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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Question 69. What is your view on Christmas?

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Question 63. I have a friend who has been a believer for many years. She recently found out that there is some Jewish heritage in her mother’s family tree. She has since been fellowshipping with a Messianic congregation. She has just posted on her Facebook page that starting this year, she will be “going under Torah” and wanted all her friends and family to know. Should I be concerned? Is this what the early church had to deal with when the Scriptures speak of “Judaizers”? Biblically speaking, is she in any danger?

To answer your question, yes, you need to be concerned about your friend. She is falling into the heresy of “Galatianism,” and she has connected herself with the wrong segments of the Messianic movement. Those who claim to be Torah observant are in many ways continually breaking the Torah since they do not look at the details of what the Torah really says, and yes, that is what the early church had to contend with in the group known as the Judaizers.

A good book that addresses this issue is titled The Remnant of Israel, published by Ariel Ministries. It deals with various struggles of Messianic Jews and those who find a Jewish ancestor. There is even a chapter on the role of the Mosaic Law that might be very helpful to your friend if she is willing to deal with the text seriously and not be influenced by the associations she has gotten herself connected 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.
 

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.