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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Jonathan Bernis » Jonathan Bernis - Scandal of God

Jonathan Bernis - Scandal of God

Jonathan Bernis - Scandal of God

Jonathan Bernis: Shalom and welcome to Jewish Voice. I wanna thank you for joining me today, I'm Jonathan Bernis and I'm joined again, by my co-host Ezra Benjamin. Well, growing up in a Jewish family, I believed that the God of the Christians was a foreign God, a completely different God than the God of the Torah and the prophets or the Old Testament. Jesus was the God of the Christians, but our God was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God Israel. And I understood them to be two completely different Gods. Sorta felt like a scandal that Christians were using the God of Israel to create another religion and in fact, another God. But after becoming a believer in Jesus, in Yeshua, all that changed. I understood that the old and New Testament is one fully connected story about one God, in fact, the same God.

Ezra Benjamin: And you know, Jonathan, one of our ongoing commitments here at Jewish Voice, especially on this television show is not only to share the Hebrew roots of your Christian faith, but also to explain that the Bible, old and New Testament, that we're engaging with on every program is really one book, it's one story, old and New Testament together, from cover to cover. And yet, part of the challenges as you were explaining, the Jewish community and the Christian community seem to have such a gap between us, in our understanding of this very important book. And what do we do about that?

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, they become distinctly different religions with very little in common. Completely different religious leaders, holidays and so on. What we wanna dig in today is this misconception. We wanna welcome back Troy Wallace today to discuss this. Troy is our VP of congregation and leadership development here at Jewish Voice. And he studied this topic for many years and has a lot of great insights and examples that will help you to better understand this topic. So Troy, to start off with, talk about the perception of each group, how they see God, and their historical viewpoint.

Troy Wallace: Sure, I mean, I think, it's interesting actually, right in the Ten Commandments, there's this idea, in the Jewish world of not making an image of God. So, you can't see him, you can't know him. Of course, the idea there is not to create idols, that's really what's going on. And there's a Christian worldview of Jesus becomes God in the form of a man. Like, that's a scandal in a Jewish worldview. And the Christians also sort of look at the Old Testament like, there's this angry figure, and most people think of that as like the father's angry and then the son shows up, and everything gets nice again. But really it's the same God, like this issue of Jesus being the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who got born as a man, like that's a scandal in the Jewish worldview and the idea that Jesus is somehow the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That means these characteristics that we see in the Torah, well, how do we connect those to Jesus? And those misconception sometimes are hard to close, but that's what we're hoping we'll dig into a little today.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, it's very challenging because Judaism is pretty much based on what we don't believe, we don't believe that, that Christian thing. It's sad, but that's what we're dealing with, that's our challenge.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure, and maybe, you're listening at home, going, "Wait a minute, Jesus, the God of Israel? You're already losing me". But I wanna draw our attention, gentlemen, to a verse here, this is the first chapter of the gospel of John, okay? And in verse 18, and Troy, we need you to explain this to us.

Troy Wallace: Okay.

Ezra Benjamin: Alright, it says, "No one has ever seen God, but the one and only son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the father, has made him known". No one's ever seen God, right? And we have this idea that the Old Testament's about every time we see the Lord appear, we're thinking to ourselves, or sorta filling in the blank, God, the father. And then, Jesus is, you know, the son is reveal in the New Testament, but if no one's ever seen God, then who is it, that keeps showing up throughout the Old Testament?

Troy Wallace: And I think John really is the one of the gospel writers who deals with this issue the most, Ezra, and really what he's saying is, no one, who's ever seen a divine appearance, so let's think from Genesis to Malachi then, every time someone's seen a divine appearance, it's not been God, the father, it's the been the son, who is declaring the father to mankind. Like, that's a really hard thing, maybe for a Christian to think about. Wait a second, Abraham had lunch with a preincarnate, Jacob wrestled with the preincarnate son, who did Daniel, and Ezekiel fall down dead in front of? These divine appearances, John's telling us that that's Jesus. So, the ability for us to reconcile, and John's language is the son there, and he's talking about Jesus, we have to be able to fill in that gap, and really guys, I think that's what we as Messianic Jewish leaders and teachers bring to the body, is the ability to reconcile that in way that the message of scripture from Genesis to Revelation, Jesus, the son is the protagonist. Like, this is a huge contribution that we're making to reconcile the Jewish and the Christian worldviews, about the nature of God.

