Question 6: What does it mean to worship God “in spirit and in truth,” and does the Bible specify a particular style of worship?

John 4:24 says:

God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

Answer: Concerning what Yeshua meant about worshipping God “in spirit and in truth,” one has to consider the context of Yeshua’s conversation with the Samaritan woman. In this conversation, the question came up whether Jerusalem or Mount Gerizim was the proper place of worship. Hence, the issue was not the form or type of worship, but rather: Must the worship of God occur in only one specific place? The Messiah declared to the Samaritan woman that, for the time being, Jerusalem was the proper place of worship. It was where the Temple stood and, therefore, worshipping God and trying to fulfill the commandments on Mount Gerizim was simply not acceptable. Then, He went on to say that a time was coming when the issue would be neither Jerusalem nor Mount Gerizim, but rather worshipping Him in spirit and in truth. When the Messiah died, the Law of Moses was rendered inoperative. Believers are no longer obligated to travel to Jerusalem to fulfill the commandments. Rather, they are able to worship God wherever they live, as long as they worship Him in spirit and in truth. To worship Him “in spirit” does not refer to a specific type of worship, but the inner attitude a man has when he worships God. When a person is worshiping God and their mind, heart, soul, spirit, etc., are focused on Him, then they are worshiping Him “in spirit.” To worship “in truth” is to worship Him with an understanding of the truths the Bible teaches about God’s nature and person and work. There was a time when worshipping God in spirit and in truth could only take place in Jerusalem, but now such worship can take place anywhere.

As far as the style of worship is concerned, in Scripture, the concept of worship was not so much intertwined with style or form, but with obedience. In places like Mark 7:1-11, keeping the commandments of God would be considered true worship, whereas keeping the commandments of men would be considered empty worship. Thus, whenever we are conscious of the commands applicable to us and are keeping them on the basis of the fact that they are divine commandments, the very act of obedience already involves worship.

Insofar as corporate worship is concerned, the rabbinic writings provide the details of what used to constitute corporate worship. To a great measure, corporate worship consisted of reciting prayers and the singing of psalms. I have met worship leaders who emphasized dancing, jumping, and shouting. Unfortunately, more often than not they were imposing their own charismatic culture on the text. That is not the way it was necessarily practiced in Judaism. This does not mean that these things are wrong, but they were not really the intent of the Hebrew and Greek words, nor was dancing, jumping, and shouting the format used by Jews in early worship. In fact, often, these worship styles lead to disorder, and that is why Paul warned the Corinthian church, primarily a Gentile church, that all things should be done decently and in order. Today, there are congregations that allow worship dancing, and many of them do so in a way that is honoring to the Lord. In others, they may call it worship dance, but frankly, I see hardly any difference between the dancing in these churches and the jumping up and down during a rock concert.

To a large measure, the style and type of worship tends to be determined by cultural preferences, and so God has given people much freedom here, as long as the principles of decency and order are not violated. Furthermore, any form of worship must not supersede the primary purpose of the meeting of the body—which is to learn from the exposition of the Word of God. The exposition of the Word of God and submission to it with knowledge and, therefore, in spirit and in truth, is the ultimate way of worshipping God.

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Question 5: What is the role of women in the following verses?

1 Corinthians 14:34-35: The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. (NASB)

1 Timothy 2:11-12: A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. (NASB)

Answer: Before answering this question, let me begin by simply noting that my tendency is to take the Bible literally unless there is something in the context that tells us we cannot do it that way. Therefore, I would take the passages you asked me about quite literally, as that is always the safest way to handle the Word of God.

However, I want to make sure it is understood that the issue is not that God thinks more of a man than a woman, or that men are superior to women in any spiritual sense (the reverse is often more true than not), nor is there any difference in regards to intellectual capacities between males and females. However, God has assigned different roles to male and female believers in the body of the Messiah, and the two passages you asked about bring out one of the ways these roles are to be manifested.

