Q: You have been a Jewish believer for many years. Describe when and how you accepted Jesus as the Messiah.
A: I became a Believer back in 1980 while attending University. I was a business major and had just completed my sophomore year. A friend who had recently been radically saved and delivered from drugs began to witness to me. She had her entire church and Bible study praying for me by name. After several months of her constant phone calls, long conversations about what happens after we die and the meaning of life is, I finally agreed to go to her Bible study.
After the study, the Bible teacher who led the meeting showed me Scriptures about sin, separation from God, and the gift of eternal life He offered through His Son. My heart was touched and I prayed with him that night. A short time later, I began to read the Bible and discovered Jesus and all His first followers were Jewish! From that point on, my life was never the same. I knew the Lord was calling me into the ministry and the following year I changed my major to begin preparing for this calling. I have now been in full time ministry for almost 35 years.
Q: As the President and CEO of Jewish Voice Ministries International, what do you believe God has called you to do through your organization?
A: My calling and the purpose has always been to reach my Jewish brothers and sisters with the Good News of their Messiah, Yeshua. Our purpose statement at Jewish Voice is that we exist is to transform lives (through the Gospel) and see all Israel saved, according to Romans 11:25-26.
Q: Many Christians may not realize how widespread Jewish communities are around the globe. Describe your ongoing outreach efforts in some of these communities and how they formed throughout the world.
A: After the exodus out of Egypt, God warned the Children of Israel that if they disobeyed His commandments, He would scatter them throughout the nations of the world. Sadly, that is exactly what happened. For the last 2,700 years, the Jewish people have been dispersed through various exiles, beginning with the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles and continuing with the Roman dispersion after the destruction of the second temple. For almost 2,000 years, the Jewish People have been wandering the nations of the world without a homeland.
The good news is that He promised that although He would scatter them, He would eventually bring them back, both to their land and to their God. This happened in 1948 when the State of Israel was established and has been continuing until this day.
In the 1990’s, I had the privilege of witnessing tens of thousands of Jewish People in the former Soviet Union hear and respond to the Gospel through our Festivals of Jewish Music and Dance. Since 1999, we have also been working with Jews in Ethiopia and now in Zimbabwe, South Africa, India, and other remote places like countries in Africa and Asia.
Q: What are some common misconceptions that you’ve noticed when it comes to what believers think about Israel and the Jewish people.
A: I think there are many misconceptions Christians have about Israel and the Jewish People. Many Christians believe the Jewish People have all rejected Jesus as Messiah and are not open to the Gospel. The truth is that most have never heard the true Gospel. They have been taught that the Christians blamed them for killing their God, Jesus Christ. When in fact, Jesus was a Jew, His given Hebrew name was Yeshua (which means salvation) and He came first for His Jewish brethren.
Another misconception is that Jews do not need the Gospel because they have their own plan of salvation through the Mosaic Covenant. This is called Duel Covenant Theology and is a lie. There is one way to heaven for all mankind. In fact, the Gospel remains “to the Jew first” according to Romans 1:16.
A final misconception I want to mention is the idea that we don’t need to share our faith with Jewish People now because the Jews will be saved at a later time and today we are living in the time of the Gentiles. While I do believe there will be great outpouring on the Jewish People in the future, Jewish people living today need the Gospel! And unless they hear about Yeshua from us, they will not believe and call out to the Lord. Tens of thousands of Jews, like myself, have come to faith over the last 4 decades and most have been led to the Lord through Christians like you.
Q: What’s the best way Christians can grow in their understanding of the Jewish roots of their faith?
A: I think the first thing every Christian should do is try to go on a tour to Israel. There is something about Israel and Jerusalem that is life transforming. I’ve been leading tours there since 1985 and I’ve seen this transformation happen over and over again. It’s like a light comes on and Israel the Jewish roots of our faith become relevant.
The second thing I recommend is to read a few books about our Jewish Roots and in particular, learn more about the feasts and festivals of the Lord found in Leviticus chapter 23. I think the most powerful is Passover. Attend a Messianic Passover seder meal in your area and learn how Jesus fulfilled, in detail, all the requirements of the Passover lamb. I think you will find it incredibly enlightening and memorable.
