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Arnold Answers

Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum answers some of the most common questions asked about the Scriptures, Christianity, biblical history, Israel, and the Jewish people.

arnold-answers-faq
When will the 144,000 who will be evangelizing the world be taken off the earth?

There is no need to assume that the 144,000 Jews will be taken off the earth prior to the end of the Millennium. Since they are sealed for protection, I see them as remaining and surviving on earth throughout the seven years of Tribulation. I suspect that after the worldwide evangelism, which will take place in the first half of the Tribulation, they will migrate to the city of Petra for the second half of the Tribulation. They will be among the Jews who welcome the return of Yeshua at Petra, then enter the Messianic Kingdom with Messiah and have a special role in the Kingdom as spelled out in Revelation 14:1-5. After the Kingdom, with all believers, they will enter into the eternal order.

I know water baptism does not save a person. Yet why does Peter tell the Jews in Acts 2:38 to “repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit?” Those that believe in baptismal regeneration cite this scripture as proof that baptism is what causes your sins to be forgiven. However, it is clear in Acts 10 when Cornelius believes he is instantly baptized by the Holy Spirit and then gets water baptized. Acts 2:41 seems to indicate that only those who believed Peter’s message were baptized. But I would appreciate your Hebrew insight into what you think is happening in Acts 2:38.

Concerning your question about Acts 2:38, it should always be kept in mind that this statement is being made to the same Jewish generation guilty of the unpardonable sin and facing the judgment of A.D. 70. While the coming judgment of A.D. 70 was by now unavoidable, individuals could escape the judgment if they would do two things.

First, they would have to repent, change their mind about Jesus, and that act of repentance would save them spiritually, but by itself would not save them physically.

The second thing they would have to do is undergo water baptism that will separate them from the Jewish generation guilty of the unpardonable sin and therefore, they would escape the judgment of A.D. 70.

This becomes especially evident if you also look in verse 40 where he admonishes them to “save yourselves from this crooked generation”. It is obvious they could not have saved themselves spiritually, because spiritual salvation is a result based upon their faith in Christ. But they could save themselves in another way. He specifies they could save themselves “from this crooked generation” and that is what water baptism will do for them: It will separate them from the generation guilty of the unpardonable sin.

So taken in context, he is dealing here with physical salvation and not spiritual salvation.

In the Book of Ruth, when Naomi and the others returned to Judah, how long was this journey and what road did they take? Was there not danger associated with women traveling alone?

The most direct route from Bethlehem to Moab would have taken them by way of the Jericho Road to just north of the Dead Sea, where they could cross one of the fords of the Jordan, then climb back up to the Hill Country of the Amorites and turn south. This would take them to the tableland of Moab, where the land was productive.

On the average, people traveled about 20 miles a day, so that trip would have taken two to three days.

In that society, women traveling along the roads alone were not in any particular danger and were generally not bothered, as to do so went against the ethics of that day. In fact, in these more primitive times, it was safer for women to travel along the roads than it is today in 20th century America.

Why is it that the people of the Bible have no last names?

Actually, in ancient times, both inside and outside the Bible, no one had last names. The concept of last names is of more recent origin, only beginning around the Middle Ages in Europe. It probably became necessary for more detailed identification for tax purposes, etc. But the general idea of last names is merely a few hundred years old and does not date back to ancient times in any society.

Does the Bible indicate that a person might hide the truth in anger or hostility?

Yes, the basic meaning of Hosea 9:7 is that because of internal iniquity, one’s enmity — or hostility — is very great. A person who is constantly angry is probably using his anger as an outlet for something that is a deeper internal problem of some sin or another, such as bitterness towards someone. It is one thing to be angry and then get over it, and even Paul says, “Be angry, but sin not.” Emotional flare ups happen with everybody, but if one is in a constant attitude of anger and hostility, that is usually a front for a much deeper problem.

Based on Revelation 13:18 and the number of the beast being 666, I’ve heard people claim that the Antichrist is everybody from the Pope to Henry Kissinger to Mikhail Gorbachev to Madonna … you name ’em! How do they figure this, and how can we know the truth?

The Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters, each one having a corresponding numerical value. Therefore, one can find out the number of a name — the number of the beast (Rev. 13:18) — simply by adding the value of each Hebrew letter of a particular name. Obviously, there are many names that total 666. Keep in mind that the person meeting the 666 requirement must also meet the criteria of being a world ruler.

At any rate, I think it is a bit early to speculate on the identity of the Antichrist, as he will not even appear on the scene until after we have a one-world government followed by a ten-nation division, according to the Scriptures. [A much more detailed study of this issue is included in Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s book, The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events]. By the way, none of the names most frequently mentioned in this regard meet the 666 numerical criteria.

Why don’t we accept the Apocrypha? I think perhaps that we Protestants left something out of the Bible.

Concerning the books of the Apocrypha, they were never accepted by the Jewish community, nor by the Church at large, as being inspired. Only later in history did the Catholic Church make them part of the canon, because it helped support the church’s doctrine of purgatory. But it was never part of those Scriptures accepted either by Jews or by the larger believing Church.

Keep in mind that the books of the Apocrypha were already in existence at the time of Jesus. Yet the New Testament never categorized the books of the Apocrypha as “Scripture.” When the New Testament talks about Scripture, it only deals with the same three-fold division as found in the Hebrew Bible: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. The rabbis never quote from the Apocrypha as divine authority. Moreover, neither Jesus nor any of the Apostles ever quote the Apocrypha as divine authority. In fact, what was considered “Scripture” clearly excluded the Apocrypha from the perspective of both the Jewish community and the Messianic community of the New Testament. While the early Jewish believers saw the writings of the Apostles as “Scripture,” and the Old Testament as “Scripture,” the Apocrypha was never accepted as such.

Furthermore, the Apocrypha makes a lot of contradictory statements and it does not hold up to the historical, archeological, and harmonious scrutiny as do the other books of the Bible. It is not true that “we Protestants left something out.” It is only that the Catholic Church included it, and rather late in the game at that. The Apocrypha, like Josephus and the writings of the Church fathers, is valuable for historical reference and historical backgrounds to the events in Scripture. It includes, of course, the Books of Maccabees — historical but not inspired books that record many of the events that brought about the Feast of Chanukah. But, again, the Apocrypha is no more inspired than Josephus or the Church fathers.

Because the Books of Hebrews, James, First Peter, Second Peter and Jude were written to the Jews, should Gentile believers use the precepts?

As in every book of the Bible, the messianic epistles contain principles that are true universally. For example, the Book of Leviticus, which detailed how the Tabernacle system was to work, was intended only for Israel — specifically, the priesthood. It was intended only for one people (the Jews) and only for a limited period of time (from Moses to Christ). However, there are principles in Leviticus that are universally true. One such principle is that atonement requires the shedding of blood (Leviticus 17:11); this standard always applies. The same thing is true in regard to the various principles found in the messianic epistles, and this is why one must study the context of each verse before deriving any conclusions. The question to be asked is: is the statement or ordinance specifically applicable to one people of a specific period of time, or is it rooted in an eternal principle, one that is always true? Only then can the proper application be made.

What happened to the Ark of the Covenant? Is the ark mentioned in Revelation 11:19 the Ark of the Covenant that Moses made?

It is not likely that the original Ark of the Covenant ever survived the Babylonian destruction. The Ark is not mentioned as having gone into captivity. If we keep in mind that the Ark of the Covenant was basically a piece of wood overlaid with gold, Nebuchadnezzar would have only been interested in the gold. When the Jews returned from Babylonian captivity 70 years later, there was no Ark to put in the Temple they rebuilt. However, the Temple functioned just fine for six centuries without it. If the Jewish people could not find the Ark after 70 years, they are not likely to find it after 2,500 years.

The Ark of the Covenant in Revelation 11:19 is not the one that Moses made. We should keep in mind that what Moses made was a copy of the Ark that is already in Heaven. Besides, anything manmade cannot be translated to Heaven. The Ark in Revelation 11:19 is the heavenly one, the original from which Moses made a copy.

The Ark was not destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, he couldn’t find it. See Jeremiah 52:13-19. It seems to have been raptured up to heaven as it appears again in heaven in Revelation 11:19. Is this true?

First, concerning the Ark of the Covenant, if you will reread the passage you asked me to read, you will see that the text nowhere states that Nebuchadnezzar could not find the Ark of the Covenant. II Kings 25 and II Chronicles 36 list the things that Nebuchadnezzar took with him to Babylon. What they did not take to Babylon was destroyed by fire. In fact, II Chronicles 36:19 says that Nebuchadnezzar burned the Temple down with fire and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof. All Nebuchadnezzar had to do was strip the gold off the Ark and the rest of the wood was burned with fire. If the Ark was raptured into heaven, the Bible would clearly have told us so. Your reference to Revelation 11:19 does not prove your point since you are making an unwarranted assumption that that is the same Ark of the Covenant that Moses actually made; but that is not the case. It should be remembered that the whole Tabernacle structure that Moses made was a copy of the Tabernacle already existing in heaven. It is the heavenly Tabernacle that Christ entered into, a Tabernacle not made with human hands (Hebrews 9:11-12).

Can you help me to understand the armor of the spirit as described in Ephesians six?

Each of the types of armor mentioned in Ephesians six are terms taken right out of the Old Testament. And the main point Paul is making is that the Scriptures are the key to victory in terms of spiritual warfare. This entails learning the Scriptures well, studying them as a whole to have a comprehensive knowledge of “the whole counsel of God.” Second, it involves applying the Scriptures to our daily lives. A third principle is to deal with specific life issues by looking up passages (using a concordance or other study tool) that directly address these issues — studying, memorizing and using such verses to resist Satan. When Jesus was tempted three times, He resisted each by quoting Scripture directly relevant to each temptation. Obviously, He needed to know the Scriptures in order to do this. And this is exactly what Paul means when he urges his readers to put on the armor of God.

In the New Testament, there are many passages saying that women can not lead over men but in the Old Testament Deborah was a judge over Israel. In my understanding, her function was the same as that of male judges. Therefore, she was leading over men. If God really meant that women can not lead over men, why would He make an exception?

The Bible does not say that women cannot have lead over men but women cannot exercise spiritual authority over men in the church. This does not mean they cannot have authority in other areas whether they are schools, factories, businesses, etc. The prohibition is that a woman cannot exercise spiritual authority over men in the church. That is why she cannot hold a position of authority in the church and she cannot teach Scripture to men, because teaching Scripture always means exercising spiritual authority. As for Deborah, first of all, she had no spiritual authority in the church. Furthermore, she lived under a different dispensation of administration, that of the Mosaic Law. God would never ask any believer to violate His own commandments. Deborah lived under the Mosaic Law and nothing God asked her to do violated any woman’s role that the Mosaic Law spelled out. She was both a prophetess and a judge over Israel. This is not a basis for saying women can be elders in the church since this is a whole different administration we are living with now. God did not make any exceptions. Deborah lived under the Mosaic Law and nothing God asked her to do violated the Mosaic Law. You live under the Law of Messiah, which spells out certain rules in the administration of the Church and God. God would not ask any woman to violate His laws any more than He would a man. Here is a principle: you must “rightly divide the Word of Truth” to understand what part of the Bible administration applies to us today and which does not. What applies to us today? The commandments He has given us that apply to the Church. What is written in Ephesians, Corinthians, and the Timothy epistles are the laws involving the Church which Deborah had nothing to do with.

How do you interpret the Babylon of the book of Revelation? Do you believe it was meant at any point to refer to the city of Rome at the time of the early church? Do you believe the Babylon of the future will be geographically located in Iraq?

I do not believe Babylon is referring to Rome. However, there are two Babylons in the book. In chapter 17, there is religious Babylon, which refers to a world religion. It is called Babylon because Babylon was the mother of all false religions. While the religion is worldwide, the headquarters would be based in the city of Babylon. Revelation 18 deals with the city of Babylon and should be taken literally. It is destined to become the world capital under the Antichrist. Babylon is located in Southern Iraq and that is where these events will take place.

In light of Isaiah 13:19-22 which seems to indicate that Babylon will not be rebuilt and that “her time will soon come and her days will not be prolonged,” how is it that Saddam Hussein is rebuilding Babylon? If you look at the entire context of the passage in Isaiah, which is Isaiah 13:1-14:23, you will notice that the prophecy of Isaiah has never actually been fulfilled. The passage as a whole clearly times itself as happening in the “Day of Jehovah,” the most common biblical term for the Tribulation. As for the specific verses you referred to, 13:19-22, they also have to be in that specific time period, which is in the Tribulation before the establishment of the Millennium.

You will notice the passage does mention the Medes but does not mention the Persians and yet the Medes play the minor role in the fall of Babylon. Furthermore, this passage describes a destruction of the city by the Medes. However, the kind of destruction Isaiah pictures the Medes performing in these verses was not done by the Medes in the past. Actually, as you can see from Daniel Chapter 5, the city of Babylon was taken intact and the only casualty was Belshazzar the King. After the Persians conquered Babylon, Daniel was appointed as the one in charge of the province of Babylon under Darius the Mede. In other words, neither the Persians or the Medes did to Babylon what Isaiah describes them doing in Babylon of history. Babylon continued to exist for several centuries and eventually became a ghost town. Besides, over all these centuries, it is not true that the Arab never pitched his tent there. Throughout the centuries Arab nomads and Bedouins continue to live in the area of ancient Babylon.

If you take these prophecies literally, it requires the rebuilding of Babylon, a city that will become the capital of the world under the Antichrist and will be totally destroyed during the campaign of Armageddon. Only then will it fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 13-14. It will remain a totally uninhabited city for the remainder of the Millennium. Again, taking the text literally, the prophecy of Isaiah, including the verses you quote have never been fulfilled to this day and therefore require a future fulfillment.

I have been told that baptism is a Jewish practice. If so, what did it mean to a Jewish person?

To answer your question, baptism was a common Jewish practice long before it became a Christian practice. The basic Hebrew meaning of baptism is identification. When one was baptized he identified himself with a person, and/or message, and/or group. In Judaism, when a Gentile underwent the process of conversion to Judaism, he would also be baptized and, by so doing, would identify himself with Judaism and the Jewish people. Those who were being baptized by John were identifying themselves with John’s repentance movement and with the message he was proclaiming concerning the soon coming of the King. By being baptized by John, they were making a commitment that whomever John declared Messiah to be, they would accept Him as the Messiah.

In believer’s baptism we identify ourselves with the death, burial and resurrection of Messiah.

It seems to me that the term “believe” means something more than just to believe in one’s mind. Could you explain?

You are right; believing is more than just believing in one’s mind. The basic meaning of the word in Greek is believing in the sense of trusting. The point here is that we trust Yeshua’s work on the cross alone for our salvation and nothing else. Anyone who trusts anything else for salvation is believing a false gospel.

How do you know that Luke was probably Jewish or a Jewish convert?

The key verse that must be taken into account here is Romans 3:1-2, which says that unto the Jews were commited the oracles of God. The “oracles” refer to written Scripture, and it clearly states that the Jews were the ones who would write Scripture. Furthermore, the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts in the original Greek language contain many “Hebrewisms,” meaning that though the writer is writing Greek, he is using a Hebrew word order. Basically, he is writing the kind of Greek written by Greek-speaking Jews rather than Greek-speaking Gentiles.

Furthermore, he also writes in a Jewish way or style. For example, he is very careful to write that when people go to Jerusalem, it is always “up” to Jerusalem; and when they leave Jerusalem, it is always going “down” from Jerusalem. These are the ways in which Jews write, as opposed to Gentiles.

Actually, your questions should really be asked in a different way: How do we know that Luke was a Gentile? People often point out that his name is a Gentile name, which is true. However, the name “Paul” is a Gentile name as well, but no one questions Paul’s Jewishness.

The last time we met, I asked you about the meaning of the recurring numbers in the bible, like 3, 7, 9, 12, etc., and you told me some of them had meaning. Can you elaborate on that please?

To answer your question, not all numbers in the Bible have special meanings, only certain numbers have special meanings and this does not mean that anytime that number is used it has that meaning in that context, but if it is used symbolically it would.

For example, the number 6 emphasizes something in the human sphere. Number 7 is the number of completion or totality. It also sometimes carries the concept of perfection. The number 12 also has the concept of completion or totality without any implications of perfection.

The same applies to multiples of these same numbers such as 144,000 is a multiple of the number 12 and that would also be true for the multiples of 7, and some other numbers. It is dangerous to look for a meaning for every number and that is where people will apply guess work and go beyond what the text says.

It is true that every letter in Hebrew is numbered and therefore, every word in Hebrew has a numerical value and every name in Hebrew has a numerical value but that is about how far you can go with the text of Scripture. Trying to find a hidden meaning in all of these numbers goes a bit beyond what the Bible allows.

I recently started subscribing to Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR). There are many articles by supposed scholars that attack many of the views held dear to us orthodox Christians. Can you give me some advice?

The magazine is excellent for providing updates of archaeological discoveries in Israel. However, you must keep in mind that it is composed largely by unbelievers who often put archaeological theory over the biblical text only because it is the trendy thing to do, not because of objective proof. One must also remember that archaeology is more of an art than a science. The scientific element ends once they uncover what is below ground level. At that point, the art factor enters in, as findings are largely interpreted based upon certain presuppositions rather than inscriptions that spell out exactly what they have found.

The fact that it is more an art than a science is the reason that even within BAR, you will find different archaeologists debating each other as to the meaning of findings. One example is the recent discovery of an inscription in Dan that mentions “the house of David.” Subsequent issues include archaeologists debating whether it really does say that or not. The debate is not based upon what the inscription actually says, but, rather, strictly upon the presuppositions of the archaeologists. Those who believe that King David existed readily accept the reading of the inscription. Other archaeologists who deny that David existed try to find a different reading for the text. My recommendation is that you read BAR only for the information on new discoveries and excavations in Israel, and do not worry about the specific interpretations — theological or otherwise.

I have read articles that state that a “miracle of special creation was involved when God became man.” The idea portrayed is that God created the body of Jesus instead of Jesus being the biological son of Mary. What is your opinion about this view?

What the covenants clearly point out is that the Messiah has to be a biological descendant of Adam, Abraham, Judah, and David. If God merely created a body for Jesus and simply put it into Mary’s womb, then she is not the biological mother of Jesus and therefore, there would be no direct biological connection to David, Judah, Abraham, and Adam. This goes against the whole Bible scheme.

The assumption behind the articles you have read is that if Jesus was generated from Mary’s egg, then He would inherit the sin nature of man. This presumes a lack in the power of God because it is not essentially true. In fact, Luke spells out exactly why Mary’s egg was generated but Jesus did not inherit Mary’s sin nature. This is found in Luke 1:35 where the angel says, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” What kept Yeshua from inheriting the sin nature of Mary was the overshadowing work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit generated Mary’s egg, protecting it from inheriting the sin nature and therefore what was born of Mary was holy.

Again, the requirement was that the Messiah be a direct descendant of Adam, Abraham, Judah, and David. If Mary was simply a surrogate mother and was not the biological mother of Jesus, then Jesus does not have a direct biological line to anyone before Him. No creation occurred in the womb, but the Holy Spirit took one of Mary’s eggs and generated it and produced the sinless God-Man.

Is it scripturally wrong for a married couple to purposefully prevent the conception of children? A lot of people have told me that “God slew Onan because he was not keeping the law, (providing children for his dead brother’s wife) not for simply “using birth-control.” If that is so, why did God not slay Shelah, Onan’s younger brother, for not marrying Tamar and begetting her children? Was the “wicked” thing Onan did (Gen. 38:9-10) using sex in a non-fruitful fashion?

No, it is not scripturally wrong for a married couple to choose not to have children, nor to limit the number of children they choose to have. The Bible does not prohibit one to prevent conception if one so chooses.

While God slaying Onan is sometimes used as an example, it is not a legitimate example. The reason God killed him is not because he used birth control. God killed Onan because of his motivation, which was his refusal to raise up a seed for his deceased brother. As for Shelah, the reason God did not kill him is because he was never actually married to Tamar, as Onan was, and therefore, he did not have a physical relation with Tamar. The sin did not lie with Shelah but it lay with Judah, who, as the patriarch, refused to give Shelah to Tamar. It is not an issue of Shelah’s refusal but Judah’s refusal to give Shelah to Tamar. Onan’s sin was not “using sex in a non-fruitful fashion” as such. His sin was in simply refusing to allow a child of his to be reckoned as the seed of his brother.

What is the significance of Christ’s birth in relation to the Feast of Tabernacles? I’ve heard that the timing of His birth can be calculated by using Zacharias’ term of service in the Temple (house of Abia, I Chron. 24), and Elisabeth being in her sixth month of pregnancy at the time Mary was chosen.

If we knew for certain exactly when the course of Abia functioned in the Temple, we could certainly determine very closely the exact time of year that Yeshua was born. Unfortunately, this source of information is in rabbinic writings which are contradictory. Because of the contradictions, we cannot be 100% sure which ones are right, or even if any of those rabbinic traditions are correct. For that reason, scholars who work with the sources must come to the conclusion that the date of the Lord’s birth is still indefinite.

Quite a few people in recent times, especially in the messianic movement, but also elsewhere, have desperately been trying to connect the birth of Yeshua with the Feast of Tabernacles and, therefore, will cite one source while ignoring the others, but that is not really fair to the material. I do not think anyone should dogmatize on this issue, because the available sources contradict each other.

I personally have deep doubts that Yeshua was born on the Feast of Tabernacles (or during Passover as some others try to argue) or on any other Jewish holiday. One thing I have noticed in the Gospels is the fact that if Yeshua said or did anything on a specific Jewish Holy Day, the writer always mentions it. It would seem to me that if Yeshua was born on any specific Jewish holiday, Matthew and Luke would have mentioned it, as these are the writers who deal with the birth of the Messiah. This would certainly be true of Matthew, who was writing to a Jewish audience; he would have found this significant enough to mention. But the total silence of both Matthew and Luke in connecting Yeshua’s birth with any Jewish Holy Day tells me that Yeshua was born on a normal day, therefore, the Gospel writers do not make mention of the date.

How does the Jewish phrase “born again” relate to Yeshua’s new usage?

To answer your question, the term “born again” actually had six meanings in Rabbinic Judaism:

1. Gentile converting to Judaism

2. Being crowned king

3. Bar mitzvah (Jewish confirmation at age 13)

4. Being married

5. Being ordained a rabbi

6. Becoming the head of a rabbinic academy

The six ways of being born again in Pharisaic Judaism all had physical connotations. What Jesus did was give it a spiritual connotation in reference to spiritual rebirth.

At what time were the 12 apostles born again? And how could a Gentile be saved before Messiah came?

During Messiah’s lifetime, whenever any person actually came to believe that Jesus was the Messianic King, then that person was born again. Before the crucifixion, one did not need to believe that Christ died and rose again to be saved, as it had not yet occurred. But one had to believe that Jesus is the Messianic King and the God-Man. At some point, 11 of the 12 apostles came to believe just that. John came to believe it very early (as early as chapter one of his gospel), and the others a bit later. By the time of Matthew 16, all but one of the 12 disciples had been born again, all having come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. However, Judas never came to that conclusion and, therefore, was never saved. The way a Gentile could be saved before Yeshua’s time was by putting his faith in the God of Israel as being the only God, and rejecting idolatry. It would not be necessary for a Gentile to convert to Judaism to be saved, but simply to put faith in the God of Israel as the only God and Savior while rejecting all idolatry and, then, living under the laws of the Noahic Covenant (Gen. 9:1-17).