Concerning I Corinthians 14:34-35, the basic ruling is that in the meeting of the church, women should not speak publicly. This is true for any meeting of the local church, scheduled by the elders for any day of the week. The role of the woman is to be in submission, and Paul points out that this was applicable during the period of the law and continues into the dispensation of grace. However, the means of showing submission is quite different. In this age, one of the ways women show submission is to not speak out publicly in the meeting of the church but to remain silent, even to the point of not asking any questions. Beginning in chapter 12, Paul made it clear that women can have spiritual gifts as well, including the various speaking gifts, but the principal difference is the audience and the location. Women cannot use their speaking gifts in the meeting of the church.

First Timothy 2:11-12 adds that although women can have the same spiritual gifts as men, they cannot exercise the gift of teaching in reference to men. They can exercise their gift by teaching children or other women, but they cannot teach men. The very act of teaching the Scriptures means exercising spiritual authority, and women are not to have spiritual authority over men. This is the reason for that ruling.

For more details on this issue, see “The Role of Women in the Local Church” found in the Messianic Bible Study, mbs106, “The Local Church”.

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Question 4: Does the meaning of “forever” differ in the Old and New Testament?

Answer: The answer is that we are dealing with two different languages. What a word means in Hebrew might not be the same as what the word means in Greek.

In Classical Hebrew, there was no word that meant “forever” in the eternal sense. When the Jewish people wished to convey the concept of eternity, they had to use a phrase such as “without end.” The Hebrew word olam means nothing more than the end of a period of time. That period of time can be a man’s life, ten generations, an age of dispensation, or the end of human history. I have given a number of examples in my writing where you have all four usages of that term. Even those who want to claim that the Mosaic Law “is forever” often have to fudge because the same term is used for things like the Levitical priesthood, the blood sacrifices, and other elements that they all agree was not intended to be practiced forever in the eternal sense.

When the New Testament talks about our having eternal life, it uses a Greek word, ainos, and the Greek word does have the same connotation as the English word “forever.” That is why we can claim that our salvation is indeed eternal because it is not based upon a Hebrew word, but a Greek word that carries that meaning.

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Question 3: In the Bible, what does the expression mean “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”?

Answer: The expression is used in the Gospels and in the book of Revelation. It was an idiomatic statement teaching this: Those who have the capacity to understand what is being taught should therefore heed what is being taught, but also apply the teaching and obey any commandments contained therein.

For example, in the seven letters to the seven churches, there are specific admonitions given. The members of those local churches who have the spiritual capacity to understand are therefore to act upon those very admonitions.

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Question 2: I have not been able to find any verses regarding the age of accountability. Are there any Scriptures on this?

Answer: The reason you have not been able to find any verses that discuss the age of accountability is simple: The Bible never talks about an age of accountability.

The term “age of accountability” developed in early church history. There were infants and children who died before reaching the point in their life where they could make a specific decision, and the church raised the question what would happen to them. In some segments of the church, a teaching developed that there is an age of accountability, and if a child dies before that age, he is guaranteed salvation. Other segments of the church were not sure of this and came up with the doctrine of the baptism of regeneration. They taught that the baptism of a baby guarantees his salvation, regardless of the age of his death. That was the time when infant baptism came into being.

The fact is, the Bible itself never talks about such an age, nor does it specify one way or the other what happens to infants when they die. I certainly know what I wish to believe, but if I were forced to produce a verse, I would not be able to do so. It is one of those questions that must be left in God’s hands, although it is not always comforting to a parent who has lost a small child.

There are also those who are convinced that all children who die end up in hell since they are already born under the condemnation of sin. Here again, the Bible does not specify that teaching either. From my perspective, because the Bible does not speak to it, my response is that we cannot know. But we can be sure that the Judge of all the earth shall do right, and whatever He does in this case, we will all someday understand that it was the right decision.

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Question 1: In John 2:4, Yeshua responds to His mother, …

“Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” (NASB) What does this mean?

Answer: Yeshua’s response to Miriam (Mary) in John 2:4 was not a sign of disrespect since He would then have dishonored His mother. Rather, He was using an acceptable phrase to convey a message. He was responding to a request His mother had made, and He conveyed to her that she no longer had any parental authority over Him. At some point in life, we all need to move from obeying our parents to honoring them. Therefore, if He responded to her request, it would be a matter of honoring her, but not a result of obeying her. Yeshua conveyed this message by the phrase “Woman, what have I to do with you?”

