Dr. David R. Reagan on the show Christ in Prophecy interviews musician Joel Chernoff who also performs a few of his great messianic praise songs.
Last aired on May 25, 2008.
Dr. Reagan: Some of the liveliest and most inspirational worship music I have ever encountered is called Messianic Jewish. What is it? Where did it come from? And how does it relate to the end times and the return of the Messiah? For the answers to these and other questions related to Messianic Judaism, and for a presentation of Messianic Jewish music, stay tuned.
Dr. Reagan: Well greetings in the name of Jesus our blessed hope, and welcome to Christ in Prophecy. I am delighted to have back with me again this week one of the foremost Messianic Jewish leaders in the world today. His name is Joel Chernoff and he is a gifted musician, a visionary leader, and as I explained last week, he serves as General Secretary of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America and President of the International Messianic Jewish Alliance. Wow, those are big titles brother.
Joel Chernoff: They are.
Dr. Reagan: Sounds like big responsibility.
Joel Chernoff: It’s pretty impressive, right?
Dr. Reagan: Well, I tell you, we just had so much fun last week talking about Messianic Judaism, its meaning, about your father and your mother and their heritage, and how they were pioneers of the modern Messianic Jewish movement. But you are also a pioneer, Joel. You are a pioneer who developed basically, the one who developed the concept of Messianic Jewish music. I don’t think that genre existed before the Lord anointed you for it. And that was back in what, about 1972?
Joel Chernoff: Well, actually, it started in about ’67. My mother really, I’ve got to give her some credit here. Because she was actually writing Messianic lyrics, back in the mid-sixties, and would play the piano and put in the Messianic lyrics into traditional Jewish songs. But that was the first little glimmer. In 1967 the Spirit of God fell. We talked about that the last show. And I was at that time writing more Christian songs. And then suddenly I was on fire for God and the Jewish just meant so much to me and I began to have a desire to create something but I didn’t know what to create. If there weren’t any other Messianic artists out there, there was nothing out there.
Dr. Reagan: Were you in college at this time?
Joel Chernoff: I was in college, uh huh.
Dr. Reagan: And in the last program you told me that’s when you really got on fire for the Lord. Prayer meetings and…so I guess you had this burning desire to express this in music.
Joel Chernoff: And so I turned all of my creative juices towards that and I said, “What can I do?” So I took the pop sound of the day, which was something I was very attached to, loved it. And then I said, “Let’s take some of the older Jewish feels, minor feels and minor keys, and put that together with that feel, with the modern feel.” And out came the first album, the Lamb album, and all the songs. I kind of wrote songs ’69 and ’70, and ’71, and then in ’72 the first album was actually done. And really Dave, we didn’t know if anybody would even care. We didn’t know what it was.
Dr. Reagan: Well, how in the world did you ever find anybody to publish these songs?
Joel Chernoff: I mean–well, it was crazy. We came out with the album, Rick and I, the other partner in the group,
Dr. Reagan: What was his name?
Joel Chernoff: Coghill, Rick Coghill. He’s a guitarist, he played with James Brown.
Dr. Reagan: So Lamb was basically two of you and some studio musicians.
Joel Chernoff: It was just two of us, that’s right. I was the singer and the songwriter and so forth. And so we came out with this album and we got an invitation in the Chicago area. And we came and we sang before 4,000 people, it was our first concert, our first thing.
Dr. Reagan: First concert, 4,000?
Joel Chernoff: I was scared to death. But there were 4,000 kids there and we sang five or six of those songs off that first album and bam! The kids went crazy! They practically bought all of our thousand albums out the first night. And we were the number one group in the Chicago area for weeks and weeks and weeks. And then it started to spread from there. And look, we didn’t plan it, we were on WMBI, Moody’s station, and they just loved the Sacrificed Lamb, and Baruch Ha Shem. And it was going all over the place. So I mean this was something God did. We did not plan it out. We did not have great agents and managers and, we didn’t. This was a spontaneous move of God’s Spirit. He just took whatever talent was there and we came out with this sound and that popularized the Messianic sound. For the next 7 or 8 years, we were in the top 3 or 4 groups in the country, Christian groups, and then here’s this Messianic group in the top five. Our albums are always number two, number three, number four, in the country. There were kids all over the country catching onto it. They didn’t know what it was, and they didn’t know what that sound was. Hebrew, some of them thought it was tongues, some of them thought… they didn’t know, but they liked it.