Concerning the six stages of Israel’s relationship as the wife of Jehovah, and the church as the bride of Christ, I am confused if we are talking about one or two “wives” in the Millennium.

To answer your question, we are talking about two wives, Israel and the Church, though the metaphor is to be related to two different persons. Israel is related to God the Father, while the Church is related to Christ. This should not be looked upon as purely a bigamist relationship simply because there are three persons in the Godhead: Israel, as the wife of Jehovah, is related to the Father, whereas the Church is related to Christ. Incidentally, it is not unusual for God to picture Himself related to two wives at the same time. You will find Him using the multiple-wife motif for Himself in Ezekiel 23.

Why don’t the celebrations of Passover and Easter fall consistently on the calendar each year?

Around the fourth century, the Christian church chose to celebrate Easter beginning the first Sunday following the Spring Equinox. Jewish believers continue to follow the Jewish calendar from year to year. Sometimes Passover and Easter are at approximately the same time and sometimes they differ by a week or two. Every now and then they are separated by a month.

Just as the Christian calendar adds one day to February every four years, the Jewish calendar, with its months based upon the lunar system, adds one whole month every so many years to conform the lunar calendar to the solar calendar.

Please explain to me the difference in the Jewish and Gregorian calenders and why there is approximately 240 years difference between the two.

The Gregorian calendar was an attempt to begin the new date (A.D.) based upon the year that Jesus was born. In the end, the calculation was incorrect by a number of years due to missed historical facts. It is now known that Herod the Great died in the year 4 B.C. Since he was alive when Jesus was born, that already puts Christ’s birth earlier than the year 4 B.C. and not A.D. 1. Furthermore, we also know from Matthew two that Jesus was two years old at the time the wisemen and Herod met. If we put these things together, we can determine that Jesus was born between 7 and 6 B.C., which is why the Gregorian calendar is off by that many years.

The present Jewish calendar is based upon a calendar put together by rabbis in the second century A.D. and they, too, did not have all of the history and details necessary to be accurate. When the rabbis put their calendar together, they tried to go back to the time of creation in Genesis one. This was done over 4,000 years after that event and, here again, a lot of information was lacking when the rabbis tried to put this together. Taking the chronologies of the Bible literally, and taking what we know from post-biblical history where chronology is fairly well established, we know the Jewish calendar is short by about 250 years.

It is recognized by scholars and historians that both calendars are not 100% accurate but it is too late to do anything about this now.

Please explain the discrepancy between the Jewish (5756 presently) and Western (1995) calendars. Also, how did the term, “before the common era” (B.C.E.) originate?

To answer your question, the reason there is a difference between the Christian and Jewish calendars is because the Christian (or Gregorian) calendar tries to begin with the year of Christ’s birth, though they missed it by about six years. Based upon that premise, it is probably six years later than our calendar indicates.

The Jewish calendar is based upon rabbinic calculations from Creation and, so, the rabbis believe that Creation occurred 5756 years ago. Just as the Christian calendar is off by about six years, the Jewish calendar is off by about 250 years. It is really about the year 6000 since Adam was created. That is the reason for the difference in years and neither calendar is 100% accurate.

The references of B.C. (before Christ) and A.D. (the year of our Lord) are based upon the Christian dating system. This creates a problem for Jewish people who prefer not to use references to Christ, so they opt for

I had a question regarding Ariel’s views on Calvinism. Our Evangelical Free church is about to hire a pastoral candidate who refers to himself as a 4 1/2 point Calvinist. A friend of mine (a “five-pointer”) claims the TULIP of Calvinism is Scriptural, that Calvin just “codified them.” I’ve some knowledge of Calvinism and it seems to bother me. Maybe I’m making too much of it. Just wondering what insights you may have? Thank you and God’s richest blessings!

This is an excellent question and one that can be addressed through studying Ariel Ministries doctrinal statement. Calvinism is a theological system, and like any theological system, merely reflects an attempt to systematize and synthesize biblical data. You will find that Ariel Ministries’ doctrinal statement reflects to a large extent the conclusions commonly lumped together as “Calvinism”. Specifically:

1. Total depravity simply means that sin extends to all members of humanity and that we are, by nature, incapable to follow God without divine assistance. It does not mean that every person is as depraved or evil as he can be. This doctrine is reflected in “Man: Created and Fallen”.

2. Unconditional election means that our salvation is unconditionally grounded in God’s choice from eternity past and not on individual human merit. This is reflected in “Salvation — Section One — The Means of Salvation”.

3. Limited atonement has nothing to do with limitations in the power of the Messiah’s death but simply means that it was designed for some but not all of humanity (the idea being that if it was meant for all but not applied to all it reflects poorly on God’s omnipotence). This is a point that diverges from classic Calvinism in the doctrinal statement. See “Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus The Christ — Section Two — The First Advent”, were it states that He provided atonement for all men but applied only to those who believe. This is likely the half point that your candidate is stuck on.

4. Irresistible grace refers to the certainty of salvation for those whom God has called. In other words, the Holy Spirit invariably overcomes man’s natural resistance to God’s call for everyone who receives the call. This is reflected in “Salvation — Section One — The Means of Salvation”.

5. Perseverance/preservation of the saints refers to the eternal security of the believer and that nothing man can do trumps God’s call. This is reflected in “Salvation — Section Three — Eternal Security”.

So, you can see from the above that Ariel and Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum are, at minimum, 4 point Calvinists with perhaps a quarter to a half point extra regarding atonement. There is no question in my mind that these points best reflect the biblical data as revealed in the New Testament.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Answer contributed by Steven Charles Ger, Th.M., Director, Sojourner Ministries.

Why do Jewish men wear skull caps?

The skull caps worn by Jewish males represents humility. According to Judaism, when one is in God’s presence, he must keep his head covered. Since God is omnipresent, one is always in God’s presence and, for that reason, must always keep his head covered.

Who decided that the English Bible should have been divided into chapters and verses?

To answer your question, no one really made the decision to divide the Bible into chapters and verses, insofar as anyone in particular. This basically became a necessity as people began quoting from it and had to provide a specific source. Both among Jews and Christians, they began dividing the Bible into chapters and verses. By and large, they were divided mostly along the same lines. Now and then the Hebrew text disagrees with the verse and chapter divisions from the Christian Bible, but that is not very frequent.

I Timothy 2:15 seems to have an underlying meaning that, as part of the curse resulting from Eve, a woman can’t be saved unless she has children (I pray that I am wrong, because I have not married and have no children).

Many people assume that the word “saved” always refers to spiritual salvation. But that is not the only Jewish usage of the word. Besides spiritual salvation, it can also refer to physical salvation from death; it can also refer to other types of salvation, such as being saved from a bad conscience. In the context of I Timothy 2:15, Paul is talking about the subordinate role of women in the church resulting from the woman’s initiation of the fall. Though it would appear to be a demeaning position, it is, in fact, merely a subordinate role which, in and of itself, is no more demeaning than any other subordinate standing — whether it be in relation to our employer, civil leader, etc. However, because it may appear to be a demeaning or lesser position, Paul points out that a woman is actually saved from such degradation by her ability to bear children. And his point is that human existence itself is based upon the woman’s ability to conceive and give birth, thus nullifying any negative connotation that might be construed or implied by subordination. Furthermore, Paul cannot be teaching that a woman is saved spiritually by giving birth, because that would render salvation by works rather than grace through faith.

Do Jewish believers in Jesus have a special calling from God to maintain and proclaim their Jewishness as a distinct and separate entity from other believers? Do Jewish believers who worship at Gentile Christian churches pose a barrier to witness to their unsaved brethren?

I consider it very important, for the sake of maintaining a Jewish identity, to have worship services with a Jewish expression and to raise one’s children in a Jewish environment. However, while I think it is important, I do not see it as a biblical imperative or divine decree for all Jewish believers. I realize many Messianic Jews disagree, but they would be hard-pressed to prove it from Scripture, as it is really an issue of personal preference — certainly important to one’s Jewish identity but not a mandate from God. And, no, I do not think Jewish believers who worship at non-Jewish churches are a barrier to their unsaved brethren. The fact is that most Jews who come to faith in Messiah do so through the witness of Gentiles who are members of churches. When it comes to the issue of sharing the gospel, I see no difference whether a Jewish believer comes from a messianic congregation or from a church. It is yet to be proven that one holds any advantages over the other.

I am slightly confused over the issue of circumcision in the Abrahamic covenant. Genesis 17, verse 14 says: “And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.” I understand that circumcision is still in effect for male Jewish children under the Abrahamic covenant today. What I do not understand from the above verse is what constitutes being “cut off from his people”? Are those who are “cut off” beyond salvation (yet I know this would imply that salvation would be dependant upon a work of the flesh which is contrary to Scripture)?

The meaning of “to be cut off from his people” has the basic meaning of just physical death, either by execution or by divine providence. Thus Moses, who failed to circumcise his second son, was stricken with a plague on his way to Egypt and he was saved from physical death only when his wife circumcised that son (Exodus 4).

So no, it has nothing to do with an individual’s salvation since salvation is not based upon works, but it is based upon the issue of physical life of retaining it or not retaining it.

How is it that both Jerusalem (II Samuel 5:6-7) and Bethlehem (Luke 2:4) are called “the city of David”?

In the Old Testament, the term always refers to Jerusalem. The city was viewed as belonging to David by right of conquest. Since he conquered the city, it became “David’s city” or the “the city of David.”

In Luke 2:4, being written in a different language (Greek, not Hebrew), the term “the city of David” is not emphasizing ownership, but origin. David was born in Bethlehem, therefore, Bethlehem was known as “the city of David,” and that is the emphasis in this passage.

Roman Catholicism believes in the “real presence” (of Jesus) in the bread and the wine taken during communion, while Protestant denominations hold that the Lord’s Supper is merely symbolic of the third cup of the Passover celebration. Which is correct?

Your question concerns the meaning of the communion service and the concept of “real presence.” I have often emphasized that many of the doctrinal problems in the church were the result of ignoring the Jewish frame of reference. The Catholic theology of transubstantiation and the Lutheran theology of consubstantiation are excellent examples. Not understanding the nature of the Jewish Passover, and not understanding the terminology of the Jewish Passover, they have misunderstood some basic words. The whole theology of both transubstantiation and consubstantiation is based upon Jesus saying, “This is My body.” He never actually says, “This is My blood,” but, “This is the cup of the New Covenant in My blood.” This is a point that people often miss in these discussions. But based upon this phraseology, transubstantiation teaches that through the consecration by the priest, the bread actually turns into the real body of Christ and the wine actually turns into the real blood of Christ. Consubstantiation denies there is any change in the elements, but insists that the real body is present with the bread and the real blood is present with the wine. Nothing could be further from the truth and nothing shows a greater lack of understanding of the Jewish frame of reference than this. They totally misunderstand the use of Jewish metaphors. When Jesus said, “I am the door,” it did not mean He literally became a door; it was used metaphorically, meaning He is the way. When Jesus said, “I am the sheepfold,” he never literally became a sheep pen, which, if this view is consistent, they would have to believe. But in Jewish usage, this simply means “this represents that.” In other words, the bread represents His body and the third cup represents His blood. The key word in the whole Passover observance is the word “remembrance.” Throughout the Passover observance, there is one ritual after another, but with each ritual there is the teaching: “We do this to remember that” or “we do that to remember this.” With both the bread and the cup, the key word Jesus used is the word “remembrance” and we are simply told we are to do this to remember His body and to remember His blood, not that we are actually partaking of His real body or His real blood. These things must be understood with the framework of the Jewish Passover.

I find it hard to determine from the New Testament what applies to the Jews and what applies to the Gentile church. Can any verses from the Old Testament apply to the Church (e.g., II Chron. 20:17 or Jer. 24:7)?

Ultimately, the only way we can tell what applies to Israel and what applies to the Church is based upon context. A good rule of thumb is that those events which took place before Matthew 12 are primarily addressed to Israel and those teachings that come after Matthew 12 would be applicable to the wider body. This is not absolutely true but generally true in most cases.

Concerning the application of the Old Testament, what you have to determine from the context is whether what is said is limited to a specific people, time and place or is it a universal truth that is always true for everybody. Jeremiah 24:7 is specifically speaking of Israel’s national salvation in the future and does not have any direct application to believers today. In context, he is speaking about the prophetic future, when the whole nation of Israel will come to saving faith. In the case of II Chronicles 20:17, he is dealing with a historical event which was a promise limited to a nation for a specific battle. It cannot be applied to our war situation today. From both cases, the context determines the meaning and in the context of both, it is limited to the Jewish people: one is a historical case and one is a future case.

There are, however, many other teachings in the Old Testament which are general principles and are always true. That would include the Book of Proverbs and the Song of Solomon. Things here are not limited to one nation nor are they limited to the nation (Israel) based upon the Mosaic Law.

That is why you cannot simply relegate the Old Testament for the Jews of history and the New Testament for the Church today. In both testaments, there are things which are limited historically, limited to one people, but you will also find things that are universally true for all people.

Two principles are important to understanding Scripture: First, literal interpretation unless the text indicates otherwise and, secondly, context, context, context.

Concerning the present physical promises to Israel contained in the four unconditional covenants, how would we expect saved Jews (say, living in Israel) to experience them today?

They would experience the spiritual promises of the unconditional covenants, of course, in the same way as Gentile believers (the indwelling of the Spirit; removal of sin; etc.). In the physical realm, the fact that the Jewish believers in Israel are able to live in the Land would mean they are enjoying the physical benefits of the covenants as Jewish possession of the Land is based upon the covenants — even during the long period of only partial possession. Insofar as God may bless Israel materially, Jewish believers would, therefore, share in that material blessing, whatever it my be. Also in keeping with the Land Covenant, if God should render judgment upon the nation, Jewish believers would also share in that. On a broader scale, the fact that at least a quarter million Jewish believers died in the Holocaust makes it quite clear that whatever happens to Israel in the physical realm — both in blessing and cursing — Jewish believers partake of both just by virtue of being a member of the nation, Israel. Therefore, Jewish believers also suffer anti-Semitism.

I have heard the teaching that cremation is not biblical and that believers should have a burial rather than be cremated when they die. Is there any biblical command against cremation?

In the Mosaic Law cremation was not allowed, but Mosaic Law is not applied to New Testament saints and therefore cremation is a valid option for believers today. Given enough time the body will return to dust anyway and cremation simply speeds up the process but is not prohibited for believers. It is not an option I choose for myself since I am heat sensitive.

As a child, my family always used to have a second, smaller seder on the second night of Passover. When and why did this custom start?

The practice of a second seder developed as a result of the dispersion. The dating of the calendar was based upon the time zone that Israel was in. When the Jews were scattered throughout the world, it was not always clear exactly when the first night of Passover fell in conjunction with the time in Israel as over against the time elsewhere in the world. To make sure that the Jews observed the seder on the correct day, it became a tradition to observe it for two days straight, to make sure it fell on the right day. That is also true about the festivals. Most Jewish festivals are observed one day longer than they would be within the land of Israel.

How did the early Church, Jew and Gentile, celebrate the resurrection of Jesus? Did they continue in their week-long Passover, or abandon it like the Church of today?

The Jewish believers continued (as many still do today) observing the whole Passover week (Passover day plus seven days of Unleavened Bread). However, the Gentile churches largely celebrated only His death and resurrection and did so primarily at the time of Passover, though they limited it to a shorter period than did Jewish believers.

As far as modern practice is concerned, we are to observe and remember His death and His resurrection. When Jesus said, “do this in remembrance of Me,” He was speaking only of the bread and the cup, not the entire festival meal. [The Passover observance was mandatory under Mosaic Law, but the Mosaic Law was rendered inoperative as the rule of life when Messiah died.] Therefore, while believers today (Jew or Gentile) are certainly permitted to observe the whole Feast of Passover, they are only commanded to observe the bread and the cup.

I have often asked why the Tribe of Dan is omitted from Revelation 7:5-8. I can find no explanation in Scripture. Do you have any explanation? How do you handle it when people conjecture the reason (e.g., the Tribe of Dan has died out; the Tribe of Dan has committed some unpardonable sin against God, etc.)?

Concerning why the Tribe of Dan is left out, every reason people give will always be nothing but guesswork. The simple answer is that the Bible does not say why Dan has been left out. No specific sin (like idolatry) could be leveled against Dan that would not be true of the other tribes as well. Furthermore, it is impossible to say that Dan has disappeared because in Ezekiel 47:13-48:35, where he deals with the restored Israel in the Messianic Kingdom, he points out that the tribes will be resettled in tribal divisions, and that includes the Tribe of Dan (48:1-2). While people try to find all kinds of possible theological reasons why the Tribe of Dan is left out, again, it is all guesswork. Actually, the reason might be quite simple: to maintain the symmetry of twelve. If you have to make a list of all the tribes, you would end up with thirteen names and not twelve since the Tribe of Joseph was split into two distinct tribes: Ephraim and Manassah. If you had to maintain the figure twelve, you would have to leave one name out. Revelation seven left out the Tribe of Dan. This is not unusual. In Deuteronomy 33, Moses pronounces the blessings of the Twelve Tribes and he left out the Tribe of Simeon. Because a lot more people study Revelation than they do the Book of Deuteronomy, I have not found anybody wrestling with why the Tribe of Simeon is left out and no guesses are given. The fact is that the Tribe of Simeon was probably left out only to maintain the symmetry of the figure twelve. Deuteronomy left out Simeon and Revelation left out Dan, and there is no need to make any more of it.

Is it wrong to dance? I believe man has abused what we call dancing, with all the “suggestive movements.” Some say it’s wrong because of the places it takes you (to clubs and bars, etc).

Dancing would fall into the same category as music, songs, etc.: by itself, it is neither right or wrong since it is an amoral issue. As you noted, much of our modern dancing is sexually oriented and very suggestive, and it would certainly be wrong for any Christian to do that type of dancing. Even dancing when men and women put their bodies together would be wrong, except in the case of a husband and wife. However, there is also folk dancing where, even when it is mixed dancing, the only touching that takes place is the touching of hands, and that would be no different than when mixed groups touch hands during a prayer circle. In the Messianic Jewish context, there is frequently worship dance, and that kind of dancing is something that glorifies God rather than glorifies man. Again, as with music and songs, dancing itself is neutral, and the question has to be asked: What is the message of the dance? The answer to this question determines a believer’s participation.

It is often said that God the Father never left the Son. If this is so, why did Yeshua say, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”

We must remember that Messiah was the God-Man, meaning that He was only one Person but with two distinct natures: divine and human. As for His divine nature, there was never any separation between the Father and the Son, i.e., there was always an unending, uninterrupted fellowship with God the Father. However, as for His human nature, there was a three-hour separation as Yeshua died spiritually on the cross; and, so, in His humanity, He cried, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Yes, there was a separation between God the Father and Messiah on the cross. But it must be emphasized that this was a separation in His humanity, not in His deity.

In your last newsletter, you cited II Corinthians 12:7 as proof that God uses demons to teach believers spiritual lessons. But Jesus said that the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth, and II Timothy 3:16 says that Scripture is for instruction, reproof, etc. Isn’t saying that our Heavenly Father uses Satan’s messenger service tantamount to saying that a good American father would use the Mafia to teach his children?

While I certainly believe that God uses both the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures to teach believers, I still maintain that God will sometimes use other means for believers to learn spiritual lessons. The main difference would be that the teaching is done more on the basis of God’s permissive will than His directive will. Obviously, God permitted the messenger of Satan to cause a thorn in Paul’s flesh. Paul prayed three times for it to be removed, but God said “no” in order that Paul would learn that His grace was sufficient. There is no question that the learning of this lesson was based upon Paul receiving a negative answer to his request to have the thorn removed. This would not have been possible outside of God’s permissive will.

The same is true concerning Job. Certainly, it was Satan who caused Job’s afflictions. But, again, it would not have been possible if not for God’s permissive will. In the same way, regarding David, the Scriptures tell us that it was God who moved him to number the people, while elsewhere the Word says that it was Satan. Do we have a contradiction? Absolutely not, as the Bible is the inspired Word of God: It was Satan who directly caused David to number the people, and it was allowed by God’s permissive will. Both statements, then, are true, but one is directive and the other permissive. The recipients of Satan’s activities and God’s permissive will were to learn certain lessons. This they did and still do today, as God uses Satan and demons to teach believers.

What does the Bible teach about the eating of meat?

The Bible teaches that in the present age all meats are clean for eating purposes. From Adam until Noah, man was purely vegetarian. At the time of Noah (Genesis 9:3) all meats were allowed to be eaten and there were no limitations whatsoever. In fact, Noah was told that anything that moves could be eaten. That never changed for the Gentiles but, with Moses, the Jews were forbidden to eat certain types of meat. While the Mosaic Law was in force, certain meats were forbidden and others were permissible. However, with Messiah’s death the Law came to an end and the Bible teaches that all meats are now clean.

Could you give me a definition for dispensation? I have seen this written many places and heard people use it but it is never defined?

To answer your question, the basic meaning of “dispensation”, from the Greek word oikonomia has the basic meaning of “economy”, “stewardship”, and refers to a basic rule of life. The word itself does not carry the concept of a period of time such as the word “age” but obviously an economy or stewardship is exercised during a period of time.

Thus all theologies will speak of at least an Old Testament dispensation and a New Testament dispensation, recognizing there were at least two different rules of life in these periods of time and the coming of the Messiah obviously made some changes.

In dispensational theology most of us hold to seven dispensations which simply means that God had seven different rules of life based upon the covenants he revealed in most cases. It is not seven different ways of getting saved because salvation is always by grace through faith, but simply seven different rules of life in different periods of time.

The seven dispensations are as follows:

The Dispensation of Innocence — from the creation of man to the fall of man based upon the Edenic Covenant;

The Dispensation of Conscience — from Adam to Noah based upon the Adamic Covenant;

The Dispensation of Human Government — from Noah to Abraham based upon the Noahic

Covenant;

The Dispensation of Promise — from Abraham to Moses based upon the Abrahamic Covenant;

The Dispensation of Law — from Moses to the Messiah’s death based upon the Mosaic Covenant;

The Dispensation of Grace — from Messiah’s death until Messiah’s Second Coming based upon the New Covenant;

The Dispensation of the Kingdom — from the Second Coming until the creation of the new order based upon the Davidic Covenant and new revelation.

NOTE: For a more in-depth understanding of the dispensations see Messianic Bible Studies MBS-041 The Dispensations of God and MBS-021 The Eight Covenants of the Bible.

The Bible talks about believers being partakers of God’s divine nature. What does that entail?

As believers, we have eternal life and our soul is immortal. Our bodies will become immortal at the time of the resurrection. However, being immortal is not the same as being deity. For example, angels are immortal but they are not God. We shall partake of His divine nature in so far as being immortal and glorified, but we shall never have the attributes of deity such as omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience among others. On the contrary, those wanting to become like God or who claim to be God are reflecting the mind of Satan (Isaiah 12:12-14; II Thessalonians 2:3-8) in contrast to Jesus who always was God and was willing to take on the role of a servant (Philippians 2:5-9).

According to the Scriptures, is it not possible for a woman to divorce a man, even in the case of a husband’s adultery? And why is divorce apparently permitted only in cases of adultery (and desertion) but not in cases like chronic wife beating?