He went on to say, “My hour has not yet come.” In most cases, that phrase would refer to His death, but in this case, it refers to Him going public with His miracles. The place to go public would not be Cana, but Jerusalem, and so Yeshua waited until Passover to perform His first public miracle. When He turned water into wine at Cana, He did so to honor His mother, and He did it rather quietly. Only a small number of people actually became aware of the fact that a miracle had taken place.

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PURIM: THE FEAST OF LOTS (ESTHER 9:17-32)

. . . because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them; . . . Esther 9:24

Today, there are nine major feasts or holy seasons of Israel. Seven of these were inaugurated by Moses in Leviticus 23.[1] Of the two which were inaugurated after the Mosaic feasts, one is Channukah, the Feast of the Dedication or the Feast of Lights; and the other is the Feast of Purim, a feast inaugurated in the Book of Esther.

THE NAMES OF THE FEAST

By far the most common name today is Purim, and this is the biblical name according to Esther 9:26. Purim is the plural form of the singular word Pur meaning “lot,” so Purim means “lots.” Purim is the Feast of Lots, and the reason this name was given is spelled out in Esther 9:24: because Haman had cast Pur, the lot, to destroy the Jews (Esth. 3:7; 9:24). Of course he did not succeed and now the feast celebrates the fact that God delivered his people from this threat. The Nazis banned Purim observances. Hitler, on January 31, 1944, said that if the Nazis went down in defeat, the Jews would celebrate a second triumphal Purim. How right he was! On October 16, 1946, ten Nazis were hung in Nuremberg like the ten sons of Haman. One of them was Julius Streicher, who said as he was hung, “Purim, 1946.”

Other names for this day include: “Mordecai’s Day” (II Maccabees 15:36; Esth. 9:20‑21), since Mordecai actually inaugurated this feast, and Id El Sukar, which is Arabic, meaning “the sweet festival.”[2]

PURIM IN THE SCRIPTURE

Esther 9:17-32 is the only passage that actually deals with this feast. From this passage we can deduce a total of eight observations and conclusions.

  1. Outside the capital city of Shushan, the first observance took place on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar.
  2. In Shushan, the first observance took place on the fifteenth day of Adar.
  3. This set the stage for a differential in later Jewish observances. To this day, in villages and unwalled towns, the Jews celebrate this feast on the fourteenth day of the month, but inside walled cities, they celebrate it on the fifteenth day of the month of Adar.
  4. There are five elements in observing the Feast of Purim. First, this was to be a time of feasting in place of fasting, which would have been the case had the Jews been slaughtered. Secondly, it was to be a day of gladness, in place of being a day of sorrow, which would have been the case if the Jews were slaughtered. Thirdly, it was to be a good day in place of a day of mourning, which would have been the case if Haman’s plot had succeeded. Fourthly, it was to be a day of giving portions one to another in place of their own possessions becoming a spoil. For, in order to motivate people to kill Jews, Haman said that those who killed the Jews would then have the right to take over their possessions, thus the Jews would then have had their possessions taken away. And, fifth, it was to be a day of giving gifts to the poor, in contrast to having nothing to give had Haman’s plot succeeded.
  5. The name for the feast was based on Haman’s actions: he cast the Pur, or he cast the lot, to determine on which day he would try to destroy the Jews.
  6. The Feast of Purim is observed because of Haman’s failure.
  7. The first observance of the Feast of Purim was purely spontaneous as a sign of relief because they had rest from their enemies.
  8. The practice of the yearly observance was initiated by Mordecai. It was his letters that encouraged the Jews to do so, and it was given the status of law by Queen Esther. The Jewish people then made a commitment to keep it yearly.

THE MESSIANIC IMPLICATIONS

Although the Feast of Purim contains no direct reference to the Messianic Person or Messianic Program, it does have something to teach about the Messianic People, the Jewish people. The Messianic Person is Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth. The Messianic Program is to bring in the Messianic or Millennial Kingdom.

