Question 73. Is the proposed peace plan for Israel the covenant that will begin the tribulation?

Let me begin with a point I have often made in my writings and in my lectures on Bible prophecy, fulfilled and unfulfilled. The principle is this: Bible prophecy is never fulfilled approximately; it is always fulfilled exactly as it is written, as it is prophesied. Therefore, we must avoid what I call “newspaper exegesis.” This is the tendency of many believers to read the daily press and start speculating. Due to one point of similarity between a current event and a biblical prophecy, they believe that the prophecy has been fulfilled. I can give many past and current examples of this tendency.

Yet, the proper procedure to interpret the Scriptures is to first exegete the text in its own context and then check related passages and see exactly what the text actually teaches. However, when the text stops, then we must stop too and not engage in speculations as to how the prophecy may or may not be fulfilled. Then, if a current event actually fits exactly into a prophecy, then that prophecy is fulfilled, but not before.

So, what do the Scriptures actually teach about the covenant that will begin the seven years of tribulation? There are two key passages: Daniel 9:27 (in the context of verses 24-27) and Isaiah 28:14-22. The details of both passages are found in our work The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events (also available in ebook, Kindle, eSword, and audiobook formats), and so the following is only a summary of what is found in this book.

The covenant is made specifically between Israel and the Antichrist. In the Bible, it is never called a peace covenant, although it will be a covenant that will guarantee Israel’s military security. It is because the leadership of Israel will put their trust in this covenant and in the Antichrist, who pretends to be their friend, and not in the God of Israel, that the signing of this covenant will trigger the tribulation. Only in the middle of the seven-year period, when the covenant is broken, will the leadership of Israel finally recognize the true nature of the one with whom they signed the covenant.

Does the Trump plan fit what the Bible actually says? The simple answer is: No! Trump’s peace plan is intended to be a treaty between Israel and the Palestinians. It is to be signed by Israel and by the Palestinians and not by Israel and by Trump. If Israel does sign this covenant, it will not be because she puts her trust in the Palestinians to guarantee her military security. No Israeli leader—whether he is right wing, left wing, or centrist—will ever accept or trust any Arab leader to guarantee the military security of Israel.

What actually will happen with the Trump peace plan is unknown at this stage. However, regardless of the outcome, it is not the biblical covenant prophesied. What is known at the present time is this: The Palestinians have already rejected the Trump proposal, and in fact, they already rejected it before it went public. Hence, at this point in time, the treaty is a dead issue. If the Palestinians do not come to the conference table, Israel may choose to annex those parts of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) that have Jewish settlements. But again, none of the outcomes can be determined with clarity at this point. Whatever eventually will become definite will not fit the biblical details of the covenant that will begin the tribulation.

One more point that needs to be made is this: Our blessed hope does not lie in looking for the Antichrist, when the seven-year covenant will be signed, who will win the next presidential election, or who the next Israeli leader will be. Our blessed hope is to look forward to the day when our Messiah will come into the atmosphere and resurrect the dead New Testament saints. He will then suddenly catch up or rapture the living believers to take them into heaven. This event can happen at any moment between right now and the signing of that seven-year covenant.


Have more questions? Send them to questions@ariel.org

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord would have you be a partner in this ministry through financial support, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 72. Is the COVID-19 pandemic a fulfillment of biblical prophecy?

It is no secret that a massive plague has hit the world in general and the USA in particular. At this point, however, given the fact that there are billions of people on the earth, the actual number of those who have been tested positive is relatively small, and the number of those who have died from the coronavirus is even smaller. The pandemic is tragic, nonetheless.

Newspaper exegetes have gone to town on this event, seeing it as a major biblical issue. There are conspiracy theories all over the internet that have made COVID-19 a major issue between good and evil or God and Satan. One must be very careful of such conspiracy theories since the majority of them eventually end up blaming the Jews for what is taking place.

We have received many phone calls and some letters asking our evaluation of this pandemic, and many of those who contacted us have been influenced by this type of internet information. One email I received called COVID-19 a “plandemic” and claimed that the virus was a “bioweapon” released by “globalists” who are planning a “mass destruction upon the whole world.” The email came with the accusation that “Fruchtenbaum is silent about such a catastrophic event while this intentionally manmade and premeditated virus shuts down the world.” The writer called upon me to provide “an official biblically prophetic understanding of this end time event! For once, silence is not golden!”

