Question 76. In Psalm 2:8, couldn’t “ends of the earth” be poetic exaggeration referring to David’s subjugation of many nations?

In this third of a series of questions on Messianic Psalms, the reader suggests that Psalm 2, which has been traditionally interpreted as Messianic, could actually be referring to King David. Here is the full QUESTION:

In your work HaMashiach – The Messiah of the Hebrew Scriptures, you mention that Psalm 2 cannot apply to David for the following reason: “While David was a great king, God never gave him authority over all the nations (verse 8), nor did he ever rule the uttermost ends of the earth” (p. 83). However, it seems to me that the “ends of the earth” could easily be poetic exaggeration to draw attention to David’s subjugation of many nations, like Moab, Syria, and Edom (II Sam. 8). After all, Acts 2 uses hyperbole when it talks about Jews from “every nation under heaven” since this excludes China, the Mayans in Peru, etc. In Romans 16:26, Paul talks about how the “mystery” of Messiah Jesus has been made known to “all nations,” although Christianity was still mostly confined to the Mediterranean world. These aren’t mistakes; they are just common literary devices. Why take Psalm 2 any differently?

And here is the full text of Psalm 2 (ASV):

1 Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
5 Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury, saying,
6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”
7 “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
9 ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”
10 Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
11 Worship the LORD with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.
12 Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

ANSWER:

Psalm 2 is not a psalm about which there was or is a debate between Messianic Jews and non-Messianic Jews, particularly Orthodox Jews. Rather, this was a psalm that was clearly interpreted as being Messianic by Orthodox Judaism. Furthermore, the phrase “the ends of the earth” could hardly be limited to the specific nations you listed. For example, Lebanon was part of the Promised Land. Israel never owned this part of the Promised Land, nor was Lebanon under the subjugation of David. This is also true of other nations, such as Tyre, whose king was a personal friend of David. Likewise, other parts of the Middle East, such as Egypt, were a part of the known world, but they weren’t under David’s authority. So, interpreting Psalm 2:8 as a literary device describing David’s reign is difficult to defend.


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 75. It seems in Psalm 16 that David is speaking about himself, so why do you value verse 10, “You will not allow your holy one to undergo decay,” as higher than the rest of the psalm?

In this post Dr. Fruchtenbaum responds to a reader’s thought that all of Psalm 16 is referring only to David’s life, not the Messiah. Here is the full text of the reader’s original QUESTION:

Psalm 16 is said to be a Messianic psalm. Why can’t David be talking about himself in this psalm? Could the “holy one” possibly be David, who is set apart as God’s anointed? I know that David died, and this psalm says, “You will not allow your holy one to undergo decay.” But it seems like a stretch to value this vague sentence (which could refer to God delivering David from death in a present distress) higher than the rest of the psalm, which has David saying, “I” and “me” over and over again.

And here is the full text of Psalm 16 (ASV):

1Preserve me, O God; for in thee do I take refuge.
2 O my soul, thou hast said unto Jehovah, Thou art my Lord:
I have no good beyond thee.
3 As for the saints that are in the earth,
They are the excellent in whom is all my delight.
4 Their sorrows shall be multiplied that give gifts for another god:
Their drink-offerings of blood will I not offer,
Nor take their names upon my lips.
5 Jehovah is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup:
Thou maintainest my lot.
6 The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places;
Yea, I have a goodly heritage.
7 I will bless Jehovah, who hath given me counsel;
Yea, my heart instructeth me in the night seasons.
8 I have set Jehovah always before me:
Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth:
My flesh also shall dwell in safety.
10 For thou wilt not leave my soul to Sheol;
Neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption.
11 Thou wilt show me the path of life:
In thy presence is fulness of joy;
In thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

ANSWER:

The emphasis of Psalm 16:1-2 is that Messiah’s refuge is in God. In verse 3, it says that His delight is with the saints, the believing remnant, echoing the sentiments of Zechariah 11. In verses 4-9, the psalmist says that God the Father will be the Messiah’s total trust in life, and even in death, Messiah still trusts in God (vv. 10-11). The point of the song is that even though God allows Messiah to die, Messiah declares, You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay, meaning Messiah will be resurrected back to life.

Now, David was an anointed king, but this does not naturally declare the anointed one to also be God’s Holy One. David’s life could not be declared holy in any way based on his anointment alone. Furthermore, the description of death in Psalm 16 is obviously talking about the moment when the body begins to decay. While in this psalm Messiah is delivering David from present distress, that would not be equivalent to leaving his soul in Sheol. Nothing in the life of David would indicate that his own distress was the kind of distress described in verse 10.


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 74. Doesn’t a straightforward reading of Psalm 22 indicate David is talking in poetic language about his own sufferings, not about the Messiah?

A reader recently sent in the following observation with a question:

Psalm 22 seems to be one of the strongest and most detailed Messianic prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures, except for one thing: There is nothing in the psalm itself (that I can see) to suggest that it is a Messianic prophecy at all. Why not just take the straightforward reading that David is talking about his own sufferings, using poetic language to describe the attacks of his enemies?

So, in this and the next two posts of Arnold Answers we will be dealing with questions of whether several of the Messianic Psalms were speaking of the life of David, or indeed referring to the Messiah.

ANSWER:
I would certainly agree that Psalm 22 is a strong and detailed prophecy about the Messiah. However, a passage that is on an even “stronger” level would be Isaiah 52:13-53:12. Most Messianic Jews would testify that this was the main passage that led them to believe in Yeshua the Messiah. As for Psalm 22, following the rules of Hebrew grammar and noting the number of details given, it simply cannot fit within the life of David. Furthermore, the text is not connected to a particular incident in David’s life, as many of his other psalms are. Even taking into account the highly poetic language, the basic events of David’s life do not correspond to this psalm. It fits much better with the kind of death that the Messiah would die.


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 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 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 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 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 62. Yeshua said in John 14:2, “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” Could the expression “mansions” refer to other religions?

In John 14:2, the Messiah was addressing His disciples, letting them know that He would soon be leaving them to go back to where He came from. He came from heaven and therefore was now going to return to heaven. He promised that while in heaven, He would be building “mansions” for them. Once these mansions are ready, He would come back to fetch them to where He was then going. This is a special promise of the Messiah to believers that someday He will come for them to take them into heaven. This would apply to those who have accepted Him as the Messiah, and it would be totally inapplicable for any other religion.

The term “mansion” is not a good rendering of the Greek word since it has a meaning in English that doesn’t convey the meaning in Greek. The word simply applies to dwelling places within a larger area. These places will be private chambers for the individual believers.

So, if you are a believer in that you believe that the Messiah died for your sins, was buried, and was resurrected from the dead, and if you trust the gospel message as fact alone plus nothing else, then you are born again, and you will someday have one of these special places of your own in heaven.

You can find more about this and other teachings of Yeshua in the book Yeshua – The Life of the Messiah from a Messianic Jewish Perspective available in the Ariel Store


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 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.


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.