Question 85. Could you help me understand the meaning of the terms “restrainer” and “lawless one” in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8? I have heard that the restrainer could be the Holy Spirit or the church, but I read in one of your books that the restrainer is human government.

The full text of 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8 (ASV) reads:

6 And now ye know that which restrains, to the end that he may be revealed in his own season. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness does already work: only there is one that restrains now, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord shall slay with the breath of his mouth, and bring to nought by the manifestation of his coming…

ANSWER
What is being restrained in 2 Thessalonians 2 is lawlessness. The principles and teaching in Genesis 9 and Romans 13 are that restraining lawlessness (not sin) is the function of human governments. In 2 Thessalonians 2, Paul does not identify the restrainer as being the Holy Spirit because that is not the function of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, he does not identify the restrainer as being the church either. Authoritarian governments, such as communist or Islamic governments, have been much more successful in restraining lawlessness than the church ever has been.

It is important to note that 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 speaks of the restraining of lawlessness, not of evil or “the evil one.” Lawlessness was already in existence in 2 Thessalonians 2, but the lawless one—the Antichrist—was not. He will not be able to gain world authority until he kills three of the ten kings opposing him. So, on the one hand, human government is even now restraining lawlessness. On the other hand, the government of the last of the three kings will restrain the Antichrist, the lawless one, until the middle of the tribulation. Once he kills the third of the last three kings, then the other seven will submit to him, and that is the moment when the lawless one will take over the world and lawlessness will become his government policy.

Our book The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events, has an appendix dealing with 2 Thessalonians 2 that might prove helpful.

[For a limited time, you can freely read or download Appendix 2 from the book. If you don’t already have it, The Footsteps of the Messiah is Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s classic work unfolding the panorama of end-time events described in the Bible, and is available from our Online Store.]


Arnold Answers is a series of questions from readers with answers from founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

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!

Question 84. Is there biblical evidence to prove that abortion is wrong?

ANSWER:
The basic evidence is that God views the result of conception as already being a person in the womb of the mother. The unborn child is viewed as a person not upon birth or at the first breath but at the moment when the seed of the man and the egg of the woman unite.

Some examples from the Scriptures include the fact that the child in the womb of Hagar was viewed as a person who would father a great people (Genesis 16:11-12), and the same thing was true of Isaac through whom the covenant people came into being.

A key passage is Jeremiah 1:4-5. In these verses, God told the prophet that He had sanctified him when he was still in the womb of his mother. God had set Jeremiah apart to become a prophet before he was even born: “Before you came forth out of the womb, I sanctified you.” In fact, God went even further and said, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” So, in the knowledge of God, even before conception, Jeremiah was always viewed as being a person, and while he was in the womb of his mother, he was already set apart to become a prophet of God.

The fact that God sees a child in the womb as being a person is also seen in Psalm 139:15-16.

Even the prophecy of the Messiah shows that while in the womb of His mother, He was already viewed as being a person with a special calling (Isaiah 49:1, 5).

The same principle is found in the New Testament. John the Baptist began to be viewed as a person while he was still in the womb of his mother. When his mother, Elizabeth, heard the voice of Mary, he leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth took that to be prophetically significant (Luke 1:41-45). The same thing holds true for Yeshua in the womb of Mary in Luke 1:30-35.

Just as Jeremiah was sanctified to be a prophet when he was in the womb of his mother, by the same token, Paul was already sanctified to be an apostle when he was in the womb of his mother (Galatians 1:15).

There is no statement in the Mosaic Law saying that a person who was responsible for the accidental death of an unborn child must be put to death. While unborn children and women were viewed as being persons, they did not necessarily have the same rights under the Mosaic Law as men did. However, the differential treatment by the law did not show lack of personhood, only a lack of status.


Arnold Answers is a series of questions from readers with answers from founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

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!

Question 82. Did Jesus enter Jerusalem on the donkey on the day that the Passover lamb was to be chosen?

This question and the next in our Arnold Answers series have to do with Yeshua’s last days in Jerusalem leading up to his death and resurrection. Here is the reader’s question in full:

Question. Do you believe that Yeshua entered Jerusalem on the donkey on the 10th of Nissan, the day that the Passover lamb was to be chosen? I have always felt that as precise as the Lord was to fulfill the typologies of the feasts, He would also have presented Himself as the Passover lamb in Jerusalem on the 10th. If that is a consideration, then the 14th would have been on Thursday. What are your thoughts about that?

Answer. To answer your question, yes, the Messiah rode into Jerusalem on the donkey on the 10th day of the 1st month, which is the day that the Passover lamb was set aside. From the 10th until the 14th day of the month, the Jewish people were to test the Passover lamb to make sure that it was without spot and without blemish. In that same period, the Messiah was tested and questioned by four different groups of Jewish leaders (Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, and scribes). He was proven to be without spot and blemish. He would have partaken of the Passover meal with His disciples on the evening of the 14th day of the month, and then on the 15th day of the month, at 9 a.m. (which was the first day of Passover), He was nailed to the cross at the very same time when the Passover sacrificial lamb was offered up by the priests in the Temple compound, to be eaten by them later in the day.

For more detailed explanations you can check out two of our publications: Yeshua – The Life of Messiah from a Messianic Jewish Perspective and The Feasts and Fasts of Israel: Their Historic and Prophetic Significance.


Arnold Answers is a series of questions from readers with answers from founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

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!

Question 81. Does God have two brides in Scripture?

QUESTION
In your writings, you distinguish between Israel as the wife of Jehovah and the church as the bride of Christ. Does this mean there are two brides?