This I intend to do, but many, like the writer I quoted above, may not be happy with what I have to say. I see myself as a biblicist and not a sensationalist, and I do not allow myself to be influenced by speculations that are not based on proven facts and acts. I will also not be influenced by people who see all things as being connived by a cabal, a hidden body of people trying to control the world.

In Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21, the Messiah gave a long discourse on the last days. The details of these three passages are expounded upon in The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events. Therefore, I will only summarize what is relevant to this topic.

According to the Scriptures, the event that actually triggers the beginning of the last days is when nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom (Mt. 24:7). According to Matthew, this will be coupled with famines and earthquakes. Luke adds one more element: pestilences. This term would cover plagues, diseases, viruses, and all other similar things. It certainly would include COVID-19. Therefore, the pandemic is one of the signs that we are living in the last days, but there is no need to believe in a conspiracy theory that claims that the virus will destroy the world. Biblically speaking, it will not do so.

A short while ago, I received a list of eleven questions, some of which deal with COVID-19. Two of the questions asked what a pestilence is and whether COVID-19 could be considered a pestilence. These two questions were answered above.

A third question was: Does the current pandemic fall into the category of pretribulational events? The answer is that the pandemic is not a specific event that was prophesied since the term “pestilence” is more general. COVID-19 does fulfill the general prophecy of pestilences, but it is not the only virus that falls into this category.

A fourth question was: Is the coronavirus a punishment of God? Yes, it is, but so is the common cold. When Adam fell, God judged him. God also judged what was under Adam’s authority, and this was the earth. Since the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, man has lived in a broken world, and humanity will suffer all kinds of thorns and briers, including all kinds of sicknesses. Obviously, this also includes COVID-19. Nothing ever happens outside the will of God, and nothing ever catches God by surprise. The question is this: Is what is happening a directive will of God (such as the Noahic Flood) or is it the permissive will of God (such as the fall of man into sin)? This we cannot answer because we do not know.

Our security does not lie in man or government. It lies in living a life of faith, always recognizing that God is in control. Furthermore, we must always remember Romans 8:28: And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose. We may not always know the “Why” in this life, but we will in the afterlife, in eternity.


Have more questions? Send them to questions@ariel.org

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord Messiah would have you be a partner in this ministry through financial support, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 71. I am struggling with the correct interpretation of Psalm 126. Almost all English translations show verses 2-3 as past tense and many commentaries attribute these verses to the return of the Jewish people from the Babylonian Captivity. However, in the Hebrew, these verses seem to be in the future tense, and they seem to be speaking of Israel’s final restoration. Any reason we should take these verses as past tense?

In his answer, Dr. Fruchtenbaum deals with a commonly held misconception about Psalm 126 and the Babylonian captivity. Won’t you take a moment to catch the reader’s full question before going on to Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s answer? –Ariel Ministries

Question. I am a Sunday School teacher in Japan and am struggling with the correct interpretation of Psalm 126. It would be highly appreciated if you could kindly help when you can.

Verses 2-3:
Almost all English translations show as past tense and many commentaries attribute these verses to the return of the Jewish people from the Babylonian Captivity. However, in the Hebrew, these verses seem to be in the future tense, and they seem to be speaking of Israel’s final restoration. Any reason we should take these verses as past tense?

Verse 4
The verse says, As the streams in the South. Some commentators interpret this as referring to the millennial river flowing from Jerusalem to the South (Ez. 47:1-12). Others explain the phrase as a torrent erupting over wadi. Which interpretation is correct?

Verse 5
This verse speaks of tears. Some commentators interpret this word as Israel’s mourning in the last days (Zech. 12:10). Is this a correct interpretation, or should we simply take the word “tears” as a reference to Israel’s general suffering?

Answer. Classical Hebrew, the Hebrew of the Bible, does not have tenses such as past, present, or future tense. It has only two tenses, called “perfect tense” and “imperfect tense.”

The perfect tense visualizes action as complete, and so in English, verbs in this tense are normally rendered into the past tense. However, there is another form called “the prophetic perfect” where the perfect is used, but the action has not happened yet. Because it is still future, the translators of the English Bibles usually render such verbs in the future tense.

The imperfect tense sees action as incomplete. Hence, verbs in this tense are normally rendered in the future.

Psalm 126 does not pertain to the return from Babylonian captivity, because in verse 4, the psalmist is praying for God to turn again our captivity. This shows that the psalm should be interpreted as dealing with the Messianic kingdom. Verses 1-3 are dealing with thanksgiving that will erupt when the Jews are praising God for bringing them back into the land. The Hebrew term for “streams” in verse 4 is not used of a river, but rather of a wadi. There are many such wadies in Israel where water runs only during the rainy season, from October to May. The word “South” refers to the Negev, which has many such wadies. So, the streams in the South would not be a reference of the millennial river of Ezekiel 47:1-12, but simply a promise that the wadies will continue to provide enough water to irrigate the dry land of the Negev.

