin: Incredible.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah.

Ezra Benjamin: And I think, you know - I'm thinking of the Mezuzah, right? In the Jewish faith, in Jewish tradition, we put this recognition on the doorposts of our houses that says, "The presence and the name of the Lord are inscribed here," God is watching over the doorposts of the houses of Israel.

Jonathan Bernis: So, you may be hearing Jewish things, Jewish things. Let's bring this home. This is a foreshadow in detail, intentional by the way. It's an intentional foreshadowing of Yeshua, of Jesus, coming as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: This is not something that's created or interpreted later. This is clearly understood by, for example, John the immerser, the Baptist, when he pointed to Jesus across the water and said, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world".

Ezra Benjamin: Exactly.

Jonathan Bernis: He was going back to passover.

Ezra Benjamin: He wasn't making up new language. He was referencing the lambs, the blood of whom had to be put on the doorposts of all of the houses of Israel, and John is recognizing this is the one whose blood I need on the doorposts of my house, and all of us do.

Jonathan Bernis: So, the direct fulfillment, the completion of passover, comes with Yeshua, with Jesus, laying down his life, being led as a lamb to the slaughter, and opening not his mouth and shedding his blood for our sins. That's what he meant when he lifted the cup at that final passover and said, "Now this previously was the redemption, the cup of redemption out of Egypt".

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: "Now it's my blood, represents my blood, shed for you for the redemption of sins".

Ezra Benjamin: Right, and it's really Jeremiah 31 language, isn't it? "Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord, "When I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, not like the one I made with their fathers because I'm not gonna give you the law on tablets of stone, I'm gonna write it on your heart".

Jonathan Bernis: I hope you're getting the idea here that this is not just some Jewish observance. This is an appointed time that God ordained before the foundation of the world - listen to me now - before the foundation of the world that this act would take place through a people that would be representative of something greater that would redeem the entire world. That lamb without blemish, without spot, and there's very specific requirements in Exodus 12 are fulfilled in detail by Jesus, including verse 46, "Not a bone is to be broken".

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: Of that lamb, and that's why they didn't break a bone, they didn't break his legs, when they came to him.

Ezra Benjamin: "Not a bone shall be broken of this lamb". Jonathan, it's just one of many prophecies about how the Messiah would live, die, and not stay in the ground, but resurrect to life, and it's all based on the idea of a passover lamb in the spring feasts.

Jonathan Bernis: Ezra, I believe we're living in a day where the Lord wants to remove this wall between Jewish and Christian tradition, Jewish and Christian religion, Jewish and Christian separation. He wants to bring us back into a fullness. I think of Romans 11:25, "The blindness comes off of the Jewish people when the fullness of the gentiles comes in". I don't believe it's full number. I'm deviating a little, but it's important. The fullness that God wants to restore to the church will have a dynamic effect in the Gospel going forward in power.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right, Jonathan.

Jonathan Bernis: I believe that.

Ezra Benjamin: And that's part of why, week after week, we want to share with you, bringing out of the treasures of the scripture, treasures old and new, because we believe that part of that fullness of the nations is an understanding of what God's doing with the root of the olive tree, the people of Israel, and what that has to do with you, grafted into that tree.

Jonathan Bernis: Ezra, the Lord's supper is not some meal, final meal, getting ready for the crucifixion.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: It's a Seder. It's a Seder on the appointed day.

Ezra Benjamin: A passover Seder.

Jonathan Bernis: A passover Seder with all of the elements. When Jesus raised the bread, it wasn't wonder bread, it was matzah.

Ezra Benjamin: Unleavened bread. He said, "This is my body". It has so much more significance when you go back to the actual event, the actual appointed event, and understand this is bread without leaven, without sin.

Jonathan Bernis: That's right. Yeah, Jesus didn't die on good Friday and resurrect on Easter Sunday. He died on passover as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Ezra Benjamin: Let me jump in with one more. I'm convinced - so, who's going to betray him? "The one that dips with me," right? "The one that is dipping with me". What is that all about? It wasn't hummus. This is the event where you're dipping. It's the only event where you're dipping, and one of the questions the child asks the elder is, "Why are we dipping? We don't dip on other holidays, on other events, but we are on this holiday. We're not dipping just once, but twice".

Jonathan Bernis: That's right.

Ezra Benjamin: What was he dipping? He was dipping into the bitter herbs, I believe. "Who is going to betray me? The one that dips with me into bitter herbs". Betrayal is bitter.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah.

Ezra Benjamin: It brings the context alive, and I believe the Lord wants to bring that life into your understanding of scripture. Ah, we could - I'm just getting warmed up, Ezra! There's so much more to talk. We need to take a moment though to share with you how you can receive resources that we want to make available to you today, and how you can get involved with Jewish Voice. We need your help. I want you to pray about joining us as a shalom monthly partner. Your continued monthly support will transform lives and give us the opportunity to share the Gospel with Jewish people who literally have not heard in remote places in the world. Watch this short message and then Ezra and I will be back to pray with you and come into agreement with you for your needs. Stay tuned.
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