Dr. Reagan: All I knew is it made me want to dance, it really did. Every time I would hear your music it made me want to get up and dance.
Joel Chernoff: You’re a dancer, aren’t you? You’re really a dancer.
Dr. Reagan: Well, I am very expressive in worship.
Joel Chernoff: Well that’s good.
Dr. Reagan: And I just want to worship the Lord, you know.
Joel Chernoff: Well praise the Lord.
Dr. Reagan: And so Messianic Jewish music–what makes music Messianic?
Joel Chernoff: Well, it’s a couple of things. One is the actual sound of it.
Dr. Reagan: Yes, there’s a certain rhythm to a lot of Jewish songs.
Joel Chernoff: Well, rhythm, the dance, eastern European dance, the Middle Eastern feels, minor keys often times. And then sometimes it can just be the lyric is very Jewish in the place it’s coming from. And so you feel like this is very, very Messianic even if the music is in a major key all the way through. But it feels, you kind of feel it coming out of the Scripture and so there are different things that can cause it to be a part of it. But not every song I did was straight out Messianic, I was doing some rock and roll in there too. But as far as everybody was concerned, this was a new genre, they’d never heard this before.
Dr. Reagan: Now I understand that Lamb disbanded in about 1992 and you went solo.
Joel Chernoff: That’s right.
Dr. Reagan: And produced some solo albums, but then I understand Lamb reformed in 2005.
Joel Chernoff: Well, yeah, we had finished after 20 years. That’s 14 albums and that’s a long time. We took a break, and we both went in different directions. The Lord took us in different directions and I became the GS of the MJAA. And then in 1999 God began to bring it back to me. A record company approached me about doing a solo album. So I said, “Yes, yes”, to it and we came out with a solo album in 1999. Its The Restoration of Israel. And then after that another one. And then last year Lamb, they asked us to get back together. And the other fellow from the first group couldn’t do it, so we brought in a fellow from the Dallas area, Ted Pearce, who is a great artist and an old time Lamb fan. He thought it was like joining the Beatles or something, I mean. He just couldn’t believe it, you know. But the two of us got together, we came out with an album last year, great album.
Dr. Reagan: What is the name of that album?
Joel Chernoff: The Sacrifice.
Dr. Reagan: Now, you’ve mentioned 14 albums that Lamb had recorded, are all of those still available today?
Joel Chernoff: Yes they are.
Dr. Reagan: Tell people how they can get them.
Joel Chernoff: www.lambmessianicmusic.com, lambmessianicmusic and that’s all one word, .com.
Dr. Reagan: Okay, we’ve got that on the screen and we’ve also got on the screen an 800 number that they can call.
Joel Chernoff: That is correct.
Dr. Reagan: And either one of those and they can order your albums over the internet.
Joel Chernoff: Amen.
Dr. Reagan: Now, I tell you, I’ve got to have you sing. Last week you sang a great song, Year of Jubilee. I want to ask you to sing another song for us this week. What do you have in mind?
Joel Chernoff: Well, I am gonna do a song which has caught on with a dance, since you’re so into the dance. This has been danced in front of the Western Wall and at the Sukkot Festival in Israel.
Dr. Reagan: Oh, my kind of music.
Joel Chernoff: Baruch Adonai, which means blessed is the Lord.
Dr. Reagan: Yes.
Joel Chernoff: And it is a go-getter, Dave.
Dr. Reagan: Okay.
Joel Chernoff: You’re gonna be back here dancing I know.
Dr. Reagan: Okay, okay. Alright folks, here is Joel Chernoff singing Baruch Adonai.
Dr. Reagan: Wow, what a song. Baruch Adonai. Thank you Joel! Wow!
Joel Chernoff: A blessing to do it. I saw you over there dancing.
Dr. Reagan: Well, yes, I was, I was. Ok. I want to focus in now on the organization that you head up here in the United States, the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America. What is the purpose of that organization?
Joel Chernoff: Well, its primary purpose, when it was formed in 1915.
Dr. Reagan: Fifteen?
Joel Chernoff: That’s a long time ago. That’s right. This is a prophetic organization really, but its prime purpose was to present to our people, the Jewish people, the fact and the reality that it’s, that it is okay to be Jewish and to believe in Y’shua, Jesus. And there needed to be a beacon, some kind of an organization where they could see us. Back in the 1920’s and 30’s and 40’s we were pretty much in the Church and invisible. And the MJAA gave us, as a group of people, the opportunity to kind of stand out. Now of course the Messianic Synagogues are growing, there’s a large, large number. And so now it’s expanded and we are ministering to our people. Often times in partnership with many Christians around the World.