Verses 5-6 simply provide a general principle: Those willing to sow the seed will be the ones receiving the benefits of the seed in a literal sense. The land will always be productive in a spiritual sense, and those who sow the message that people must believe for salvation will see people receiving that message and coming to faith.


Have more questions? Send them to questions@ariel.org

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord Messiah would have you be a partner in this ministry through financial support, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 70. How can you say that the Abrahamic Covenant teaches that ownership of the land is unconditional, and that the Land Covenant teaches the enjoyment of the land is conditional? Aren’t these statements contradictory?

Question: You state that “The Abrahamic Covenant teaches that ownership of the land is unconditional, while the Land Covenant teaches that the enjoyment of the land is conditional upon obedience.” You also state that, “The Land Covenant, being an unconditional covenant, is still very much in effect.” Aren’t you making contradictory statements?


Answer: There is no contradiction in the comments you quoted. The Abrahamic Covenant is what gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people, and based upon this covenant, actual ownership of the land is unconditional.

The Mosaic Covenant made it clear that if Israel fell into disobedience, they could lose the enjoyment of the land either by exile or by dispersion, but they would not lose the right of ownership of the land.

Deuteronomy 29, which speaks of the Land Covenant, points out that there would be a worldwide dispersion of the Jewish people because they would reject “the prophet like unto Moses.” Being dispersed from the land, they would not be enjoying the land. However, Deuteronomy 30 shows that ownership is still unconditional, and when Israel finally experiences her national salvation, God will then bring all Jewish people back to the land.

So, the Land Covenant is still very much in effect insofar as the ownership of the land always belongs to Israel, regardless of whether the Jewish people are in the land or not. Yet, their enjoyment of the land is conditional upon obedience. Therefore, when one day Israel undergoes her national salvation, the Jewish people will all be brought back to the Promised Land.


Have more questions? Send them to questions@ariel.org

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord Messiah would have you be a partner in this ministry through financial support, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 69. What is your view on Christmas?

Miriam (Mary) gave birth to her first son sometime between the years 7 and 6 B.C., but there is not enough information available to reveal when during that year the Messiah was born. The early church itself was divided as to the exact date of Yeshua’s birth. By the time of Augustine (A.D. 354-430), the Western church had agreed on the December date, which had been introduced a few decades earlier by Constantine and which corresponded to the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia. The Eastern church fixed both the birthday and the arrival of the magi on January 6th. Especially in Messianic Jewish circles, there have been attempts to prove that Yeshua was born on a Jewish holy day, with Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, being the most popular option. These attempts tend to be emotional reactions to the concept of Christmas Day, and the arguments used are often spurious. The Gospel writers are quick to connect Yeshua with the Jewish festivals. Whatever Yeshua may have said or done on a Jewish festival is freely reported. However, the birth narratives by Matthew and Luke do not mention or even imply that the birth occurred during a feast day. Certainly Matthew, who wrote to a Jewish audience, would have made such a connection if it actually happened. The very fact that neither he nor Luke make such a reference shows that the Messiah was born on an ordinary day, somewhere between 7 and 6 B.C., but the exact date cannot be known.

Now as far as observing Christmas, I personally choose not to do so and choose to focus on the actual holy days mentioned in Scripture. However, I would have no objection to observing Christmas, whether it is celebrated on December 25th or on January 6th. There are those who have the freedom to observe the holiday, and there are others who do not wish to do it. They, too, have the freedom to do what they want. Decisions like these are part of the things that believers should leave to each other since we are free in the Messiah.


Have more questions? Send them to questions@ariel.org

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord Messiah would have you be a partner in this ministry through financial support, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 68. What are the names of the first three stars normally seen in Israel at nightfall that would signify the beginning and ending of the Jewish day?

As far as I know, there are no specific names given to the first three stars which become visible on the horizon at nightfall. The important thing in Jewish thinking is that once three stars are visible, it is clear that the sun has set and a new day has begun.


Have more questions? Send them to questions@ariel.org

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord Messiah would have you be a partner in this ministry through financial support, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 67. Is it possible that a believer may need special deliverance from generational curses?

Today’s question, from a reader in Africa, is a question that many “Western” Christians are puzzled about as well.

