Jonathan Bernis - The Biblical Calendar
Jonathan Bernis: Shalom and welcome to Jewish Voice and thank you for joining me today. I'm Jonathan Bernis and I'm joined again by my co-host Ezra Benjamin. We often use the calendar to mark important dates. Things like birthdays, and anniversaries. Of course, Christmas, Easter and all the other holidays. But are you aware that there is another calendar that is used to mark important dates that are all related to the Bible? And that's the calendar that we want to talk about today. Some call it the Jewish calendar but Ezra it's God's calendar. It's more than the Jewish calendar. This is a continuation by the way of a conversation we've already begun. It's so big and there's so much to cover. We could spend literally months on this, Ezra.
Ezra Benjamin: Absolutely and we just have to pick some highlights. But Jonathan, foundationally... before you change the channel and say, "Oh, that's the Jewish calendar", this is the Bible calendar. From Exodus on really and we're gonna talk about that in a minute. Literally through the Book of Revelation we see references to this God established calendar. It was first for Israel but it's for all of us who call upon his name.
Jonathan Bernis: Yeah so Ezra this is such an important point. So two things. First of all, this is God's design for not only the year but for creation. It's something that began with a people, a distinct people, the children of Abraham. But God's design was that this would be a cycle, prophetic cycle that would have greater meaning and would ultimately be the calendar that he used for the redemption of mankind. That's a big statement. But it's true. So he chose a people, he began the calendar with the Exodus out of Egypt. As we were talking about last time. The calendar begins, God's calendar, God's day timer begins with the Exodus out of Egypt. It's not the calling of Abraham. It's not the creation of the world. His calendar begins with the Exodus out of Egypt. And he says as we looked at last time Exodus 12. You should go back on your own and read this. This will be the first of... The Exodus out of Egypt. And the second thing that is important to mention is this is the calendar that Jesus followed. The cycle of events, of holidays, of appointed times throughout the year were observed by Jesus. By all of the first believers. All of the apostles. And then the 5000 plus that were in the early church. That made up the early church because they were all Jews. Now you may not believe that. But I encourage you study for yourself. It's very clear. These are all Jews or proselytes to Judaism that never leave the traditions of their forefathers. So they did not know the Gregorian calendar. They did not know the January to December calendar broken into 12 months, 365 days. They followed a different calendar.
Ezra Benjamin: Right, it's a bit of a paradigm shift, isn't it? The apostles, the prophets had no idea, oh, it's January 1st, I better make a new resolution. Or oh. It's Easter Sunday, I better celebrate the resurrection of the Messiah. Or it's thanksgiving. It was not on their radar. What was on their radar, was a God ordained timetable that repeated itself every year, that had significance every year and it has prophetic significance. And Jonathan as you said Jesus himself, the fulfillment of the Torah, the fulfillment of the law kept these commandments to keep these feasts. To keep these appointed times.
Jonathan Bernis: And I want you to elaborate on the Exodus and why it's significant for Christians also. But let me tell you what we're trying to break down. We're trying to break down this idea of the Jewish holidays and the Christian holidays. They're distinct, they're separate. That's not a biblical world view. The biblical world view is that God has a calendar that he's actually keeping now. He's keeping it. He's following it. And nothing happens by happen stance. Nothing happens randomly. There are select dates, days that God has appointed for things to happen in times past and things future.
Ezra Benjamin: Right and Jonathan you know again our audiences may be saying why does this matter for me. Sure the Jewish people even Jewish believers in Jesus keep those feasts. What's in it for me? Romans 11, Paul is very clear, right? The gentiles, part of a wild olive tree have been grafted into this olive tree whose root is Israel. And it says, "And are enjoying," some translations the new King James I love it says, "The fatness of the root of this tree". And we can say the fullness, right, the fullness of your faith requires an understanding of God's times and seasons and that's what we're digging into today.
Jonathan Bernis: You are a son or daughter of Abraham, why? Because you have been grafted as a wild olive branch into an olive tree. And as a grafted branch you become part of the tree. So you've been grafted into the heritage of an earlier people. A royal priesthood. A holy generation. It began with Israel. And God is still faithful to the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But you've been grafted into all of those blessings and all of those promises as a son or daughter of Abraham. Not to replace them but to join alongside of them as co-heirs of these great promises. Let's go back and just recap, Ezra, the beginning. The beginning as this is where it all starts.