Dr. Reagan: Isaiah 40 says, “Comfort, O comfort my people says the Lord your God.” And you are involved in that aren’t you?
Joel Chernoff: Oh yeah, we are really bringing comfort to our people. I love this because, you know the scripture. Paul was talking about the Jewish olive tree in the book of Romans and that the root is Jewish, and the trunk is Jewish and that the nations have been grafted into it. But you know that our people really haven’t seen a Jewish olive tree ministry. What they think that they see is a Christian olive tree, where like the root is Christian, and the trunk is Christian, and there’s a few Jews plugged into it. What our people need to see in order to get it spiritually is the fact that this is the body, the Jewish root and then the Nations gathered in. And we have been partnering with our Christian brothers and sisters, a beautiful thing, in something called the Joseph Project.
Dr. Reagan: Oh yes, I’m excited about that, and I want you to tell us about it. That is really exciting.
Joel Chernoff: That is something, and again, God gets all the credit.
Dr. Reagan: I want you to tell us what it is and I want you tell how our viewers can get involved in it.
Joel Chernoff: Yeah, well, the Joseph Project is a Jewish olive tree project. That is that the root is Jewish, it is basically the MJAA, it came out of us, but many Nations are gathering around and we are bringing aid and comfort. I don’t know if you know this Dave, but poverty is the number one domestic issue, not terrorism, poverty.
Dr. Reagan: Yes I did know that, in Israel, you are talking about in Israel. Yes I knew that.
Joel Chernoff: One third of the children living below the poverty line now.
Dr. Reagan: Yes.
Joel Chernoff: Almost, almost that with the adults and it is growing. Why, because of the constant drain on the economy because of the war.
Dr. Reagan: All the tax money is going for the military.
Joel Chernoff: The taxes are going for that. And number two industry is the tourist industry, and people are afraid to go because they are afraid they are going to get blown up or something. And then the immigrants, God is still gathering our people back.
Dr. Reagan: That’s right.
Joel Chernoff: And so they keep on coming in, but the government can’t afford to take care of everything. So they keep slicing the social services budget and more and more of our people are falling into that crack of poverty.
Dr. Reagan: And so how are you trying to deal with that problem?
Joel Chernoff: The Lord put it upon our, on our heart, and all of the leadership, you can go to our website and see the entire story but basically this is it: that the Lord showed us to partner with our Christian friends and to bring a blessing, even as Joseph brought a blessing and gathered a blessing for the famine that was going to come. And that famine came Dave, but he stored for seven years because of a prophetic dream, and the king of Egypt gave him power. Even so, God said, “There’s going to come a million plus more out of Eastern Europe.” And He says to us, “I want you, the MJAA, the Messianic community, to partner with your Christian brothers and sisters and to prepare a blessing for that time and also meeting urgencies along the way.” Which there have been urgencies, wars and so forth, up to this point. And there are miracles galore here, because you know, the Messianic Jews are controversial, right?
Dr. Reagan: Right. So, they don’t welcome you with open arms into Israel.
Joel Chernoff: No, no, no. Now this is changing.
Dr. Reagan: Yeah.
Joel Chernoff: Because over the last seven years we have been able to move over 70 million dollars worth of aid into the country, just like–
Dr. Reagan: –seventy million dollars worth of aid.
Joel Chernoff: Seventy million, and–
Dr. Reagan: Now has a lot of this been “gifts in kind?”
Joel Chernoff: Gifts in kind. Corporations, other charities.
Dr. Reagan: What kind of aid?
Joel Chernoff: Oh, anything from furniture, toiletries, tiling, clothing. We are just now beginning to move some food in.
Dr. Reagan: I remember the first things you wanted to bring in were like T-shirts, and they didn’t believe that you wanted to give those away.
Joel Chernoff: No, they didn’t believe it because they had never seen anybody do this before. [Dave chuckles] Fifty thousand Hanes shirts in the shrink wrap, and they said, “Come on…” “Come on.” “This is not charity; you are going to sell this in the black market or something, right?” They didn’t believe it. Oh we had to beat the door down just to get one of these containers in, right. So anyway, the government just told us a couple of weeks back, the director told us this, that we are now larger than the government’s aid arm.
Dr. Reagan: So you have developed their trust.
Joel Chernoff: So wonderful, developed the trust.
Dr. Reagan: I’m sure there are still some orthodox who are very opposed to this.