Ezra Benjamin: So, what we know, Jesus is born of a woman, Miriam, we say in English, Mary, around zero A.D. but what I'm hearing you say Troy is, Jesus doesn't appear to the people Israel for the first time at zero A.D. he's actually following throughout the history of Israel.

Troy Wallace: He's the guy that eats lunch with Abraham, he's the guy that closes Noah in the ark, he's not born yet, like he's not confined to human flesh, that's the mystery of the incarnation. But he's there as the figure that all the patriarchs and matriarchs of Israel, even that Hagar, Ishmael's mom, they interact with him, and then, he gets born, fascinating.

Ezra Benjamin: I'm thinking of dozens of times in the Old Testament, where we see the Lord appeared and you're it's the God of Israel, it's Jesus preincarnate appearing.

Troy Wallace: That's what the disciples are saying, that's Jesus gets killed for. I mean, think about John 8, there's so much language there, it's really incredible.

Jonathan Bernis: Troy, I agree with you, I see this so clearly, as do other believers that have had their eyes open to this, but talk about, what about rabbis that have had these texts for generation after generation, how do they deal with the reality of these preincarnate Messianic visitations.

Troy Wallace: Well, you know, often times Jonathan, in the text of the Torah, it says something like, "Malakh Adonai" in Hebrew, or the messenger of the Lord, or it says, "The word of the Lord appeared". And so, they're saying, like an emanation. It's not quite God himself and usually, then, there's a way logically to sort of pick that apart. But the interesting thing is often time, this figure gets worshipped by the forefathers. Like, they fall down on their knees or the prophets in many cases, they fall down and start worshipping, but we know from the Ten Commandments that no one can get overt worship except the Lord, the God of Israel himself. So, Jonathan, again, there's some logic that we can start to unpack and make it mean something slightly other than, but if we go back to the Ten Commandments, no one can get worshipped except the God Israel directly. Like that's the thing that makes this whole understanding so extraordinary.

Jonathan Bernis: I'm just thinking about the visitation that Abraham receives, and it's not just worshipping, first of all, the angel of the Lord is eating, right, so, there's fully human characteristic about this angel that's not just an angel. And then, this angel's declaring, "I will destroy Sodom. I will". And then, sometimes we tetragrammaton used, that this is Adonai...

Troy Wallace: Yod he vav hei.

Jonathan Bernis: That this is yod he vav hei.

Troy Wallace: It's interesting in that example, Jonathan, the text says, "Three men appeared". And then we know later that Adonai, yod he vav hei, stays with Abraham to have a conversation and two angels go down into Sodom and Gomorrah. So, the angel's also appearing as men there, but Abraham falls down in worship, in response to a man that shows up at his tent, and then they have a dialogue about what the Lord's intending to do in terms of judgment. Like that's not a messenger.

Jonathan Bernis: It's a bargaining.

Troy Wallace: It's a great text.

Jonathan Bernis: They're bargaining and he's clearly talking to yod he vav hei, here.

Troy Wallace: Yes, which we see the prophets also interacting with yod he vav hei directly. And Jacob's wrestling with this one whose name is glorious.

Ezra Benjamin: Right. I love that passage, right? He says, "What's your name"? "My name's ya'aqov, deceiver". "Well, now you're gonna be Israel, the one who strives with God and prevails". And then, he says, "What's your name"? And he goes, "Don't ask my name".

Jonathan Bernis: We could talk about this all day, we need to take a short break. Our desire is to proclaim Jesus, Yeshua as the Messiah to the Jew first and then to the gentile or the nations. There's communities all over the world, who need to receive the Word of God and we're inviting you to partner with us today to send Bibles out to Jewish communities in Africa and for your own personal study of the scriptures, we wanna get our study Bible into your hands. Listen for details, right now.

Jonathan Bernis: Welcome back. Before Ezra, Troy, and I look more at the God of Israel, we here at Jewish Voice are so thankful for you and your commitment to helping us share the gospel with Jewish people and their neighbors around the world. Your ongoing support of this ministry is so valued and so vital. We wanna say thank you. Well, this a really interesting topic, and they're so much to cram in, but let's just stay for a few more minutes on these preincarnate visitations of the Messiah. Ezra, give us another one.

Ezra Benjamin: Troy, I'm thinking of the passage in Joshua, right? Joshua is to take Jericho, but he's afraid, and then the angel of the Lord's armies, it says, appears. And as we were talking about earlier that Joshua falls down and worships, but as a people, we don't worship angels, so what's going on here?

