Jonathan Bernis - Jesus Before The New Testament
Jonathan Bernis: Shalom and welcome to Jewish Voice and thank you for joining me today. I'm Jonathan Bernis. Of course we all know the stories of Jesus written in the gospels in the New Testament but did you know that Jesus actually appeared in human form before his birth a number of times in the Old Testament? It's an incredible conversation that we're continuing from a previous one because this is so interesting. Listen, I want you to dust off your Old Testaments because you're gonna wanna reread after this program. Ezra Benjamin is back with me today as my co-host, but we also have another special guest, Troy Wallace. Troy is a member of our leadership team here at Jewish Voice who oversees both leadership and congregational development, he's also quite a Bible teacher and Troy we had to have you back.
Troy Wallace: I'm so glad to be here.
Jonathan Bernis: Because the program that we did on this was so compelling last time. How people view, how many Christians view the Old Testament and the New Testament and actually divide the two and see the Old Testament as the book of law, it's about laws. It's about Moses, right? The covenant of Moses. It's about history and setting the context for the new and there's prophecy that points to the New Testament that's fulfilled or completed in the New Testament and then God the Father is the central figure. The new in contrast to the law is about grace. In contrast to Moses, it's now about Jesus, alright? Now it was history, the history in the context of the old but the new is the now. The new is what we're living in. Prophecy fulfilled in the new. And now it's not about father, it's about the son. Now, there's some truth to that.
Troy Wallace: Yeah, I mean. Yes, I agree.
Jonathan Bernis: But do you think that creates a false dichotomy between the old and the new?
Troy Wallace: I do. And you know the funny thing is even Bible publishing, oftentimes, there's a blank page in the middle between what many call the Old Testament and the New Testament and in some ways it's just a false partition because the narrative...
Jonathan Bernis: Rip it out.
Troy Wallace: ...The narrative of scripture in revealing the glory of who the son, Yeshua Jesus is. I think it's continuous from cover to cover.
Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, Ezra you grew up in a Jewish home but a believing Jewish home. For me the New Testament wasn't even a valid...
Ezra Benjamin: It was irrelevant.
Jonathan Bernis: It was irrelevant, but do you find that it's not a grace law of dichotomy, that there's grace in the old and there's law in...
Ezra Benjamin: It's one story, as you say, Troy, from cover to cover, Jonathan, and we need to see it as one story. And in fact what we're gonna unpack today and I hope you're ready 'cause it may blow up your paradigm of scripture. It is actually the appearance of Jesus himself in the Old Testament. Don't change the channel, we're not heretic, we're gonna prove it to you. Troy, the word theophany what does that mean? That's really what we're talking about here but it's kind of a funny theological word.
Troy Wallace: So, theophany is just the idea of revealing of God. And so, what we're talking about today is the God of Israel in the form of a man that appears repeatedly throughout the scriptures. And in fact, 56 times. And you could probably make a case for a few of them but 56 times there's some appearance or revelation of the God of Israel in the form of a man in the Hebrew scriptures. Now we're talking about the New Testament when Jesus is born, we're talking about the son who appears in the form of a man.
Jonathan Bernis: Before he's actually...
Troy Wallace: Right, from Genesis to Malachi.
Jonathan Bernis: Fifty-six. So we're not talking about a few times and Troy this is something different than Bible prophecy that predicts the coming of the Messiah. A child shall be born or whatever, this is actual appearance.
Troy Wallace: Right, he's there and the heroes and the patriarchs and matriarchs of Israel most of the time respond in worshipping the God of Israel in the form of a man. Like it's incredible when we get down to it and I don't know if one example is Abraham. Like Abraham has lunch with the God is Israel in the form of a man. He worships him, he slays the fatted calf for him. In Genesis 18, they had a discussion about the future of Sodom and Gomorrah, the future of his own family. It just, it all happens in person over lunch.
Ezra Benjamin: Now most of us have heard this story. We know this story, right? We say, yeah, Abraham's three visitors but somethings different about one of these three, what is it?
Troy Wallace: Well it says in the text that the Lord, now that's Yud Hei Vav Hei, Adonai. He appears to Abraham as one of three men and Abraham's response is to worship him. So, just right there in the text, it's not qualified. It just says, "The Lord appeared as one of three men and Abraham and he had an interaction".
Jonathan Bernis: You made such a great point last time we had you on the program that Abraham knew him so he recognizes his voice. He knew who this was.
Troy Wallace: Because he had interacted with him repeatedly. Now, they didn't have lunch together every time but this time they had lunch in Genesis 18.