Ezra Benjamin: Right. You know Exodus 12 as you said, Jonathan, God's saying to Moses and Aaron's gonna be his mouthpiece since Moses has a speech impediment of some kind. We don't have the details. It says in 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's to be the first month of the year for you". So God's saying I'm about to stretch out my mighty hand and outstretched arm to deliver you from slavery that you've been in for 400 years when you've been on Egyptian time, right? You've been under the Egyptian calendar but God's saying I'm doing a new thing and I'm giving you a new timetable. I'm gonna bring you out from slavery, out from under the burdens and I'm gonna free you so you can worship me.
Jonathan Bernis: But this was only the beginning of it. It Carries on through to the New Testament now.
Ezra Benjamin: That's right. That's right. And we see this is really the beginning of what we understand to be the spring feast Jonathan. And there's three Pilgrimage feast we celebrate, where all the children of Israel were commanded to go up to Jerusalem. Passover, Shavuot and the feast of tabernacle, Sukkot.
Jonathan Bernis: Ezra the idea of the Pilgrimage feast is so important. I wanna save that till the next segment. But I wanna just look at what we call the spring feast for a few minutes. Focusing on these. Because it's so interesting that the feasts which are laid out in Genesis, excuse me Leviticus 23, in detail take us through a cycle that has a spring set of feasts, three feasts, a break of time and then three fall feasts. So that gap in time is very interesting. I believe prophetically that this is God's point of redemption that's broken down into two comings of Messiah. His first coming as the lamb that directly connects with Exodus. His return as the lion. His coming with the spring feasts are connected to Passover, first fruit and Pentecost or Shavuot and his return is connected with Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. Now that's a prophetic picture but let's go back to the Exodus, the idea that he comes as the Lamb of God. Talk about the applications to Christians for a few minutes about this.
Ezra Benjamin: Sure and you know the children of Israel as we see here in Exodus 12 are commanded on the tenth day actually in this beginning of months to take a lamb without blemish in it's first year into their household. And then on the 14th day at twilight to slaughter this lamb and put the blood on the door post of their house. You know the Exodus story. Why is blood required? Because God himself was coming to bring judgement on all the firstborn in the land of Egypt. But he wanted to Passover, that's where we get the language Passover or Pesach in Hebrew. He wanted to pass over the children of Israel and purchase their freedom. It's a really sobering idea. God purchased the freedom of the children of Israel with the death of all the firstborn in Egypt, but he made a way through the blood of the lamb, I hope you're connecting the dots here, he made a way through the blood of the lamb for the children of Israel to be saved from certain death. And that's our story as believers, isn't it? God's made a way through Jesus the blood of the lamb to be passed over to be saved.
Jonathan Bernis: And I think it's interesting that the pass over recounts the story. But the final meal that Jesus had with his disciples was a Passover Seder where he now reinterprets the Exodus out of Egypt through the matzah, the unleavened bread and the wine. I believe the third cup of wine, the final cup at that time with the cup of redemption to talk about his redemption for us. So it tears down the barrier between Passover and Easter, right? It's all one, it's all connected. If you look at it from a biblical framework it's not a Jewish holiday, Passover and a Christian holiday, Easter, it's one event. One event. Lots more to talk about we have to take a short break but before we do I need to let you know that we need your help right now. I know that many of you are presented with lots of different opportunities to give but please understand that supporting Jewish Voice is truly making a difference in the lives of Jewish people and their neighbors. Many of whom have never heard the Gospel. So 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 can I just take a moment to say, thank you. We honestly could not do this work without you. 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 it, we appreciate you. So thank you again. Really Ezra we couldn't do this.
Ezra Benjamin: Thank you for sending us out to share good news with Jewish people and their neighbors.
Jonathan Bernis: You may not be able to come but you can send us. Well Pilgrimage feast. I wanna go back into that. You gave us a very clear understanding of how Passover is bigger than just the Exodus out of Egypt. It's about the redemption that Jesus brings through his blood to each of us.
Ezra Benjamin: And these Pilgrimage feasts aren't just suggestions, it's actually a commandment for the children of Israel that the males of age in Israel once they're in the Promise Land, are to appear before the Lord. Bring yourself to Jerusalem to the temple and appear before the Lord three times a year. Passover and then seven weeks and change later during Shavuot. And then in the fall feast at the conclusion, the dramatic climax of the fall feast, which we know as feast of tabernacles or Sukkot.