Troy Wallace: So, I love this passage. It's really, it says the prince of the Lord's armies. Like the ruler of the Lord's armies shows up to Joshua. Joshua like a good warrior says, "Wait a second, are you for us or for our enemies"? And his answer is, "No, no, no". His answer is no. The question is, "Who's side are you on"? And Joshua's response is then to fall down and worship. The prince of the Lord's army shows up. We see a sniff of that in Yeshua's interaction with Peter in Matthew 26. Remember Peter's response to Jesus being arrested is to pull out his sword and start fighting. And Jesus says to Peter, "Wait a second, I could call down 12 legions of angels". Like, "Peter, I'm the prince of the Lord's armies, what are you doing here. I don't have an authority problem, Peter. This is the cup that I have to drink". And so, there's this parallel between Jesus in Matthew 26 and who Joshua encounters in Joshua 5. It's so rich. Then that's just one among so many.

Ezra Benjamin: It's one story. It's one story. So, speak to those in our audience, and I'm gonna give you an example. I'm thinking of the issue of the land of Israel, right? We believe that God's given the land of Israel to the people of Israel because of his faithfulness, not ours, as kinda this, as this everlasting possession, and we hear that, we see that in the Old Testament, and we go, "But what is Jesus and everything Jesus had to say, what does that have to do, one with the other"? Where does Jesus come in the promises to Israel?

Troy Wallace: Well, it's interesting, the promises to Israel, like this people are set apart, Ezra, the promises to Israel, the Torah itself, like it's part of what God gave to the people of Israel and then there's the land, like your point there. Often times, there's a disconnect for Christians, they say, "Well, you know, we're not the people of Israel, we're the people of Abraham by faith. The Torah doesn't apply to us exactly the same way as the Jewish, we know that from the writings of the disciples and the apostles. And what about the land? Like what does that have to do with me? I love the Lord and I'm filled with the Holy Spirit and I live in Georgia, right"? The gap there is that we, I think Christians, in understanding that Jesus is the one who gave the promises to Abraham, like a preincarnate Christ is the one that wrestled with Jacob and changed his name to Israel. That the preincarnate son, who we call Jesus is the one that appeared to Moses and gave him the Torah, he's the one that Joshua encountered before Joshua went to take the land of Israel as the possession in fulfillment of the promises to Abraham. Like that ties all believers of every background or nationality, all people who consider themselves Christians, they're knit into that story because the one that they worship, who is their Savior, is the one who cut those covenants, he's the one that gave those promises. It's really, I mean, it has everything to do with our Christian faith or a Christian's faith to connect to the people of Israel, the Torah of Israel, the land of Israel, because the one we worshipped is the one who delivered those Revelations, deliver those understandings, made those promises.

Ezra Benjamin: Right, I'm thinking, you know the verse where Jesus says, "I haven't come to abolish. I've come to fulfill it". That's becoming 3d for me now as you're talking, I hope it is for you at home too.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, and the word that keep coming to mind, Troy, is "Continuity". Because, again, being raised with something that chops up history, this is our history, that's their history, never the two shall meet. But there's really continuity here, the same God, the same message.

Troy Wallace: There is, and Jonathan, it's interesting, we're just talking about Christians and this connects them to a preincarnate Jesus or the God of Israel in a body. Like, it connects them but, it's also true for the Jewish people. Often times, we as the Jewish will say, "We don't need Jesus. We have the promises to Israel, we have the promises in the covenant of the Torah, and we have the promises of the land of Israel". But if it's the preincarnate Messiah, who we call Jesus, that's the one that cut those promises. Jonathan, in terms of continuity that ties the people of Israel to Jesus a preincarnate, the God of Israel, who became a man. It ties them also to him. Like you can't get it.

Jonathan Bernis: I can't get the smile off my face because talk a lot about the Jewish roots of the faith here on the program, but the take away usually is, "Oh, I'm gonna get a shofar. I'll get a tallit. I'll have a Passover, or go to a Passover". But it's so much more than that.

Troy Wallace: And, yeah, Jonathan, I think we talked about it already, but guys, I feel like this is one of our greatest contributions to both Christians and Jewish understanding, is who is this guy that appears in the story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. In the Old Testament and the New Testament. It's the same guy who is the protagonist, who's advocating on behalf of Israel and advocating on behalf the nations in the world we live in and in the heavenly realm. He's our guy.

