Question 59. In our congregation, there is a couple who lives together outside of marriage. The man and the woman are not members of the congregation. Does the Bible say that believers must become members of a church?

The issue of church membership is not dealt with in the Scriptures for one simple reason: In the days when the Scriptures were written, there were not multiple churches in one city. There was just one local church per city, and any believer living in that city was automatically a member of that local church under the authority of the elders of that city. Hence, there was no need for church membership.

In light of what has happened since then, church membership has become an important issue. The believer is committed to a specific local body if he is willing to be supportive of the body both financially and in the use of his spiritual gifts, but also be in subjection to the leadership of that local body.

Obviously church discipline cannot be imposed upon nonmembers, which is why church membership is vital. Anytime there is a moral issue that would bring disrepute upon the local church, church discipline needs to be imposed. Those who are members are held to a higher standard. If a member goes into sin, church discipline should be imposed, especially if it is a moral issue.

The couple you mentioned who are living together outside of marriage but are not members of the congregation, cannot be disciplined by your church at this point. But their immoral lifestyle should definitely be dealt with.


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

 

Question 58. Don’t rabbis cover their heads when they pray, yet Paul says men should not cover their heads when praying?

Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered, dishonors his head. (I Cor. 11:4)

Your observation is correct that Jewish people do cover their heads not just when they pray, but during the whole synagogue service. Orthodox Jews even cover their heads throughout the day. This shows that Paul’s instructions in I Corinthians 11:2-16 are not coming from his Jewish/rabbinic background, but that he is laying down other rules and regulations for believers of the body of the Messiah. So, if you take the passage literally (as I do), the men should have their heads uncovered, whereas the women should have their heads covered. When I speak in my own Messianic congregation where I am a member, I do not cover my head. My wife, on the other hand, does cover her head when she attends any church meeting, since we both take the text very literally.


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

 

Question 56. In Colossians 1:18, Jesus is said to have “first place in everything.” Wouldn’t being first place in everything include being the first to have a glorified human body? If so, into what state were Enoch and Elijah translated when they were taken into heaven? How does this transition differ from physical death?

He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have the first place in everything. (Col. 1:18; NASB)

The emphasis in Colossians 1:18 is on Messiah’s preexistence and preeminence in dealing with all the created order. He precedes everything, and He is also the One who holds the universe together. He is essentially the One whom scientists unknowingly refer to as “atomic glue.”

Even if we relate Messiah’s being “first place in everything” to His glorified body, there is a difference between the nature of His resurrected body as over against what happened with Enoch and Elijah, as there is a difference between the resurrected body and the translated body. Both end up being glorified, but the resurrected body is given to the person who died and rose again and therefore passed from mortality to immortality and was glorified. Yeshua was the first one to receive that kind of glorified body. He has therefore a glorified resurrected body.

The concept of translation, on the other hand, is when a living body passes from mortality to immortality without undergoing physical death and by translation is also glorified. Both Enoch and Elijah have this kind of translated body. All saints who are alive at the time of the rapture will also not be resurrected, but will be translated and therefore also glorified.


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

Question 55: When God made the covenant with David, why was there no blood sacrifice as in the Abrahamic covenant? Aren’t all the biblical covenants “blood covenants”?

There are various types of covenants in Scripture, including a shoe covenant (Ruth 4:7), a salt covenant (Num. 18:19), and a blood covenant. The last example is the most solemn type of covenant.

Often, covenants were sealed by a covenant meal. That was true when the covenantal partners were people. An example is found in Genesis 26:30, where Isaac and Abimelech entered into a mutual covenant and the terms were sealed by a covenant meal. The principle also held true when the covenantal partners were God and men. This can be seen in Exodus 24, where, after establishing the Mosaic covenant, God shared a meal with the elders of Israel.