Concerning the right of women to divorce as well as men, Matthew only mentions the man divorcing the woman because he was writing to a Jewish audience; in the Jewish system — then and, even, still in Israel today — a man can divorce his wife, but a woman cannot divorce her husband. However, Mark, who was writing to the Romans who had no such limitation, does mention a woman divorcing her husband, as well as vice versa. Based on both of these gospel accounts, I believe that the same grounds for divorce or remarriage allowed for a man are also acceptable grounds for divorce or remarriage allowed for a woman. Such grounds were strictly limited (fornication and desertion on the part of the unbelieving spouse), because of the divine ideal of the permanency of marriage. Any and all other cases are simply not mentioned as acceptable grounds, and I cannot go beyond the biblical text.

In cases like wife beating, while I can never counsel divorce, I can and do strongly counsel separation, as a wife must not be put in physical danger by an abusive husband. The fact remains, as Malachi teaches, that God hates divorce; even the two grounds for divorce were by permission only, not by command. Certainly, the ideal remains forgiveness and reconciliation.

What is the difference between a milchig (milk) and a fleischig (meat) Bible study? What major subject areas would you classify as milk? As meat?

The milk doctrines would include those referred to in Hebrews 6:1-3, as well as all of the basic teachings on the principle of the spiritual life. I would say that understanding what one’s position is in the Messiah and what difference that should make in daily living would be among the milk doctrines; therefore, a new believer should be exposed to these things fairly early. Within the milk doctrines, I would also include an overview or overall study of the dispensations and the covenants, as these give the new believer a handle on the Bible as a whole. Once the believer has a good general grasp on these milk issues, he can then deal with the meat, i.e., the specifics of these particular doctrines (dispensations and covenants). One area of meat doctrine specifically labeled as such in Hebrews is the doctrine of Melchizedek and all that it entails. And in general, I would include as meat material those areas of Systematic Theology that go beneath the surface — such as the details of Eschatology, the nature of the God-Man, etc.

Is there any relationship between the pigeon and dove burnt offerings of Leviticus and the Holy Spirit dove symbolism of the Gospels?

The reason that doves and pigeons were selected is because they were quite numerous in the Land of Israel (similar to New York City in that regard) and, therefore, they were quite inexpensive. In fact, as Leviticus 5:7,11 states, only the poor who could not afford anything better were allowed to sacrifice these two kinds of birds. And Joseph and Mary were examples of this after Yeshua was born (Luke 2:22-24).

I would not try to connect these with the dove symbol of the Holy Spirit, as I do not believe this was God’s intent. The primary reason the Spirit appears as a dove in the New Testament is understood through the Jewish perspective: the rabbinic interpretation of Genesis 1:2 was that the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters “like a dove.”

With the Jewish mindset already associating the Holy Spirit with a dove, it was quite natural for God to use that motif in the revelation of the Holy Spirit. The spiritual Jewish thought of that day would immediately draw a connection between the Spirit descending upon the Son (as the Gospels describe) and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, as depicted in Isaiah 61:1-3.

Is the commandment given to the believers in Acts 15:29 Christ’s law? Does one have to refrain from blood and suffocated animals?

The rules of Acts 15:29 were not rules to be followed in every situation and for all time. The purpose of these rules were to keep peace between Jewish and Gentile believers who were members of the same church. If there is no difficulty that way, then these things are permitted. For example, one of these rules is not to eat meat sacrificed to idols. That was a rule given to the church at Antioch which had both Jewish and Gentile members. However, the Corinthian church had no Jewish members and so Paul tells them that it is permitted to eat things sacrificed to idols. Again, Acts 15:20 only applies to those situations where it might be a stumbling block, and if it is not a stumbling block, it is permitted.

What will Elijah’s ministry exactly consist of when he returns?

Concerning the ministry of Elijah, Elijah’s primary calling will be to restore the Jewish family unit so that Jesus no longer becomes a point of division. As a result of Israel’s rejection of the Messiah, Jesus said that He would become the point of division within the Jewish family, with mother against daughter, father against son (Matthew 10:35). Elijah’s purpose is to remove that stigma (Malachi 4:5-6) so Jesus would no longer be a point of division in the Jewish family unit and this will, in turn, prepare the way for Israel’s national salvation.

When promises, such as those in Genesis 17:7-8, are said to be everlasting, does that mean never-ending or ending with the millennium? It cannot mean they end and/or are fulfilled in Christ, can it?

This is an excellent question, and one about which people frequently become confused. Old Testament Hebrew lacks a word that can convey the concept of “eternity” or “everlasting” or “forever” in an absolute sense. The word in question, olam, simply means “an indeterminately long duration,” as determined by context as when used of the duration of a man’s lifetime (Exodus 14:13; 21:6; Leviticus 25:46; Deuteronomy 15:17) or that of ten generations (Deuteronomy 23:3). For example, the Mosaic legislation was not designed for eternity, but only for a fifteen hundred year preparatory period for Israel prior to the arrival of their Messiah (Galatians 3:19-25). Context is key. Where there is no obvious terminus point, such as a man’s lifetime or a clearly demarcated beginning of a new/fresh age, and where there is no specifically provided terminus point, such as the New Testament teaching of the Torah’s abrogation, it can be assumed that olam means everlasting.

A Lubavitcher asked me, “why does God make peace and create evil? Why does He do both these things?” This person insists that God created the devil as an angel and the devil has no power to do evil without God’s approval. Therefore, since God created evil (Isaiah 45:7), God is in control of all that we do as Jews.

There is a basic misunderstanding as to the usage of the Hebrew word ra. It is used in Classical Hebrew in two different senses. It could mean “evil” in the sense of sin, but it can also mean “evil” in the sense of calamity. That is the way it is used in reference to God. The Bible makes it clear that God is not the author of sin and James argues that in detail. God does not create sin, nor does He tempt anyone to commit an act of sin.

In so far as causing calamity, God certainly does cause calamity such as the Noahic flood and other physical judgments. That is the meaning of the text in reference to God.

It is, however, also true that Satan’s ability to do evil is within the permissive will of God. What Satan could or could not do to Job and his family and his property was based on what God permitted him to do

I find it hard to determine from the New Testament what applies to the Jews and what applies to the Gentile Church. And can any verses from the Old Testament apply to the Church?

Ultimately, the only way we can tell what applies to Israel, and what applies to the Church, is based upon context. A good rule of thumb is that those events which took place before Matthew 12 are primarily addressed to Israel, and those teachings that come after Matthew 12 would be applicable to the wider body. This is not absolutely true, but generally true in most cases.

Concerning the application of the Old Testament, we must determine from the context whether what is said is limited to a specific people, time and place, or is it a universal truth that is always true for everybody. Jeremiah 24:7 is specifically speaking of Israel’s national salvation in the future and does not have any direct application to believers today. In context, he is speaking about the prophetic future, when the whole nation of Israel will come to saving faith. In the case of II Chronicles 20:17, he is dealing with a historical event which was a promise limited to a nation (Israel) for a specific battle. It cannot be applied to our war situations today. From both cases, the context determines the meaning, and in the context of both, it is limited to the Jewish people: One is a historical case and one is a future case.

However, there are many other teachings in the Old Testament which are general principles that always hold true. This would include the Book of Proverbs and the Song of Solomon. Things here are not limited to one nation, nor are they limited to the nation based upon the Mosaic Law.

That is why you cannot simply relegate the Old Testament to the Jews of history and the New Testament to the Church today. In both Testaments, there are things which are limited historically, limited to one people, but you will also find things that are universally true for all people.

Two principles are important in understanding Scripture: first, literal interpretation unless the text indicates otherwise; and, second, context, context, context.

In Ezekiel 18:24, is die physical or spiritual death? What does Ezekiel 18:24 mean in light of Matthew 10:42 and Mark 9:41? The KJV uses the word mentioned and the NASV uses the word remembered in Ezekiel 18:24. If the word is mentioned it still could be remembered but not mentioned. I know also that we are under Grace and not the Law, but this does not sound like it is the law?

I think you are trying to interpret Ezekiel 18:24 by Matthew 10:42 and Mark 9:41, but each should be interpreted in its own context.

The correct meaning for Ezekiel 18:24 is “remembered” and he is dealing with the issue of the Jew living under the Mosaic Law. The point is that no matter how well he kept the Law all of his life, if he breaks a command that carries the death penalty, all of his previous good actions will not be remembered in the sense that it could not keep him from being executed. He will be executed for the sin he committed in spite of how well he previously kept the Law.

The Matthew and Mark passage is dealing with what is true under grace and whatever good things one does on behalf of people in the ministry to help them minister better, these things will be rewarded at the judgment seat of Christ.

So again, these are two different contexts that must be interpreted by virtue of those contexts. Thus they do not contradict each other

What do you say to someone who says to you, “it says in the Torah that you cannot see God face-to-face and live, and so, if Jesus was God, how could you see him face-to-face and live?”

The statement about seeing God face-to-face has to do with God as He really is in the fullness of His glory. It does not rule out seeing God in one of His visible manifestations. In fact, people in the Bible did see God in His visible manifestations and survived. This was true with Hagar, for example, in Genesis 13:13. If you look at Genesis 32:30, you will notice what Jacob says: For I have seen God, face to face, and my life is preserved. Indeed, Jacob saw God face-to-face, but only in a visible manifestation of an angel and not God as he really is; otherwise, Jacob would be dead. In Isaiah 6:1, Isaiah claims to have seen God on His throne, as does Ezekiel in his vision. In the case of Jesus the Messiah, this is when God became Man, so in the form of man, one could look upon Him and not die as Jacob could look upon God in the form of an angel and not die.

A recently published book is promoting the story (more like a fairy tale) that Jesus in the hidden years went to India and Tibet, that there is a statue of Him in India, not to mention, His tomb! Can you help me speak against this?

The New Age theory that Yeshua spent years in India simply has no truth to it. Generally, such theorists themselves are responsible for the burden of proof. The New Testament does not mention any such event, and, furthermore, none of the early writings of the Church fathers mention it either. Not even the spurious life of Christ accounts from various heretical groups of the first several centuries mention any such thing. In other words, this is a 20th century theory. When people make such a claim, they need to produce the historical documentation for such a claim. Of course, in this case, one does not exist.

Therefore, it is not something we need to disprove. The Bible does not need to say that Jesus never went to India. The Bible does not say that He did not go to the United States; still, it is obvious that He never did, and the mere thought was not even an issue until relatively recently when the Mormons introduced the notion that Messiah came to the Americas after His resurrection. With everything we have and know historically of Yeshua, He never travelled outside the immediate area of the Land of Israel and its surrounding territories of Lebanon, Egypt and Transjordan. When people claim otherwise, ask them one simple question: Where is the historical documentation? While there is a book out today (The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus) pushing this false theory, it is a 20th century document, not an ancient one, and as such has no more validity than does the Book of Mormon.

Isaiah 34:4 speaks of the stars falling “as the leaf falleth”. Would it be correct to interpret that the stars will literally fall since the leaves are figurative?

Yes, I think it would be correct to interpret that the stars will literally fall because the leaves are figurative in this passage as we can see from the word “as”. However, when we interpret the word “stars” literally, it must be interpreted in terms of the way the word was used in the original and not in our modern English sense. In modern English we would distinguish stars from meteorites, comets and other heavenly objects. However, both in the Hebrew and Greek of the biblical times, the word “star” was used for all heavenly bodies and not just stars as we think of them in English. Therefore, what Isaiah 34:4 is describing would not necessarily be stars the way we know them in English, a difficulty in light of the fact that even if one star, like our sun, falls upon the earth, the earth is already totally obliterated. But Isaiah 34:4 more likely has a reference to a destructive meteor shower causing tremendous damage on the earth as part of God’s divine judgment.

In John 8:7, the incident about the woman taken in adultery, Yeshua disarms the woman’s accusers with the statement, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Why would this statement generate the response that it did?

The point of the statement was based upon Deuteronomy 19:15-21 where a contrast is developed between a true and faithful witness as compared to a false witness. The rabbis deduced from this passage that in order for one to truly be a faithful witness, he, himself, could not be guilty of the same sin to which the accused is accused of. Based upon the principle found in verse 21, “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,” and due to the fact that the subject and object are the same (life-life, eye-eye, tooth-tooth, hand-hand, foot-foot) the rabbinic deduction was that the false witness, himself, was guilty of the sin that he was accusing someone else of.

In the John 8:7 incident, Yeshua’s comment was based on two things: First, what is the nature of a “true and faithful witness.” If he, himself, is guilty of adultery, and he accuses someone else of adultery, can he truly be said to be a “true and faithful witness?” Second, it was derived from the principle of verse 21 where the punishment that would have been afflicted on the accused is afflicted on the false witness. If the false witness is only guilty of bearing false witness, then he is only guilty of lying which, by itself, did not carry the death penalty under the Mosaic Law. The fact is that the false witness himself is to be put to death if the original accusation mandated the death penalty; therefore, it was derived that he, too, must be guilty of the same sin. Whether or not their exegesis of Deuteronomy is correct, that would have been the mind set of the rabbis who brought the adulterous woman to Yeshua and, therefore, the implication from their frame of reference was quite clear. If they were accusing her of adultery, then they were accusing themselves of adultery as well. As a result, their accusation is bankrupt and they have no choice but to abandon the attempt to entrap Yeshua.

What is the process of searching for a good church home?

Ideally, I would seek to find the following: first, the church should hold to the inerrancy of Scripture; second, what is the church’s view on Israel and the kingdom? The church should recognize the distinction between Israel and the Church, i.e., that God’s promises to Israel have not been “transferred” to the Church and will be fulfilled literally; third, I would want to make certain that the messages from the leadership contain expository teaching of the Scriptures — through book or topical studies — and that the Word of God is not used merely as a jumping-off point to say what they want to say, i.e., personal agendas not based upon the meaning of the Scriptures. If, however, you cannot find a church that understands God’s role for Israel but does meet the other criteria, you should consider joining this one as total abstention is not the biblical ideal either.

Why is it that in the context of Romans 2:9-10 — to the Jew first — both good and bad things are included?

As to why both good and bad come to the Jew first, it is because Israel is in a covenant relationship with God. And it is the only nation which is a covenant nation. Hence, when God gives forth blessings, they go to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Likewise, when God gives forth curses, these also go to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s book, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology thoroughly examines this issue.

If you were a rabbi in Judea in the 1st century B.C. and I asked you how I might obtain eternal life, what scripture would you show me? In other words, what was the difference between a “believing” Jew attempting to follow Mosaic Law and a “non-believing” Jew attempting to follow Mosaic law and what was the Old Testament scripture which differentiated the two?

The difference between a believing Jew and an unbelieving Jew (assuming we are not dealing with idolatry which, in the first century B.C., was no longer a Jewish problem) would be recognizing the actual purpose of the Mosaic Law. The true believing Jew would put his faith in the God of Israel and trust the God of Israel for his salvation in the same way Abraham did in Genesis 15:6 where we are told that Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him for righteousness. After the believing Jew put his faith in the God of Israel and trusts Him alone for his salvation, he would then see the Law as being a rule of life for one who is already saved, rather than a means of salvation. The unbelieving Jew, however, would view the Law as a means of salvation and would, therefore, put his trust in his own works. That is why Paul spent so much time in Romans distinguishing between salvation by works of the Law and salvation by grace through faith. The unbelieving Jew has put his faith in his own works earning salvation, whereas a true believer would recognize that he can do nothing to commend himself before God and, therefore, realizing God’s mercy.

Wasn’t capital punishment prohibited when the Jewish leaders stoned Stephen at the time of Messiah?

The stoning of Stephen took place at an “opportune” time, when a Roman procurator had passed away, and the new procurator had not yet arrived on the scene. With no procurator to control matters, the Sanhedrin — through a mob scene — were able to carry out Stephen’s execution, though it was quite illegal.

What did James/Yaacov mean when he wrote in his epistle that we should be a “kind of first-fruits of his creatures?”

To understand what James/Yaacov meant by “a kind of first-fruits of his creatures”, we need to understand the holy day of Shavuot. The Feast of Shavout, or Weeks, is the fourth holy season in the Jewish calendar. Among most Gentile believers today, this same festival is known as the Feast of Pentecost.

It is called the Feast of Weeks because it took place seven weeks plus one day after the Feast of First- fruits. Its New Testament Greek name is the “Day of Pentecost” (Acts 2:1, 20:16; I Corinthians 16:8). Pentecost comes from the Greek word meaning “fifty.” Because this feast came fifty days after the Feast of Passover, it became known as the Feast of Pentecost. It was on this occasion that the Church was born.

And when the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all together in one place. (Acts 2:1)

According to this verse, the occasion was the day of Pentecost. When it states: the day, with a definite article, it shows that the Feast of Pentecost was now to be fulfilled by the events occurring in this particular chapter. The Greek word translated was now come means “in the being fulfilled completely.” The point Luke is trying to make in using this particular term is to show that the Feast of Pentecost is about to be fulfilled by these events. If this was observed on a Sunday in keeping with the Mosaic Law, then this day was also a Sunday and the Church was born on a Sunday.

…and the feast of harvest, the first-fruits of thy labors, which thou sowest in the field: and the feast of ingathering, at the end of the year, when thou gatherest in thy labors out of the field. (Exodus 23:16)

The Feast of Pentecost was one of the three pilgrimage festivals that every Jewish male had to travel to Jerusalem to observe. It is to be the feast of harvest, an agricultural observance marking the harvest of the spring season. Furthermore, it was to be an observance of the first-fruits of [their] labors in the field; this was the time of the first-fruits of the summer harvest. Deuteronomy 16:11 points out that this was to be a time of rejoicing for the entire family and the servants; everyone was to rejoice before God.

In the Old Testament, two loaves of bread were to be offered on a single sheet and waved before the Lord. The Feast of Pentecost was fulfilled by the birthday of the Church, which is composed of both Jewish and Gentile believers united into one Body. One loaf represents the Jews, one loaf represents the Gentiles, and the single sheet represents the fact that Jewish and Gentile believers are united into one Body. This is brought out clearly by Paul in Ephesians 2:11-16.

Another thing learned from the Old Testament observance of this feast is that these loaves were to be leavened (Leviticus 23:17). Leaven, when used symbolically in Scripture, is a symbol of sin. It is Jewish and Gentile sinners who are saved by grace through faith and are brought into this one Body, the Church.

Furthermore, these loaves were to be made of wheat. Wheat and harvest are common symbols of evangelism and salvation in the Gospels. In Matthew 3:11-12, the concepts of wheat and harvest are also connected with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which began on the Feast of Pentecost, thereby bringing the Church into existence.

The first-fruits concept in the Old Testament observance of the Feast of Pentecost was the first-fruits of the wheat and barley harvest. The first-fruits concept is fulfilled by the first believers who were Jewish believers. Acts 2:41-42 states:

They then that received his word were baptized: and there were added unto them in that day about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers.

The first several thousands of believers were Jewish since Gentile believers do not come into the picture until Acts 10. In a very special way, these Jewish believers were the first-fruits fulfillment of the Feast of Pentecost.

This is brought out again in James 1:18. According to verse 1 of this chapter, James/Yaacov wrote his epistle specifically to Jewish believers: to the twelve tribes which are of the Dispersion. He was not writing to the Church in general, but to Jewish believers in particular. This makes sense since he was the head of the Jerusalem Church. Then James stated in verse 18:

Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.

These Jewish believers are a kind of first-fruits of his creatures. So the first-fruits aspect of the Feast of Pentecost was fulfilled by the Jewish believers who were the first believers of this new entity born on this occasion: the Church.

Were sacrifices still offered in the 48 levitical cities on the local altars even after Solomon’s temple was completed, so folks could offer a sacrifice more than three times a year when they went to Jerusalem for annual feasts? I understand no other sacrifices were to be offered in Jerusalem after the First Temple’s completion, and God no longer allowed the high places to be used for sacrifices to Him after that, but I can’t find anywhere if those living far away from Jerusalem simply could no longer sacrifice except three times per year. I know orthodox Jews don’t sacrifice still to this day because they have no Temple in Jerusalem.

To answer your question, no, it was not permitted to offer sacrifices outside of the Temple once the Temple was erected in Jerusalem and that is where people had to go. What we do know is many Jewish people disobeyed that rule because they did not want to make the journey and so sacrificed at what the Bible calls “the high places”. These were smaller versions of the Temple and had a Holy of Holies and Holy Place and so on, and one such high place has been discovered in the City of Arad in the Negev, but there were several of these throughout the country. While many Jewish people chose to bring the sacrifice there because of convenience, these were not acceptable with God.

Because the sacrifices were offered to the true God but in the wrong place, is one reason why the many good Kings of Israel would not do away with them as they did away with idolatry. Only exceptionally good kings actually did away with the high places as well.

The 48 Levitical cities were simply places for the Levites to live in since they received no land possession for themselves as a tribe. So those who were willing to obey the Lord had to bring the sacrifices to the Temple in Jerusalem and this was normally done three times a year during the three pilgrimage festivals.

As far as individual sacrifices were concerned, these were performed as necessary but the three annual festivals had to be observed only in Jerusalem. They were not allowed to sacrifice in the Levitical cities per se but only where the Temple stood.

Is there any Jewish evidence of the fish being used as an identifying symbol among believers? How does one address the verse in Deuteronomy, you shall make no image of a fish?

Yes, the early church writings show that early believers used a symbol of a fish as an identifying mark. The Greek was Ichthus, and it stood for an acronym meaning, in Greek, “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” The prohibition in Deuteronomy against making images of anything, whether it is a fish or otherwise, was not against making images, per se. Within the Mosaic Law itself, you have God commanding the Jews to make images. For example, for the Tabernacle, they were commanded by God to make two images of cherubs overshadowing the Mercy Seat. Moses was also told to make a brazen image of a serpent and put it on a pole. What this shows is that God did not negate the making of images, but only forbade the making of images for the purpose of bowing down to them. The early believers did not worship the fish symbol, they just used it a sign to identify fellow believers so that did not violate any commandment.

I have received various emails that purport to answer the question “Why did Jesus fold the napkin?” referring to the linen burial cloth after His resurrection (John 20:7). The “answer” is a Hebrew tradition regarding a Master and Servant including some variation of the following: “… Now if the master was done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers and mouth with that napkin and toss it on to the table. The servant would then know to clear the table. For in those days, the wadded napkin meant, ‘I’m done.’ But if the master got up from the table, and folded his napkin, and laid it beside his plate, the servant knew that the folded napkin meant, ‘I’m not finished yet.’ The folded napkin meant, ‘I’m coming back!’” Is there any truth to this supposed tradition?

To answer your question bluntly, there has never been such a tradition I know of where folding the napkin neatly meant that the person that did so was coming back. This is one of many so called “Jewish Roots” that has no reality in history or in any Jewish writings I have read or have known of. It would be great if some of these people would simply list their source material but when they teach these things they never seem to be able to provide the source they got it from and usually they are repeating what they heard someone else saying.

Furthermore, the outer grave clothes were “not just thrown aside” because the Bible clearly says that the grave clothes were still rolled up showing that the resurrection occurred right through the grave clothes and therefore there is not need to be unwrapped in the same way as the grave clothes of Lazarus had to be unwrapped. Both the grave clothes and the napkin were quite neat but had nothing to do with any issue of Him coming back.

He will indeed someday come back but it has nothing to do with the folded napkin.