Joel Chernoff: Oh yeah, but listen. God gave us a verse right in the beginning, prophecy, because you know that I, of course, in our Jewish way, argued with God over this calling. And I said, “Lord, You, You know our people, they are not going to want this blessing from us.” He said to me in 1 Peter 2, “For this is God’s will, that by doing good, you will silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.” When He showed me that, it shut my mouth. I said, “Ok, case closed, just bless our people.” God says, “I’ll take care of the rest.” And He has done it Dave. He’s done it miracle after miracle, to the point now that we are very involved, quietly, with the government of Israel, ministering to over 300,000 people now, and it’s growing. And even, even the government of Israel is very, very blessed, simply because we don’t ask for anything in exchange–
Dr. Reagan: And you have a huge warehouse over there don’t you, where you–?
Joel Chernoff: We have got a central facility. We have got 20 million dollars worth of aid in there and we are now looking to actually duplicate that six more times, six more centers in the country.
Dr. Reagan: What a miracle.
Joel Chernoff: It is a miracle, partnering with our Christian brothers and sisters.
Dr. Reagan: How do you go about distributing this? How do you find the people who are needy?
Joel Chernoff: Well this is an interesting part of the story. There are 30 Messianic, independent works that are distributing on the street, and we just simply give to them. Now, they have to sign up with us, but we give to them. Also, 110 government social services centers. So the government itself, and many of those are actually orthodox. And they receive from us too.
Dr. Reagan: Ok.
Joel Chernoff: But they ask us to bring our truck around to the back door.
Dr. Reagan: OK.
Joel Chernoff: Because it is a little controversial.
Dr. Reagan: So you are providing furniture. You are providing clothing. Do you provide any food at all or is that a whole different deal?
Joel Chernoff: A little bit, but everybody, the government’s slowly trusting us to bring it in. But they are afraid somebody is going to get sick and die and then they are going to get sued.
Dr. Reagan: Yes, yes.
Joel Chernoff: So they are slow with that part of it. But 70 million dollars worth of aid, and over the next year we actually believe that the Lord has said to bring 100 million dollars worth of aid in over the next year.
Dr. Reagan: Well, you don’t think small do you?
Joel Chernoff: No, well actually the Lord said to prepare for one million people, and that’s over a billion dollars. That’s where the bar really is. But we’re getting there. The infrastructure is growing inside of Israel. More trucks, and more and more facilities and so forth.
Dr. Reagan: Well this is the sort of thing that I would really like for our viewers to get involved in.
Joel Chernoff: Amen.
Dr. Reagan: I get so distraught over Christians who want to do something for Israel, and they give money to organizations that are actually fighting Messianic Jews in Israel.
Joel Chernoff: Yes, it’s true.
Dr. Reagan: It’s amazing how many of those organizations they give money to, like the Temple Mount organization.
Joel Chernoff: And the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews and so forth.
Dr. Reagan: Yeah, and here they are fighting Messianics over there. And here is a way to really touch the Jewish people through a Messianic organization.
Joel Chernoff: You know what, we are for everybody blessing our people.
Dr. Reagan: Yes.
Joel Chernoff: But you know, isn’t it better Dave, if the Messiah gets the glory at the same time?
Dr. Reagan: Absolutely, so tell our viewers how they can participate in Project Joseph.
Joel Chernoff: They can actually clue into it at www.mjaa.org.
Dr. Reagan: Ok.
Joel Chernoff: OK. mjaa.org, and you’ll see the Joseph Project right there.
Dr. Reagan: It’s right there.
Joel Chernoff: Click on it, boom, you can get a DVD on it, you can see the whole history of it. You can see the current updates on it. It is exciting as we bless our people, Jew and Christian together. Messianic Jew and Christian, brothers in the Lord, bless our people and the Messiah’s heart of compassion comes through that and people are being redeemed and saved every day. Not directly in the centers, but then they come out to the congregations.
Dr. Reagan: Yes.
Joel Chernoff: And actually, you know what they told us Dave is, we didn’t even try, try this. But they told us, the body in Israel told us over 50 percent of the new Russian congregations over there started because of the Joseph Project.
Dr. Reagan: Praise the Lord!
Joel Chernoff: Because they were meeting needs and then the congregations came out of that.
Dr. Reagan: Folks we are going to have to pause for just a moment and we’ll be back after a word about this wonderful book. It’s called Blow the Trumpet in Zion by Richard Booker. It’s one of the best books ever written about the Jews in prophecy.