The Book of Esther is a good example of a principle found in the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:3): him that curses you will I curse.

This principle of the Abrahamic Covenant teaches that those who curse the Jews will be cursed by God. The principle of the Abrahamic Covenant contains a promise of Jewish survival throughout the Times of the Gentiles. Both the Law and the Prophets emphasize the fact that the Jews will survive, regardless of how bad it may get for them during the Times of the Gentiles-that is a biblical guarantee.

The key thing about the Messianic People as taught in the Book of Esther is an example of God’s use of providence to secure the survival of Israel in the Dispersion. The one thing about the Book of Esther that is not true of any other book of the Bible is that God’s name is found nowhere in this book. This makes the Book of Esther unique from all other books. There is no mention of God, no reference to God, and no prayer to God whatsoever. In fact, the author of this book is deliberately going well out of his way to avoid mentioning God. For example, there is one situation in the book where Mordecai, the real hero of the book, is arguing with Esther to do something to help the Jews out of a dangerous predicament.

Mordecai’s words to Esther are in Esther 4:14:

For if you altogether hold your peace at this time, then will relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place, . . .

The two words, another place, is as close as this book will come to any possible reference to God. It is very obvious that the author of this book is deliberately going well out of his way to avoid mentioning God. But, if that is true, why is this book in the Scriptures? Although God is not mentioned in the Book of Esther, God is working. However, God is not working in just any old way, He is working in a perfect way. He is working on the basis of the Abrahamic Covenant, especially upon the one principle in that covenant: him that curses you will I curse.

Furthermore, we did need at least one example in Scripture that shows how God works by means of providence, rather than by means of direct intervention. Since throughout most of human history, God chooses to work providentially rather than by means of direct intervention, this book is a great example of how that system works.

The Book of Esther shows God’s use of providence to secure the survival of Israel during the period of the Dispersion. While great segments of the Jews may be killed, as it was with the Holocaust, God has guaranteed that the Jews as a people and as a nation will survive. And so it will be until Israel’s national salvation and the return of the Messiah. With Israel’s national salvation and with His return; there will be no further threat to Jewish survival whatsoever.

For a thorough discussion of Purim in Judaism, continue reading here.

Happy Purim!!



[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

[2] This name was given by the Arabs of Jerusalem during the Turkish period (1517‑1917). It became the Jewish custom inJerusalem to give sugar candies to Moslem authorities on this day, thus, the Arabs began calling this feast the “Sweet Festival.”

HOW THE NEW TESTAMENT QUOTES THE OLD TESTAMENT

Anyone who has read through the New Testament soon realizes that it frequently quotes the Old Testament and quotes it in various ways.[1] This is especially true with the Gospels. Sometimes, because the context of the Old Testament quotation does not seem to fit the New Testament context, it appears that the New Testament takes too much liberty with the Old Testament. Rabbinic writings frequently quoted the Old Testament in a variety of ways, and the Jewish writers of the New Testament followed the same procedure. The rabbis gave the four ways of quotation the title of pardes, which stood for pshat, remez, drash, and sod. The New Testament quotes the Old Testament in the same four ways as the rabbis did. This will be a study to see just how the New Testament does quote the Old Testament.

By way of introduction, it should be pointed out that, in the context of the Old Testament, there were four different types of messianic prophecy and four categories of quotations in the New Testament.

THE FOUR TYPES OF MESSIANIC PROPHECY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
There are four types of messianic prophecy in the Old Testament, including: messianic prophecy dealing only with the First Coming of the Messiah (e.g. Deuteronomy 18:15 19), messianic prophecy dealing strictly with His Second Coming and nothing else (e.g. Isaiah 2:1 4), messianic prophecy that blends the two Comings of the one Messiah into a single picture (e.g. ; Isaiah 9:5 7),[2] and messianic prophecy that gives the entire redemptive career of the Messiah, which includes four elements: His First Coming, the interval between the First and Second Comings, the Second Coming, and the Messianic Kingdom (e.g. Ps 110).

