Jonathan Bernis - The Observance of Passover
Jonathan Bernis: Shalom and welcome to Jewish Voice. I'm so glad you're joining us today. I'm Jonathan Bernis, and today, Ezra Benjamin and I are going to discuss probably the most important biblical feast of the year. I'm talking about Passover, which is coming up very shortly. Passover is not just a Jewish celebration, it relates to you. We're going to help you understand how. In this program we're also going to help you to put on... We're gonna teach you how to put on an actual Passover Seder in your home. Ezra, we're talking about the last supper. The final meal that Yeshua, that Jesus observed, that he kept actually, that's the biblical language, with his disciples was a Passover Seder meal, with very specific elements. What's unique about the Seder is that every element of the Seder meal points to what Yeshua, Jesus, was going to do.
Ezra Benjamin: So packed with meaning, Jonathan. And maybe you at home never connected that the Passover, this thing that the Jewish people are commanded to celebrate every year, had anything to do with what Jesus was doing on the night he's betrayed, but it had everything to do, one with the other, Jonathan.
Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, this is for believers. This is for followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This is not just for the people of Israel. This is not a Jewish celebration, as opposed to Easter, which is a Christian celebration. This is about him.
Ezra Benjamin: That's right.
Jonathan Bernis: And if he observed this, we should understand why and how we can partake of it.
Ezra Benjamin: That's right. Now, Jonathan, Easter and Passover happen sometimes around the same time. They're both spring holidays, but what's the connection? What do they have to do with each other?
Jonathan Bernis: Well, everything. They don't always fall at the same time, but some years they do and they should. They belong together, because Passover is about Jesus is the Lamb of God who sacrifices his life for us, dies on the cross as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and of course, Easter is a celebration of the resurrection. They're connected. They should be three days apart. They were three days apart, and it's integrated. It's really that you can't separate one from the other. It's about his passion. It begins with that final declaration at the Passover meal, which was preordained by God, and then, of course, he's led as a lamb to the slaughter, sacrificed for us, but he doesn't remain in the ground. All connected, Ezra.
Ezra Benjamin: Amazing. Maybe we should back up a bit. What are the biblical underpinnings of even doing a Passover meal? What was that first Passover meal about?
Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, let me talk about that and just state again, because it's so important, to separate these holidays and say this is a Jewish celebration, and this is a Christian celebration, is absolutely wrong. We have to eradicate that line that was built over a 2,000 year history, but it doesn't belong separated.
Ezra Benjamin: Sure, and maybe you've had a conversation with a Jewish friend or family member, and when you say, you know, "Well, I'm celebrating Easter," that person has said, "That's great for you, but that has nothing to do with me". Jonathan, you've got to help us understand the connection so that our audience can share that with a Jewish friend.
Jonathan Bernis: Sure. Well, it comes out of the actual text, which is Exodus 12. And, this is the set up for the Passover. Which is a celebration of the redemption out of Egypt, and here's the specifics and you'll see how this ties in. This is pregnant with revelation. "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. Tell the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of the month, each man is to take a lamb for his family. One lamb for the household.' but if the household is too small for the lamb then the neighbors are to be included", and then it says, verse 5, "Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year old male. You will take it from the sheep or the goats". And then, "You watch over it," verse 6, "Until the fourteenth day of the same month". Now, watch this. "Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to slaughter it at twilight. And they are to take the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the crossbeam of the houses where they eat". And then we'll jump down to verse 12. "I will go through the land of Egypt on that night and strike down every firstborn, both men and animals, and I will execute judgments against the Gods of Egypt". Verse 13, "The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you. So there will be no plague among you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt". That's the Passover story.
Ezra Benjamin: Amazing.
Jonathan Bernis: It all comes down to the final judgment of death.
Ezra Benjamin: Right. And Jonathan, what's interesting to me here is the plague isn't I'm gonna kill all of the firstborn in Egypt. The plague is I'm gonna kill all the firstborn, but Israel gets a redemption through a blood sacrifice.