I recently finished listening to your teachings on the Eight Covenants. I didn’t hear anything about the Aaronic Priesthood that in Exodus 29:8-10 says is forever. Can you please explain where this fits into the covenants? Do you think the Aaronic Priesthood will be re-established in the millennial kingdom?

A very important point to remember that is often overlooked or misunderstood is that the Hebrew word olam (which is often translated perpetual) does not mean eternal and unending. Olam has the idea of being perpetual throughout a particular age and with an expectation that when the age ends, the event also ends. For example, the slave who pierces his ear with an awl is a slave “olam”, in perpetuity, but obviously he does not continue to be a slave following the duration of his life span. The Aaronic priesthood, likewise, is established in perpetuity throughout the duration of its life span.

The book of Hebrews could not be clearer in explaining that the entirety of the Mosaic Covenant, including and especially the Aaronic priesthood has been brought to a close with the inauguration of the new and superior New Covenant, which was designed to replace it. With the establishment of the Melchizedekian priesthood, the Aaronic priesthood becomes redundant, unnecessary and is shown to be archaic.

I have been studying John 15. Are the fruits we are to bear those in Galatians 5:22-23? And am I right to think that we should not ask for this fruit, because as believers we already have them?

Yes, you are correct that the fruit of John 15 are the fruit of the spirit of Galatians 5:22-23. But I do not think it would be correct to say that we already have this fruit, but rather we are to abide in Christ to be able to produce this fruit. We do not need to “ask for this fruit,” but we should be developing it as we grow spiritually.

In other words, when we believe, we have been given the Holy Spirit to indwell us. But now we must make a commitment to make Christ the Lord of our lives (Romans 12:1-2), and then live a life in submission to the Spirit. When we do so, we will then begin producing the fruit of the spirit.

It does not come automatically with salvation. What comes automatically is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. After that, we must live a life of both ongoing submission and study of the Word, as well as applying the Word, and, then, the fruit of the spirit will be produced in our lives.

I have heard a teaching on the Devil’s Algebra speaking of the mathematics of the Word and it mentions gematria. I have looked in the encyclopedias but cannot find an explanation. Could you please explain this?

To answer your question, the word gematria, is a term referring to the numerical value of the Hebrew alphabet which in turn means that every Hebrew word and every name in Hebrew characters has a numerical value.

In Ancient Classical Hebrew there was no separate system for letters and numbers, so every letter was also a number. There are 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet and the first ten go in sequences of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. It then skips in sequences of 10 to 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, and 100. Finally it skips by 100’s to 200, 300, and 400.

Since every Hebrew letter is also a number, it means every Hebrew word and every name in Hebrew characters equals a numerical value. That is the point of Revelation 13:16-18 that teaches the numerical value of the Antichrist’s name in Hebrew characters will equal 666.

Now there is a right way and a wrong way to practice gematria. The right way is to recognize that certain numbers have Hebrew symbolic meaning, such numbers for example as 4, 7, 12, etc. However, the wrong way to practice gematria is to try to find a special meaning to every single number. Assigning imaginary meanings to numbers and playing guessing games goes well beyond biblical gematria, and this is never a way to handle Scripture.

I am studying your “Life of Messiah from a Jewish Perspective” and I also purchased your “Jesus’s Right to David’s throne”. Your teachings are excellent. Thank you. I have 3 questions: 1. How can Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel be in both Matthews and Luke’s genealogy? An obvious answer is that only the names are the same but it seems unlikely to have two Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel to me. From your study I conclude the Zerubbabel in Mary’s line cannot be the same as in Joseph’s or the Jeconiah curse would apply. Please help me answer this question. I have to teach on this. 2. Have you pondered Haggai 2:23 juxtaposed to Jeremiah 22:24? Its interesting that the “signet ring” seems to be transferred from Jeconiah (royal Davidic line) to Zerubbabel. I am curious on your thoughts on this also. 3. It also seems that the inheritance rules of the Daughters of Zelophehad: Numbers: 26:33, 27:1-11; 36:1-13 apply here. Mary did indeed marry within the tribe and Heli must have had no sons. Is this true?

I will go ahead and answer your questions in the same order they were asked.

1. My own conclusion is that the Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel in the Matthew account cannot be the same as in the Luke account because all of the names listed previously and what follows are quite different. It would not be all that unusual to have father and son names being the same without the persons being the same. Another example of this is in Matthew 1:16 that says “Jacob begat Joseph”, but obviously it is not the Jacob and Joseph of the Book of Genesis. So again, I would say these are two different people or sets of people that probably come from the same time zone since the name “Zerubbabel” means “the seed of Babylon”. So it is obvious that both Zerubbabels were born in Babylon during the 70 years of captivity and the name was to commemorate the exile. So two Shealtiels having sons both named Zerubbabel would not be uncommon for that period of time, but the previous and following names would indicate they were not the same people.

2. It is possible that the signet ring of Jeremiah 22:24 has been transferred to Zerubbabel in Haggai 2:23. The reason (I do not take the view per se) is that Jeremiah 22:24 does not say that Jeconiah was the signet ring but only that even if he happened to be the signet ring, God would still cast him away. Haggai 2:23 does not say Zerubbabel would be a signet ring only that he will be “as” a signet ring. So because he is using the signet ring symbolically in both passages, I am not sure we can conclude an exact transfer from Jeconiah to Zerubbabel. However, it is still a possibility, so if someone else teaches that then that is something I would not object to.

3. I think this is concluding a bit too much from the evidence that we have. I do not think the passage is really dealing with the inheritance that a daughter would have if the father had no sons. Here we are not dealing with the rules of inheritance, but are dealing with the rules of succession. Ultimately, the son of Miriam (Mary) was chosen to be the Davidic king, because on one hand he was of the line of David apart from Jeconiah, and secondly, he had divine appointment. But I do not think the inheritance rule of Zelophehad would be applicable in this case.

I have a question about Mark 13:30 and also Matthew 24:34. Is there a different meaning for generation than what we commonly believe? Could it be more of a group of people or race? The footnote in my Bible says “or race”. Could you clear this up for me, some people seem to think this is proof of unfulfilled prophesy. How do you answer that?

I am going to answer your question briefly. It is true that the Greek word can mean “race”, and if that is the meaning of the passage it is simply teaching that the Jewish race cannot disappear and will still be here at the time of the Second Coming.

However, the majority of times the term is used it has the same meaning as in the English, as the basic meaning of “contemporaries”. Thus when I talk about my generation as over against my father’s generation I do not necessarily mean that there was forty years between us (there was actually twenty-two years between us), but the point I am making is a contrast between his contemporaries and my contemporaries. That is the most likely meaning of this passage in the Olivet Discourse.

So in that context what it means is that the same Jewish generation that sees the Abomination of Desolation (Matthew 24:15), and also sees the inauguration of the last attempt to annihilate the Jews once and for all, is still going to be here when Jesus returns, literally three and one-half years after that event. What that then shows is that the Satanic goal in the second half of the Tribulation, that of Jewish annihilation, is doomed to failure.

The generation he is dealing with in the passage is the Jewish generation living in the Tribulation, and sees the Abomination of Desolation, an event that will occur at the half-way point of the Tribulation. From Daniel’s prophecies they could then see that from the Abomination to the Second Coming will be three and one half years. The point of that verse is to give a word of comfort that Satan will not succeed in Jewish annihilation, which is what he will try to do in the second-half of the Tribulation, which in turn is inaugurated by the act of the Abomination of Desolation.

NOTE: For more details on this issue see our Messianic Bible Study MBS-028 entitled The Olivet Discourse, and also it is dealt with in the appendix of The Footsteps Of The Messiah: A Study Of The Sequence Of Prophetic Events.

What are your views on the practice of putting out a fleece (Judges 6:37-40)?

I believe people misuse Gideon’s “putting out the fleece” as a way of determining the will of God. The Bible actually discourages trying to find signs from God, like putting out the fleece. Furthermore, Gideon did not put out the fleece to determine what God’s will was. He already knew what God wanted him to do because he was plainly told. In fact, he was putting out the fleece hoping not to have to fulfill God’s will. Putting out the fleece is actually a sign of spiritual weakness and not spiritual strength. Someone who lives according to biblical principles and by the indwelling Holy Spirit will be able to determine God’s will without such unbiblical practices.

I have a question concerning the name of God. According to the teaching I have received, the name of God consists of four letters in Hebrew. These four letters are sometimes read “Yahweh” and sometimes “Jehovah.” My question is: Which pronunciation is correct? Or are they both correct? If both are correct, then what is the difference between them? Why is it always read Jehovah Jireh? Why not Yahweh Jireh?

To answer your question, it is usually just the differences in languages more than anything else and that is true in more than just the name of God.

In Hebrew, God’s name comprises four Hebrew letters that correspond to the English letters as YHVH and the exact pronunciation of that has been lost, but the most educated guess is it is pronounced as Yahweh. Keep in mind that in Hebrew there is no “J” sound so that letter never appears in the Hebrew text. So in Hebrew the phrase would not be Jehovah Jireh but it would be YHVH Yireh.

God produced the New Testament in Greek rather than Hebrew and therefore, certain adjustments had to be made because Greek does not have a “Y” sound nor does it have a “SH” sound. So in place of saying YHVH he uses the Greek word kurios, which means “Lord” and can be used either of God or of man.

Let me go to another example. In Hebrew, the name of the Messiah is Yeshua. As you move from Hebrew to Greek, the Hebrew “Y” became the Greek “I” and the Hebrew “SH” sound became the Greek “S” sound. Thus in Greek Yeshua became Ieisous. But as you move from Greek to Latin and then Latin to English the Hebrew “Y” sound and the Greek “I” sound became “J” and hence you have the name Jesus which is a bit closer to the Greek rendering than the Hebrew rendering.

The same applies to how you pronounce the capital city of Israel. In Hebrew it is pronounced as Yerushalayim. In Greek it is pronounced as Ierousalem. Then again, as you go from Latin to English it becomes Jerusalem.

Many other examples could be given, so the issue boils down to how certain things are pronounced in Hebrew as over and against Greek as over and against Latin, as over and against English.

What this shows is that in the final analysis, God is not concerned as to how to pronounce a specific word or name but that you understand the meaning of that word and name and apply it accordingly.

Please clarify the three words designating God’s wills.

God’s decretive will is that which God has willed to come to pass through either His decrees, or His sovereignty, and His predestination. In this case, whatever He has decreed to come to pass will definitely come to pass; nothing can keep it from coming to pass. His efficacious will is perhaps only a facet of His decretive will; but it emphasizes the fact that God will effect or cause those things He wills to come to pass. In both the decretive and efficacious wills, God is directly responsible for causing His will to come to pass. As to God’s permissive will, this is something God allows to come to pass, even though it may be contrary to His moral will. The entrance of sin falls into the realm of God’s permissive will. This would be something He permits to happen but did not effectively or efficaciously cause to happen; therefore, He is not directly responsible.

How does a believer determine what God’s will is when making decisions?

We already know God’s moral will: it is whatever God has commanded us to do. In those areas about which God has spoken in Scripture, we do not have to pray to see if we should do it or not. God’s moral will is fully revealed in the Bible. The believer’s responsibility is obedience (I Corinthians 7:19).

In areas where the Bible gives no command or principle, areas that are non-moral or neutral, the believer is free and responsible to choose his own course of action. Any way you decide is fine with God. Any decision made within the moral will of God is acceptable to God. Where God has spoken, we obey; where God has not spoken, we are responsible to make that choice. In non-moral decisions, the goal of the believer is to make wise decisions on the basis of spiritual expedience; that is, on the basis of wisdom.

In all decisions, the believer should humbly submit in advance to the outworking of God’s sovereign will as it touches that decision. God’s sovereign will is His secret plan that determines everything that happens in the universe. When making a decision, three things should be considered. First, God’s sovereign will does not exclude planning. It requires humble submission, but does not exclude planning (James 4:13-16). Second, circumstances define the context of the decision, but circumstances must be weighed by wisdom and not read as road signs to God’s individual will (Philemon 15-16). Third, so-called “open doors” are God-given opportunities for service, but this does not mean they are specific guidance from God requiring you to enter. Open doors are opportunities, but you can make the decision to enter one way or the other. This is brought out by I Corinthians 16:8- 9; and Colossians 4:3, which emphasize the availability of service. In II Corinthians 2:12-13, we read how Paul had an open door, but he chose to walk away from it. Open doors do not mean you have to enter them.

Is there any relevance in the folded grave clothes of Yeshua?

The significance of the grave clothes of Jesus (Yeshua) still being rolled up is to show that the resurrection took place through the grave clothes. Therefore, there was no need to unwrap Jesus as there was in the case of Lazarus. The point of the gospels is that the strips were wrapped around the body and, after Yeshua’s resurrection they were still rolled up as if they were still around the body, but the body was no longer there. Consequently, the resurrection itself took place right through the grave clothes.

I have a quick question for you regarding Greek grammar. I have read that when an aorist verb tense is used in the indicative mood, it should be rendered as past tense in English. Is this always true? Specifically, I am thinking of Hebrews 10:5, where Christ says “a body hast thou prepared me.” Most major translations render “prepares” in the past tense. Is this a “slam dunk,” or could someone possibly argue that the verb could be future tense?

Yes, it is normally true that the aorist verb used in the indicative mood is rendered in a past tense in English focusing on action that was completed. However, it is not an absolute rule that always applies, only a general rule that would be valid in most cases.

As for Hebrews 10:5, the context fits better the past tense and not something that would be future. An aorist verb might refer to something present rather than something past, but it would be extremely rare for it to refer to something future and it would be only if the past or present does not make any sense.

So it should be kept in mind that if it is a quotation of the Old Testament which has different grammatical rules and the Classical Hebrew only had two tenses: perfect and imperfect. The former generally views the action complete and therefore translated as past in most cases. The latter emphasizes action is incomplete and therefore in most cases translated as future. The participles are usually translated as present tenses in English. The Hebrew would view this as a prophetic perfect, completed action yet in future time and then viewed as fulfilled in the Hebrews passage.

Can you help me understand the difference(s) between the terms “Jew” and “Hebrew”?

The term “Jew” comes from the word “Judah” and in Hebrew is actually the same word. Only in English does there seem to be a distinction. The term “Hebrew” originated with Eber (great-grandson of Shem, who was the son of Noah), and through most of biblical history the term was used only when Jews identified themselves to Gentiles, as did Jonah (1:9), for example. By New Testament times, the terms “Hebrew,” “Israelite,” and “Jew” had become synonymous.

Do you know of any written references to a form of writing known as Noahic Script?

I am afraid I have never heard of “Noahic Script” and I have no idea what that would mean. The Bible teaches that Hebrew was the original language and even before Jewish history begins with Genesis 12, all names are Hebraic names and all word plays are Hebrew word plays. Noah’s language would have been Hebrew and he would have written in Hebrew.

There is a difference between ancient Hebrew script and what is now referred to as modem Hebrew script because what is not called Hebrew is actually Aramaic script. Biblical Hebrew script was quite different, but the Jews adopted the Aramaic script during the Babylonian Captivity and used it to write the Hebrew language in the same way that the Latin alphabet is used to write English, French, Spanish, and other languages. Copies of the original Hebrew script are found in most Hebrew grammars. While the script changed with the Babylonian Captivity, the Hebrew language itself is the same and I do not know of anything that is distinctive and called Noahic Script that is different from the original Hebrew script.

I’m studying biblical Hebrew and Greek and wonder if you could give me some tips on understanding the Hebrew “roots,” in particular. For example, what is an “unused” root?

As far as a study on Hebrew roots is concerned, probably the best work available in English right now is entitled, The Theological Word Book of the Old Testament. However, it is very hard to properly study Hebrew roots unless you know a bit of the Hebrew language and how to look up specific words.

What is meant by “unused” root is that though the root of the word has a specific meaning, you will not find that root meaning in literature. Only its derived meanings will be found. Knowing the root meaning of a word, then, is only the first step. The root meaning of a word may be exactly as it says, but that root may not even be used in biblical literature. Only derived meanings might be used, and, therefore, you must learn to distinguish between the root meaning and its derived meanings.

For example, the root meaning of the Greek word parazeilao is “to boil, to seethe, to flame, to make red hot.” This root meaning, however, is never found in the New Testament. But its three derived meanings are “to be envious,” “to be jealous,” and, “to be zealous.” Thus, in Romans 11:11-14 parazeilao is translated in its derived meaning — “to provoke to jealousy.” Getting at the root of the word will help to expand its meaning, but the final issue really is: How is the word used?

[From many letters:] What is Jesus’ Hebrew name, and what does it mean exactly? Jeshua? Joshua? Yahoshua? Yehoshua? Yeshua, “salvation”? Yashua, “Yahweh is salvation.” Is His full name Yahwehshua? My Modern Hebrew dictionary says it’s Yeshu.

The name Jesus in Hebrew is Yeshua. The meaning comes from the Hebrew root, yasha, meaning “to save.” That is why He was named Yeshua, because He will “save” His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). Thus, Yeshua means “salvation.”

The English name, Jesus, is just a transmigration through several languages. Hebrew has an “sh” sound, Greek has a hard “s”; the Hebrew “y” changes to a Greek “i”; then through Latin to the English “j.” Vowel patterns change; this is simply the nature of languages. His name shifts from the Hebrew Yeshua, to the Greek Iesous, to Latin Iesus, to English Jesus. So, Jesus is not a substitute name for Yeshua, it is the English equivalent.

The English name Joshua can be a translation of two different Hebrew names. The Joshua of the Book of Joshua has the Hebrew name Yehoshua, which means “Jehovah is salvation.” But the Joshua who is the High Priest of the Books of Ezra and Zechariah has the name Yeshua, the same name as Jesus.

However, Yeshu is a rabbinic name for Him which is a deliberate slur. They drop the last letter (the “ah” sound) of His four-letter Hebrew name to avoid the implication of Him representing “salvation.” Then they use the first three letters as an acronym: Yimach SHmo V’zichrono, meaning, “may his name and memory be blotted out.” Yeshu is a rabbinic “word play”; it is not His actual name.

In Luke 17:37, Yeshua doesn’t seem to answer the disciples’ question about one being left and the other being taken. Can you explain His response?

The disciples are not actually asking where the one will be taken but, rather, where the Second Coming of Christ will take place. Just as He does in Matthew 24:28, Messiah does not name the place of the Second Coming but merely gives a clue: Where the body is, there also will the vultures be gathered. The reference to birds of prey is an Old Testament motif and, when used symbolically, it refers to Gentile armies. The “body” here refers to Israel. In other words, where the body of Israel is located, there the Gentile armies will gather; and where the Gentile armies will gather, that is where the Second Coming of Christ will occur. Yeshua answers the question in this way because He presupposes Old Testament knowledge based upon passages like Isaiah 34:1-7 and 63:1-6. His answer, then, is the city of Bozrah, better known today by its Greek name — Petra. Furthermore, His response is consistent with what He said a few verses earlier concerning the day that the Son of Man is revealed (Luke 17:30).

What is meant by “quench not the Holy Spirit?”

To quench the Holy Spirit is to prevent believers from exercising their spiritual gifts in the meeting of the church. The purpose of the gifts of the Spirit is for the building up and edification of the Body. The Scriptures do lay down specific rules as to who can use these gifts in the public assembly and how often. Assuming all the rules of order are kept according to the Scripture, to quench the Holy Spirit is to keep believers from rightly exercising their spiritual gifts in the public assembly.

The context of I Thessalonians 5:19 speaks of the quenching of the Holy Spirit. Then verse 20 states: … despise not prophesyings; … the Thessalonians apparently were frowning upon any manifestation of the Holy Spirit that was out of the ordinary. In this case, their conduct was the opposite extreme of the Corinthians. The Corinthians’ extreme was to “let it all loose” without any order, without any rules or regulations, without any elders exercising authority or restraint. This created disorder with no chain of command and a lack of the testing of the spirits, which is so necessary in that kind of situation.

In local churches today, most services have a set format. Only a few people have total control of what may or may not go on, and only they give any input to the service. The authority and order exercised is often an authority and order that tends to quench the Spirit.

There is no question that the free exercise of gifts must have a degree of control by the spiritual elders. It would not be proper to let just anything go on because that would lead to the Corinthian extreme. But, the Corinthian extreme should not be avoided by going to the Thessalonian extreme. There must be a balance. A time must be given at some point in the meeting of the church to let others use their spiritual gifts. Not to allow people to exercise their spiritual gifts is to commit the sin of quenching the Spirit.

One more thing should be noted concerning this sin. This is not an individual sin, but a congregational sin. In the Greek text, the word quench is in the second person plural meaning: Quench [ye] not the Spirit. He is addressing them as a corporate body. As a corporate body, they are guilty of this sin. While an individual believer can be guilty of grieving the Holy Spirit, a local body, congregation, or assembly can also be guilty of quenching the Holy Spirit.

There must be an allowance made for the exercise of a believer’s spiritual gifts, whatever they may be, but in accordance with biblical order, rules, and regulations

Can we allow homosexuals to become leaders in the church? At the moment in England we have a real issue going through parliament, a bill is being passed to allow Gay couples to adopt children. Is this ok? I think that this is not good as didn’t God make man and woman to be joined together to be fruitful? Not male and male or female and female. Yet can two same sex people bring up a child in just a caring a way as two different sex people? However, what about the influence on the children? Help!

In the concept of what constitutes immorality, the Bible specifies that immorality includes premarital sex, extra-marital sex, homosexuality, beastiality, and lesbianism. All of these are sinful before the Lord but not all carry the same degree of sinfulness.

Homosexuality is especially targeted by Scripture as being uniquely sinful and that is what brought about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and it resulted in the war against the Danites in the Book of Judges. God’s decree against homosexuality is found both in the Old Testament and New Testament as well (Romans 1).

Therefore, a Bible believing church not only cannot recognize extra-marital sex and premarital sex among its members, nor can it tolerate homosexuality among its members. Therefore, the church can never recognize homosexual marriages nor recognize homosexual couples as having the right to adopt.

On the other hand, it should be remembered that while the Church must speak out publicly on these issues, and if there is a possibility of voting, members must vote against these issues, nevertheless, the church is not called upon to change society and therefore, we cannot force society to live by biblical law. We should definitely make public where we stand, but the way any government chooses to pass the law, then we have to learn to live with it in society. This does not mean we have to tolerate it within the church; on the contrary, this is something we cannot tolerate.

So no, homosexuals cannot become leaders of churches though we may not have any power to stop them in becoming leaders in human government. We cannot allow homosexual couples to be part of our churches, though there is nothing we can do about them being part of society.

If the government allows gay couples to adopt children, there is nothing we can do to stop this, but we cannot tolerate it within the local church and that is where our responsibility must be carried out.

For society we must preach the gospel to them because only when they are regenerated and changed within, will change occur externally.

How did the different races come about? At the Tower of Babel, or another time? Have Jewish people always been fair-skinned, or were they once darker-skinned?

The different races came about through natural adaptation from the three sons of Noah. All humanity, whatever their racial or ethnic identity, are descendants of Noah through his three sons. Different racial skin tones did not, themselves, originate at the Tower of Babel, though the Tower of Babel was the prelude to it. It was the event at the Tower of Babel that caused humanity to be scattered around the world; and as they went to different parts of the world, environmental adaptation and the passing on of acquired genetic characteristics effected different racial skin tones. The Jewish people in the Mediterranean area would have had the typical skin tone of people in the Middle East to this day, which is basically olive-skinned. It would not be as fair-skinned as Northern Europeans, nor would it be as dark as Africans. Many Jewish people became lighter-skinned as they moved into northern parts of the globe and this, again, was a result of adaptation to the environment.