The various types of covenants had different elements. For example, a blood covenant always required the shedding of blood. The Abrahamic covenant is an example of such a covenant. Since there are different types of covenants, not every single element has to be true of every single covenant. For example, the principle of exchange was not always true for every covenant. It was certainly true with the salt and shoe covenants, but not with the blood covenant. Therefore, since not all the elements have to be present for each covenant, the lack of mention of these elements in the Bible may simply mean that they were not necessary. For example, the Adamic and Edenic covenants are covenants although they do not have all the elements of the other biblical covenants.

While all covenants contain certain promises and provisions, not all promises of God were put in the terms of a covenant. There are covenantal promises, but there are also promises which are not covenants. Many promises of God are not expressed as being a covenantal arrangement. For example, God promised the second coming and the Messianic kingdom. When He did so, there was no formal agreement, and no response was expected from the recipients of the promises. Yet, even without a covenantal arrangement, God will keep these promises.

Covenantal promises are always part of a legal arrangement. Therefore, the eight covenants make up all legal arrangements between God and the covenanted one.
In both cases, of course, God will fulfill both the promise and the covenant, but the covenant by nature is more solemn. Hence, in Hebrews 6:13, the author emphasizes both the promise and the oath.

You can find additional teaching about the nature of covenants, in Volume 1 of our Come and See series, titled The Word of God: Its Nature and Content, found in the Ariel Store.


Click here to learn more about Ariel Ministries and to 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 click Thank you!

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

Question 54: Why did God almost kill Moses when he was on the way back to Egypt to deliver the Israelites (Exodus 4:24-26)?

Exodus 4:24-26 fits well into the overall picture of the Abrahamic covenant. From Exodus 2:23-25, you will notice that the basis for the Exodus was God’s promises to Abraham in the Abrahamic covenant. On the basis of this covenant, Israel would be rescued out of Egypt. Then, in Exodus 3-4, God calls Moses to deliver Israel out of Egypt. By the time we get to the segment in question, Moses was finally being obedient in heading for Egypt with his wife and sons (Ex. 4:20).

Moses was married to a Midianite woman, and the Midianites did not practice circumcision. In Exodus 4:24-26, only one son was circumcised, which would indicate that when the first son was born, Moses had him circumcised, but his wife may not have liked what she saw. Therefore, when the second son was born, Moses failed to circumcise him, which was in disobedience to the Abrahamic covenant as detailed in Genesis 17. The failure to circumcise could be punishable by death. Now, the question arises: If God was going to save Israel on the basis of the Abrahamic covenant, how could He use someone who was clearly being disobedient to that covenant? Hence, God struck Moses with a very debilitating sickness of some kind that brought him close to death and made him too weak to move. His wife recognized what the situation was. Realizing that to save her husband’s life she would have to be the one to circumcise that second son, since Moses could not do so, she took a flint and performed the circumcision. By so doing, she saved the life of her husband, yet, she was not happy with what she had to do and kept calling Moses “a bloody bridegroom.”

Because of her negativism over the act of circumcision, the wife and sons were sent back to Midian and did not travel with Moses to Egypt. Therefore, they failed to see all of the supernatural works that God performed during the time of the Exodus. When the Jewish people finally arrived at Mount Sinai, Moses’ father-in-law had to bring his wife and sons to Moses at Mount Sinai. Moses’ failure to obey the sign of God’s promises to Abraham brought discord and sadness to the lives of his entire family.


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

Question 53: Is the term “Jews” a title just for the two tribes of Benjamin and Judah? Are the other ten still the “lost tribes” of the house of Israel?

The concept of the ten lost tribes of Israel is actually a myth, and they were never lost. This is quite clear historically. When the northern kingdom went into Assyrian captivity, they were settled in specific cities in Assyria. When Babylon conquered the Assyrian empire, all ten tribes fell under the Babylonian sovereignty. Babylon also conquered Judah, thus subduing the remaining two tribes. So all twelve tribes were under the same sovereign authority of Babylonia.