Q: You host a program on Daystar called Jewish Voice with Jonathan Bernis. What can new viewers that tune in expect to see?
A: My program is focused on teaching Christians about the Jewish roots of their faith and the role Israel and the Jewish People play in God’s eternal plan and prophecy related to the Last Days. I also host many interesting guests, especially Jewish Believers in Jesus that have relevant messages the Body of Christ need to hear.
Q: Based on the latest news reports, anti-Semitism is rising all over the world. How should the Church respond to this growing hatred?
A: First and foremost, we need to pray. God hears and answers prayer; and He exhorts us to “give Him no rest (through prayer) until He makes and establishes Jerusalem as praise in all the earth.” (Isaiah 62:7)
Christians also need to speak out against anti-Semitism and be outspoken when the UN and other organizations and nations show anti-Israel bias. We can make a difference when we speak out together. In fact, the recent move of the US embassy to Jerusalem is in large part due to the actions of so many pro-Israel Christian leaders.
Q: Several years ago, Daystar produced an Emmy nominated Joni Table Talk series called Holocaust: Horror to Hope. Why is it so important for people to be educated about the tragedies of the Holocaust?
A: Sadly, although Martin Luther was a great reformer, he also paved the way for Hitler and the Holocaust theologically through his writings against the Jews. We’ve all heard the axiom “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” As anti-Semitism grows once again, I believe the time will come when the only true friend Israel and the Jewish People have are Bible believing Christians.
Q: What are the potential risks if believers remain silent when it comes to standing against anti-Semitism and supporting the Jewish people?
A: I think another quote attributed to the great parliamentarian Edmund Burke best answers this question. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I will modify this and say “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for true Christians to do nothing.”
I believe the Bible clearly teaches that before the Messiah returns, hard times are ahead. We are already seeing many of these things taking shape, including the rapid rise of anti-Semitism. We may well see another holocaust…or worse. We cannot remain silent.
Q: In the last several years, the number of Jews immigrating to Israel has significantly increased. How is this trend fulfilling biblical prophecy?
A: Many prophecies speak of the return of the Jewish People back to their land: see Isaiah 11:11, Jeremiah 16:14-16 and Ezekiel 36 &37 just to mention a few. The Bible teaches very clearly that the Jewish People will return to their homeland and be back in control of Jerusalem before the Messiah can return. The physical and spiritual restoration of Israel is central to restoration of all things, and the return of Jesus to earth establishes His Kingdom on the earth.
Q: Recently, Israel celebrated 70 years since it was re-established as a nation in 1948. What makes this milestone so miraculous?
A: The fact that Israel has not only survived against overwhelming odds, but prospered is a modern-day miracle. Seventy also represents the conclusion of a generation. I believe this is the generation that Jesus spoke of in Luke 21:32 when He said “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”
Q: Daystar actively supports a home for Holocaust survivors in Israel known as the Daystar House of Hope. Why is it so important for Christians to show their love for the Jewish people in practical, meaningful ways?
A: Christians need to understand that we have to overcome an almost 2,000-year legacy of anti-Semitism, hatred, and persecution perpetrated against the Jewish People in the name of Christ and Christianity. I know these were not true Christians, but Jewish People do not know the difference. True Bible-believing Christians need to show Jews that their love is real and unconditional now.
I am blessed to report that as a result of ministries like Daystar that are loving and supporting Israel in tangible ways, Israelis are now realizing that true Christians really are their friend. I applaud Daystar for the incredible work they are doing in Israel, both with projects like the House of Hope and the broadcast of the Daystar network in every home in Israel with the Good News!
Q: In over 30 years of ministering to the Jewish people, what moment has impacted you the most and why?
A: This is a really hard question to answer since there have been so many impactful moments over the years.
I would have to say seeing Holocaust survivors respond to the Gospel and accept Yeshua as their Messiah during our festival outreaches has been a real highlight.
To witness people who have suffered so much receive God’s love and comfort in the twilight of their lives and to embrace them as tears of joy and gratitude stream down their faces is simply indescribable.
Be sure to tune in to see Jewish Voice with Jonathan Bernis Tuesdays at 11:00am, Wednesdays at 11:00am, Thursdays at 1:30pm, and Fridays at 9:00am & 7:00pm ET on Daystar!