I have a question posed to me by my wife which I can not answer. The question regards infant salvation, or as my wife put it, “What happens to babies and young children if they die before being old enough to understand and accept Christ?” To be honest, I never really studied the issue before. I always just “knew in my heart” that the Jesus who said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not. For of such is the Kingdom of God,” would never let young children be lost if they died before being old enough to understand sin and accept Christ. I did a Google search and found several web sites of various pastors with their own ideas about the subject; however, none of the discussions were very authoritative, mostly being a few scriptures strung together with a lot of philosophy and personal opinions. Does the Bible directly or even indirectly address this issue and are there any verses that can give us confidence in knowing that the little ones do in fact “go to Heaven” when they die? Examples of some theories I have read: 1. The children of “saved” people go to Heaven. The children of the “unsaved” don’t. 2. An even more creative theory — God is omniscient and knows what kind a person the baby would have been if it had grown up — that is, whether they would have accepted Christ or not, and they are judged accordingly. Thank you for any help you can give me in this matter.

Sadly, the only way I can answer your question is to simply say the Bible does not actually address that specific issue and therefore, it does not reveal what happens to infants if they die in infancy. The passage you cite from Matthew’s gospel is not dealing with infants, but with children that were old enough to come to Jesus and these were children old enough to understand the gospel, and it does not address the question of infancy. People may use different examples to try to prove one point or the other, such as the fact that God did not spare infants in other divine judgments like the Noahic flood, but that does not actually deal with the eternal salvation of the soul. So because the Bible is silent I simply have to tell people we really do not know, but I can certainly trust that the God of all the Earth will do right.

Obviously, I know what I want to believe, but since I will not be able to verify it by Scripture I choose not to express my own opinion since the Bible does not give me a specific answer.

The two examples or theories you listed are just that, theories and can be quite creative but are not what the Bible specifies. It is always best to say that where the Bible is silent we need to be silent and trust in the Lord that He will do what is right in accordance with His holiness and righteousness and justice.

How do those Jews who follow the occultist path of the Zohar and Kabbalah reconcile the Scriptures in the Torah with the ‘twisted’ versions they hold to? The Zohar reduces God to an unknowable, incapable, unreachable being that absolutely has to have man sort out His creation for Him by practicing good works amongst other things. I have a Kabbalist Jewish friend who appears to read the Torah and accept it as a “book of power” but who cannot seem to connect with what it says about the One True God. I do appreciate that he is probably blinded to the truth by Satan who in my view is absolutely behind the ‘power’ within the Zohar but he always manages to give me the impression he finds the Scriptures of huge value. Is he placing value only in the letters rather than the words as I’ve been led to understand they place a lot of emphasis on ‘numerology’ (gematria)?

Those who follow the Kabbalah and the Zohar are into such deep mysticism that they do not deal with the God of the Bible but with the god of mysticism which reduces God to the way you have seen it reduced in your Kabbalist Jewish friend. This mystical movement in Judaism began in the Middle Ages with Spanish Jews that began spreading to other parts of the Jewish world and causing people to ignore the obvious meaning of the text of Scripture and taking some mystical deeper meaning with Numerology and other practices; but in the end, it only leads people astray. The only thing you can do is keep encouraging people to get back to what the Bible teaches and interpret the Bible on its own merit and not the way it has been reinterpreted in different traditions including the traditions of the Kabbalah.

Were King Cyrus and Darius believers or considered righteous in the eyes of God? I have read the accounts in the Bible, and it seems that they did believe in God, but does it mean they were saved?

Let me point out that in ancient polytheism, people were always happy to include and to adopt other gods; but adoption of other gods or new gods did not mean they rejected the gods they were already worshiping. They simply added Jehovah, the God of Israel, into their pantheon but did not make Him the only God. While Darius was willing to even admit that Jehovah was the great God or the greatest of the gods, he still did not reject polytheism but continued to worship multiple gods.

What people had to believe to be saved in the Old Testament is spelled out in Isaiah 43:10-12. First, they must accept that Jehovah, the God of Israel, was the only God — and if they believed that, it would rule out both polytheism and idolatry. Second, they had to believe the God of Israel was also the only Savior, which would rule out their own works for salvation as well. Both Cyrus and Darius failed on both points and in particular on the first point.

My husband and I attend a congregation where to become a member you have to use the King James only and not drink alcohol (we are not members, just attend). The pastor’s son has given some lectures lately, one regarding the infallibility of scripture and textual criticism. The lecture on infallibility centered on defending the use of the word “infallibility” against the use by B.B.Warfield in his defense of scripture of using the word “inerrant”. The other lecture concerned textual criticism and how it had influenced men like Charles Hodge, B.B. Warfield and also Bob Jones University. I have listened to your tapes on Bibliology and also completed the Come and See series at Ariel, which have covered aspects of the lectures he has given. In the past, the pastor had given sermons on King James and had spoken about Wescott and Hort. The questions I would like to ask are: Is the influence of Westcott and Hort a bad one on the translation of scriptures? Am I wrong in not wanting to attend the church meetings with these types of lectures? Is “Lower Criticism” as bad as the pastor has said in his lecture? Is the word “inerrant” an inadequate word to describe scripture? Where is the Lord in all of this controversy?
  1. The influence of Westcott and Hort was revolutionary. If you use the King James version, then it was a disastrous revolution. For the rest of us, what Westcott and Hort did was to begin a process of collating the vast number of manuscripts that had been discovered since the time of the KJV’s translation in the early 17th century. We have discovered manuscripts that predate the texts of the KJV. The presupposition is that the more ancient a manuscript is, the more closely it resembles the original autograph, that which was written by the apostles. In addition, when a family of manuscripts found in one location agrees with another family of manuscripts from an alternate location, the assumption is that this confirms reliability. When we talk about the differences between today’s translations and the KJV, you will note that there is very little substantive difference once you move beyond the KJV’s archaic use of English. Primarily the issue is whether certain verses and certain paragraphs were added or are original, none of which affect any major doctrine in any way.
  2. Just reading about the topic of these lectures made me drowsy, I don’t blame you for not wanting to attend.
  3. Biblical criticism is the basis of scholarly Bible study and translation. It is only a problem if one believes that King James’ team of scholars was infallible.
  4. Inerrant is actually a very good word to describe scripture. It means it is without error. Infallible is also good because it means scripture does not fail. It is actually the more liberal choice of terms for those who reject inerrancy, because they can then say that the Bible may not be devoid of errors, but it is infallible in every subject it intends to address.
  5. The Lord is where He always is, superintending the preservation of His Word. The whole argument just proves how little deviation there has been in the text of scripture over the past few millennia.
Was the Passover lamb slaughtered at the Temple before the crucifixion of the Messiah took place?

The answer to this question is both yes and no. It should be kept in mind that there is a distinction between the first night of Passover and the first day of Passover. It is on the first night of Passover that all of the Jewish families eat the Passover meal, and Yeshua (Jesus) ate His last Passover meal on the first night of Passover. That is when He inaugurated the communion service. The next morning was the first day of Passover and at nine o’clock in the morning there was a special Passover sacrifice of which only the priesthood could eat. Yeshua was nailed to the cross on the first day of Passover at nine o’clock in the morning, which was the same time that the special Passover sacrifice was being offered up.

In the biblical practice, the lamb that was to be killed for the Passover was set aside on the tenth of the month of Nisan. It was then tested from the tenth day until the fourteenth day of that month to make sure that it was without spot and without blemish. On the fourteenth day the lamb was killed for the Passover meal. The next morning there was another lamb that was used as the Passover sacrifice for the nation of Israel. According to Exodus 12:46, the offering was slaughtered in a way that no bone of this lamb was to be broken.

Yeshua set Himself aside as the Passover Lamb. It occurred on the tenth day of the month, the same day that the physical animal was set aside. From the tenth day until the fourteenth day of the month, Yeshua was tested by the Pharisees, by the Sadducees, by the Scribes, and by the Herodians. By answering all of their objections and questions, He showed that He was without spot and without blemish. Yeshua ate the Seder meal on the first night of the Passover, the same night that all the Jewish people ate it, the fourteenth of Nisan. Yeshua died on the first day of Passover. He was crucified at nine o’clock in the morning and it was at nine o’clock in the morning that the special Passover sacrifice was offered in the Temple compound. Just as the Jews were very careful to make sure that not a single bone of the Passover lamb was broken, John 19:36 points out that not a single bone of Yeshua was broken either — not during the course of the crucifixion itself, nor by the Roman soldiers at the end of it all.

Thank you firstly for the teaching on the Eight Covenants. One question, why is it that you refer to the Israel Land Covenant as the Palestinian Covenant? I have read your explanations in your other works and understand the logic, but it is the Israel Land Covenant and I believe this is what we should call it. There was no such place as Palestine at the time this covenant was made. Personally as a Jewish Believer I find it offensive when I hear it referred to in this way. I think that in these days of more and more Jews coming to know Messiah, and with the conflict in Israel ever raging, it is vital that we change it back to what it should be.

In my writings I have “converted” all references to the Palestinian Covenant as the Land Covenant, but it is still found in the old form in some of the older writings.

This is a history lesson: the term “Palestine” was a common term used even by Jewish people, and it is only recent situations in the Middle East that have created a need to adjust the terminology. For example, even the Babylonian Talmud refers to the Land as “Palestine” many times, as you can see for example, in the Soncino Talmud.

In fact, before statehood, the Jews of Israel referred to themselves as “Palestinians”. The Jerusalem Post, which was always a Jewish paper, until 1948 was called “The Palestine Post”. Even David Ben Gurion in his declaration of independence, uses the term “Palestine” six times in a positive sense. So originally it was a commonly used term even in Jewish circles for themselves and it is only the events of the Middle East since 1948, and actually mostly since 1967, that we had to make the adjustments. So I am doing the same in our literature.

Incidentally, when I went to Hebrew University in 1966, I majored in an area that was called “Palestinology”. All of my professors were Jewish and Israelis and Hebrew University is obviously a very Jewish school and yet that term was still used back then and it was only after 1967 that they began dropping that term because of Arab usage of it for themselves.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ariel Ministries uses the term “Land Covenant” exclusively in all newer writings and upgraded distribution formats. Some of the original Messianic Bible Study radio broadcast audio segments recorded back in the late 1970’s will still reflect the outdated terminology (we hope to re-record these segments as time and resources allow). However, it is important for bible students to recognize that the “Palestinian” designation prevails in scholarly reference works and study research must be conducted with this in mind.

I am working on a home study of the Come and See series. MBS006 refers to the Law of Messiah as the replacement for the Law of Moses. I now have a list of the 613 Commandants but I am finding it more difficult to find a developed and systematic version for the Law of Messiah. Can you suggest a source? What am I missing?

The Law of Messiah is far more difficult to systematize in that it deals not only with actions and behavior, but with the intent of the heart and attitudes. Consider the Law of Messiah to be every propositional directive contained within the New Testament. In other words, the Law of Messiah is quite simply defined as divinely revealed apostolic teaching. That is the only source you need. There is a great deal of overlap between the Laws of Moses and Messiah, but they diverge in many places. We would expect such a large amount of overlap, particularly in those areas that reflect the righteous conduct required by a righteous God of His people.

An excellent exercise to assist you in your own personal faith building, is to go through each book of the New Testament, starting either with epistles or gospels, and start recording on a notepad or on your computer each propositional directive. Try organizing them by category. It is an excellent exercise for building the spiritual life and getting the big picture of what is required of Jesus’ disciples. No one could accuse us of being anti-law. I think that you will find the Law of Messiah is far more morally stringent and challenging than is the Law of Moses.

This verse talks about the “great gulf fixed”. What information can you give on this?

To answer your question, what Luke 16 is describing is how the situation was prior to Messiah’s death, resurrection, and ascension. Because animal blood would not take away sin (Hebrews 10:1-4) when a believer died his soul could not go immediately to Heaven. Therefore, there was another place it would go to until Messiah’s death.

There is a place in the center of the earth known in Hebrew as Sheol and the Greek is Hades. As you read the Old Testament, all who died ended up going into Sheol but not to the same place. Sheol or Hades has two major compartments.

The good side was mostly known as Abraham’s Bosom in Jewish writings and that is the way it appears in Luke 16. Another name for that section is simply Paradise. When a believer died his body was buried somewhere in the earth but his soul went into the Abraham’s Bosom of Sheol or Hades. The other side had three subdivisions but the one concerning us here is Hell and when an unbeliever died his body remained in the earth but his soul went into Hell.

As the Luke 16, passage shows, the two sides can see each other and talk to each other but one could not pass from one side to the other. The reason is it was an impassable gulf, which could not be crossed, so while it was easy to communicate through, it was impossible to cross over either from one side or from the other. When Messiah died, his soul went into Abraham’s Bosom and when He ascended to Heaven, He took the souls of believers out of Sheol or Hades (Ephesians 4:8-10). Thus things are changed for the believer and when a believer dies his soul goes right into Heaven to God’s presence (Philippians 1:21-24; II Corinthians 5:1-11). Things have not changed for the unbeliever, so his soul still ends up in Hell.

After the Millennial Kingdom the unbelievers will be resurrected and stand before the Great White Throne Judgment and then they will be cast into the Lake of Fire to be tormented forever and ever.

So again, Luke 16 describes how things used to be, but things have changed now for the believer and will change for the unbeliever in the future.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more details on this, see our Messianic Bible Study MBS-107 entitled The Place of the Dead.

In your study on, “The Creation of Adam and Eve,” you state several times that man (and woman) is not complete alone. How does that square, then, with Colossions 2:10? I believe that God has made me complete, that I am dependent on Him and not on another person for fullness.

Colossions 2:10 is speaking about spiritual completeness in that we are “complete” in Him and, therefore, we are seated in the heavenlies and the recipients of every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1). The issue in Genesis two concerns physical completeness for the purpose of an intimate relationship between a man and a woman, and the ability to produce children (which is the context of that particular passage). The general principle is that in the physical realm of intimacy, a man and a woman are incomplete until they are united in marriage.

Marriage, of course, is the norm. However, the Bible also reveals that God has given certain believers the gift of singleness in order to be able to devote more time to the work of the ministry, and those who have that gift do not suffer any sense of incompleteness in this area. Genesis two is speaking about what God has designed for the majority in that the majority are to marry and produce children. God, however, gives certain individuals a special calling to remain single for all their lives in order to devote all their time to Him. For those, there is no sense of hollowness or incompleteness, only a sense of mission. Examples of people in this realm would include the Prophets, Elijah and Jeremiah, the Apostle Paul and John the Baptist.

I have just finished reading Messianic Christology. I very much enjoyed the exposition from a Jewish perspective of prophecy as relating to the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ. I find it odd that Luke should have left out “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.” One would assume that Jesus would have been able to read the scroll without missing any of the text.

Concerning the phrase “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted” missing from what Yeshua read in Luke 4, it should be kept in mind that we are dealing with two different documents. The Old Testaments we have today are translations of the Masoretic Text, which dates from approximately AD 900. Obviously, the quotations of the Old Testament that you find in the New Testament could not be from the Masoretic Text. Actually, for the most part, they are quotations of the Septuagint. The Septuagint was a Greek translation made of the Old Testament around 250 BC, and they were using a Hebrew text that we no longer have today. The Hebrew text they were using did not have the phrase “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.” When Jesus read the text of Scripture, He obviously used a Hebrew text, but we do not have the same Hebrew text He used. That text may or may not have had the phrase. However, the New Testament writers were quoting from a Greek translation of the Hebrew text, the Septuagint, and that did not have that specific phrase, which is why Luke would not have added it to his gospel.

Does Abram giving Melchizedek a tithe have a special meaning? Are the bread and wine given by Melchizedek significant? I have heard Melchizedek is a type of Jesus, which makes sense if they are of the same order.

It is certainly true that Melchizedek is a type of Messiah in light of Hebrews 7. However, I would not make too much of the food items that were offered to Abram. Though some see it as a communion service, it is a bit early to have a communion service in the biblical record. That account cannot be used to teach tithing either since Abram did not tithe from his income but tithed from the spoils of war. He gave ten percent to Melchizedek and gave the rest back to the king of Sodom. Furthermore, Melchizedek was a type of Messiah but he was not a pre-incarnate Christ since every priest had to be human (Hebrews 5:1) and the Son was not human until the incarnation. Moreover, theophanies made their appearance and then disappeared after fulfilling their mission. They did not hold earthly offices such as king and priest of Jerusalem, which is what Melchizedek was. It is best just to see Melchizedek as a type of Messiah and leave it there.

[Speaking of Melchizedek] Who is Melchizedek? He appeared to have no father or mother, and there is no record of any of his ancestors. Was he an angel or was he actually the human king of Salem (Hebrews 7:1)?

Melchizedek was simply a human being who happened to be both the king and priest of the city of Jerusalem in the days of Abraham. The point of Hebrews is not that he did not have a father and mother, but only that there was no record of it. Hebrews wants to stress that for the Melchizedekian priesthood, ancestry was not relevant as with the Aaronic priesthood. To be an Aaronic priest, one had to show descent from Aaron. But the Melchizedekian priesthood was by divine appointment only, and, therefore, ancestry was not necessary. That is why the Bible does not give the names of Melchizedek’s parents or his genealogy. Hebrews 5:1 clearly states that one of the prerequisites for priesthood is that one had to be human. Therefore, Melchizedek could not have been a pre-incarnate Christ nor could he have been an angel. Another reason he could not have been a pre-incarnate Christ is that Old Testament theophanies came and disappeared once they gave their message and never held permanent office on earth; but Melchizedek did hold permanent office(s) as king and priest. In addition, when the Bible compares Christ to Melchizedek, it says he was made like the Son of God. It does not say Melchizedek was the Son of God, but simply “like” in the sense that Melchizedek was a type of Christ as he was both priest and king. Melchizedek was certainly a type of the Messiah, but he was not the Messiah Himself, nor pre-incarnate Christ, nor an angel, but simply a human being.

How and when did the Messianic Movement come into existence?

The modern Messianic Jewish Movement is essentially a revival of the Messianic Movement that was present in the Land of Israel up until the end of the fourth century C.E. While there have always been Jewish people who came to believe in the Messiahship of Yeshua (Jesus) throughout the centuries, they were generally forced to assimilate into the larger church and follow a policy of losing their Jewishness. The revival of the Messianic Jewish Movement continues to adhere to the fact that Yeshua is the Messiah of Israel, but at the same time it also affirms the right of Messianic Jews to identify as Jews and maintain a Jewish life-style, though the degree of practice may vary within different circles of Messianic Jews. But the roots of the modern movement actually began in East Europe in the early 1800s; in the latter 1800s into the beginnings of the twentieth century the movement grew into large numbers in East Europe. Unfortunately, the Holocaust decimated the Messianic Jewish population so that, after the war, only a small percentage was left and without a united voice.

In the 1970s, the modern Messianic Jewish Movement was revived in the west, particularly in North America, with a movement towards establishing Messianic Jewish Congregations and providing for Messianic Jews an environment to maintain their Jewish life-style and to maintain a Jewish identity for their children and subsequent generations. Thus, the movement today is spread out in all parts of the world where the larger Jewish community exists. It is still undergoing many labor pains and growth pains and it has not always been stable theologically, but the movement has made the public aware that a Jew can believe in Yeshua and still have a strong Jewish identity. Furthermore, it affirms various degrees of practice of Jewish traditions and customs, though it is just as varied within the Messianic community as it is with the larger Jewish community stemming from Orthodoxy to Reform.

Are most Messianic Jews dispensational in their theology? Do many embrace Covenant Theology?

For a time, the majority of Messianic Jews were dispensational, but that is no longer true. The sad fact is that the vast majority of Messianic Jews today are not well taught in Scripture and are part of fellowships that tend to be more experience oriented rather than oriented to Bible exposition. Generally, when the Bible is not expounded upon, there is less dispensational teaching.

This is not to say that Messianic Jews are mostly Covenant Theology, because Covenant Theology by its very nature is Replacement Theology, and probably ninety-nine percent of all Messianic Jews reject Covenant Theology out of hand.

While Messianic Jews are not for the most part dispensational anymore in the broadest sense, they are more dispensational than anything else in that they certainly believe about God’s future for Israel, etc., and so they adopt in whole what Dispensationalism teaches about the future of Israel. Where the non-dispensational aspects come in have to do with two things. First of all, they believe they are still under the Law (with major adjustments) and therefore, reject the dispensational teaching that the Law has come to an end when Messiah died. Second, they tend to reject Pretribulationalism (which is a tenet of Dispensationalism) mostly because they do not understand what it teaches more than anything else.

In summary, Messianic Jewish believers generally do not embrace Covenant Theology and are more dispensational than anything else, but they are not consistent Dispensationalists as we think of the term. However, there is one Messianic group that definitely is committed to Dispensationalism, and that is the Association of Messianic Congregations (AMC), which holds solidly to dispensational teachings and principles. Here at Ariel Ministries we are committed to Dispensationalism and we propagate that in our Camp Shoshanah summer school program and our branches and literature, etc.

With the constant fighting and turmoil in the Middle East, I am confused as to how I am to pray. How am I to deal with the frustration of this situation that seems to never change?

I can certainly understand your frustrations about praying for the situation in the Middle East, only to have the conflict flare up time and time again. Actually, that is to be expected, as Bible prophecy tells us that there will be continuous conflict in the Middle East until the Messiah returns.

I think people sometimes misunderstand the commandment to pray for the peace of Jerusalem as being primarily along the lines of political peace. I think a proper interpretation of that passage (Psalm 122:6) would teach as follows: First, final peace comes only with the Second Coming; second, the prerequisite to the Second Coming is Israel’s national salvation; and, therefore, third, the proper way of praying for the peace of Jerusalem is to pray for the salvation of the Jewish people. I think if you pray more concerning the salvation of Jewish people, you will see that prayer answered rather frequently and you will experience much less frustration.

I met an Orthodox Jew and we talked about God. He said it is possible to keep the 613 commandments (mitzvot) and that he was following them. Is this the prevalent view of Orthodox Rabbinical Judaism?

Yes, the view you heard from the Orthodox Jewish man you were sitting with is the modern day Orthodox Jewish view; it is possible for the Jews to keep all of the commandments. I should point out that, by means of rabbinic tradition, they have ultimately interpreted these commands in such a way that although they are in reality breaking them, they have convinced themselves they are keeping them. For example, they are commanded to offer up a day of atonement sacrifice. But they are not obeying that commandment today. The Rabbis teach that fasting is equal to offering up a sacrifice. The logic is: the fat and the blood of the animal belong to God alone and by fasting you reduce the fat in your blood. Therefore, you are fulfilling that command. Yes, they do teach it is possible to keep all the commandments but you have to understand that they interpret them in such a way so they can claim to have kept a commandment while in reality they were breaking it.

I have a list of 613 mitzvot but I want to know which one is a statute, commandment, or law, and the concept of these three categories.

The 613 commandments of the Mosaic Law cannot simply be divided into the categories of commandments, laws, and statutes. The fact is that these Hebrew words are used interchangeably for all of them. They may have a slight shade of emphasis here and there but sometimes the same order could be called a commandment, a statute, a law, etc. There really is no clear way of defining which order falls into which category. There are basically 613 laws, 613 commandments, and 613 statutes.