Jonathan Bernis: So here's what we're saying. First of all Passover. Jesus did not die in a random day.
Ezra Benjamin: That's right. That's right.
Jonathan Bernis: His date for crucifixion was chosen for him before he was ever born.
Ezra Benjamin: That's right the day on the Jewish calendar, on the biblical calendar, the 14th of Nisan when Israel every year was used to slaughtering a lamb for your household and putting the blood on the door post of your house. At twilight, Jonathan, that afternoon, that afternoon the lamb who takes away the sin of the world is dying on a cross for Israel and for all people.
Jonathan Bernis: But he specifically came to Jerusalem for Passover. As he had done throughout his life. And the men of Israel had come from all over the nations, right? All over the known, from the rest of Israel and other nations. And were lying in the streets with his arrival but they were all coming to Jerusalem to fulfill the commandment to be in Jerusalem.
Ezra Benjamin: Absolutely right. So you have a representation of the Jewish community from the entirety of the known world in Jerusalem on the weekend if you will, this Passover and several days following that Jesus dies, is buried in that tomb in the ground and then three days later is resurrected. I wanna just focus in on that for a minute Jonathan. The resurrection wasn't Easter Sunday as it existed before it happened on the calendar. Jonathan it's this very specific observance on the biblical calendar during the week of Passover. During this week of the feast of unleavened bread called bikkurim. And in Hebrew a bikur is a first fruit. In essence if you have a fruit tree, the first piece of fruit that first blossom that appears on that tree, you're supposed to take and you're supposed to bring it to the high priest and offer it as a bikur, as a first fruit. On the day on the biblical calendar when the men in Jerusalem were bringing their bikkurim, their first fruit to the house of the Lord, Jesus is raised to life again.
Jonathan Bernis: So we're putting up the biblical reference. I want you to study this for yourself. You may have never heard this before and frankly you may not believe what you're hearing. But I want you to see it in scripture.
Ezra Benjamin: Yeah check it out. And that's where the apostles get this language. Jesus the first fruits of the resurrection from the dead. These men weren't just being poetic. It was the fulfillment of a biblical commandment for Israel. Bring the first fruits of the harvest of the new life of the season to the Lord in Jerusalem.
Jonathan Bernis: So again an appointed day that's brought to fulfillment by Jesus in the new covenant but prophesied long before in the old. This is why it's so applicable for you as a Christian.
Ezra Benjamin: Jonathan let's fast forward about seven weeks because the feast of unleavened bread and this bikkurim holiday begins this counting. We know it in Hebrew as the counting of the omer. And it's the seven-week period of waiting for that first fruit to become a wheat and a barely harvest. I'm thinking of Jesus words, right? Look at the fields, they're wide unto harvest. Pray that God sends laborers to harvest this harvest. Jonathan what happened on that Shavuot, on that feast of weeks, seven weeks after Jesus' resurrection?
Jonathan Bernis: Well it's known to many as Pentecost. But this is, again, a specific date where the men of Israel were commanded to be in Jerusalem worshipping him at the temple. And this is the specific moment that the Holy Spirit has told the disciples to wait for and what happens? The Holy Spirit is poured out on them. At a very specific place Jerusalem at a very specific day, Shavuot, the feast of weeks coming to its fullness and there's a great harvest. It's not a harvest of wheat or barely. It's a harvest of humans into the Kingdom of God.
Ezra Benjamin: Incredible. It's hundreds and then a few days later thousands were added to their number. This outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And it's a harvest of salvation within the house of Israel and then several years later that harvest breaks out where people from all nations, tribes, and tongues start to come into the kingdom.
Jonathan Bernis: Yeah so don't miss this. There's people from every language. Right? Why? Why were there so many different languages represented? Because they were there for specific feast as commanded.
Ezra Benjamin: That's right. We can misunderstand the scriptures right and it almost feels like a broadway show. Okay Jesus needs a bunch of people on stage. He's about to do something. No. Jonathan as you said, Israel was commanded to appear in Jerusalem and so it's no accident that this outpouring of the Holy Spirit in one day affects the entire known Jewish world.