Jonathan Bernis: Don't just trust us, okay? Read for yourself, be a berean, read for yourself and when you see this, show the Jewish friends and family members and coworkers that God has put into your life, okay? Because it's there. It's amazing.
Troy Wallace: And it changes the conversation, y'know you were saying about prophecy. We can disagree of how to interpret prophecies, vision based or dreams but when we see him literally in the text, Jonathan I think it does change the conversation with our Jewish friends and family.
Jonathan Bernis: Now, we're not gonna get through 57 appearances but let's talk about another. They're so, give us another juicy one.
Troy Wallace: Well I think maybe we can get into Exodus 3 where it says, "The messenger of the Lord appeared to Moses and Moses worshipped him". He appears to him in a flame of fire next to a bush so maybe that'd be something...
Ezra Benjamin: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, what about the burning bush? We've all heard about...
Jonathan Bernis: That's what we were taught.
Ezra Benjamin: The bush isn't on fire?
Troy Wallace: The bush actually isn't on fire, maybe we can look at that text.
Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, that is so interesting because I was taught that it was the burning bush, that God was in the burning bush, and I use to wonder, "How can you have a relationship with a burning bush"?
Troy Wallace: Well, there's no way to have a relationship with a bush, you can only have a relationship with the Lord, but the interesting thing is it says in the text, that what attracted Moses' attention was that there was a flame next to the bush, but the bush wasn't being consumed. In other words, the thing that Moses turned to look at was that the bush looking like it was on fire wasn't actually on fire. It's just so interesting. ‘cause I think about maybe some Sunday school teachers that are watching and they go, "Oh no! We have to change all the coloring pages"
Ezra Benjamin: Throw out your planograms, it was all wrong. Don't change the channel. We promise we're not heretics.
Jonathan Bernis: So let's look at this text because clearly this is a visitation from the Lord. He takes his shoes off, the place is holy, this is not an angel.
Troy Wallace: Right. And the text in Hebrew says "Malakh, Adonai, Malakh, Yud Hei, Vav Hei" which means messenger. Most English translations would translate that into "Angel," but like we talked about last time, John's experience forbids the worshipping of angels. We can only worship the Lord, so we can't worship angels. And Moses, of course, as the teacher of Israel, isn't gonna worship something that's forbidden. So the angel of the Lord appears in a flame of fire next to a bush, and what he says to Moses, and you can look at it in Exodus 3, it's right there in your book. He says to him, "Hey, the place where I am is holy so you have to take off your shoes because I'm here". And then a little further down in Exodus 3, he actually says, "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," so it's a messenger who is saying, "I am the Lord, I'm the God of Israel, and I'm standing here, and my presence in fire is holy so you have to take off your shoes". And this is Moses' commissioning, if you will, to go back into Egypt, and Moses says, "Well, who should I say sent me"? And he says, "Tell ‘em I am who I am sent you. Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh, tell ‘em that". And Moses, in the dialogue, again, is from a posture of worship for this appearance of the messenger of the Lord.
Ezra Benjamin: Yeah, and I'm thinking the parallels here, Abraham recognizes the Lord in one of these three visitors, and he worships him. Moses recognizes the Lord in the man on fire next to the bush which isn't consumed and he worships him. These guys knew it was God.
Troy Wallace: Well, in the case of Moses, this was actually the first appearance to Moses specifically, so Moses had heard of the stories of Abraham and the patriarchs before him, but he hadn't had his own personal encounter yet. This is the first of many that continues for 40 years of his life.
Jonathan Bernis: We see a contrast when it's not, when it is just an angel because they'll pick them up or they'll say, "Don't bow down".
Troy Wallace: Right.
Jonathan Bernis: There's a clear difference between a messenger and the Lord himself, it's very distinct in scripture. Hey, we need to take a short break to let you know how you can get involved in changing lives by supporting this ministry. I know that you've been presented with a lot of different opportunities to give, but I want you to know that your donations to Jewish Voice are truly making a difference. Please, take a moment to listen to our announcer and we'll be right back with much more.
Jonathan Bernis: Welcome back, we need to jump back into these appearances but before we do can I just take a moment to say thank you? We honestly could not do this work without you 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 it, we appreciate you so much, so thank you again. Troy, I love this story of the burning bush, let's go back there for a second. Abraham sees God and worships him. You don't worship angels, there's a distinction, right? And then Moses is worshipping now, this is God.
