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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Jonathan Bernis » Jonathan Bernis - The Hidden Faith Symbol

Jonathan Bernis - The Hidden Faith Symbol

Jonathan Bernis - The Hidden Faith Symbol
TOPICS: Conspiracy, Mysteries

Jonathan Bernis: Shalom and welcome to Jewish Voice. I wanna thank you for joining me today. I'm Jonathan Bernis and I'm joined once again by my co-host, Ezra Benjamin. Have you ever looked at the clock and it was exactly 11:11? Well, strangely this happens to me often and it always reminds me of Romans 11. Now, this scripture is so critical. We'll talk about it today because it talks about how Jews and gentiles are united in their faith. There is a deep relationship between Jews and gentiles and the body of Messiah, and as well, the church and the role of Israel. They're tied together. We're gonna explain that to you and what it means to you as a Christian to be grafted in. Now, Ezra, I feel like as we prepared for this program, we sort of uncovered a conspiracy. Maybe that's a strong word. But...

Ezra Benjamin: Certainly, a mystery. Let's say that.

Jonathan Bernis: A mystery. And it has to do with the idea of grafted in. So, take it from there and let's talk about grafted in.

Ezra Benjamin: Right. And we're gonna to right to a symbol that many of you watching have seen, I imagine. Perhaps some haven't, and we'll put that on the screen for you right now. It's this symbol which represents being grafted in and at the top of it there's a menorah which symbolizes Jewish believers or Jewish worship in the temple in Jerusalem. And at the bottom there is a fish which we know historically, was an ancient symbol of gentile believers not from a Jewish background who believe Jesus was the Messiah in the early church. And then these things are connected by a star of David right at the center. And again, many have seen this but actually it dates back, Jonathan, almost 2,000 years. And in recent archaeological history, you know, in Israel, you and I have been so many times around every corner, there's an ancient artifact. But in the 1960's some people living in the old City of Jerusalem began to find literally dozens of this symbol, the menorah and the fish joined by the star of David on ancient pottery, on walls of mitzvahs or ritual Jewish ceremonial cleansing baths in the basements of basements in the old City of Jerusalem. And yet, after the first and second century ad this symbol really disappears.

Jonathan Bernis: It does. Now, here's what's so intriguing about it, Ezra, and I used the word mystery but maybe conspiracy is more accurate. So, here's this, it was a priest actually that found these multiple examples.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: On pottery, as you said, a Mezuzah that goes on the door.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: There were actually jars that had this insignia on it. And we know that it dates back to the third century and yet you don't hear anything about it until the 1990's.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: Actually, late 1980's and it's because this priest, actually a monk, turned over some of these artifacts to a well-known newspaper that started to publish them. And the thing that maybe qualifies as a conspiracy, potential conspiracy is that archaeologist were very much aware of the existence of this symbol.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: But they hid it.

Ezra Benjamin: Exactly. And we know, again, having been to Israel, if you haven't gone you should go to Israel. Visit the Holy Land. Any significant archaeological find is turned over to the Israeli ministry of antiquities or to the Israel museum and it's displayed as part of the history of what happened in this land. And yet, this symbol, this mysterious symbol of Jewish and Christian, if you will, so our Jewish believers and gentile believers in Jesus joined by a star of David is absent from the Israel museum, it's not being talked about largely by any ministry of antiquities and yet here it was buried in the old city.

Jonathan Bernis: Well, I'll go one step further. It was actually suppressed by the Israelian museum. They never displayed it.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure.

Jonathan Bernis: They never talked about it, and in addition, the orthodox rabbis were aware of it as well and it was suppressed. Why? The question is, here is this part of the history of Israel, part of antiquity and it's actually suppressed. Why?

Ezra Benjamin: We're gonna keep you on pins and needles 'cause I wanna go one step further. Not only was it suppressed in recent history by orthodox Jewish authorities, Israeli authorities, but when we look back to the third or fourth century ad the symbol disappears. So, the symbol which was so prevalent to represent early followers of Jesus falls out of use around the time of Constantine when the church is being institutionalized. So, on both ends of history, Jonathan, on what became the institutional Christian church under Constantine and then more recently by the organized mainstream Jewish community the symbol is suppressed. Why?

Jonathan Bernis: And so, the answer to why I believe in a few, let's put it back one more time, is because the menorah, of course, represents Judaism.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: Okay. The cross, of course, which is more than a cross, it's actually a fish.