ANSWER
Yes, there are two distinct brides, with Israel being the bride of God the Father and the church being the bride of God the Son. A simple observation shows that these two entities need to be distinguished. The wife of Jehovah is Israel, who, although already married to God, became an adulterous wife. God eventually divorced her, and she is suffering a period of punishment. Ultimately, however, she will return to the Lord and will be remarried to God the Father. The church is viewed in Scripture as the bride of the Messiah and His betrothed wife but still a virgin and not yet joined to her husband. So, one woman is an adulterous wife, and the other woman is a virgin who is not yet joined to her husband. Therefore, these two brides could not be one and the same, as is often taught in replacement theology.

For a more detailed explanation concerning the distinction between Israel and the church, please refer to my book The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events and What the Bible Teaches About Israel: Past, Present, and Future.


Arnold Answers is a series of questions from readers with answers from founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

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!

Question 79. I am having trouble understanding the “seven spirits” or the “sevenfold spirit” of Revelation. Could you enlighten me?

Being end of October (sometimes referred to as “Halloween”) in an unprecedented year, Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s answer is a good reminder of the goodness and holiness of the Spirit of God who points us to Yeshua.

Answer:
The references to the “seven spirits” of God in the book of Revelation have an Old Testament background, namely, Isaiah 11:1-2. The emphasis in verse 1 is on Messiah’s lowly origin. In verse 2, we are told that this Messiah will have the sevenfold fullness of the Holy Spirit. The description used here is representative of a Jewish menorah or seven-branched lampstand. The “Spirit of the Lord” is mentioned once, followed by three more references to “the Spirit of,” each one followed by two attributes. menorah
When looking for the fulfillment of this prophecy in the life of Yeshua, we find that in John 3:34, John the Baptist describes Yeshua as having the fullness of the Spirit: For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure. The New Testament teaches that all who believe in Yeshua as Messiah are given a measure of the Holy Spirit. Because each believer only has a measure of the Spirit, each one has different gifts and ministries (I Cor. 12:13-14). No one ever has all of the gifts because God has ordained that the members of the Church be mutually dependent. Yeshua, however, was given the Spirit “without measure.” In Scripture, the number seven signifies perfection, completeness, or fullness. The sevenfold nature of the Spirit in Isaiah 11:2 is therefore synonymous with the measureless fullness in John 3:34. It also corresponds to the “seven spirits” of Revelation 1:4, 3:1, 4:5, and 5:6.


Arnold Answers is a series of questions from readers with answers from founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

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!

Question 78. Does the word translated “replenish” (ASV and KJV) in both Genesis 1:28 and Genesis 9:1 mean that Adam was to “replenish” a previous age of mankind that was destroyed in Genesis 1:2?

This question has to do with a view amongst some Bible teachers that there is a “gap” of eons of time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.

QUESTION:
I have a question regarding the different translations of Genesis 1:28 and 9:1. The ESV renders the verses this way:

1:28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, . . .”

9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.

The ASV and KJV both use the word “replenish” instead of “fill.” Some commentators say that just as Noah was to replenish the earth that was destroyed by water, Adam was given the same command. He was to “replenish” a previous age of mankind that was destroyed in Genesis 1:2. Are you able to give me any insight on this?

ANSWER:
The Hebrew used in Genesis 1:28 and 9:1 simply means “to fill the earth” and does not, by itself, carry the concept of replenishing. Whether replenishing is implied must be determined by the context and not by the meaning of the word itself. In the case of Genesis 9:1, it obviously would refer to refilling the earth, but in Genesis 1:28, there is nothing in the context to imply that there was previously any kind of human race before the creation of Adam.


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 is a Question and Answer series with questions submitted by readers and answered by founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 77. Is Matthew right or Luke right in the order of Yeshua’s teaching on the unpardonable sin and parables of the kingdom?

This reader’s question has to do with apparent conflicts in the order of events between Matthew’s and Luke’s gospel accounts. Here is the full QUESTION:

I am confused by the events of Matthew 12-13 conflicting with the chronology of Luke 8 and 11. Matthew says chapters 12-13 occurred on the same day, and it seems that he gives the logical chronological order of the unpardonable sin followed by mystery kingdom parables. Luke, on the other hand, records the unpardonable sin in chapter 11 and the parables in chapter 8. So, it appears that Matthew, rather than Luke, has the proper chronological order. Could you please explain what is going on?

ANSWER:
Strictly speaking, the only parallel passages dealing with the initial rejection of the Messiahship of Yeshua by the Jewish leaders and the committing of the unpardonable sin are the accounts of Matthew 12 and Mark 3. When Yeshua begins moving into parabolic teaching in the parallel passages Matthew 13 and Mark 4, Luke includes the parabolic teaching in chapter 8, but totally skips the national rejection of the Messiah mentioned by Matthew and Mark. The events mentioned in Luke 11 did not happen at the same time or in the same area as those in Matthew 12-13 and Mark 3-4.

In the opening of Luke 11, the Pharisees and Scribes are not mentioned, and the accusation against Yeshua is coming from the members of the multitude (Lk. 11:15). This reveals that the multitude at this point of time is beginning to believe what the Pharisees and scribes had been saying against Yeshua. Luke chooses to record the subsequent events, that is, the crowd’s questioning, which followed the rejection by the leaders that Matthew and Mark record.

A helpful resource for you would be Ariel’s Harmony of the Gospels or the Harmony of the Gospels by A. T. Robertson. These resources will show you the difference between what is happening in Matthew 12-13 and what is happening in Luke 11, indicating that these are different times and different circumstances, though they certainly have points in common.


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 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.