Jonathan Bernis: That's right.
Ezra Benjamin: There's a provision.
Jonathan Bernis: The provision is a lamb without blemish. When John the Baptist looked over the Jordan river and he pointed to Yeshua, and he said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world," what's he talking about? Well, he's talking about the Passover lamb of Exodus 12. But this is now going to be a lamb without blemish, because Jesus was without sin, who won't just cover the homes of the Israelites to keep the angel of death from striking the firstborn, but now will prevent the angel of eternal death from destroying our lives. It all points to Jesus! Do you get it? It's an amazing, amazing prophecy.
Ezra Benjamin: And so, Jonathan, John's declaration, "Behold, the Lamb of God," isn't just a nice expression. He's actually tying it to the Passover lamb.
Jonathan Bernis: He's the son of a priest. He's lived his whole life observing Passover. From the time that he was a little child, he's sacrificed that lamb every Passover as a family member. He ate the lamb. He ate the bitter herbs, the different elements of the Passover, and he understood that Jesus was fulfilling, bringing to fullness, this Passover experience.
Ezra Benjamin: Amazing.
Jonathan Bernis: And of course, Jesus does that at the last supper, the last Passover, when he reinterprets the different elements, which we'll talk about a little later in the program. But, I want to go back to the text and just point out a few things. Not only do we have the lamb providing the blood to cover the doorposts of the houses, but we also have some declarations. First, the whole assembly shall kill the lamb together. Okay? The idea that the Jews killed Jesus has been a foundation of anti-semitism for the last 2,000 years. The Jews say, no, the Romans killed Jesus. Well, no, the whole assembly killed him. You have the gospel in Exodus 12. Concealed in Exodus 12, the Passover story, Ezra, is every element of the gospel. First of all, that he died for all of us, that he laid down his life for the world. Another thing that it clearly states is that only the ones with the lamb, the blood of the lamb, were the ones that were spared.
Ezra Benjamin: Right.
Jonathan Bernis: It's not dividing between the Israelites and the Egyptians. It's I will visit this entire land. The firstborn Israelite will die, the firstborn Hebrew will die, except when I see the blood.
Ezra Benjamin: Right, exactly. So important to remember. You know, maybe you've heard some dangerous theology... Well, the Jews have their covenant and the Christians have another one. No. If one of those Israelite families, one of those Hebrew families in Egypt, Jonathan, wouldn't have put the blood, their firstborn would have died. It was all about the blood.
Jonathan Bernis: And the firstborn represents the lifeline, right, the continuation of the family. So, it's death for the family.
Ezra Benjamin: That's it.
Jonathan Bernis: Right? But, it's also true of the Egyptian that believes in the God of Israel and heeds that warning from an Israelite. It goes the other way.
Ezra Benjamin: Yeah. If a non-Jewish person had the faith in the God of Israel to apply the blood, their firstborn would have been spared.
Jonathan Bernis: Yes, because we know that a mixed multitude left Egypt, so there were some Egyptians that did that.
Ezra Benjamin: That's right.
Jonathan Bernis: Here's the point that is really burning on my heart, Ezra. It all comes down to those with the blood and those without the blood. Egypt is divided into two groups, not Israelite and Egyptian, but those with the blood and those without. It came through a revelation of God.
Ezra Benjamin: Right.
Jonathan Bernis: Think of what we are dealing with today. Jewish people that had the revelation of the lamb back in Exodus, but don't know that Jesus is their Messiah, haven't heard the gospel, or they've heard a gospel that they can't comprehend because of a 2,000 year legacy of hatred in the name of Christ and Christianity.
Ezra Benjamin: Sure. Sure.
Jonathan Bernis: We now are the Carriers. Believers in Jesus, those that truly have the blood applied to the doorposts of our heart, we're the ones that have the word of life, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
Ezra Benjamin: Exactly right.