Is it correct to say that whatever is morally right or wrong today (from God’s view and declaration) has always been and will remain the same?

We cannot say that whatever was morally wrong at one point of time was, therefore, morally wrong at another point of time. There are certain things, such as adultery, that are always morally wrong. But there are other things that may be morally wrong now, though they were not in the past. For example, today it is immoral for a man to marry his sister or half-sister, an act that became wrong with the enactment of the Law of Moses. This was not morally wrong prior to Moses, and, so, when Abraham married his half-sister Sarah, he did not commit a moral sin. Neither did Jacob when he married two sisters, though such an act was later forbidden by Moses.

Are all natural disasters judgments or “wake up calls” from God? Was there such sin in the city of New Orleans that it caused the destruction and death to come upon itself? Situations like these make God look like a mean God Who does not care for people.

To answer your first question, we should keep in mind that nothing ever happens outside the will of God, but God does not have the same relationship to each event that occurs. Therefore, some things come because of His directive will, such as the Noahic Flood, and other things happen because of His permissive will, such as man falling into sin. It was the will of God for the hurricane to hit New Orleans, but we have no way of knowing at the present time whether it came out of His directive will or His permissive will. Certainly, God had a divine reason for allowing the events to occur, but He has not informed us what the divine reason is. Therefore, we have to accept it as a normal product of human sin. All disasters, large and small, are a result of Adam’s fall and therefore, all disasters happen because of human sin. Not all natural disasters are necessarily divine judgments but are part of what humans have to live with due to living in a sinful world.

Although some people have pointed out the sinfulness of New Orleans, it should be remembered that while New Orleans certainly had a high level of sinfulness, it was no worse than San Francisco. Why was New Orleans hit and San Francisco spared? The only answer is that this is the way God has chosen to do things at the present time. It would be a mistake to try to go beyond that observation. Why does one city suffer more than another? The answer is: because God determines whom He punishes and when He punishes. He chose to destroy Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, but He spared Zoar, which was just as sinful as the other four cities. By the same token, He destroyed New Orleans but spared San Francisco. As to the reason why, we do not have the answer except that by the sovereignty of God, He will choose when He punishes whom He punishes. We simply have to continue teaching that as long as men remain in sin, there will be such disasters in different parts of the world in the various segments of human history.

As to how these things appear to make God look, we must keep all of God’s attributes in balance. Because God is righteous, He must punish sin, and natural disasters are one of the ways He has done this throughout human history. The attribute of love shows that He provides a way out of the situation for man by providing eternal life for those who believe. But, if man rejects God’s way of salvation, then he must pay the penalty for his own sin. The love of God must be balanced with the righteousness and justice of God. One must be careful not to focus on one attribute over another but keep them in balance.

God has promised to look after our needs. Why would an obedient believer find himself/herself out of a job or lonely?

While God promises to provide for the needs of the believers, God does not promise that believers will have an easy life. There is no promise from God for health and wealth and other false expectations. Even believers who are focusing on heavenly things can still lose jobs and be single even though they desire to be married. Believers can go through sufferings that are totally unrelated to divine discipline. Spiritual leaders can get sick, die young, have accidents, etc. and this may not have anything to do with divine discipline but with bringing believers to maturity. Situations like loneliness and being out of a job can be eased by being in fellowship with other believers and by being willing to take jobs that may not be what one prefers. God promises to meet our needs and not our wants.

Your book, Footsteps of the Messiah, states that nothing unrighteous will ever enter through the gates of the city. Why are there gates? Does this suggest that something less than perfection exists outside the New Jerusalem? If the New Jerusalem is in effect Heaven on Earth then what is happening on the rest of the earth? “… light unto the nations,” hmm. You mean to tell me that there will still be nations?

The purpose for the gates of the New Jerusalem is to have a way in and out of the city since there is more to the Eternal Order than just the New Jerusalem. There will also be the remainder of the New Earth, which will also be for our enjoyment. The gates, therefore, are not to keep anyone out, but, as ornaments, they will allow free passage in and out of the city. Since nothing will threaten the city, the gates will never need to be closed. No, there will not be “nations” in the Eternal Order, but the Greek word simply means “Gentiles.” The point is that the Jewish-Gentile distinction will still be maintained throughout eternity, though there will be no functional difference at that time. All believers will be living in the New Jerusalem, but we will have access to the remainder of the New Earth for our enjoyment.

Does “the offense of the cross” in Galatians 5:11 have anything to do with Jewish believers who do not wear or use crosses?

Concerning “the offense of the cross,” in the context of the New Testament, this was not used as an outward symbol of the new faith since in those early days it was the fish that was used. When Paul talks about the offense of the cross, he is not talking about a visible symbol, but the concept of a dead Messiah. The concept of a dead Messiah was the offense of the cross to the Jewish people. Only much later did the church begin using the cross as the outward symbol but, unfortunately, since the fourth century, the cross was used as the symbol of Jewish persecution. Keep in mind, the final authority must be the New Testament, which does not command us to use the cross as our outward symbol. Because the cross has been used so negatively in Jewish history, most Jewish ministries in any form and in all situations avoid using the cross, even Jewish ministries that are sponsored by regular denominations. While for the Gentile believer the cross is the symbol of Christ’s death, for the average Jewish person, it has become a symbol of the shedding of Jewish blood through centuries of persecution. Messianic congregations that insist on a balanced role between teaching and Jewishness will not use crosses either.

A Jewish friend has asked: If there is only one God, then why must we believe in Jesus? Why can’t we just believe in “God” as we always have?

There are two ways to answer this question. First, because the Messiah is the second member of the Triune God, to believe in Jesus is to believe in one God. Second, from the Old Testament onward, God always had a mediator. Under the Mosaic Law, a person could not approach God directly through the sacrificial system but had to approach Him by means of God’s chosen mediator, who was the Jewish High Priest. Just as the Old Testament believer needed to go through the High Priest, the New Testament believer must also go through the High Priest. In this case, the High Priest is Yeshua HaMashiach.

Did Noah take one pair (Genesis 6:19-20) or seven pairs (Genesis 7:2-3) of every species into the ark?

The difference in number between one pair and seven pairs is based upon the clean and the unclean. He was obligated to take one pair of unclean animals. He was obligated to take seven pairs of clean animals. The reason being that the unclean would be naturally released into the wild, but the clean would be domesticated and used for sacrificial purposes as well as other pairs being used to propagate after their kind. A careful reading shows that both statements are true, and the difference is merely between the kosher and the non-kosher.

The phrase outer darkness is used three times (Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 25:30). How does outer darkness in these passages relate to Hades, Gehenna and the Lake of Fire?

To answer your question, the phrase “outer darkness” is a descriptive phrase of Gehenna or the Lake of Fire. It is not relevant directly to Hades per se.

The point is that while in the physical world fire is used for both light and heat, that is simply not the case with the fire of the Lake of Fire. The fire there will strictly be for the purpose of torment, but not for the purpose of providing light. Thus all of those in the Lake of Fire will be in total blackness and not see anyone else and will feel totally alone, they will simply hear the gnashing of teeth from others because of the pain.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more details on these terms and other terms, see our Messianic Bible Study MBS-107 entitled The Place of the Dead.

What does Deuteronomy 22:5 teach in its Jewish context? Some people believe it is referring to women wearing pants instead of dresses, and many say that it is an abomination for a woman to wear pants today.

To answer your question, let me point out the inconsistency of people who use Deuteronomy 22:5 (A woman shall not wear that which pertains unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for whosoever does these things is an abomination unto the Lord your God) in trying to determine what the dress code should be. First of all, it should be noted that this verse is part of the Mosaic Law and the whole Mosaic Law came to an end when Messiah died. Therefore, it is an incorrect use of Scripture to apply that verse for today.

Second, if you are going to apply chapter 22, you should apply it in its entirety. Moses did not say, “This verse is forever and that other verse is not.” If verse 5 applies today as far as clothing, so should verses 11 and 12. This means that no one should wear clothes made of mixed threads and people should have tassels on the comers of their garments. In other words, it is inconsistent to insist that verse 5 applies for today and then ignore verses 11 and 12 for today. The Mosaic Law is a unit and either it is all in or it is all out. You do not have the option of picking and choosing laws.

Third, let us assume that the verse does apply for today. Does it really forbid women to wear pants? First of all, when Moses gave the law, who wore pants? No one! What did men and women wear? They both wore robes. The difference was that women had multi-colored robes and men had single-colored robes. Men should not wear clothes made for women and women should not wear clothes made for men. As far as the cut of the garment, they both were cut pretty much the same way to look like robes because that is what they were.

The way Deuteronomy 22:5 would apply today is that clothing made specifically for a woman should be worn only by a woman, and clothes made for a man should only be worn by a man. The fact is that certain types of pants are made for a woman. Pant suits for women are made for women and I do not know of a man who would wear them. We are not dealing with the cut of the garment, we are dealing specifically for whom these clothes were designed. The clothes that were designed for men should only be worn by men. The clothes that were designed for women should only be worn by women. In both cases pants might be involved. Furthermore, some types of pants, such as Levis, are made for both and therefore, either one can wear them. If the passage were applicable for today that is the way it should be applied.

I have heard that to be member of the Sanhedrin you had to be married and therefore, Paul was a married man. Is this true?

It is true that to be member of the Sanhedrin one had to be married. The problem is that people merely assume that Paul was a member of the Sanhedrin, but the Bible never makes that statement. He was certainly an apprentice for one of the members of the Sanhedrin and therefore had the clothing at the time of the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:58), but he himself is never said to be a member of the Sanhedrin. Of all the various claims Paul made about his Jewish identity, he never once said he was a full member of the Sanhedrin. That is why this cannot be used as evidence that Paul was married. In I Corinthians 7 he makes it clear that he was not married and there is no implication that he ever formally married. It is best to take Paul at his word that he was a single man and he remained single for his whole life.

What is the definition of the term “perseverance of the saints”?

The definition of “perseverance of the saints,” is the teaching that the saints will definitely persevere in the faith, both in belief and in action.

This view generally does not recognize the existence of carnal Christians. It insists that a true believer will definitely persevere to the end. That is a bit different from the concept of “eternal security” which teaches that the work of regeneration cannot be undone and that a person truly saved will never be lost, either by sinning or by ceasing to believe. In the view of eternal security, the maintaining of salvation is based upon the perseverance of God.

First of all, as a new believer, I want to tell you how helpful and wonderful Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s book “The Footsteps of the Messiah” has been to me. I have learned very much. I have a question about the Apostle Peter. Was he really hung upside down on the cross or was he hung on the cross as was Jesus only with his head down?

Yes, Peter was crucified in an upside down position, per his own request as explained in 1 Clement 5:1-6:1 and alluded to in John 21:18-19.

Recently a Jewish writer, Lee Siegel, wrote a very critical column about Joe Lieberman, for a leftist web magazine. As a result, a Jewish talk show host, Michael Medved (whom I often pray for) was reading segments of the article on the air, and criticizing Siegel for having accused Lieberman of behaving like Christian fundamentalists. Medved read one line in which Siegel accused the New Testament of having launching “vicious” attacks on the Pharisees. Siegel went on to describe the Pharisees as having been “rational, charitable and humane.” Medved describes himself as “a modern Orthodox” Jew, who has very warm feelings about Christians, but he said there was “an argument” for Siegel’s accusation that the New Testament did not accurately represent the Pharisees. I know you’re very busy, but is there anyone there who could give me a brief answer as to how would one counter this in witnessing to a Jew who believes this?

The accusation of the New Testament launching viscious attacks on the Pharisees (as well as Jews in general) is an old cannard thrown about haphazardly by those predisposed to finding antisemitism in the primary documents of Christianity, i.e., the New Testament. There is nothing viscious about the New Testament’s description of the Pharisees. The picture the gospels paint is one of balance. Yeshua had close friends among the Pharisees. Pharisees warned him of danger. Other Pharisees plotted against him and viewed him as a threat. Finally, certain Pharisees became believers. It would be suspicious if we found within the New Testament a monochrome, uniform portrayal of what was such a vibrantly diverse sect.

The word that one should use for how Jews, including the Pharisees are described within the gospels and Acts is passionate. Anyone who has ever heard contemporary Jews speaking about other Jews with whom they disagree would understand the New Testament’s style. It was written by Jews, after all. No Jewish writer worth his salt from Moses onward could ever be accused of dispassion, particularly regarding an inter-family disagreement. I respectfully submit that those who see viscious portrayals of Jews in the New Testament should attend an average meeting of Israel’s Knesset, if you want to see true vitriol among fellow Jews. Passion in the New Testament writings should not be confused with either aggression or antipathy.

Can you please shed some light on the scriptural basis and applicability of two practices: the washing of feet; the presentation of babies before congregations?

I do not think the Bible teaches that the washing of feet was an ordinance intended for the practice of the church. When Messiah washed feet, it was in keeping with the traditional portion of the Jewish Passover, when the normal practice was to wash hands. However, Jesus took on the role of a servant and washed feet, telling the disciples that they should follow His example. The emphasis is not on the actual practice of foot-washing, but on the practice of choosing to serve rather than to rule. It is certainly not wrong for a church to practice it, but neither is it a biblical imperative.

Concerning dedicating babies, this is largely practiced by churches that do not practice infant baptism and, thus, use this as a substitute. Such churches are not violating any scriptural belief, and, so, there is nothing inherently wrong with this activity. However, again, it is not something commanded by Scripture.

I have heard people use Acts 7:59 as an example of prayer directed to Jesus. Is it biblical to pray to Jesus?

It has been interesting to observe that Acts 7:59 is the one and only passage people ever use to try to teach that it is permissible to also pray to the Son, although it is obvious from actual instructions in Scripture and the actual examples of prayer in Scripture, prayers are always addressed to the Father. Acts 7:59 is not a valid passage to use since Stephen is not praying to the unseen God but is actually responding to a vision he is seeing. Verses 55-56 clearly tell us that he was seeing a vision of Jesus standing at the right hand of God the Father. Stephen is talking to the One he sees in the vision and making a request of the One he sees; so, it is not a prayer in any true sense of the term. For example, when people saw visions of angels, and the visionary made a request of the angel he saw, that did not mean he was praying to the angel because that was a forbidden thing to do. So making a request of the one he sees in a vision is not actually a prayer, any more than when Jesus was with His disciples and they made requests of Him were they actually praying. Acts 7:59 is no exception to the rule. On the other hand, it should be stated that it is not necessarily wrong to address a prayer to either the Son or the Holy Spirit. But it should be observed that it was not the biblical model.

You say that prayer should be addressed to the Father. Is it wrong then to address the Son or Spirit in prayer? If Jesus holds the office of Priest, cannot we go to Him as well?

According to the Bible, every prayer should be addressed to the Father and never to the Son or the Spirit. Even after the ascension of Jesus — when He took His role as High Priest, all prayers recorded in the Book of Acts and the Epistles are always addressed to God the Father. No single prayer is ever addressed to the other two Persons of the Trinity. It is true that Yeshua does hold the office of Priest, but individuals did not pray to priests, even in the earthly sphere. When Aaron and his descendants served as High Priests, people did not pray to them. Even the prayers that are recorded in the Old Testament are addressed to God, not to the High Priest. It is true that we are to pray in Christ’s name, but this not the same issue as to whom we address that prayer. A letter can be addressed to one party in the name of another. By the same token, prayers are addressed to God the Father in the name of the Son. To pray in this way means to pray in the Son’s authority, and He has given us authority to approach God the Father in prayer (Galatians 4:1-7).

What is a good way to build a solid prayer life?

Because people are different and personalities are different, no one method of building up a prayer life works the same for every believer. Prayer is, essentially, conversing with God. We all converse with different people in different manners and, therefore, we do not all converse with one another exactly the same way. We must treat prayer the same way. As we pray to God, we must view Him as a personal friend, but at the same time, not to treat it lightly since He is the sovereign God as well. If you can combine those two concepts in your mind, that of a sovereign God and that of a personal friend, and put them together, ask yourself the question, “How would you talk to someone who you would see visibly and physically in that situation?” Then make the leap from the visible to the invisible and go accordingly. Just as we have varieties of conversations, we should have different ways of praying. Sometimes we may wish to go through a list of specific things, like praying through a prayer list; sometimes we may just wish to speak to God about one specific issue and nothing else; sometimes we have only a request; sometimes a confession; sometimes just a praise and thanksgiving. It is not so much the length of each conversation that is important, but the frequency of it. You have to build that relationship on your own personality and ways of conversing and you do not need to move into any kind of special “holy language” to communicate with God.

When was the prayer shawl worn by Jesus and when is it worn today?

There is no record of Jesus ever wearing a prayer shawl and futhermore the prayer shawl did not become a major item until beyond the first century Israel. The wearing of the prayer shawl was a rabbinic innovation which came after that time but did not exist at the time of Jesus. What Jesus did wear were the tassels on the corners of the garments in keeping with the Mosaic Law but these were tied to the garments themselves and were not a separate prayer shawl that one put on for the morning prayers. Jesus Himself never wore a prayer shawl nor was a prayer shawl ever mentioned.

As to when it is worn, in Orthodox Judaism it is only worn in the morning prayer services whether it is at home or in the synagogue, but never worn in the evening except on two occasions: the Day of Atonement and the Feast of the Ninth of Av, commemorating the date when the first and second Temple were destroyed.

What is the origin and extent of the use of the Jewish prayer I often hear quoted: “Lord, I thank thee that I was not born a woman.”

This is part of the morning prayer of the Orthodox Jew. Other people often pull it out of context to use it as an anti-women statement. However, in its original context, that is neither its purpose nor its meaning. Rather, its actual context concerns the keeping of the commandments: The Jewish man, in this prayer, thanks God that he has been granted the opportunity to obey God’s Torah. Because there are many more commandments for men than for women, the Jewish man’s thankfulness derives from the idea that he has been given opportunity to fulfill that many more commandments for the Lord. That is the oft-ignored true meaning and context of this prayer.

According to the Abrahamic Covenant, the Land belongs to the Jews by divine right. But how do we know from Scripture whether the entire Promised Land rightfully belongs to the Jews today, or whether it will rightfully belong to the Jews only when the Lord gives it to them in the future?

When the promise of the Land was stated, it was stated in the future tense as being for the Patriarchs and their seed. However, in Genesis 15, God also specified the timing of that future event to be after the sojourn to Egypt and return from Egypt. The Exodus and the time of the conquest is when God actually gave the whole Land to Israel as a divine possession, though to this day the nation has never enjoyed all of the Promised Land. A distinction must be made, then, between the divine ownership of the Land by a divine title deed and actual enjoyment of the Land. Ownership was rendered unconditional on the basis of the Abrahamic Covenant and reaffirmed by the Palestinian or Land Covenant; and this came fully into effect once the Jews entered the Land under Joshua. But enjoyment of the Land is based upon obedience, as stated in the Mosaic Covenant. For that reason, to this day the Jews have never enjoyed all of the Promised Land, and even at the present time are withdrawing from territories they’ve held since 1967. Indeed, they will not enjoy all of the Land until they become a saved nation, at which point the Messiah will give it to them. But, again, the ownership of the Promised Land is already a fact, with God’s promise of Genesis 15 having been fulfilled, as described in the Book of Joshua.

I do not understand the context of Psalm 22. Who was David talking to? Was he describing a vision? How can this Psalm be considered Messianic?

To answer your question, in Psalm 22 David is seeing a vision of the sufferings of the Messiah and writes up the sufferings and the glory that followed. He was singing Hebrew poetry as all of the Book of Psalms is. He does not describe anything that David himself suffered, but he is describing the sufferings of the Messiah based upon a vision he saw.

The following quotation from our book Messianic Christology (which is a study of Old Testament prophecy concerning the First Coming of the Messiah) will provide you with some more details:

Psalm 22 is the most famous of the Messianic Psalms, the entire psalm being devoted to the events of the First Coming and a few aspects of the Second. The psalm divides into two main parts, the first dealing with the suffering of Messiah, followed by His exaltation in the second. The whole psalm could be viewed as a poetic version of Isaiah 53, although the psalm was in fact written before the prophecy of Isaiah.

The Sufferings of the Messiah — 22:1-21

Messiah’s Cry for Help — 22:1-2

These verses find Messiah crying out in deepest anguish. It is no accident that these are the very words that Jesus cried out while hanging on the cross. He quoted these words after a period of three hours of intense darkness. During those three hours the entire wrath of God, due to the sins of Israel and the world, was poured out upon Him. This is the one and only place in the Gospel accounts that Jesus addresses God as “my God.” On every other occasion, and there are over 170 references, Jesus says “Father” or “my Father.” It is made very clear that Jesus enjoyed a very special, unique relationship with God. On the cross, however, Jesus was dying for the sins of the world, and was experiencing a judicial relationship with God, not a paternal one; hence His cry of “my God, my God” instead of “my Father, my Father.”

God’s Past Deliverance — 22:3-5

These verses recount the past deliverances of God. God is fully able to deliver, yet is choosing not to.

Messiah Despised — 22:6-8

These verses describe, in terms similar to Isaiah 53, the taunts and jibes of evil men at the suffering of Messiah. The words used here are indeed very similar to the words of ridicule used by the crowds at the crucifixion of Jesus. He is reproached, scorned, and taunted.

God is Messiah’s Trust — 22:9-11

These verses state that Messiah has trusted in God from His birth. There are references here to the mother of Messiah but, as in all other messianic prophecies, there is never any mention of a human father. Messiah would be born of a virgin as prophesied in Isaiah 7:14.

Description of the Agony — 22:12-18

These verses describe the suffering of Messiah, and some of these words are almost quoted in the New Testament.

1. Surrounded and stared at — 22:12-13.

2. Physical agony — 22:14-17.

i. I am poured out like water. This emphasizes excessive sweat.

ii. All my bones are out of joint. After the nailing on the ground, the cross would be raised to the vertical and dropped into a deep slot in the ground. The shock of this action would cause multiple dislocations.

iii. My heart is like melted wax. A Hebrew phrase meaning “a ruptured heart,” evidenced by the pouring out of blood and water.

iv. My strength is dried up like a potsherd. His strength is totally gone.

v. My tongue cleaves to my jaws. His tongue cleaves to the roof of His mouth, emphasizing excessive thirst. After six hours on the cross, three of them in total darkness, Jesus said “I thirst.” This meant more than physical thirst. During those three hours of intense darkness Jesus suffered the outpouring of God’s wrath; the pangs of Hell itself. Jesus had previously spoken of a rich man who, after only a few moments in Hell had said “I thirst” (Luke 16). Jesus’ saying of these same words reflects the extreme suffering of the pain of Hell which He experienced while hanging on the cross.

vi. They pierced my hands and my feet. The Hebrew word for piercing used here is not the same as that used in Zechariah 12:10. The word used in Zechariah means “to thrust through” and would be consistent with the Roman spear which pierced Jesus’ side. The word used here in Psalm 22 is the word which would be used, for example, of ear piercing and would be consistent with the nailing of Jesus’ hands and feet to the cross.

vii. I can count all my bones. His bones are protruding.

3. They divide my garments among them — 22:18. In verse 18, Messiah’s clothes are divided amongst His tormentors by the casting of lots. Once again, this was quite literally fulfilled at Jesus’ crucifixion (Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:34, John 19:23-24).