Ezra Benjamin: A fish.

Jonathan Bernis: "I will make you fishers of men," is the whole picture of the gospel, right? And the cross, of course, is the sacrifice of the Messiah and they're joined together by the star of David. What's the clear message? The clear message is that this is one faith. This is not two distinct faiths that are unrelated, Judaism and Christianity, but this is one faith.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah.

Jonathan Bernis: The menorah, the star of David, "I'll make you fishers of men," all the first believers, followers of Yeshua were all Jews.

Ezra Benjamin: It's one faith in a Jewish Messiah. That's why the star of David is at the center of it all. Because of the prophets of the Old Testament, the prophets in Israel understood as did the first gentile believers in Jesus, known as Christians. Everybody understood Jesus is the Jewish Messiah who came not only for the lost sheep of the house of Israel but is the Savior of the whole world.

Jonathan Bernis: And now you have two distinct religious institutions trying to prevent that from being communicated.

Ezra Benjamin: Exactly.

Jonathan Bernis: That's a...I don't know. I think it's a conspiracy.

Ezra Benjamin: I'll go with you now. It's a conspiracy.

Jonathan Bernis: So, Ezra, I want you to elaborate on one point you made. It's very obvious why the Israelian museum would suppress this, why rabbis would suppress this, because it points to the Jewish Yeshua, Jewish Jesus, Yeshua.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: But you said that these went out of circulation that they predate Constantine Christianity.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: Why did it? Talk about that.

Ezra Benjamin: I'll answer that in a minute, but now I wanna elaborate on something you said Jonathan. Maybe our audience may not understand. Wait a minute, why is it so important for the mainstream Jewish community to sort of suppress or erase the Jewishness of Jesus? What in Jewish thinking causes that to be such a problem?

Jonathan Bernis: It's very simple. Judaism is based more on what we don't believe than what we do believe. There's consensus about one thing in Judaism and that is Jesus isn't our Messiah. And as soon as that changes you have a two-thousand-year commitment to rejecting him as Messiah being pulled away. That can happen.

Ezra Benjamin: It sad, it's a spiritual blindness. So, now to answer your question, thank you for answering mine. Just so you at home understand clearly what's going on. There's and enlarge part of a Jewish rejection of the Messiahship of Jesus. But what's going on with the church? Of course, the church worships Jesus as Lord of lords, King of kings, the Messiah, so, why erase this symbol? And we have to go back to the fourth century ad, okay, the three hundreds ad, when a man who really loved Jesus who was a fully devoted follower of Jesus the Messiah named Constantine who ruled the known world looked at the widespread rejection of Jesus by the Jewish people and said, "God must have rejected them for rejecting his son. For rejecting the Messiah". Therefore, he determined and actually penned the Jewish people are an accursed people and true faith as Christians must have nothing to do with the Jewish people or Jewish customs. And so, at this point, anything connecting Judaism or the Jewish faith to Jesus the Messiah or presenting the idea that Jewish and gentile believers were somehow unified is thrown away. And so, it remains until very recent history.

Jonathan Bernis: So, sabbath disappears. It's now Sunday.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: You have the Jewish holidays being replaced by other holidays. Not that we're against the Christian holidays, but the Jewish calendar, the biblical calendar remains intact, but it was removed. So, it's the judaizing, right, of Christianity.

Ezra Benjamin: Of faith in Jesus.

Jonathan Bernis: And it's not done in a vacuum. There's a process that brings the church and then ultimately Constantine to this place of saying, "All things Jewish are gonna be removed now from the faith which is now Christianity".

Ezra Benjamin: Tragic, but it happens.

Jonathan Bernis: Religious institution. And it's a sad development. Hey, we need to take a short break. The apostle Paul reminds us that all people need to hear the gospel and that gospel is first to the Jew and then to the gentile. That's God's priority. We're inviting you to partner with us today to proclaim Yeshua, Jesus as the Messiah to all Jewish communities around the world but especially in Israel now through our network of partner ministries. Here's how you can reach out to Israel with the gospel today.

Jonathan Bernis: Grafted in, that's what we're talking about today. And, Ezra, I want you to set up what that means.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure.