When the Medo-Persian empire conquered Babylonia, all twelve tribes fell under Medo-Persian authority. The Persians allowed the Jews to return to their home country, and most members of all twelve tribes did indeed return to the Land. However, other members of all twelve tribes stayed where they were.

Luke 2 refers to Anna as being “of the tribe of Asher,” one of the so called “ten lost tribes.” Quite obviously, Anna was not lost. James addressed his epistle “to the twelve tribes of the Dispersion.” He did not need to look for the “lost tribes” in order to deliver the letter to them.

By later New Testament times, personal identification by once distinguishable tribal names became less prominent. Thus, Paul called himself a Hebrew, and he also called himself an Israelite. In Philippians 3:5, he identified himself as a Benjaminite, but he also called himself a Jew, which became a generic term for the members of all the tribes of Israel. So, all those who call themselves Jews today can come from any of the twelve tribes of Israel and not just two.


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

Where is Paradise?

The Greek word for Paradise is ‘paradeisos’, which means “a royal park” or “a garden.” It is a New Testament term only, and it is found in three passages.

The first is Luke 23:43, where Jesus/Yeshua said to the crucified thief: “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.”

The second passage is 2 Corinthians 12:4, which states that the apostle Paul was caught up into Paradise.

The third passage is Revelation 2:7, which speaks of the future: the tree of life will be in the Paradise of God.

Paradise describes the abode of the righteous ones, no matter where that abode may be at any point in time. In Luke 23:43, it is the same as Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:22) because, at that point, all the righteous ones went down to the righteous side of Hades, known as Abraham’s bosom. Until the death of Jesus/Yeshua, Paradise was in Abraham’s bosom.

According to 2 Corinthians 12:4, Paradise today is in Heaven. At the Ascension of Jesus/Yeshua, Abraham’s bosom was emptied. Believers no longer descend down to Abraham’s bosom but now go directly into Heaven. Today the believer’s abode is Heaven, and so Paradise is now in Heaven.

Revelation 2:7, speaks of the future when Paradise will be in the New Jerusalem, which means that the abode of Paradise will change again. As the New Jerusalem on the new Earth will be the abode of all believers after the 1000-year Messianic Kingdom, even so, Paradise is going to be in the New Jerusalem.

To summarise, from Adam until the Ascension of Yeshua the Messiah, Paradise was in Abraham’s bosom. From the Ascension of the Messiah until the end of the Messianic Kingdom, Paradise is in Heaven. Then after the Millennial Kingdom and for all eternity, Paradise will be in the New Jerusalem on the new Earth.

Reasons and/or Purposes for Israel’s Election

While Israel was chosen on the basis of God’s love, there was purpose and reason to Israel’s election.

A key purpose is stated at the outset of God’s revelation at Mount Sinai in Exodus 19:6:

‘… and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.’

Israel’s status as a holy nation was based on her election. A purpose of the election was for Israel to be a kingdom of priests. While Israel had a priestly tribe, the Tribe of Levi, the nation as a whole was also to be a priesthood. The historical function of a priest was to represent man to God. The Tribe of Levi represented Israel before God; and Israel was to represent the Gentile nations before God. This was perhaps the primary purpose of Israel’s national election and all other reasons are subservient to this one.

A second reason was to be the recipient of God’s revelation and to record it. For this reason, Israel received the Law of Moses (Deut. 4:5-8; 6:6-9; Rom. 3:1-2).

A third reason was to propagate the doctrine of the One God in Isaiah 43:10-12:
Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am Jehovah; and besides me there is no saviour. I have declared, and I have saved, and I have showed; and there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and I am God. In this passage, Israel was chosen to proclaim to the Gentile nations two things: first, that Jehovah, the God of Israel, is the only God; and, second, He is the only Savior and all who seek salvation must find it in Him.

A fourth reason was to produce the Messiah (Rom. 9:5; Heb. 2:16-17; 7:13-14).”