All of the above must refer to Messiah since clearly none of these things ever happened to David. Messiah’s Prayer for Help — 22:19-21

Verses 19-21 are again a cry for help from Messiah while still hanging on the cross.

The Exaltation of the Messiah — 22:22-31

With His suffering complete, verses 22-31 turn and speak of Messiah’s exaltation. In verse 22 Messiah will praise God in the midst of the assembly. But how, if He died in verses 1-21 is this possible? Clearly this can only be possible by resurrection. The rest of the psalm goes on to describe what happens after His resurrection, culminating in His Second Coming and the establishment of His kingdom.

A Note on Verse 16

Some wish to translate the verse as “like a lion, my hands and my feet,” instead of “they pierced my hands and my feet.” The former is based on the pointing of the Masoretic text and the latter on the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew text that preceded the Masoretic text by over one thousand years, and hence closer to the original writing. While it is true that the writer uses several animal motifs in the context, the Psalmist only uses animalistic terms to describe his enemies and not himself. Hence both the context and the antiquity of the Hebrew text behind the Septuagint favor the rendering of “pierce.”

Psalm 22 teaches that:

In extreme agony, Messiah would cry out for God’s help.

Messiah would be a despised and rejected individual.

In the agony of death Messiah would be stared at and mocked.

The Messiah’s bones would all be pulled out of joint.

The Messiah’s heart would rupture.

The Messiah would suffer an extreme degree of thirst.

Messiah’s hands and feet would be pierced.

Messiah’s clothing would be divided by the casting of lots.

At the point of death, Messiah’s trust would be in God the Father.

Messiah would be resurrected.

I have heard that the Holy Spirit will not indwell believers after the Rapture. Will His work cease during the tribulation?

The Bible never says the Holy Spirit will be removed from the earth at the time of the Rapture. Some assume that the Restrainer of II Thessalonians chapter two is the Holy Spirit, but even if it is, all this passage of Scripture is saying is that the Holy Spirit will not be restraining lawlessness. It does not say that He will be removed from the earth.

The Holy Spirit will still be regenerating people after the Rapture, indwelling them, empowering them, etc. What He will no longer be doing is baptizing them into the Body of Christ since the body at that point will no longer be here on earth. It is more correct to say that the Holy Spirit will not baptize people into the Body, but He will still be indwelling people.

When is the rapture of the Old Testament saints, both spiritually and physically? I have heard it said that it will be just prior to the Millennium. This does not make sense to me. Who were the saints that were seen after the resurrection of our Lord in the city? Are not the Old Testament saints to be the friends of the groom at the marriage feast of the Lamb, which I understand is to take place during the Tribulation period?

There was no actual “rapture” of the Old Testament saints simply because the word itself means “to be caught up” and has to do with the actual meeting of Messiah in the air. What you are probably asking about is the time of the resurrection from the dead of the Old Testament saints, because the term “rapture” applies only to the Church saints.

The resurrection of the Old Testament saints will take place following the Second Coming in preparation for the Messianic Kingdom. You are right that the Old Testament saints are to be the friends of the bridegroom at the marriage feast, but the marriage feast will take place on earth as an inauguration of the Messianic Kingdom. It is the wedding ceremony that takes place in Heaven before the Second Coming, but the wedding feast itself will take place on earth and will kick off the Messianic Kingdom. The resurrection of the saints at the time Messiah died was not the resurrection of the Old Testament saints to immortality, but merely restoration back to natural life, and these people died again later. The reason we know this is because they were raised the moment Jesus died, though they did not come out of their tombs until Messiah’s own resurrection. Since no one could be raised into immortality until after Messiah’s own resurrection, and since these saints were raised from the dead the moment Messiah died, that would show that they were merely restored back to natural life and not raised to immortality.

I have heard that the Rapture could occur on September 10th, which is the Feasts of Trumpets. Do you agree?

Concerning the Rapture, the Bible teaches that the Rapture can happen at any moment, and also teaches that no man will ever be able to set a date for it with any degree of accuracy. Anyone who said that the Rapture will come on September 10 is simply assuming that the Rapture has to come on the Feast of Trumpets. But the truth is that the Rapture does not have to come on any Jewish festival and, therefore, it is a violation of Scripture to set any kind of a date, even presenting it as a possibility. The Rapture will never be a datable.

Have you ever found any errors in the Bible?

No, in all my studying of Scriptures, whether by survey or detail, I have never found any errors whatsoever. Often people will try to pinpoint errors, but these people either do not know the historical context, or they apply 20th century standards of the English language to the biblical text, forgetting that the text was not originally written in English. For example, people have pointed out that there must be an error in the Book of Johah, because the whale that swallowed Jonah is referred to as a “fish.” These Bible error detectives continue, noting that the whale is a mammal and certainly not a “fish.” Thus, they contend, the Word contains a mistake. This, however, is an example in which the skeptics have applied the meaning of a specific English word to a traslation, rather than checking the word’s meaning in its original language. The Hebrew word for “fish” is dag, and in fact, it refers to any creature that lives in the sea. Therefore, though the whale does not technically fit the meaning of the English word, “fish,” it certainly fits the Hebrew meaning of the term. And, of course, it is the Hebrew criteria that must be used, as the Book of Jonah was written in Hebrew. Most “mistakes” to which people point tend to be of a similar nature. But if we restrict ourselves to dealing with the original text, as well as the historical frame of reference, I believe we will find no errors in the Bible.

The synoptic gospels speak of the healing of the two blind men when Jesus entered Jericho, as well as when He was leaving Jericho. How can both accounts be true?

Concerning the seeming discrepancy of exactly where the two blind men were healed, as any visit to Israel will show, there were two Jerichos in the first century. There was the Old Testament Jericho, located where it always was and remains; and there was a New Testament Jericho, built by Herod the Great about five miles from the original. At the time of this particular miracle, Yeshua was moving from north to south, heading for Jerusalem. What this means is that the blind men met Him as He was coming out of Old Jericho and going toward New Jericho. Both gospel statements, then, are true, as it is all a matter of whether the writer was referring to Old or New Jericho.

What is meant by a “reprobate mind” as spoken of in the Book of Romans?

What Paul means by “a reprobate mind” is a mind that has rejected all revelation from God and now has reached a point that it cannot understand the things of God. In the context of Romans one Paul mentions that there is truth available to all humanity from creation. If a person looks at creation he should surmise that God exists, and that He is both omnipotent and a wise God. Should he live up to the knowledge that he does have, God will make sure he gets more knowledge until he hears what he needs to hear to be saved.

However, the tendency of humanity, as all history shows, is to reduce the things he sees in creation into something he wants to worship. The tendency is to worship the created not the Creator. Therefore, society begins with idolatry, moves down to heterosexual immorality, and lastly culminates in homosexual immorality. Finally, God gives them up to a reprobate mind. People do not have a reprobate mind because God decreed them to from the beginning, but because they rejected the truth of God. After a period of time, God then decrees them to a reprobate mind. They cease to have the capacity to understand any further spiritual truth through creation or otherwise.

I lost a considerable amount of money because of others’ mistakes. Can I stand on God’s word in Proverbs 6:30-31 to believe for restoration?

To answer your question, let me begin by pointing out that the Book of Proverbs as a whole is not presenting absolute promises but rather observations of life in general. These are pithy statements providing general principles of life, but they do not necessarily contain actual promises. This is not to say there are no firm promises in the Book of Proverbs but generally these are connected with the Mosaic Law. What was true under the Law is not necessarily true under grace.

Proverbs 6:30-31 does not mean that because a believer’s money was stolen, he would automatically have it restored either to the same amount lost or as in this case “sevenfold.” This may happen, but the passage does not promise it. Therefore, it cannot be “claimed.” The loss of money does not mean that you did anything wrong. The fact is that believers live in a sinful world. As a result, believers must sometimes suffer the consequences of living in a sinful world. God does not promise such restoration in this life.

I’ve been told that Revelation 14: 1-5 is depicting a heavenly scene but am having difficulty seeing the passage in that way. Can you clarify this passage for me?

To answer your question, I do not think Revelation 14:1-5 is describing a heavenly scene, but rather is describing the millennial Mount Zion. I take it to be a millennial scene and it pictures the 144,000 Jews of chapter seven with the Messiah within the Messianic Kingdom. As to why there is a millennial scene at this junction in the Book of Revelation, the answer lies in its connection with the previous two chapters where Satan organized his attempt to destroy the Jews. The first verse of chapter fourteen opens up with the 144,000 Jews standing on Mount Zion with a protective seal on their foreheads prominently displayed. The sealing was done back in chapter seven and the sealing was done for two purposes: protection and service. These were sealed for service since they proclaimed the gospel in protection and, therefore, will be among those who will actually survive the Tribulation and will not be among those who are killed. So their standing on the millennial Mount Zion with the protective seal on their foreheads displayed shows that Satan’s attempt at total Jewish destruction will fail. Furthermore, he refers to them as first fruits, a term that always indicates the first of much more to come later. The very fact that 144,000 Jews are merely the first fruits shows that they are the first fruits of many more Jewish believers who will survive the Tribulation and come to saving faith.

Revelation seven does not include the Tribe of Dan as part of the 144,000, yet verse four says that the 144,000 is comprised of all the tribes of Israel. Also, the Tribes of Joseph and Manasseh are mentioned, but I thought that Joseph was Ephraim and Manasseh. Why is the Tribe of Levi included here and not elsewhere?

Regarding Revelation seven, just as with the rest of the Bible, the word “all” must always be interpreted according to its context. Sometimes, the word means “universal,” but sometimes it is more limited according to the context. In terms of Revelation seven, the word “all” is limited by the context — being the 12 tribes he actually lists; and based upon the listing, the Tribe of Dan is excluded. This is not unusual, and, in fact, it would not be true to say that the Tribe of Levi was normally excluded elsewhere. If you read the 12 tribal blessings of Moses in Deuteronomy 33, you will see that he leaves out Simeon but includes Levi.

The point is: If you make a list of the 12 tribal names, you’ll actually end up with 13 names because the firstborn right, ended up being the two Tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. In order to retain the symmetry of 12, one tribe would need to be dropped in the naming. Moses chose to drop Simeon, and John chose to drop Dan. In this way, the symmetry of 12 is retained. Normally, of course, only the two names of Ephraim and Manasseh are used. But sometimes the name Joseph is used for Manasseh, and sometimes the name Joseph is used for Ephraim. Joseph is specifically identified with Ephraim in Ezekiel 37:15-23, and so John also uses Joseph’s name in place of Ephraim (Revelation 7). It is quite in keeping with Old Testament principles.

In your book The Footsteps of the Messiah you mention Russia attacking Israel. How would the U.S. allow any country attack Israel? Are we going to change our view towards Israel? Finally, do you anticipate the rapture to be in our life?

While names of countries change, what does not change is the actual geography these names are applied to. Magog was located between the Black and Caspian Seas and therefore the invasion must ultimately be led from that territory, regardless of what that territory may be named at that time. Whether it be Russia, the Soviet Union, the Commonwealth of Independent States, or whatever, what the actual name will be at the time of the invasion is less important than the actual territory. At the present time it is still inside of Russia. Because it is right on the line of the Islamic part of Russia, it might easily break off and become independent. If so, then that would be the source of the invasion. The big issue is that the actual territory has to be the territory between the Black and Caspian Seas, regardless of what the name of the country may be or its religious persuasion at the time of the invasion.

As to how the U.S. would tolerate an invasion of Israel, we must be careful not to try to interpret these prophecies with the way things are now. Rather, we will have to wait and see what things will be like then. It is obvious the invasion is aimed towards Israel. It is also obvious that while other countries might protest the invasion, there is no interference with the invasion. Yes, at the present time the U.S. would not tolerate an invasion of Israel. But we cannot know what will happen say ten years from now when things will be quite different and we have a different president. One major reason why the U.S. has been supportive of Israel is because of the strong evangelical influence in this country, which will cease to exist the moment after the Rapture. We do not know which comes first: the rapture or the invasion.

As to whether the Rapture will come in our lifetime, I firmly believe it could. At the same time I firmly believe we could all die of old age before it happens. I choose not to guess God’s timetable on this matter.

As believers, are we commanded to gather for worship on the Sabbath or on Sunday? When did Sunday become a day of worship?

If you look up every passage on the Sabbath in the Mosaic Law, the one thing you will not find is Moses commanding the people to gather together for corporate worship on the Sabbath day. What Moses did tell people to do is to stay home and rest on the Sabbath day. In fact, it was forbidden to travel more than a Sabbath day’s journey from your home, which was roughly one kilometer (.62 miles). The only ones commanded to meet regularly for corporate worship on the Sabbath day was the priesthood, and that was for the purpose of offering special Passover blood sacrifices. However, for the rest of the Jewish people, they were simply to stay at home and rest.

Corporate worship was required only three times a year: Passover (Pesach), Feast of Weeks (Shavuot), and Tabernacles (Sukkoth). Therefore, the Sabbath was simply a day of rest and staying home. Also, there is not a command to have corporate worship on Sunday either. That was the practice of the early church as early as Acts 20:7. That is an example of what they chose to do but no biblical command was given to follow it. The fact is in the Mosaic Law the Sabbath was strictly a day of rest and to stay home, and for that reason Jewish believers had their corporate worship on Saturday night (which is already the first day of the week), in order to worship with fellow believers. Gentiles also met on the first of the week but it was Sunday morning. Neither one was commanded so they both are equal options.

What the Bible commands is that believers gather together regularly for corporate worship but the day of the week is strictly optional. My messianic congregation chooses to meet on Saturday afternoon, other groups meet on Friday night and other groups meet on Sunday and all of these are valid options. One is not more biblical than the other. That is why it is so important to “rightly divide the word of truth.” The Bible definitely provides a valid roadmap, but we have to make sure what commandments are applicable to what group of people. The Mosaic Law was given to Jewish people only, and only until Messiah died. The commandments you are obligated to obey today are the commandments of the Law of the Messiah and that is the law code you need to learn to follow and not the law code that was intended for different people for a different period of time.

You will find all the details on the issues of the Sabbath and Sunday controversy in our Messianic Bible Studies entitled “The Sabbath” (MBS176) and “The Law of Moses and the Law of the Messiah” (MBS006). This will help to distinguish the two different law codes.

Dr. Fruchtenbaum, what do you think Jesus meant by this? “Everyone will be salted with fire” (Mark 9:49). “Salt is good but if loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other” (Mark 9:50). Some commentators said salt is suffering, but is verse 50 referring to something else?

You are correct, that I do not think that salt is being used for suffering in the context of Mark 9:49-50. In light of this context it is more helpful to connect it with what Jesus taught in Matthew 5 that believers are the salt of the earth.

Salt was used for two purposes: as a preservative and as a seasoning. On one hand as a preservative, it is the existence of the remnant that keeps the nation as a whole alive and from being totally destroyed. As a seasoning, it makes life worth living since we are able to fellowship with each other.

Thus Jesus encourages believers here to “have salt in yourselves” which means to serve as a preservative for the world and also to serve as a seasoning. As a seasoning, salt is good if it does not lose its saltiness but once the saltiness is lost, it is no longer able to serve as a seasoning. Thus when a believer falls into sin he is out of fellowship with the Lord and he is also out of fellowship with fellow believers and therefore, he is not at peace with them. But if he is obedient, then he can be at peace with God and with fellow believers. So Jesus goes on to say “have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another”. So again, the issue here is not suffering but rather playing the role of a preservative and a seasoning that makes life among believers worth living.

Can a person who denies that the Scriptures are 100 percent the Word of God be born again?

It might be possible for someone to deny certain things in the Bible and still be saved. The crucial question here, however, is what the person believes about Yeshua. As a general rule, people who deny that the whole Bible is the Word of God usually end up denying certain key things about Christ, such as His virgin birth and deity. Once they deny these things, then they no longer hold to the gospel which was being preached by Paul.

If you were a rabbi in Judea in the first century and I asked you how I might obtain eternal life, what Scripture would you show me? In other words, what was the difference between a “believing” and a “non-believing” Jew, both attempting to follow Mosaic Law?

The difference between a believing Jew and a non- believing Jew (assuming we are not dealing with idolatry, which was no longer a Jewish problem in the first century B.C.) would be recognizing the true purpose of the Mosaic Law. The believing Jew would put his faith in the God of Israel, trusting Him for his salvation as did Abraham, when God reckoned it to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6). Once the believing Jew put his faith in the God of Israel, trusting Him alone for salvation, he would then view the Law as a rule of life for one already saved rather than a means of salvation. The unbelieving Jew, however, would view the Law as a means of salvation, thus trusting in his own works. That is why Paul spent so much time in the Book of Romans distinguishing between salvation by works of the Law versus grace through faith. The unbelieving Jew has put his faith in his own works to (try to) earn salvation, whereas the true believer realizes that he can do nothing to commend himself before God, thus resting and relying upon God’s mercy.

I feel very desperate, alone and afraid. I wonder if the Lord still accepts me. My fear is that I may not be saved. Is there any way to know for sure?

Concerning your fear that you may not be saved, I can assure you that unbelievers do not worry about such things. This is a type of concern that is usually expressed only by believers, and that tells me you are truly saved. The Messianic Bible Studies “Eternal Security” (MBS102) and “The Five Warnings of the Book of Hebrews” (MBS135) that are being sent to you will also help you to see clearly that our salvation is truly complete and not something that we can lose.

My mother recently died, and to the best of my knowledge, she never accepted Christ. Does this mean that she was not among the elect, and what is her responsibility in terms of her eternal destiny?

Let me begin by expressing to you my deepest sympathy and condolences for the loss of your mother. I can honestly say that I empathize with you, because my father passed away nearly five years ago, also as a confirmed nonbeliever. It was not easy to accept the fact that he is lost forever, but the fact of the matter is that if the Bible is true, I must accept what it says.

In dealing with the issue of election, it should be noted that while it is true that those who come to believe have been elected by God, it is not true to say that others have been elected for damnation. The biblical picture is something like this: All humanity is dead in their trespasses and sins; therefore, left on their own, they are incapable of believing. So, God initiated His own actions and chose those whom He would save. However, the elect will not be saved in just “any way,” but through a certain way — and that is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. To those whom God elects, He gives the grace to believe, but they must still exercise their faith to receive salvation. The point is that those who receive the grace of God to believe will then exercise their will to believe. But until that day comes, they are just as lost as the non-elect. While those who are saved are so because of God’s election and grace to believe, it is not correct to say that people are lost because they have not been elected. Rather, people are lost due to their own sin and failure to believe on Messiah. It is their own sin nature that keeps them from believing on Yeshua, and this failure is not due to God keeping them from believing. When Paul talks about the vessels of mercy and vessels of wrath in Romans nine, he switches between the middle and passive voices in the Greek. For the vessels of mercy (those who are saved), he uses the passive voice, which means, “God makes them fit for salvation.” For the vessels of wrath (those who are lost), he uses the middle voice, which means, “they fit themselves for destruction.” They do so because their own sin keeps them from believing. God, on the other hand, does not keep them from believing.

The individual is responsible to either believe or not believe, and the choice not to believe apparently made by my father and your mother was their own. God did not force them to make such a choice, nor did He prevent them from believing. If neither accepted the Lord at the last minute, I must say biblically that neither was elected to believe.

This is basically what the Scriptures teach on this matter. I don’t believe that it is totally satisfactory for any of us who have experienced this kind of loss, but I can only relate what the Bible teaches, and I can do no more than that. I do not understand every detail about the issue and do not expect to until I see the Lord face-to-face. Then, I know that all my questions will be answered to my total satisfaction. For now, our peace can only come when we understand that, indeed, “the judge of all the earth shall do right” (Genesis 18:25).

Would you explain the reason that Jews are regarded as enemies of the gospel for our sakes, but beloved for the fathers’ sake (Romans 11:28) regarding election?

The Jewish people have become “enemies of the gospel” for the Gentiles’ sake (benefit), because Israel’s opposition to the Messiahship of Yeshua is what caused the gospel to go out to the Gentiles originally. For the sake of Gentile salvation, the Jews have become the enemies of the gospel. Had the Jews accepted the gospel and the Messiahship of Jesus, then it would not have been necessary for God to create the new entity called the Church. But the Jews are “beloved for the fathers’ sake,” meaning that they have never lost their covenantal standing, and, therefore, the Abrahamic Covenant made to the “fathers” (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) still stands. For that reason, in the future, there will be a national salvation of Israel.

Sharing with my pastor some days ago about sin and repentance, he pointed out to me Ezekiel 18 and said that any person who sins as a Christian and repents is forgiven and does not lose his/her salvation, but all past rewards are null and void. That basically means that you go back to square one and anything done right up to that sin is wiped out. That does not make sense to me. Could you please explain this chapter?

If you look at the context of Ezekiel 18, you will notice there is nothing in that passage that teaches that if you sin, you lose all of the rewards you have built up and you will have to start over again from scratch. That passage is not even dealing with the issue of rewards, but rather the issue of the losing of physical life for being disobedient in the context of the Mosaic Law.

It is true that is is possible for believers to lose their rewards, but not for every sin they commit. It is only believers who have fallen into perpetual sin which brings on the discipline of physical death (like those of Hebrews 6 and I John 5:16) that lose all of their rewards. That was the exception to the rule and most believers do not fall to that degree of sinfulness. The way the Bible describes the issue is that when a believer is living the life he should live, he is building with gold, silver, and precious stone. When he falls into sin, during that time of his life he is building with wood, hay, and stubble. While he is living in sin, he is not increasing his reward, but he is not losing the rewards he has built up so far. Therefore at the Judgment Seat of Messiah, the wood, hay, and stubble will burned away and the gold, silver, and precious stone will be purified. No, believers who sin and then repent do not go back to square one and have to start all over again. They simply go back on the path of sanctification from which they stepped off, then continue to build from there. That would be a more Biblical way of viewing this.

In Luke 17:37 when one is left and the other taken, the disciples want to know where the one will be taken. Jesus doesn’t seem to really answer this question. Please explain.

The question in Luke 17:37 is actually not asking where they are taken, but rather where the second coming of the Messiah will take place. The question is similar to one in Matthew 24. Jesus does not name the place of the second coming, but merely gives a clue: wherever the body is, there will the vultures be gathered together. The body refers to Israel, and the vultures refers to the Gentile armies. Where the body of Israel is located, there the Gentile armies gather, and where the Gentile armies gather, that is where the second coming of the Messiah will be. Jesus does not actually answer the question because he presupposes Old Testament knowledge based upon passages such as Isaiah 34:1-7 and Isaiah 63:1-6, as well as Micah 2:12-13. The basic answer is the city of Bozrah, better known today by its Greek name of Petra.

A detailed study of Petra, as well as the rest of Jordan and Israel, can be found in our book A Study Guide of Israel: Historical and Geographical.

I am trying to understand how the Jews who returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile worshipped in the rebuilt Temple. Since they did not have the Ark of the Covenant, what would have been found in the Holy of Holies, and what did the High Priest do on the Day of Atonement? I guess this question would also be extended to the Temple as it was in Jesus’ time. When the Veil was rent at his death, what would have been seen beyond the veil? I have read in your Yom Kippur publication what modern day Jews do for Day of Atonement observance. Does this apply in any way to pre-70 A.D. worship in the Second Temple?