Troy Wallace: Right. And Moses interacts with him, I mean this is really Moses' commissioning, this is the first time he's interacting with the God of Israel in this appearance as a messenger carrying the name of the Lord. Saying, "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob". It's incredible. And Moses and he are having this dialogue about going back down into Egypt to set the people free. And Moses starts going, "Well, how are they gonna know who sent me? Like, I'm interacting with you, this is amazing, it's holy, I'm worshipping, there's fire, there's this revelation from heaven, but how do I describe this to the elders of Israel"? And the Lord says, "Tell 'em, I am who I am". "Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh", is what it says in Hebrew, "I'm the one who always was, I'm the one who will always be". I am, in some essence he's saying, "I'm the alpha and the omega, I'm the beginning and the end".
Jonathan Bernis: That's not your average angel.
Troy Wallace: No, not at all!
Ezra Benjamin: That's right, and y'know I'm thinking, y'know, at the beginning of this program, Jonathan, you said this dichotomy or the false dichotomy between the Old Testament and the New Testament and I'm saying, "Okay, I am that I am is very maybe Old Testament language and the way we traditionally think of it". But we've heard that again, we hear that again, right, in the New Testament.
Troy Wallace: We do, I mean, John 8. I mean, there's this whole dialogue that Yeshua's having with the pharisees and the scribes about his parentage, his authority, like, they're having this dialogue and in verse 58 of John 8, Jesus is saying to the pharisees and the Sadducees the leaders of his day, he's saying, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day". The pharisees say, "You're not yet 50 years old, how can you know who Abraham was"? And Yeshua responds, "Most assuredly I say to you before Abraham was," here's the phrase, "I am". He's saying that Abraham knew him, he knew Abraham, he's saying he existed before Abraham and he's saying, "I'm the guy that showed up to Moses at the burning bush", air quotes. It's incredible.
Ezra Benjamin: Yeah, there's that parallel, right. In Exodus, in essence in what, "In who's name and what authority am I gonna go back to the children of Israel enslaved in Egypt and declare that God's gonna set them free"? Same thing, the rabbi's are asking here, the leaders of the Jewish community, "On what authority are you making these claims"? And the answers the same, "I am".
Troy Wallace: "I'm the guy".
Jonathan Bernis: And they, the rabbi's understood exactly what he was saying, right?
Troy Wallace: Absolutely because verse 59 says they took up stones to throw at him. They go, "Wait a second, you're saying that you existed before Abraham, that Abraham knew you and you're saying you're the one who gave Moses his authority to take the children out of Egypt, we have a responsibility to kill you". I mean that's an intense reality but Deuteronomy 13 says that is someone shows up doing signs and wonders and says, "You should follow a different God," that we should stone that person.
Jonathan Bernis: He should've been stoned if he wasn't who we know he was.
Troy Wallace: Exactly, that's the reality. And how challenging that is to their paradigm, I mean we have the benefit of thinking back through our personal relationship with Jesus. We have been impacted by him. We have all the benefits of 2, 000 years of understanding how everything fit together. But the leaders in his day, this is an incredible challenge to them to say, "Hey, I'm the guy". And it appeared up...
Jonathan Bernis: You that are watching, don't miss the connection here. This is all interconnected. Genesis to revelation, when you get a hold of these connections it just changes the way you read scripture and build your faith.
Ezra Benjamin: That's right.
Troy Wallace: And Ezra, we talked a little bit about this last time. John understands this because he had the revelation experience. John is Jesus' best friend and he seems him in a glorified form that matches many of the appearances that we're talking about here and he goes, "Oh, that means it's the son everywhere throughout the record of scripture that's appearing". And it changes the whole paradigm for this book. I mean it changes everything about what we read.
Ezra Benjamin: It's incredible, it's incredible.
Jonathan Bernis: Think of it though, it changes the traditional view of Jesus appearing only in the book of Matthew. He comes on the scene in the book of Matthew and he's far much early.
Troy Wallace: There's so many wonderful ones. Ezekiel 1, Isaiah 6, these incredible appearances but one I think that's really powerful is Joshua 5.
Jonathan Bernis: And take us to that, we don't...
Troy Wallace: So Jericho, they're just about to go into Jericho and Joshua's praying essentially, "Okay, we need the help of the Lord," and appears a man. It says, there's this man that appears who says he's the prince of the Lord's armies. Joshua, a good warrior is like, "Well, are you for us or are you against us? Are you for us"? And he say his answer is, "No". That's his answer.
Ezra Benjamin: I haven't come to take sides, I've come to take over.
Troy Wallace: That's exactly it. That's exactly right. And so Joshua has the same response that Moses does, actually. He takes off his shoes and worships this figure who says that he's the prince of the Lord's armies. And here's a funny thing and I don't know, maybe you've never thought about this at home but Matthew 26, Peter pulls out a sword to fight for Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and Jesus response is, "Don't you know I could call down 12 legions of angels. Like, I'm the guy that Joshua saw. I have an incredible amount of authority to take of this but this is what the father said I must do".