Excerpt From: Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum. “Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology.”Also in ePub (iPad) and Mobi (Kindle) formats.

The Land Covenant: Deuteronomy 29:1 – 30:20

Introduction:

Although this covenant is within the fifth book of Moses, Deuteronomy 29:1 clearly shows that the Land Covenant is distinct from the Mosaic Covenant:

‘These are the words of the covenant which Jehovah commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which he made with them in Horeb.’

A. The Participants in the Covenant:

This covenant was made between God and Israel, the same two parties as the Mosaic Covenant.

B. The Provisions of the Covenant:

Eight provisions can be gleaned from this passage.

First, Moses spoke prophetically of Israel’s coming disobedience to the Mosaic Law and her subsequent scattering over the entire world Deuteronomy 29:2-30:1. All remaining provisions speak of various facets of Israel’s final restoration.

Secondly, Israel will repent in Deut. 30:2: ‘… and shall return unto Jehovah your God, to all that I command you this day, you and your children, with all your heart, and with all your soul; …’

Thirdly, the Messiah will return in verse 3a: ‘… that then Jehovah your God will turn your captivity, …’

Fourthly, Israel will be regathered in verses 3b-4: ‘… and have compassion upon you, and will return and gather you from all the peoples, whither Jehovah your God has scattered you. If any of your outcasts be in the uttermost parts of heaven, from thence will Jehovah your God gather you: …’

Fifth, Israel will possess the Promised Land in verse 5: ‘… and Jehovah your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and he will do you good, and multiply you above your fathers.’

Sixth, Israel will be regenerated in verse 6: ‘And Jehovah your God will circumcise your heart, and the heart of your seed, to love Jehovah your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, that you may live.’

Seventh, the enemies of Israel will be judged in verse 7: ‘And Jehovah your God will put all these curses upon your enemies, and on them that hate you, that persecuted you.’

Eighth, Israel will receive full blessing; specifically, the blessings of the Messianic Age in verses 8-20.

C. The Importance of the Covenant:

The special importance of the Land Covenant is that it reaffirms the title deed to the Land as belonging to Israel. Although she would prove unfaithful and disobedient, the right to the Land would never be taken from her. Furthermore, it shows that the conditional Mosaic Covenant did not lay aside the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant. It might be taken by some that the Mosaic Covenant displaced the Abrahamic Covenant, but the Land Covenant shows that this is not true. The Land Covenant is an enlargement of the original Abrahamic Covenant. It amplifies the Land aspect and emphasizes the promise of the Land to God’s earthly Jewish people in spite of their unbelief. The Abrahamic Covenant teaches that ownership of the Land is unconditional while the Land Covenant teaches that the enjoyment of the Land is conditioned on obedience.

D. The Confirmation of the Covenant: Ezekiel 16:1-63:

The Land Covenant received its confirmation centuries later in Ezekiel 16:1-63. In this very important passage concerning God’s relationship to Israel, God recounts His love of Israel in her infancy in verses 1-7. Later, in verses 8-14 Israel was chosen by God and became related to Jehovah by marriage and hence became the Wife of Jehovah. However, Israel played the harlot and was guilty of spiritual adultery by means of idolatry in verses 15-34; therefore, it was necessary to punish her by means of dispersion in verses 35-52. This dispersion is not final, for there would be a future restoration on the basis of the Land Covenant in verses 53-63. They were guilty of violating the Mosaic Covenant in verses 53-59, but God will remember the covenant made with Israel in her youth in verse 60a and will establish an everlasting covenant, the New Covenant in verse 60b and this will result in Israel’s national salvation in verses 61-63.

E. The Status of the Covenant:

The Land Covenant, being an unconditional covenant, is still very much in effect.