Ezra Benjamin: Troy, I'm thinking of one of the biggest and most enduring, really, objections of the Jewish community to the gospel, to the Messiahship of Jesus, and it's this idea, as you said, Jonathan, we're defining it by what we don't believe. To be Jewish is to believe that Jesus isn't the Messiah. That sort of the echo chamber, that's the narrative and we have this idea, Jesus, the God of the Christians, what has he to do with us the Jewish people? And yet, I'm hearing you say, and what we're talking about and seeing in the scriptures more importantly is, Jesus actually has been intimately involved, appearing and again, walking with the Jewish people throughout our history as a people.

Troy Wallace: Yeah, and Ezra, it's funny that's our language today in the institution of the Jewish people about Jesus. But you know, we also see that in the life of Jesus in John 8, he's saying things like, "Before Abraham was, I am. Abraham saw my day and rejoiced". And the religious leaders are, they pick stones to stone him. And he says, "For what are you stoning me? What action"? And they say, "You being a man, are making yourself out to be God". Like that was a scandal then, and it's a scandal now. In some ways, it's this incredible reality of what we believe as those who follow Yeshua. We believe that the God of Israel, the agent of creation, John 1, he condensed himself to a person. He grew inside Mary's womb, and not only did he submit himself to humanity in that sense, but then he submitted himself to death, even death on a cross. Paul calls the cross a scandal. Why does he say it's a scandal, because the God of Israel not only became a man, he subjected himself to human authority, actually human authority under Pilate. Like, the one world government pagan representative, Yeshua submitted himself to that authority. Like the God of Israel submitted himself to that.

Ezra Benjamin: That's a scandal, right? Like we think of the scandal being that the Christians worship a man, and you can't worship a man, you have to worship God, you're flipping the script and saying, "No, no, the scandal is that the God of Israel, the God of the universe condense himself into human form". That's the scandal.

Troy Wallace: And not only that, but he died on a cross to make atonement for sins. Not just for Israel, but for all nations everywhere. And was raised again from the dead, on the third day.

Jonathan Bernis: But you know, it wasn't a secret, it's all contained in the Torah, the writings, and prophets. So, the foundation is there, the early disciples, the apostles expounded on these things without the New Testament 'cause it didn't exist. It's all in the Jewish scripture. We're so thankful that God has open out eyes to the truth and opened your eyes. And I hate to break away from this topic, but when three of us return we're going to pray together for you, for your family and unity for all who call upon the name of Yeshua, Jesus shall be saved, and I'll include delivered, healed, and receive the promises of God. Before that I want you to hear about an opportunity to spread the Word of God, the Bible to Jewish communities in Africa and how to get your own personal study Bible from Jewish Voice that will highlight the Jewish roots of your faith, so stay tuned.

Jonathan Bernis: Well, we just have a short time left, but we always take time at the end to pray for your needs because God answers prayer and we care about you. And so, we wanna join our faith with yours, so just, let's reach out in faith together. Where two or three agree on earth, as touching anything, it shall be done. Troy, our guest of honor, would you lead us in prayer.

Troy Wallace: I'd love to. Lord, we just say thank you for our friends, who joined us today. Lord, we ask that you would open up their understanding of the Bible, Lord, it all comes from you, your written word, your word that you speak to us today. Lord, we ask that you touch them, that you'd meet with them, that you'd open their eyes and their understanding. And Lord, we pray for their families, Lord, meet them in areas of need, where they have need for healing, need for restoration. Maybe they have a son or a daughter, or a grandson, or a granddaughter who needs deliverance from addictions. Lord, we just ask that you break in to the lives of our friends and their families, Lord, wherever they're dwelling around the world and we pray it believing that the God of Israel, who became a man, Jesus did everything in his death, resurrection, and is his current intercession to restore life and to heal and to bless and so, in his name, in Jesus name, in Yeshua's name we pray, amen.

Ezra Benjamin: Amen.

Jonathan Bernis: And amen. Hey, if you'd like more information about our ministry, you can log on to our website,, and you'll find resources there, lots of resources that will help you, you can send your prayer requests right through the website and know that people will be praying for you by name. I want you know that we care about you, that God cares about you, and again, we'll pray for your needs by name. So, log on today. Well, as we close our program, I wanna remind you to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. The word is, shalom, pray for God to complete his plan for Israel, for the Palestinian people. He truly has a plan and he's asking us to pray for that to be fulfilled. And he says, if you'll do that, you'll prosper. I wanna thank our friend, Troy Wallace for joining us today, and on behalf of Ezra Benjamin, and myself, we wanna say, shalom and God bless you.
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