Jonathan Bernis: Because it's a biblical concept.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: It comes right out of the scripture. Scriptures that are often overlooked or misinterpreted, grafted in.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right. It's really an agricultural concept and some of you watching around the world may be in more agricultural environments. In north America we've lost touch a bit with what this even means. But Paul is speaking to a community that was very much in touch with what's happening in the land and he's saying, "I want you to think", he's speaking to a predominantly non-Jewish audience, right? We can say gentile, which means non-Jewish followers of Jesus the Messiah. And he's saying, "I want to you to think about your relationship to Israel, to this faith in the God of Israel that you have through Jesus like an olive tree". And we see it in Romans 11. The idea here is that you were wild branches, you gentiles who had no relationship with the God of Israel, didn't have a part in this olive tree but God in his mercy brought you near to himself through Jesus the Messiah and he actually grafted you in. What does that mean? That for all intents and purposes your life, the fatness, the abundance of the life you're enjoying spiritually, is now coming from this olive tree whose root is Israel. So, people ask us all the time, Jonathan, "Does this mean I become Jewish when I believe in Jesus"? No, you don't become part of the people of Israel, but you're grafted into the commonwealth of Israel through faith. Those blessings, that heritage, that faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all he's done are you're through the Messiah. That's what it means.

Jonathan Bernis: Let me add to that. Probably the greatest error in the church, and I think it's crippled the church from fulfilling the mandate to reach the world to a large degree is not embracing our commitment to Israel, and the idea that we've replaced Israel. Well, Romans 11 makes it very clear that you as wild branches have been grafted into the olive tree that also has natural branches. You don't replace them you simply are added to them. And so, all the blessings of God given to Israel, you are now an inheritor of. But it doesn't mean that you replace Israel. This is very important. So, I think that needs to be corrected, Ezra, and God's at work correcting this now.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: In many segments of the church that you have been grafted into something wonderful and we now together are partakers of the blessings of God. It's together as one we are, and God sees us as one. It doesn't mean that you become Jewish, as Ezra said it means that you become a spiritual son or daughter of Abraham and part of a commonwealth, the people that are royal priesthood, a holy generation with a mandate to proclaim the good news around the world.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right. And next, I wanna just focus in on this because I think many may say, "Yes, I understand I'm grafted in and all the blessings that Israel has are mine". But Paul says, "No, no, no, it's more than that". Understand in verses 18 and 19 of chapter 11 in Romans he says, "You need to think about it this way. Branches were cut off so that I have a place in the olive tree". And he says, "But that's not the end of the story. If God brought you who had no part into the blessings the fullness of the sap of this olive tree, then surely, he's able to take the branches that originally were part of the tree who he had to cut off for their unbelief and to graft them in again". And so, as much as you've inherited the blessing, I just wanna look you in the eye right now. As much as you inherited the blessings of being made part of the commonwealth of Israel, you also now have a God given irrevocable responsibility to ask God to graft back in those branches he loves who had to be cut off in unbelief.

Jonathan Bernis: Ezra, he goes even one step further which is why I love Romans 11. It's so clear, that it's the rejection of the natural branches, the actual breaking off of the natural branches that brought this in grafting, that brought you into the Kingdom of God. And don't forget it was the Jewish apostles that brought the gospel around the world. And so, there's a debt of responsibility to early church...

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: Who were all Jews who believed in their Messiah. They fulfilled the mandate to bring the gospel around the world and he says, "It's through their rejection that you have salvation".

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: But then he goes on and says, "But if that's a blessing what's going to happen if they're grafted back in when they return"? And he says, "It will bring life from the dead".

Ezra Benjamin: That's right. That's right. "Salvation has gone to all the people's tribes and tongues of the earth to provoke Israel to jealousy". What does that mean? It means for Israel to recognize something in your faith, for the Jewish people to look at your faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and say, "Wait a minute, there's something there that belongs to me". And God says, "Yes, there is, come and get it through Jesus, through Yeshua". That's your calling, your irrevocable calling as a believer in Jesus.