THE FOUR CATEGORIES OF QUOTATIONS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
The New Testament quotes the Old Testament, but it quotes it in four different ways or categories. Every Old Testament quotation found within the New Testament will always fit into one of these four categories. In this study, Matthew 2 will be used as a base, simply because this one chapter has all four categories of quotations.[3]

Literal Prophecy Plus Literal Fulfillment: Pshat
The first category is known as “literal prophecy plus literal fulfillment,” reflecting the rabbinic pshat, which refers to the simple meaning of the text. The example of this first category is found in Matthew 2:5 6.

This passage in the New Testament quotes Micah 5:2, the context of which is dealing with the birth of the Messiah. The literal meaning of Micah 5:2 is that when the Messiah is born, He will be born in the town of Bethlehem in the region of Judah and nowhere else; not the Bethlehem of Galilee or any other town in Judah.

In the New Testament, there is a literal fulfillment of that literal prophecy. When Yeshua (Jesus) was born as the Messiah, He was born in the town of Bethlehem, and no other town in the tribal region of Judah. Furthermore, He was born in Bethlehem of Judah, not Bethlehem of Galilee. This was a literal fulfillment of Micah 5:2. Hence, literal prophecy plus literal fulfillment. The prophecy makes only one point. When it is fulfilled in the New Testament in a perfect way, the New Testament quotes the Old Testament.

Literal Plus Typical: Remez
The second category of quotations can be labeled “literal plus typical.” In rabbinic theology it was known are remez or “hint.” An example of this category is found in Matthew 2:15.

This verse quotes Hosea 11:1. In the context of Hosea 11:1, the prophet is speaking of the Exodus, a literal historical event, not a prophecy. The background to Hosea 11:1 is Exodus 4:22 23. Israel as a nation is the son of God: Israel is my son, my first born. When God brought Israel out of Egypt, it is pictured by Hosea 11:1 as God bringing His son out of the land of Egypt. That is the literal meaning of Hosea 11:1; it is an historical verse dealing with an historical event, the Exodus.

However, the literal Old Testament event becomes a type of a New Testament event. Now there is an ideal Son of God, the individual Son of God, the Messianic Son of God, the Messiah Himself. When Yeshua was brought out of the land of Egypt as a babe, God was again bringing His Son out of Egypt. This is a type and anti-type. The type was Israel, the national son coming out of Egypt. The anti-type is the Messianic Son of God also coming out of Egypt.

Literal Plus Application: Drash
The third category is “literal plus application,” correlating with the rabbinic drash. The example of this category is Matthew 2:17 18.

This time, Matthew quoted Jeremiah 31:15. The context of Jeremiah 31:15 speaks about the Babylonian Captivity, which was neither historical nor prophetic, but a current event of Jeremiah’s own time. As the captivity was starting, the picture is that the Babylonians gathered all the young Jewish men together at a meeting point where they would then begin marching these young sons away to Babylon. On the way, they went by the town of Ramah near where Rachel was buried. In the Old Testament, Rachel became the symbol of Jewish motherhood. As the young Jewish men were being taken away into captivity, Jewish mothers began weeping for sons they would never see again. Jeremiah pictured this as Rachel weeping for her children; And she would not be comforted, because they are not. Rachel weeping symbolized Jewish mothers weeping because their sons were being taken away from them. They were weeping for sons they would never see again. That is the literal meaning of Jeremiah 31:15: Jewish mothers weeping for sons they would never see again.

That verse is quoted in the New Testament because of one point of similarity. It is not a literal fulfillment nor a full-scale typology, but simply an application because of some point of similarity. In this case, the one point of similarity was Jewish mothers weeping for sons they would never see again because Herod had slaughtered all the males of Bethlehem from the age of two years old and under. Therefore, because of one point of similarity, the New Testament quotes the Old Testament as an application only.

English idiomatic expressions do the same thing. For example, take the saying, “He met his Waterloo.” What does that mean? It does not mean that the man went to Waterloo in Belgium and got defeated in a battle. However, it does go back to an historical event. That historical event had to do with Napoleon, who had ambitions to build an empire, and those rising ambitions finally collapsed at the Battle of Waterloo, when he was defeated by enemy forces. Because of one point of similaritydefeat of an ambitionthat figure is used of a man who is rising to power because of ambition, then suddenly something happens and his whole kingdom collapses. “He met his Waterloo.” Not that he went to Belgium and fought a war; rather, his ambitions were suddenly wiped out because of a climactic event in his life. By the same usage, the New Testament, because of one point of similarity, will often quote the Old Testament.