Jonathan Bernis: The gospel is in Exodus 12. I want you to read it. I want you to study it. I want you to see how it applies to you. That's the Passover story, but now we've been delivered, not out of the Egypt of the world, but we've been redeemed out of the Egypt of sin and brought into the Promised Land of eternal life. Hey, we have to take a short break as our announcer comes to tell us about a special group of resources that we want to sow into your life this week. We'll be right back to continue our discussion of Passover, so don't go anywhere.
Jonathan Bernis: Welcome back to the program. If you've just recently tuned in, we're talking about Passover, the watershed event in the history of Israel, but an event for every follower of Jesus to observe. Before we get back into how to actually have a Passover in your own home, let me stop and say thank you to all of you who are supporting Jewish Voice. We could not do this work without you. I especially want to thank those who have joined us as monthly partners. Your continued support makes all the difference in saving lives, especially Jewish people, right, Ezra?
Ezra Benjamin: That's right, Jonathan.
Jonathan Bernis: We're helping children that have no access to clean water, and that earns us the right to share the gospel.
Ezra Benjamin: Absolutely. It's life changing. A small act is life changing.
Jonathan Bernis: It is. Well, so is Passover.
Ezra Benjamin: Right.
Jonathan Bernis: And we want to jump into the actual observance of Passover. Jesus observed Passover. It was an important thing for him to do. It was a prophetic thing for him to do.
Ezra Benjamin: That's right.
Jonathan Bernis: He made sure the meal was paid for, the room was paid for. It was all laid out.
Ezra Benjamin: Exactly.
Jonathan Bernis: Right? And that was the final moment that he spent with his disciples, his final time of fellowship.
Ezra Benjamin: Yeah, he was actually fulfilling the biblical commandment in Exodus, that every year, in every generation, you're to have this meal and you're to remember.
Jonathan Bernis: And I believe he celebrated it the day before. He actually kept it the day before, because he dies with the Passover lamb. It says the Passover lambs are being sacrificed for Passover. He's sacrificed as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins as the world. But, this is... We have a Seder plate here.
Ezra Benjamin: Right.
Jonathan Bernis: Ezra, we're just going to talk about three fundamental things that are required to be part of a Passover, okay?
Ezra Benjamin: Okay.
Jonathan Bernis: The first one is matzah, okay? Unleavened bread. Talk a little bit about this.
Ezra Benjamin: Yeah, Jonathan, right. It has to be made unleavened. Why? Because we remember that the children of Israel didn't have time for the bread to rise when they're fleeing Egypt, when God's delivering us from slavery in Egypt. So the bread is, of course, without yeast, but if you look carefully here, look closely, there's some more very specific things we need to notice. Do you see... Thank you, Jonathan, that there's actually stripes? Striped, remember Isaiah 53? It's actually almost never read in the synagogues, but Isaiah 53, "By his stripes we are healed". That sound familiar to you? And it's pierced. I'm holding it up to the light here, and maybe you can see that at home. There's small pinprick Marks in here, because he was wounded, he was pierced for our transgressions. And so, Jewish families around the world, Jonathan, are eating matzah, unleavened bread, with these piercing's and striping's all over them, praying that those blinders come off and Yeshua is revealed.
Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, and this is machine made, so it didn't look like this. But, bread without yeast, unleavened bread, is what Yeshua broke with his disciples in that final Passover and redefined this. This was the bread of affliction that originally represented leaving Egypt in haste, but now Jesus is saying, at that final Passover, this now represents my body, without leaven, which is symbolic of sin. Right? Broken for you, pierced for you, striped for you. "By his stripes," or wounds, "We are healed". And he breaks this, distributes it to his disciples and said, "This is now my body, broken for you".
Ezra Benjamin: Right, and it's actually a commandment to consume unleavened bread on Passover, and Yeshua's in a way commanding, exhorting his disciples, take this and eat this in remembrance of me.
Jonathan Bernis: So, it's matzah. Now, the second thing is bitter herbs. We have horseradish, ground horseradish. Hold that up. We eat bitter herbs and we remember the agony of slavery, the tears, the sweat. So, we have bitter herbs. There's a bitterness in the midst of the celebration of freedom, and I believe this is what Jesus dipped the matzah and probably the lamb into, not salt water as used today. But, we know in that Passover meal that he identifies his betrayer as "The one who dips with him".