Your observation is correct: there was no Ark of the Covenant to be put in the Holy of Holies when the Temple was rebuilt and reinaugurated in 515 B.C. What they did is get a hold of a stone that remained from the Solmonic Temple and put that stone within the Holy of Holies and on the Day of Atonement they would sprinkle the stone with the Day of Atonement blood. Thus when the veil of the Temple was torn, what was seen would have just been the large foundation stone.

For more details as to what was conducted in the second Temple period, I highly recommend a book by Alfred Edersheim entitled The Temple and its Ministry in the Time of Christ. I think you will find a lot of the details there that you may be looking for.

As I have a great interest in the Book of Revelation, I was very interested in the following statement contained in a Jewish history book: “For the Judaean in Persia … the Torah was a book with seven seals.” What is the meaning or significance of “seven seals”?

The fact of something being closed with seven seals basically emphasizes the secrecy of the document. It generally means something that was divinely decreed, but, nevertheless, hidden in mystery form. The usage of the expression “seven seals” stresses the extreme nature of the mysteries contained inside.

That emphasis is clear in the quotation you mention: “… the Torah was a book with seven seals” for the Judaean(s) in Persia because these Jews had become accustomed to Aramaic script, and, so, were unable to read the Old Hebrew script of the Torah. Until it could be rewritten in Aramaic script, then, the Torah was sealed with seven seals, meaning that its mysteries (content) could not be comprehended.

By the same token, the scroll of Revelation five was tightly closed with seven seals, its content a complete mystery until is was made available in Revelation 6-22. The concept of hidden content fits well with Jewish usage of the terminology, as the quote you cite concurs.

I might also add that under Roman law, scrolls were required to be sealed seven times, and it is known that the scrolls of Roman Emperors, such as Augustus and Vespasian, were sealed seven times. The point of similarity, here, is that the content would be a secret or a mystery until it was opened following the death of the Emperor. Some of this also seems to apply to Revelation five: Only the Lion-Lamb was qualified to open the seven-sealed scroll, as only God the Son had shed His blood and died; this seems to be emphasized in the statement describing the Lion-Lamb as “though He had been slain.” Though Roman practice may have been of some influence in John’s writing, I think the Jewish background fits it better. However, it is possible that John used both concepts here.

When do you think the 430 year sojourn began? Did it begin with the promise made to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-7, or when the promise was confirmed to Jacob on the way to Egypt in Genesis 46:3 (the idea being that the children of Israel were in Egypt for 30 years before the start of 400 years of affliction)? In Dr. Cooper’s book “Messiah, His First Coming Scheduled” pages 129 to 135, it states that the children of Israel were in Egypt for only 215 years. Do you agree with Dr. Cooper’s position? Which position is correct?

I think the best way to count off the 430 years would be to begin with the official day of the weaning of Isaac in Genesis 21:8. I would agree that the period of sojourning was not just in Egypt but included the sojourning in both the Land and in Egypt and I would agree the Egyptian sojourning was closer to 215 years.

So I agree with what you read in the work by Dr. Cooper on that point.

What does it mean to worship in “spirit and truth” (John 4:24)?

When Yeshua made this statement, He was contrasting it with having to go to a physical location in order to be able to really worship God. For the Jewish people, the physical place of worship was the Temple in Jerusalem, and that is where they had to go to actually worship God. The Samaritans held a different view, that Mount Gerizim was the place to worship God. Jesus points out that the Jews were correct, as God chose Jerusalem and not Mount Gerizim. He then goes on to say that the day would come when one need not go to a physical place to worship God, but could worship wherever he would happen to be. So with Messiah’s death, resurrection, and ascension — and the fact that our bodies are now the temple of the Holy Spirit — we can worship God anytime, anywhere, without obligation to go to any physical location to do so.

How did the Star of David originate, and does it hold any significance to our cultural history and God’s plan?

Let me begin by pointing out that the English word “star” is not the correct translation of the Hebrew. The Hebrew word is Magen David which means “the shield of David,” not “the star of David.” It is called the shield of David because Jewish tradition holds that David wore this particular insignia on his shield. There is no biblical or historical validity to that legend however. The earliest known usage of the Star of David is in a second century synagogue in Capernaum, but, even then, it was one of many symbols there and not particularly unique. In fact, it became a common Jewish symbol for Jewish identity and nationality only in the Middle Ages and not before. People have come up with various interpretations as to the Star of David, such as two pyramids or triangles to symbolize the Trinity of God or the trinity of man (body, soul and spirit). But these are all theories superimposed upon the symbol and have nothing to do with its actual origin. Therefore, I would not make anything more of it than to say that it became a common symbol of Jewish nationality in the Middle Ages and continues to be so to this day. I would not try to compare it with any symbols, satanic or otherwise, or try to assign it spiritual meanings with which it did not originate.

My sister recently committed suicide after about 15 years of being in and out of psychiatric hospitals. What is the Bible’s stand on suicide?

Please accept our deepest condolences for the passing away of your sister. To answer your question, the Bible does not actually pass a moral judgment on suicide but only records those events in which people took their own lives.

It is commonly taught that anyone who commits suicide automatically condemns him or herself to hell, but that is simply not taught in Scripture. Committing suicide is certainly a sin, as a person taking his or her own life takes a prerogative that belongs only to God. But if a person has truly been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, then that person cannot commit any sin that would cause him or her to lose their salvation. And that includes the sin of suicide.

I have read that the temple veil, torn at Christ’s crucifixion (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45), was woven with a panorama of heaven, and was about 3 feet thick, so that when it was torn that itself was a miracle. What of this is true, and then what does the symbolism mean for us today?

The information you received is not quite correct. The veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place was not woven with a panorama of Heaven, but was woven with two dimensional images of the Cherubim (Exodus 26:31, 36:35; II Chronicles 3:14).

Furthermore, it was not three feet thick but it was approximately 4-5 inches thick. Even with that thickness it would require a divine miracle for it to be torn in half form top to bottom. If a man went in to do so he could only reach the bottom and tear it from the bottom to the top. But the tear began at the top and worked its way to the bottom which again indicates this was something only God could do.

Insofar as what the symbolism means, the basic meaning is that all believers now have direct access to God. During the reign of the Law only one man, out of one family, out of one clan, out of one tribe, out of one nation, and out of one race, ever had access to God’s presence, the Jewish High Priest, and even for him only one day in the year, the Day of Atonement. But now we can all enter into God’s presence if we have faith in the Messiahship of Jesus and do so on a daily basis.

I have been taught that it is our duty to give precisely one tenth of our gross income to the church. Under this teaching not doing so is thought to be robbing God of what is His. What are your views on tithing?

Concerning your question on tithing, what you have been told is a good example of what happens when people pull certain verses out of context and then misapply what they have pulled out of context.

First of all, the actual Mosaic tithe was not 10 percent but 22-23 percent. That is because there were two annual tithes of 10 percent each and a third tithe every third year. The total averages out to 22-23 percent.

Second, the tithing itself was aimed strictly at the farming community, which most Jews were a member of at that time. They had to tithe from what was grown and what was raised such as flocks. Anyone else outside the field of farming would simply pay the annual half shekel at Passover.

Third, tithing was part of the Mosaic Law and therefore was only in force as long as the Mosaic Law was in force. The Mosaic Law came to an end when Messiah died on the cross.

Fourth, the biblical principle for today’s giving is not based upon tithing but based upon giving as the Lord has prospered. From week to week the percentile might be different depending on the obligations we might have.

Fifth, the Bible nowhere says we are to give our entire offering (not tithe) to the local church. On the contrary, we are told that we should lay it in private deposit and strictly distribute our giving as necessary. The certain things we are required to support would include the local church, but that does not mean they get the entire amount of our offering. There are other ministries we are obligated to support such as whom we learn the Word from (Galatians 6), Jewish ministries (Romans 15:25-27), and others we give to as we are led to give. There is no need to feel guilty if somebody tries to get on your case for not tithing specifically to the church. The verses they use are verses that deal with the Mosaic Law. The storehouse was in the Temple Compound where the food was stored and not the church treasury.

Based on Paul’s teaching about those observing the Law being under a curse (Galatians 3:10-14), does this mean that churches and believers who believe they must follow the law of tithing are under a curse?

Paul’s basic teaching throughout Galatians is that Gentile believers who wished to submit to the Law through circumcision were, in turn, obligated to keep the entire Law (613 commandments). By so doing, they placed themselves under a curse — the disciplines of God detailed in several Torah passages (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28-29; etc.) — as they would find it impossible to keep the whole Law.

I would not say that modern-day “Law-keepers” are necessarily under a curse, but the fact remains that it would be impossible to keep the tithe exactly as Moses commanded: a largely agricultural, annual rate of 23 percent. Though they would not necessarily suffer any special judgment from God, I do believe they rob themselves of His blessings that come through the teaching of grace-giving.

Is it possible to prove from the Bible that the gift of tongues no longer is given?

We cannot actually prove exegetically that the gift of tongues has come to an end. While many use I Corinthians 13:10, they tend to interpret the word “perfect” as referring to the canon of Scripture, but this does not fit the context. While the word is a neuter, Paul did use a neuter in the context, the soma, which is the body, and therefore, the point of that passage is that when the body is complete. The gifts will come to an end when the body is complete, at the rapture.

Rather than debating over I Corinthians 13:10, the better way to deal with the issue is to clearly identify what tongues was in the Bible. It was a real spoken language with all of the rules of grammar, syntax and diction.

It was not a mere repeating of two or three syllables rapidly, which is what goes on in most charismatic circles. In fact, I would say the vast majority, if not all, who claim to speak in tongues, are not actually speaking a biblical gifting of tongues. In a minority of cases, it is no doubt a demonic manifestation. For most however, it is simply something learned and imitated from being in a circle that teaches this practice.

Paul deals with the proper use of this gift in only one passage, I Corinthians 12-14. He does so because the Corinthian church was misusing it. First Corinthians 12 teaches a number of specific basic truths concerning this subject:

1. Every believer is baptized by the Spirit;

2. The product of Spirit baptism is not any specific gift, but rather membership in the body of Messiah;

3. Every believer has at least one or more gifts;

4. No one gift is given to every believer;

5. No believer gets all the gifts;

6. There is an order of importance for the gifts and tongues is the least important;

7. If you are a believer and do not speak in tongues it means you automatically have a superior gift.

Therefore, you should not worry about it. My observation is that some are so focused on what they think their gift is that they do not spend too much time worrying about the biblical details of biblical truth. This tends to keep them away from the Bible rather than drawing them to the Bible

When will the works of the martyred saints of the Tribulation be judged?

There is no judgment of the works of martyred Tribulation saints. It would not be necessary because in the Tribulation there will be no room for carnal, wishy-washy believers. The issues in the Tribulation between Christ and the Antichrist will be so clear cut that those who make a decision for Jesus know they are risking their very lives in doing so and many are martyred. In fact, the Tribulation saints co-reigning with Messiah are those who actually were martyred for their faith. They clearly already evidenced, by their martyrdom, their absolute loyalty to Messiah and, therefore, there is no need for any special evaluating judgment for them.

What is the Purpose of the Great Tribulation?

There are three main purposes for the Great Tribulation. The first of these purposes is to make an end of wickedness and wicked ones. “The earth is utterly broken, the earth is rent asunder, the earth is shaken violently. The earth shall stagger like a drunken man, and shall sway to and fro like a hammock; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it, and it shall fall, and not rise again” (Isaiah 24:19-20). The closing words of this verse state that the basic reason for the judgments of the Tribulation is that the transgression worldwide shall fall and not rise again. Its purpose is to make an end of wickedness.

The second purpose of the Tribulation is to bring about a worldwide revival. This purpose is given and fulfilled in Revelation 7:1-17. In this passage, John states that 12,000 Jews will be selected from each of the Twelve Tribes, adding up to a total of 144,000 Jews. It is by means of these Jewish evangelists that God will bring about the worldwide revival and accomplish another goal of the Tribulation.

The third purpose of the Tribulation is to break the power or the stubborn will of the Jewish nation. The Tribulation will continue and will not end until this happens. So from this, the third purpose of the Tribulation can be deduced: God intends to break the power of the holy people in order to bring about a national regeneration. The means by which God will perform this is given in Ezekiel 20:33-38. In this passage, Ezekiel draws a simile with the Exodus. After God gathers the Jews from around the world, He will enter into a period of judgment (the Tribulation) with them. The rebels among the Jewish people will be purged out by this judgment. Only then will the whole new nation, a regenerate nation, be allowed to enter the Promised Land under King Messiah.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more on this read Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s book The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events.

Could you help me with a point of early Jewish thought? Many people are aware of the idea that there were two comings of the Messiah. One from the line of David and one from the line of Joseph. I have heard that some early Jewish teachers actually saw this not as two comings of two Messiahs, but two comings of one Messiah. Do you know of any references which would verify/invalidate this?

The need to square the suffering, rejected and executed Messiah with the supernaturally endowed victorious hero of alternate Messianic texts led to a near monolithic consensus among the rabbis for a thousand years regarding the two Messiah theory. Nonetheless, what those two Messiahs would look like and how they would function was an area of diverse opinion. There is no clear rabbinic smoking gun text for us to quote which proves that anyone expected one Messiah in two advents. Nonetheless, Ibn Crispin in the 14th century identified Isaiah 53 as King Messiah as did Moishe Alshekh in the 16th century. A helpful book is Rafael Patai’s “The Messiah Texts.” I know of no clear rabbinic sources prior to the 10th century that make any kind of clear statement regarding a single Messiah in two advents.

Can you please tell me if you think the Two-House theology has any scriptural foundation?

The whole Ephraim heresy is simply a reworking of the old British Israelite theory with a different twist, but it is just as wrong and just as unhistorical as it can be. It presupposes that there are ten lost tribes of Israel but these were never lost and the doctrine makes many other presuppositions and faulty exegesis that are simply not true. It is simply a movement of a group of Jewish wannabes but has no historical validity and even worse, it has no exegetical validity of any biblical text. It is one of those new movements that seem to have become prominent among different groups who want to claim Jewish origins or Israelite origins. It is a recently discovered “truth” that nobody else knew for 2,000 years. Getting involved with that will take you away from the Bible and not to it, so you can safely ignore that whole cultic element.

I remember someone teaching that the unleavened bread served at Passover was supposed to be “striped and pierced” like our modern matzah crackers. This was supposed to create a symbolic link with the whipping and crucifixion of Jesus. I cannot however find a Biblical reference for this. Is this valid, or is it a fable or something added later to Passover by Christians?

Insofar as the Law of Moses is concerned, the bread for the Passover was to be unleavened, and no other rules are given. However, rabbinic law that came into being in between the two Testaments decreed that the bread must also be striped and pierced. The rabbinic reason given for this practice was to impede or slow down leavening so the matzah could bake before leavening began. So combining biblical or rabbinic law, the bread had to be unleavened, striped, and pierced. Taken together, the biblical and rabbinic laws provide a fitting description of the body of the Messiah, which was unleavened (sinless), yet striped and pierced.

The Bible focuses on biblical law, but sometimes it does focus on rabbinic law and sometimes on both. For example, the Mosaic law never mentioned wine as part of the Passover observance; and, therefore, the drinking of wine was a rabbinic innovation not a biblical one. Yet at His last Passover, Yeshua (Jesus) not only brought out the significance of the bread as representing His body, He also brought out the significance of the cup as representing His blood; and, therefore, in this case rabbinic law was validated.

The Old and New Testament teaching seem in conflict over the use of force. Could you tell me when, if ever, it is appropriate for a believer to use force?

Actually, the teachings about use of force between the Old and New Testaments are not really at odds, but are complimentary, having a different focus on when, where and how. For example, both the Old Testament and New Testament (Romans 13) teach that it is proper to use force for the purpose of restraining evil and wickedness in the world. It is also proper to use force for the defense of a nation. However, the one place it is not permitted to use force is for the defense of the faith. As far as the faith is concerned, we must turn the other cheek and we must be willing to become martyrs. As far as protecting ourselves from crime and protecting our nation from foreign aggression, then force is allowed by both testaments. The Bible does not teach pacifism. Pacifists usually use verses that apply for the defending of the faith, and ignore the context, which has nothing to do with defenses against evil doers and against national aggression.

The Old and New Testament teachings on the use of force seem quite at odds. Is the use of force ever morally right? How does the Lord want these things handled? In prison, this issue is especially hard [for me].

Actually, the teachings about use of force between the Old and New Testaments are not really at odds but, instead, complimentary, simply having different focuses on when, where and how. For example, both the Old and New Covenants teach that it is proper to use force in order to restrain evil and wickedness in the world, as well as for the defense of a nation. However, the one area in which force is not permitted is for the defense of the faith. As far as our faith is concerned, we must turn the other cheek and be willing to become martyrs. In regard to protecting ourselves from crime and our nation from foreign aggression, force is allowed by both the Old and New Testaments. The Bible does not teach passivism; pacifists usually misuse verses that apply to the defending of the faith and ignore the context, which has nothing to do with defenses against evildoers and national aggression.

To answer your specific question concerning your personal status in prison, the question must be asked: what is the motivation of the attacker? Is he attacking you because of your faith in Yeshua? If so, then you cannot use force to defend yourself. However, if he is merely attacking you because he is an evildoer, then you have the right to use all means at your disposal to defend yourself against him.

Does a person need to be ordained in order to baptize another believer?

Concerning the question of who is qualified to baptize, nothing in the Bible requires the baptizer to be an ordained minister, or an elder, or even a deacon in a local church. Because the act of baptizing is a spiritual function, it is something I believe the Bible limits to males. But any Christian male in a right relationship with the Lord is qualified to baptize.

I do make one minor recommendation on this subject. Because the ritual of water baptism has all too often been connected to a specific denomination or as the means to joining a specific church, I always suggest that baptizing be done in a neutral place — such as a beach, a lake, river, perhaps even a private swimming pool. This may help separate the ritual from other non-related issues such as church membership, etc. Water baptism is an outward ritual of one’s inward faith, just as communion is an outward ritual or representation of the spiritual truth of that which Messiah accomplished through His sacrificial death.

Water baptism is not the means by which new converts are welcomed into the Body of Yeshua, as it is Spirit baptism that actually places one into the Body.

You teach that the biblical definition of a Jew is strictly by bloodline, which means that one cannot, in the biblical sense, become a Jew, and that a Jew cannot become a non-Jew. Yet, Esther 8:17 states, “And many among the peoples of the land became Jews, for the dread of the Jews had fallen on them.” This seems to allow for a second biblical definition of a Jew. Ryrie notes, “i.e., embraced the religion of the Jews as proselytes.” Please comment.

The translation of Esther 8:17 as “became Jews” is unfortunate since that is not the actual meaning of the term. The Hebrew word is hityahadim which would be better translated as “converting to Judaism.” That would be the reason Ryrie footnoted it as meaning the embracement of the Jewish religion and they became proselytes. The Hebrew text does not say they became Jews but that they became Judaistic and converted to Judaism.

Is Jewishness carried through the male or female genealogy?

As with so many similar, controversial issues, the answer here differs between the Scriptures and Judaism. The Biblical rule is that Jewishness is traced through the father; according to Judaism, it is traced through the mother. But the Bible is for believers the determining factor: if the father is Jewish, the child is Jewish. In a situation where the father is Gentile and the mother Jewish, another Biblical priciple comes into play — the offspring of such a marriage have the option to identify with either side, just as Timothy did.

Are there black Jews? I’ve heard that there are some in Ethiopia. Black people are supposed to be descended from Ham, but where did his descendants settle after the flood?

There are black-skinned Jews, and they are from Ethiopia. Up until three years ago, the majority of black Jews were still in Ethiopia, but most of them have now been airlifted to Israel — and this is where the majority of black-skinned Jews live today. It is correct that the black population descended from some of the sons of Ham, and, based upon Genesis 10, we know that these people settled in Central and South Africa. Other olive-skinned descendants of Ham, such as the Egyptians, settled in North Africa. And the descendants of Ham€s fourth son, Canaan, also olive-skinned, settled in the land of Canaan which later became the land of Israel.

The origin of the black Jews comes from an intermarriage between the local Hamitic black and Jewish Semitic populations. After Babylon destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B.C., many Jews fled to Egypt and later became Egyptian army members who guarded the cataracts of the Nile in regions that are today Ethiopia. These Jews from Israel intermarried with the local black population that had adopted Mosaic Judaism — such is the origin of the Ethiopian Jews, sometimes known as the Falasha Jews.

I have recently had some discussion at my local church on the subject of Israel and the Church. I have always believed in the clear distinction between the two and was arguing that point whilst others were holding that the church has replaced Israel in its blessings etc. During our discussion I was attempting to illustrate one of the differences being that Israel is referred to as the wife of Jehovah and the Church is called the betrothed Bride of Christ. I was quite surprised by the response that came back to me. It was stated quite firmly that my theology is incorrect because that statement would mean that God will have two wives and that is not possible. The question was then asked where does that leave Jewish believers? Who will they be married to as they cannot be married to both God and Jesus. I am not sure how to answer these two points with a reasoned answer. This does not effect my original understanding and I have just purchased Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s Israelology book to gain a better insight to the subject but it is obviously going to take some time to work through. Would you please be kind enough to help me answer these two questions?

This is an issue on which there is much confusion and disinformation within the Church. I am attaching Arnold’s excellent Messianic Bible Study entitled “The Wife of Jehovah and the Bride of Messiah” (MBS015) on the contrast between wife and bride, which I believe you will find most useful in directly answering your questions and friend’s objections.

In short, your theology is not only correct, it is what the Bible teaches. God is not a bigamist, because He is not limited to one person. Both Father and Son are pictured as having unique relationships with Israel and the Church respectively. As to Jewish believers, as a result of both genealogical heritage and theological belief, they are biblically considered both wife of God and bride of Christ. To state otherwise minimizes or excludes the Jewish believers’ membership in either Israel or the Church. The Jewish remnant are 100% members of both Church and Israel and possess a unique dual status. Anyone who wants to limit the position of the Jewish remnant does so contrary to Scripture’s clear teaching.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Answer contributed by Steven Charles Ger, Th.M., Director, Sojourner Ministries.

What is the meaning of “wisdom” in Proverbs 8?

A lot of interpretation problems have arisen because people have assumed that the word “wisdom” is merely used as a symbol for Christ. That is simply not the case. Wisdom in Proverbs is simply personified (given the characteristics of personality) to teach how important wisdom is. The point is, if God used wisdom when He did His creation work, so must man.

Furthermore, the word “wisdom” in Hebrew has the basic meaning of skill and the proper use of skill to make things work. It does not really relate to intelligence, as such, for which there are different Hebrew words to be used, but even a person who is untaught can still have wisdom in the sense of skill. This kind of wisdom is shown only by the fruit of one’s hands and that is why it mentions God having this kind of wisdom from the time He began creation because at that point you can see the work of His hands. Obviously, God had intelligence throughout all eternity, but the kind of wisdom that Proverbs is dealing with is that kind of wisdom that is practical, as seen in the results, as is the case of creation. The six days of creation are the visible evidence of the wisdom of God in the way the word is used by Proverbs.

Again, wisdom is simply being personified in Proverbs, and personification is a common teaching tool in Scripture. You see another good example of personification in Judges 9:7-15 where various trees are personified in order for the purpose of teaching something. I see no reason to try to make wisdom in Proverbs a symbol of Christ because that is where a lot of the exegetical problems come in.

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