Summation: Sod
The fourth category is “summation” or “summary.” The meaning of sod is “secret” or “mystery” or “something unknown.” The example of the fourth category is found in Matthew 2:23.

The supposed specific quotation is: he should be called a Nazarene. Try as one may, one will never find a single prophecy that states: he should be called a Nazarene. Some have tried to connect this somehow with Isaiah 11:1, but that connection is tenuous. Verse 23 uses the plural term prophets, not a single prophet.

The fourth category is a summary of Old Testament teaching, not a direct quotation from the Old Testament. The clue is when the word “prophet” is used in the plural, as it is used here. In the first three categories, the word “prophet” is used, in most cases, in the singular. In the fourth category, it is used in the plural: spoken through the prophets. Rather than quoting, the author is summarizing what the prophets said. In this case, the prophets said that he should be called a Nazarene.

What was a Nazarene? A Nazarene was someone who was despised and rejected (John 1:45 46).

Nathanael’s question, Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? is reflecting the negative viewpoint people had of Nazarenes. The prophets predicted that the Messiah would be a despised and rejected individual, and this is encapsulated by the term “Nazarene.” In those days, calling someone a Nazarene meant he was despised and rejected. The Messiah would be a despised and rejected individual. That is a summation, not a quotation.

CONCLUSION

Every New Testament quotation of the Old Testament will fit into one of these four categories. The procedure is not simply “to interpret the Old by the New” as Covenant Theology insists. The procedure is first to see what the original quotation means in its own context. Once the context is determined, then it can also be determined in which of the four categories the quotation belongs. There is no need to conclude that the New Testament changes or reinterprets the Old Testament. Even preachers today make applications of biblical historical or prophetic texts to the modern situation without implying that that was the intent of the original author.

NOTES

1. This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.
2. In other words, the prophecy contains a prophecy of the First Coming and a prophecy of the Second Coming, but there is nothing in the text itself to indicate that there is a gap of time between the First and Second Comings.
3. The titles of these four categories come from David L. Cooper’s Messiah: His Historical Appearance (Los Angeles, Biblical Research Society, 1958), but they reflect four rabbinic usages.

Ezekiel 37:15‑28

Chapter 37 of Ezekiel is a highly symbolic chapter.[1] In verses 1‑14, Ezekiel deals with the symbol of the dry bones, which pictures Israel as a regathered nation in a state of unbelief. Verses 15-28 deals with the sign of the two sticks, which pictures the reunification of the divided kingdom. The historical background to this passage is found in I Kings 12 and II Chronicles 10.

Ezekiel 37:15‑17

In verse 15, the word of Jehovah comes to Ezekiel and a new prophecy is announced in verse 16. Ezekiel’s instructions are twofold: first, he is to take one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions. The phrase the children of Israel included the tribes that were allied with Judah: Benjamin and Simeon. Here, the words his companions refer to Judah’s companions. The first stick represents the Kingdom of Judah. Next, Ezekiel is instructed to take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions. The phrase the stick of Ephraim refers to the most prominent son of Joseph, who fathered the Tribe of Ephraim, the most prominent tribe of the northern kingdom. The phrase all the house of Israel refers to the other nine tribes that were allies with Ephraim; these are his companions. The second stick represents the Kingdom of Israel. The actual joining of the sticks is in verse 17. When Ezekiel joins the two sticks together, they appear to be one in his hand.

Ezekiel 37:18‑20

Ezekiel’s actions caused the people to ask for an explanation of this symbolic act in verse 18. The question raised in the minds of Ezekiel’s people, the Jewish people, was “Will you not show us what you mean by these things?” This shows that there has been a change of attitude toward Ezekiel on the part of the people. Instead of poking fun at him or simply ignoring him, he is now taken quite seriously when he performs this symbolic act with the two sticks. Ezekiel answers that God declares: Behold, I, meaning that God Himself will bring Judah and Israel together so that they will once again be one nation. God then explains how they shall be one in my hand. Note that the expression in my hand means God’s hand; it is God who is going to bring this about, not Ezekiel.