Jonathan Bernis: That's my story, Ezra. I was not provoked to jealousy through a Jewish believer but through a Christian wrestling coach that loved the Lord that had a sense of destiny in his life, that had a joy even when things weren't going perfectly and I asked, "What does he have that I don't have"? And I began to realize overtime that as a part of the chosen people, the people of the book, I had never read the book. He knew the book. He knew my God.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: Because I understood that he loved the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and he had embraced my Messiah.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: And you have that calling as well to demonstrate the love of God, the peace of God, a sense of destiny in God that the God of Israel has brought you through a relationship with the king of the Jews. Don't miss that opportunity.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right. And maybe, Jonathan, that's why the symbol has been so suppressed by the Jewish community and the Christian communities for centuries. It's a difficult message, right? It's a little bit hard to explain but it's right here. Don't take our word for it. It's right here in Romans 11. God wants you to know your irrevocable responsibility in asking him, partnering with him toward the salvation of the Jewish people, of his chosen people.

Jonathan Bernis: Ezra, you know, we talk a lot around here about John 17 and the call for unity that they may be one as we are one. That's prayer, that's a priestly prayer that Jesus, Yeshua, is praying to the father. And I think of Judaism and Christianity, the star of David or the cross.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: And what they represent, so distinct even a history of animosity and hatred.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: Maybe the grafted in symbol is part of a plan to bring us back to one.

Ezra Benjamin: Amen. And that's, you know, I'm smiling here because a significant portion of the New Testament, Jonathan, is first people like Peter saying, "What has the God of Israel to do with the gentiles"? And God says, "No, no, you misunderstand. My salvation is available to all". And he sends people like 1 Peter, but then Paul, his whole ministry is to the gentiles. And then as the number of non-Jewish believers in the Ecclesia grows people like the faith community in Rome turn around to go, "What have we to do with the Jews? They seem to reject Jesus". And Paul says, "No, no, don't misunderstand, God's able to graft them back in". And it's all a message about being in this inseparable relationship. Jewish believers and gentile believers united in Jesus the Jewish Messiah. That's the message.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah. It's a beautiful message and it's such a clear proclamation. We are called to be one. We're called to do this together. "God loved the world, that he gave his son". We get that. I wanna make it clear. Jewish Voice is not just about reaching the Jewish people only, it's about the redemption of the world, but we believe that there's a divine order and it's a divine order that he's calling the church to follow. Romans 1:16, "I'm not ashamed of the gospel. It's the power of God unto salvation to all who believe". It's not dot, dot, dot. It continues on and says, "To the Jew first and then to the gentile".

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: That's a divine priority and when we follow that priority we see redemption, we see life spreading to the nations.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right. That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: Well, we could talk so much more about this. We need to take a short break so you can hear about the opportunities available to you to proclaim the gospel directly to Jewish people in Israel right now. We need you to come alongside of us. Ezra and I will be back in a moment to pray with you and your family, but I wanna ask you to respond to this message now. We'll be right back.

Jonathan Bernis: We take time in every program as we close to pray for you, our partners. And we've received many emails, a few letters, mostly emails now or through our website asking for prayer for specific things, jobs, asking for family unification, asking for the healing of a loved one or some of you that are facing serious medical issues. Here's the good news, God is very much alive, he's very much concerned, and he has the answer to every need. His ear is not dull, he hears and answers prayers. And all it takes is faith. All it takes is agreement and so, we wanna just take a moment to agree with you because we care about you, we really do. We're here for you and so, I'm just gonna ask you to reach out in faith, believe God with us. Ezra is gonna join in prayer with me. I want you to join in prayer. "Where two or three agree on earth is touching anything it shall be done". So, Lord, we pray for those that are watching today. We pray for faithful partners. We pray for viewers. We pray for those who have emailed us, contacted us from our website. We pray for healing. We pray for family restoration. We pray for the divine provision of jobs, and we thank you, Lord, that every need is met. We thank you, Lord, that the blessings of God are very clear. You heal all of our diseases. And Lord, we stand on your word, we declare it as greater than the situation and we thank you for Yeshua, Jesus who is making intercession for us right now. Be healed, be delivered, be provided for, the son Yeshua, in Jesus' name. Amen and amen. If you'd like more information about our ministry, you can log on to our website One-word, and you can find so many helpful resources there and you can also send us your prayer requests right on the website, from the website. I want you to know that we care about you and that God cares about you. And that we are dedicated to pray for partners by name. So, do let us know your needs and they'll be prayed for. We close as I close every program with Psalm 122:6 which says, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May they prosper who love thee". So, I'm asking you to be faithful, to pray for Israel this week. Thank you to Ezra for joining me today and until next time, this is Jonathan Bernis saying shalom and God bless you.
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