“I would like to understand an area I feel has a huge impact on believers of an African origin. I am not sure if other cultures are faced with the same. We have instances where a believer is said to have generational curses from their ancestry or issues of avenging spirits that ‘follow them,’ usually bringing misfortune and bad luck. We have many religious and sect leaders teaching that a Christian would need deliverance from such spirits. From a biblical standpoint, does this doctrine have any merit?”

When the Bible talks about a “generational curse,” the context is Israel. Because the Jewish people had a covenantal relationship with the God of Israel, the sins of one generation could be experienced as divine discipline in subsequent generations. However, the principle of this “generational curse” does not apply to New Testament saints, not even Jewish ones. When the Messiah died on the cross, He died for all sins—past, present, and future. The kind of salvation we now have entails regeneration, which means that the new believer has complete salvation and can therefore not suffer any kind of generational curse.

Today “generational curse” is being taught by many who claim to be apostles and prophets, but they are false apostles and false prophets who do not make a distinction between Israel’s covenantal relationship with God and a believer’s covenantal relationship to the Messiah, nor do they understand the true nature of what salvation does. Those false teachers can be safely ignored and must be condemned.


Have more questions? Send them to questions@ariel.org

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord Messiah would have you be a partner in this ministry through financial support, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 66. Why do Orthodox Jews rock their heads and upper bodies when praying?

The nodding of the head and rocking of the upper body while praying is called davening, from the Yiddish word daven, meaning “to pray.” Jewish people pray through prayer books, and at certain points in their prayers, they begin to daven. This is based on Psalm 35:10, which states, “With all my bones I will praise you.” By moving in this way, Orthodox Jews believe all their bones are moving while they are praising the Lord. Biblically, however, praise does not come in the movement of the body, but from what we believe in our hearts. What we do in the external world is motivated by what is in our hearts.


Have more questions? Send them to questions@ariel.org

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord Messiah would have you be a part of this ministry through a financial gift, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 65. Why do Messianic believers prefer not to use the term “Christian”?

The term “Christian” is found only three times in the New Testament and always in the mouths of the critics, not the believers themselves. Within the New Testament, the believers never used that term of themselves. The terms “Christian” and “Messianic” really mean the same thing, but the former is from a Greek source and the latter from a Hebrew source. The Greek, Christianos (Christian), is equivalent to the Hebrew, Meshichi (Messianic).

Today, the term “Christian” carries a lot of negative baggage for Jewish people because of what has been done to them throughout history in the name of “Christ,” and so the Jewish believers prefer to call themselves Messianics rather than Christians.

The most common New Testament term for believers was “saints,” but because that now carries a lot of Catholic baggage, most believers do not refer to themselves that way.


Have more questions? Send them to questions@ariel.org

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord Messiah would have you be a part of this ministry through a financial gift, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers is a bi-weekly Q & A with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 64. I have a question about the tribulation time. Once the church is raptured, it is the end of the church age and I believe the end of the age of grace. At this time, the focus of God will revert back to His people and nation, Israel. What happens to Gentiles? Can they be saved, or do they have to become Jewish converts? I know they will be judged on how they treated the Jews during this time. Since the church is complete and gone, what do they do? I know there will be 144,000 Jewish evangelists who are going to preach the Messiah, but their message can’t be the gospel. So, to what will people get converted? How and whom will they worship?

While the rapture will end the church age, it will not end the dispensation of grace. The tribulation is still a part of the dispensation of grace. The previous dispensations ended in judgment, and the tribulation is the judgment at the end of the dispensation of grace.
We read of many Gentiles becoming believers during the tribulation. Of course, they will not be a part of the body of the Messiah, meaning the church. However, they will be among the sheep Gentiles at the judgment of the Gentiles in the 75-day interval after the tribulation. At this judgment, it will be determined who will or will not enter the Messianic kingdom.

Even after the rapture, the gospel message will remain the same, and people must believe that Yeshua died for their sins, was buried, and rose again. This is the message people must trust for their salvation even after the church has been taken up into heaven (I Cor. 15:1-4). In addition to the gospel, they will also be receiving the “gospel of the kingdom.” This message says that the Messianic kingdom will be set up once Israel becomes a believing nation.

So yes, both Jews and Gentiles will be saved after the rapture, but they will not be part of the church, meaning the body of the Messiah. They will simply be in the category of post-rapture saints.


Have more questions? Send them to questions@ariel.org

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord Messiah would have you be a part of this ministry through a financial gift, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers is a bi-weekly Q & A with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.