Jonathan Bernis: Don't miss this. This is something that's so easy to miss if you disconnect the new from the old. Look at what it says. Now I'm reading of course from the tree of life which has a Hebraic base to it. So Hebraic foundation. When the day of Shavuot, your Bible will say Pentecost probably, had come or come at its full time, at the moment when this came to fullness it says they were together in one place. Where? Jerusalem. Specifically, near the temple. They were in an upper room and they were praying as commanded. And then a mighty rushing wind filled the whole house where they were sitting. Incidentally, well I can't go there. But the oral traditions are that there's a direct fulfillment of a rushing mighty wind that's part of the haTorah reading. Part of the prophets that were read during this time. It's amazing four ordained by God. Ezra look at, I just want everyone to see how clear this is in acts 2:5. Now Jewish people were staying in Jerusalem. Devout men from every nation under heaven. Now literally we're not talking about the United States. We're talking about the known world at that time. Wherever there was Jewish communities, they were intentionally by God's design at the right place, at the right time for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And if they disobeyed God, they missed this. But this is not a common occurrence in the temple. Neither the outpouring or being gathered together in the temple in Jerusalem. It was the divine design of the Lord that they would all be together for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the presentation of the good news.
Ezra Benjamin: And these people carried a firsthand, these Jewish men carried a first hand experience with the Spirit of God across the world when they left Jerusalem. It's an incredible thought. Maybe you've never thought of it before but that's part of what we're doing here. We're opening the scriptures with the Jewish context to make 2-D things become 3-D.
Jonathan Bernis: And the idea that this is the first harvest celebration and this is the first harvest into the ekklesia. Into those that are called out. Beginning with the Jewish people, the family of faith. It's not a coincidence. And you isolate this from the foundation of the Torah and the prophets, and you just miss all this. Don't miss all this. This is great stuff. This completely changes the way you read the scripture. You said it earlier, you go from 2-D to 3-D.
Ezra Benjamin: Jonathan one more. Kinda bonus round real quick. John 7, the third Pilgrimage feast. The feast of tabernacles known in Hebrew as Sukkot. When you build the tabernacles and you dwell in them for a week with your family. It's the driest time of the year in Israel. Israel hasn't had rain since March or April. And so the land is screaming dryness. And in the midst of this, praying for rain in the temple in Jerusalem, third Pilgrimage feasts. So all the man of Israel of the known world are in Jerusalem. Jesus cries out, it says, "On the last and greatest day of the feast, Yeshua stood up and cried out loudly, if anyone is thirsty"? Everyone was thirsty. The whole nation was thirsty. "If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the scripture says, out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water".
Jonathan Bernis: I love it. I love it. It all comes together when you put it together. It's amazing. Ezra we need to take a moment to share with our viewers how they can receive the resources that we're making available today. And how you can get involved with Jewish Voice. Would you please pray about joining us as a shalom partner today? Your continued monthly support will change lives. The lives of Jewish people and give us the opportunity to share the Gospel with people who literally have not heard. Watch this short message and then Ezra and I will be back to pray with you, for you and your family. Stay tuned.
Jonathan Bernis: We try to take time in every program before we finish to pray with you because we believe in a God who answers prayer. And Ezra there are needs out there. And the beautiful thing is that God hears and answers prayer all we have to do is believe. That's the challenge, we're fighting the good fight of faith. Will you lead us in prayer?
Ezra Benjamin: I'd be honored to Jonathan.
Jonathan Bernis: Let's pray together and just join with us.
Ezra Benjamin: Lord you are the God of the times and seasons, and we thank you today that you know the times and the seasons that each of our friends watching and praying with us are in. Lord we pray that you will enter into those times and seasons. Break in with your glory, with your goodness, with your favor, with your protection, with your healing, with your provision, and your name. Lord will you bring out of our lives a testimony of your goodness and faithfulness and out of the lives of our family members. And we ask it in Jesus' name.
Jonathan Bernis: In Jesus' name. Blessing, blessing, blessing. Over you and your family. Amen and amen. If you'd like more information about our ministry, you can log on to our website Jewishvoice.tv. You can also send us your prayer request right on the website. We have a team here dedicated to praying for your prayer request specifically. Because we believe in the power of prayer and we care about you. We close the program today and we wanna remind you that God asked us to on a daily basis pray for the peace of Jerusalem. It says, "May they prosper who love thee," in Psalms 122:6. So I always say if you wanna prosper pray for Israel and the Jewish people this week. They need our prayers. Until next time this is Jonathan Bernis and Ezra Benjamin saying shalom and God bless you.