Ezra Benjamin: Right.
Jonathan Bernis: Why were they dipping? Because at Passover, you dip. I believe it was dipping into the horseradish, or whatever the bitter herb was. So, there's bitter herbs, and then there's lamb. We have a shank bone that reminds us of the lamb that was to be eaten, and we continue to eat lamb today. Many will eat lamb, some will eat other things. But, lamb is a primary commanded food that's to be eaten, in fact, the entire lamb, and none of it remains to morning. That's, of course, Yeshua is the Lamb of God. And I don't know what they were eating in addition, but maybe the matzah is what he dipped into the bitter herbs, and Judas, of course, ate with him.
Ezra Benjamin: Right.
Jonathan Bernis: But then, there's also the fruit of the vine. Ezra, talk about that.
Ezra Benjamin: That's essential to the Passover Seder. Jonathan, there were actually, it's called the four cups. It doesn't necessarily mean that there were four glasses in front of every place setting, but it's part of the Passover Seder that wine or juice, grape juice, is to be consumed four separate times during this meal, and it's the cup of sanctification, I'll take you to be my people. It's the cup of judgment or deliverance, I'll redeem you with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. It's the cup of redemption, again, I'll redeem you out from that bondage and slavery. And then, the fourth cup is called the cup of acceptance, or the cup of praise, and it's I will take you to be my people, and God says through Moses, "Let my people go, so that they can be my people," so they can worship me...
Jonathan Bernis: So, what's so interesting here is that each cup has a specific purpose, a specific meaning from Deuteronomy. And it's the third cup, the cup of redemption, that we believe Yeshua raised with his disciples and said, "This now," this cup of redemption, which previously was the redemption out of Egypt, "Is now my blood".
Ezra Benjamin: Right.
Jonathan Bernis: Which is shed for the redemption of your sins. He's bringing fullness. This was a type, a shadow, that he's now bringing fullness to. But, Ezra, there's a fourth cup.
Ezra Benjamin: There's a fourth cup, and what's so interesting, Jonathan, is that as we can read it through Jewish eyes, through a Jewish context, Yeshua says this third cup, the cup of redemption, is the new covenant in my blood, and then he stops, and it says, "And then they went out". Yeshua left the Passover Seder incomplete. Remember, he says, you know this language. "I tell you the truth, I won't drink of this cup again". I won't drink the cup of praise and acceptance. I won't drink the cup saying I take you to be my people until I do it again with you in the kingdom. So, Jonathan, why does this matter for Christians? Because we, as believers, are in the midst. We're in the middle of a two millennia and counting unfinished Passover Seder, not to be completed until Jesus comes back.
Jonathan Bernis: Yeah. It's not just about his first coming, but it's about his return as well.
Ezra Benjamin: Amen, Jonathan. We believe he is coming back that second time, and not just sometime in the future. We really believe here at Jewish Voice he's coming soon. We believe we're living in what we can call the last days. Why do we believe that? Jerusalem is back in Jewish hands. The state of Israel is in existence again, reborn after two millennia, and populated by Jewish people coming from the ends of the earth. So many evidences, Jonathan, that these are indeed the last days.
Jonathan Bernis: These are signs of the last days and the Jewish people coming back to God through their Messiah. The blindness is coming off of their eyes. Romans 11 says the blindness will come off of the eyes of the Jewish people and Israel will be saved, and then the redeemer will come forth to Zion. He's not returning to Rome, he's coming back to Jerusalem physically, in bodily form, and we believe that's going to happen soon. And Ezra, the Passover just points to all of this.
Ezra Benjamin: Right, it does.
Jonathan Bernis: Let me talk about a couple of other things. The Passover that Yeshua observes or keeps with his disciples, one, it specifically mentions the dipping. That's Passover language, and I believe it was the bitter herbs, and that fits with the betrayal. But, there's another thing that's mentioned. There are several, but another one I want to point out is that they were reclining at the table.