Taken from ‘The Word of God: Its Nature and Content’ – For the following versions of this book please click on Paperback; ePub (for iPad) and Mobi (for Kindle)

The Purpose of Israel’s Stumbling – Romans 11:11-15

Here again Paul raises a question to be refuted: I say then. The question is: Did they stumble that they might fall? (v.11a). Was Israel’s stumbling which he spoke of back in 9:30-33 for the purpose of Israel’s falling? Was the purpose so that God could reject and cast off His people? (Paul is looking at the majority that did stumble.) The Greek word that Paul used for fall refers to “a complete and irrevocable fall.” So was the stumbling of Israel for the purpose that Israel would irrevocably fall and never rise again? Paul then gave the answer: God forbid! May it never be! In the light of God’s faithfulness, this is unthinkable. They have stumbled, but it was not for the purpose of falling irrevocably. God planned for Israel to stumble for the purpose of Gentile salvation; for the purpose of Gentile salvation, Israel stumbled. But Gentile salvation is subservient to Jewish salvation.

Having said this, in verses 11b-15 Paul points out that since Israel’s stumbling was for the purpose of Gentile salvation, which is the riches of the world or the riches of the Gentiles, this fact should lead to some key lessons. Paul then spelled out the purpose of Gentile salvation (vv.11b-14): to provoke Jews to jealousy (v.11b). This is a reference to Deuteronomy 32:21, already cited back in 10:19. Gentile salvation is, therefore, for the purpose of provoking the Jews to jealousy. Why is God saving Gentiles today? To provoke the Jews to jealousy. The Greek word Paul used means “to come alongside someone and to cause him to boil or seeth with jealousy.” The reason God saved the Gentiles was so that a believing Gentile would come alongside an unbelieving Jewish person and cause the Jewish person to become jealous because of what that Gentile believer had and become a believer in the Messiah also.

Verse 12 presents a contrast between partial and fullness. Concerning the partial, there is now a reduction of the nation to a remnant of believers today, but in the future, there will be a national salvation of the nation as a whole and this will be their “fullness.” The first lesson to learn about Israel’s stumbling is that Israel did not stumble for an irrevocable fall. The reason for Israel’s stumbling was that salvation could now go out to the Gentiles. Now that salvation has gone out to the Gentiles, the purpose of Gentile salvation is to provoke the Jews to jealousy to bring them to salvation (vv.13-14). The purpose of Israel’s stumbling was Gentile salvation, and the purpose for Gentile salvation is Jewish salvation. That is the methodology by which God has chosen to work.

There is a second lesson to be learned (v.15): all of this will result in blessings for Israel. Paul states that if the stumbling and casting away of Israel meant the reconciliation of the Gentile world, then the receiving of Israel would mean life from the dead. This is the statement of Israel’s place in God’s blessing. The unbelief of Israel was directed toward the restoration of faith; the fall of Israel was directed toward their reclamation. The fulness here refers to Israel’s complete restoration. If by the fall of Israel the Gentiles received the gospel, how much more will the Gentiles be blessed by Israel’s return. It is an argument from the lesser to the greater. If the Gentiles have received this much blessing by virtue of Israel’s stumbling, just think how much more blessing the Gentiles will have when Israel is saved. This will lead to the second coming and the establishment of the kingdom. This is why Paul labored so hard among the Gentiles (vv.13-14). In this way, even more Jews will be provoked to jealousy and believe, and this, in turn, will mean even more blessings for the Gentiles (v.15).

The point Paul makes is that it was God’s plan for Israel to reject the Messiahship of Jesus so that for awhile the gospel would go out to the Gentiles, during which time they were to provoke Jews to jealousy until eventually all Israel is saved. Paul builds upon Isaiah 49:1-13 where Isaiah taught the same thing: that the Messiah would come to Israel, Israel would reject Him, and the Messiah would then, for awhile, become the light to the Gentiles; but eventually Israel will return to Him and be restored. Paul does not say anything new here; he just points out the way Isaiah 49 is being fulfilled in this day.

 

Excerpt from Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology

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