Jonathan Bernis: It's incredible, Troy, that's awesome.
Ezra Benjamin: Troy, I keep thinking about the John 8 passage, and I think it's important for us to recognize the rabbis weren't just angry at Jesus here, right? In a way, you know, that false dichotomy of Old Testament/New Testament, we can vilify everything the rabbis are doing as they're just, you know, set on kind of tanking Jesus' ministry, that's not what's happening. As you said, according to the law, according to Torah which they observed faithfully or they were trying to, they had an obligation to kill him if he wasn't telling the truth.
Troy Wallace: Right, and this particular passage from Deuteronomy 13, the issue is if the prophet or the dreamer of a dream performs a sign that does come to pass. So it's not an issue of false prophecy here, it's an issue of if they say something and it comes to pass, but it's not according to what God said at mount Sinai, so it's not, it's new, it's different, it's not according to the commandments, it's sounds like another God. There responsibility was to be evaluated by the test.
Ezra Benjamin: Right.
Troy Wallace: Deuteronomy 13 says, "This person will come do a sign that comes to pass, and that it's a test of your love for the Lord". It's an incredible thing that rabbis have this great responsibility to the people of Israel.
Ezra Benjamin: That's right.
Troy Wallace: But it's definitely different than the way we usually had been taught.
Ezra Benjamin: Sure. And I'm thinking, you know, in society today, right, there's kind of this very politically correct idea, "Ah, Jesus was a good man. He was a good rabbi, a little misinformed, he was a great teacher". It can't be. He was either a heretic worthy of the death or he's everything he says he is.
Jonathan Bernis: You know, C.S. Lewis said this so well, he said, "You can't come away with just Jesus being a good man. He was either a liar, he was a lunatic, or he was Lord".
Ezra Benjamin: That's right.
Jonathan Bernis: And I think that, really, it comes down to unless the Holy Spirit reveals this to you, "Flesh and blood does not reveal this to you, but my father". And upon this revelation, I will build my Ecclesia.
Troy Wallace: And that's what we're praying for, that's what we're fighting for in our ministry, is that you would join us in the effort of praying that the blinders would come off of the Jewish people.
Ezra Benjamin: Exactly.
Troy Wallace: I mean, just like it happened to us, just like it happened our family members, we want that to happen among the Jewish people today.
Jonathan Bernis: I want you to know Jewish Voice is here, we're here to pray for your needs and to minister to you, but we also ask you to pray specifically for Jewish people, that their eyes might be opened to the truth, even rabbis, and it's happening in our day, and God's called you to be part of it. We need to take a moment to share with you how you can receive the resources that we're making available today, and also how you can get involved with Jewish Voice. Would you pray about joining us as a shalom partner today? Your monthly support will quite literally change lives, transform lives, and give us the opportunity to share the gospel with thousands of precious Jewish people and their neighbors. Stay with us, after this short message, we'll be back to pray with you and come into agreement with you for your needs, so don't go anywhere.
Jonathan Bernis: We just have a little over a minute left, Troy and I have a real burden. We were talking about the revelation of who Jesus is coming through the Holy Spirit. Flesh and blood can't reveal this. There's people that need salvation for their family. Would you pray for that specifically. And would you just believe God with us right now? You may have a family member that needs to saved, this is the moment. Believe.
Troy Wallace: Yeshua, we thank you that your desire is to make yourself known to all men and women everywhere. And, Lord, we're lifting up specifically today family members of those who are joining us and we're asking, Lord, that you would make yourself known to family members who have yet to find an understanding of who you are. Lord, it's your desire that none would perish but that all would find salvation in you and so we lift up our partners. Those who are joining us on this broadcast today, Lord make yourself known to their family members in the name of Yeshua. In Jesus' mighty name, amen.
Jonathan Bernis: Amen and amen. If you'd like more information about our ministry you can log onto jewishvoice.tv. You can also send us your prayer requests right on the website. We have a team here at Jewish Voice that's committed to praying for your requests, each one by name. We believe in the power of prayer and we care about you. As we close the program today I wanna remind you that God asked each of us to pray for Israel and the Jewish people Psalm 122:6: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, may they prosper who love thee". So please pray for the Jewish people in your life this weekend and for the land of Israel. Thanks to Troy Wallace for joining us today, until next time this is Jonathan Bernis with Ezra Benjamin saying shalom and God bless you.