Ezra Benjamin: Sure.
Jonathan Bernis: Don't miss that. You've probably never made this connection, but why is reclining so important?
Ezra Benjamin: Right, and Jonathan, it's unusual, right? Because we hear the disciples are reclining at the table. I don't normally lay down on my side when I eat dinner, but the disciples are doing that, and it's actually a commandment that we are to recline as we observe the Passover Seder, because we remember that we were slaves, but we're slaves no longer. So, we recline in our freedom.
Jonathan Bernis: It's interesting that this is an authentic Passover Seder, a traditional Passover Seder celebrated by Jews.
Ezra Benjamin: That's right.
Jonathan Bernis: It wasn't some last supper, it was a Passover Seder. Now, I want to point out one other thing. We just have a little time left. Let me talk about the matzah again, because the three critical things are the matzah, the bitter herbs, and the actual lamb that is roasted by fire, which speaks of judgment, by the way. Yeshua's the Lamb of God. But, in every Jewish Seder meal there are three matzah's, and they're wrapped either in a cloth together or in something that we call a matzah tosh, which is simply a covering with dividers. There's three pieces of matzah divided by a covering, but they're still wrapped together. And during the Seder meal, one of the most amazing things, Ezra, for me as a believer, that happens is that the middle piece of matzah is pulled out during the meal, at a point in the meal, and we use something called a haggadah, which is from the Hebrew word, "Hagah," which means to tell, and this is our Passover guide. So, we actually go through the order of service, and we take the middle matzah, it's in the middle of the meal, or before we've eaten, but in the middle of the celebration. We break it into two pieces. I would say two halves, but I didn't do it very well. And we take part of it and we put it back into the matzah tosh, into the middle. It's the middle matzah. The other piece we take, we wrap in a cloth, and we bury. It will be redeemed. We have the children searching for it at the end. It's the last thing that's consumed. Isn't that interesting? Jewish people are doing this all over the world. We want you to do this in your own home. We want you to invite Jewish friends, and family members, and co-workers to a Messianic Passover celebration, because everything in the Seder meal points to Yeshua, Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Ezra, there is so much more I want to talk about, but we have to take a break so our announcer can share some information about the resources that we're making available for you this week, so that you can observe this Passover with your friends, your loved ones, your co-workers. Ezra and I will be right back after this short break to pray over you and your family.
Jonathan Bernis: Passover is about miracles, and we believe that God has a miracle for you. I know that many of you have needs. No need is too small or too great for God. He is a miracle working God. Ezra, would you just lead us in prayer? I know there's people that have financial needs. There's people that have been writing us that have health needs, some critical, cancer and terminal illness. And, family issues. They need restoration. They want to see their grandchildren saved. Let's agree.
Ezra Benjamin: Let's take those needs to the Lord. Lord, we agree in faith, in Yeshua's name this Passover season, that you would reveal yourself as the deliverer, as the redeemer, as the restorer, and as we celebrate the resurrection of that Passover lamb, Yeshua, that you would manifest your resurrection power in the lives of all watching today and their families, and their Jewish friends and family members. In Yeshua's name.
Jonathan Bernis: Yes, Lord, and we say freedom and deliverance, in the name of Yeshua, in Jesus' name.
Ezra Benjamin: Amen.
Jonathan Bernis: Hey, if you'd like more information about our ministry or if you have a need that you'd like us to be praying about, you can log on to our website, jewishvoice.tv. One word, jewishvoice.tv. We love hearing from you, and I want you to know that we care about you, and more importantly, God does. That's why we pray for every need that we receive by name. As we close our program, I want to remind you also, as we pray for you, you pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Psalm 122:6 says, "I will pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and may they prosper who love thee," so pray for Israel and the Jewish people this week. They need it. Well, on behalf of Ezra Benjamin and myself, we want to wish you a very blessed Passover. Shalom and God bless you.