     Ezekiel 37:21‑23

The application of the sign is specifically to the people of Israel and Ezekiel emphasizes three things. (1) God will re-gather the Jewish people, (2) the people will be re-unified (cp. 1 Chron 17:21), and (3) God promises a future cleansing from idols, detestable things, and transgressions.

Ezekiel 37:24

Two of David’s offices are revealed in this verse: king and shepherd. The first office is that of a king. In the governmental system of the Messianic or Millennial Kingdom, Jesus will rule as King over the whole world. Under Him, there will be two branches of government: the Gentile branch and the Jewish branch. The Gentile branch of government will be comprised of the Church saints and Tribulation saints, who are destined to co‑reign with the Messiah over the Gentile nations. The resurrected David is destined to co‑reign with Jesus over the Jewish branch. From the viewpoint of the Messiah, David is His servant; but from the viewpoint of Israel, David will be their king. The second office of David is that of a shepherd. As a shepherd, he will guide Israel and he will feed Israel. Never again will Israel have a leader who will lead them astray. Under David’s leadership and shepherding as king, the Jewish nation will walk in the ordinances of God and they will observe God’s statutes in the Millennial Kingdom.

Ezekiel 37:25

Ezekiel brings out two thoughts in this verse, God will give them the Land of Israel; and secondly, they will occupy the Land for generations. The word they refers to the first generation that enters the Kingdom. The phrase their children, and their children’s children refers to the succeeding generations who are born in the Kingdom. The Hebrew word used here for for ever is ad olam, which means “until an age,” not “an eternity.” There is no classical Hebrew word that actually means “eternity.” The closest that Hebrew can come to that concept would be an expression like “without end.” That is, in fact, how God is described. Although the word for ever is very often found in English translations, the Hebrew word is either le olam, which means “unto an age,” or ad olam, which means “until an age.” In other words, once they are brought into the Land, they will continually possess the Land throughout the Kingdom Age. At no point during the thousand years of the Kingdom will they be dispossessed of the Land or scattered out of the Land again. Whereas earlier he was called king and shepherd, now he is called prince. From the viewpoint of Israel, he will be their king; but from the viewpoint of the Messiah, he will be a prince, because He will be under authority of King Messiah. He will be their prince for ever, but again, the Hebrew word used here is ad olam, which means “until an age.” In other words, this will be David’s office throughout the Messianic Kingdom; he will not be deposed from this position whatsoever.

Ezekiel 37:26‑28

The Millennial Temple will be built in the Millennial Kingdom and will be the Fourth Temple spoken of in Scripture. Ezekiel later details this Millennial Temple that God will erect in the Messianic Kingdom in chapters 40‑48. The basis of the Millennial Temple will be the New Covenant, a covenant of peace and it is an everlasting covenant (Jeremiah 31:31‑34).

Ezekiel makes three points. (1) God Himself will place them in the Land; not only will they have the right of possession, they will actually be dwelling in the Land, (2) Once they have settled, God will multiply them; there will be an increase of the Jewish population, (3) God will set His sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.

In this relationship, God states: My tabernacle also shall be with them. The Hebrew word used here for tabernacle means “My Presence‑dwelling” or “My Shechinah Glory.” In verse 26, the emphasis on the word sanctuary was on the holiness of the Fourth Temple, but in this verse, the emphasis on the word tabernacle is that the new Temple will be the dwelling place of the Shechinah Glory. When will the nations, meaning “the Gentiles,” know that Jehovah is the One who sanctifies Israel? God’s answer is: when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore. The Gentile nations will recognize that this restoration and reunification of Israel, with God’s Temple in the midst of them, means that Israel’s God is indeed the only true God. Ezekiel’s vision of the two sticks concludes with the promise that God will set up His dwelling‑place in the midst of the children of Israel.

[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.