Dr. Reagan: Joel I would like to close this series of interviews with you. Which have been delightful, I tell you.
Joel Chernoff: Thank you so much.
Dr. Reagan: I just enjoyed it so much. And I’d like to close it by asking you a question about end-time Bible prophecy. And that is, how does all of what you have been talking about relate to end-time Bible prophecy, particularly what’s happening in Israel today?
Joel Chernoff: Well, you know, the Nation of Israel really is going through a massive change. You know, the Devil loves to put up obstacles. And there’s been a lot of hurt that has come out of the Christian World towards the Jewish World over the centuries.
Dr. Reagan: Yes.
Joel Chernoff: Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and so forth. But it is interesting when God decides it’s time, it’s time. And He is changing, softening our people’s hearts. One of the ways He is doing that is through the Joseph Project, acts of compassion and kindness, coming out of the Christian World, but now out of the Messianic World. One of the most exciting things is to see that adjustment, massive adjustment, spiritually, national adjustment coming through selfless acts of kindness in Israel. And believe me Dave, our people need to see this now more than ever. You know this because of the gathering darkness there.
Dr. Reagan: Yes.
Joel Chernoff: The Nations are gradually turning; it’s incredible to see it.
Dr. Reagan: Well, the Bible says the whole World’s going to come against Israel in the end-times, and that’s what’s happened, even our country.
Joel Chernoff: And we see that, but you know our people really are feeling hopeless in Israel because they don’t see a political solution.
Dr. Reagan: All they see is endless war.
Joel Chernoff: The President of the United States, he can’t solve it can he?
Dr. Reagan: No.
Joel Chernoff: None of the other countries can. Why? Because it’s a spiritual battle, it’s not a political battle.
Dr. Reagan: That’s right.
Joel Chernoff: It’s a spiritual battle.
Dr. Reagan: It is.
Joel Chernoff: And our people are sensing this. This is starting to come into the collective sense of our people there, that there is no political answer. Therefore, what is the answer? Is there an answer? Many of our people feel this is going to be fighting ad infinitum. Others are beginning to wonder, “Why are we back in the land? What is going on?” And their hearts are becoming soft, looking for a supernatural answer.
Dr. Reagan: So there is a sense of desperation, a sense of endless warfare in the future, no hope for peace, a feeling that even the United States is turning against them.
Joel Chernoff: The super power can’t help them.
Dr. Reagan: That everybody is against them, and ultimately they will have only one place to turn.
Joel Chernoff: There is only one place to turn.
Dr. Reagan: And when they do, they will “look upon Him Whom they have pierced, they will weep and wail and mourn, they will cry out, ‘Baruch ha’ba b’shem Adonai.'”
Joel Chernoff: Amen.
Dr. Reagan: And a great remnant, a great remnant will accept Y’shua as their Messiah.
Joel Chernoff: He is now raising up a banner in Israel through the, through these acts of kindness coming from us, the Messianic body and our Christian friends raising up in the darkness. He’s simply lifting up a light and saying, “This is the reason, the Messiah is the reason.” Why, because we together are blessing our people in their darkest hours. As the darkness gathers around them, there is a light raised up and that is providing help where they need it now, with no strings attached, nothing attached. We are just blessing our people and it turns hearts. It turns hearts here in this country.
Dr. Reagan: Absolutely, absolutely.
Joel Chernoff: It would turn hearts anywhere.
Dr. Reagan: Joel, I cannot begin to express to you how much we appreciate you taking time out from your incredible schedule to come to Texas and talk with us and viewers all over this nation.
Joel Chernoff: Oh, it’s a blessing.
Dr. Reagan: About what God has called you to do. You are a fulfillment of Bible prophecy in terms of your outreach to the Jewish people and your impact upon hearts through your wonderful music.
Joel Chernoff: Thank you.
Dr. Reagan: And my prayer is that God will continue to pour out His Spirit upon your organization, upon your congregations here in America and around the World. Upon the Jewish people and upon your music, that you may continue to touch many, many souls for Y’shua.
Joel Chernoff: Oh, thank you very much Dave.
Dr. Reagan: Thank you.
Joel Chernoff: I appreciate you.
Dr. Reagan: Well folks that’s our program for this week. I hope it’s been a blessing to you; it sure has been to me. I have had my socks blessed off. Until next week, the Lord willing, this is Dave Reagan speaking for Lamb and Lion Ministries saying, “Look up, be watchful, for our redemption is drawing near.”
End of Program