Mapping the End Times: An Interview with Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum
Arnold Fruchtenbaum was born to Jewish parents in 1943. When he was only four, his family had to flee Russia due to false accusations of spying for the Nazi Party. While living in Germany, Arnold had a religious epiphany at age 13 and began to feel that Jesus was the Messiah of the Jewish people as well as Christians. Due to his father’s strict beliefs, Arnold was not allowed to exercise this belief by reading the Bible or visiting with other Messianic Jewish people who felt the same way. This didn’t make him change his personal beliefs, even when the family arrived in Los Angeles. When he left home in the early 1960s, he studied Hebrew and Greek at Cedarville College and traveled to Israel to further his religious studies.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, he worked with a number of Messianic Jewish associations such as the American Board of Missions to the Jews and the Christian Jew Foundation. After struggling with some of the doctrine of these groups, he went on to found Ariel Ministries in 1977. Dr. Fruchtenbaum continues to reach out to Messianic Jews around the world to help them study the Bible, live by the Scriptures and develop a personal relationship with God. He is the main speaker for the organization and spends much of his time writing books or giving inspirational talks around the world.
Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s most influential work may be “The Footsteps of the Messiah.” In this book, he pieces together the prophecies contained in the Bible to create what he believes is a clear outline of what will happen in Israel and the rest of the world.
Recently, All News Wire had an opportunity to ask Dr. Fruchtenbaum about the endtimes roadmap.
All News Wire: It seems the world has become somewhat obsessed with its own demise. There’s a great deal of chatter about 2012. Hollywood churns out one apocalyptic-themed film and television show after another. Recent events in the Middle East, Japan and New Zealand, among others, have people questioning just exactly what is going on with the world. What do you see happening?
Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum: I am very careful not to engage in what I would call “newspaper exegesis”. This is when a major event happens in the world and someone has to find the Bible verse claiming it is being filled in such and such a place at such and such a time. Normally, such fulfillments are based merely on a small point of similarity. This much I know about Bible prophecy: Bible prophecy is never fulfilled approximately; it is always fulfilled exactly and precisely to the letter. So either you have a complete fulfillment or you don’t have any fulfillment. The excitement about 2012 is largely due to reports about the Mayan calendar that supposedly predicted the end of the world in that year. Let me make two comments on this.
First, the Mayan calendar does not say that the world will end in 2012. That is only as far as the calendar went and nothing more is stated on the Mayan calendar. Second, what in the world does the Mayan calendar have to do with Bible prophecy? Since when did we begin to determine the fulfillment of Bible prophecy based upon pagan calendars?
Yes, there have been key events recently in the Middle East, Japan, and New Zealand but major events have happened throughout human history that were not directly relevant to Bible prophecy. What is clear, just as when the American Revolution and the French Revolution brought major changes in the European society, by the same token things happening in the Arab States with its autocratic rule is also going to bring some major changes and exactly what these changes will be is too soon to tell. It would not necessarily bring in Jeffersonian democracy just as the revolt against the Shah of Iran did not bring in any kind of democracy, but a stronger totalitarian government that stemmed for religious emphasis rather than purely a political one. So are any of these religious events a fulfillment of Bible prophecy? It is simply too soon to tell. So it is really time to just wait and see.
ANW: Israel plays a significant role in the end times scenario found in the Bible. For a country that is barely larger than New Jersey, it certainly seems to get a lot of headlines. What is it about Israel that captures the world’s attention?
AF: From a purely human perspective I would say the reason that Israel catches world attention is largely to do with the world’s animosity towards the Jewish people in general and the State of Israel in particular. Therefore, whatever happens in Israel is broadcasted and often Israel is faulted in those situations. From a biblical perspective I would say what we see with Israel today is an ongoing conflict of the Satanic war against the Jews that has gone on since the time of Abraham. There is one thing the Bible makes very clear: The one prerequisite to the Second Coming is Israel’s national salvation and until Israel cries out for His return there simply will not be any Second Coming. Satan also knows that once Jesus returns his career is over but he also knows that Jesus will not come back until the Jewish people ask him to come back. So if Satan can succeed in destroying the Jews before they have a chance to do so, there will be no Second Coming and Satan’s career will be saved forever. That is why there has always been the special war against the Jews since the time of Abraham. That is why things like the Crusades occurred; that is why the Russian pogroms occurred; that is why the Nazi Holocaust occurred. That is also why Revelation 12 points out that once Satan is confined to the earth in the Tribulation, he knows his time is short, and because his time is short he inaugurates a worldwide Nazi like persecution of the Jews to try to destroy them once and for all to avoid the Second Coming.
ANW: How does Jerusalem fit into all of this?
AF: While Israel in general creates a major stir in world events, the focus becomes more and more on Jerusalem because in the Scripture that is its major role in Bible prophecy in preparation for the Second Coming. It is against Jerusalem that all of the armies of the nations will gather together (Zechariah 12:1-13; 14:1-2). Because the Temple Compound in the Old City has become the third holiest site in Islam, for that reason there is particular conflict over that city at the present time. There is a principle in the origin of Islam that once something has become Muslim, it must stay Muslim forever. If for some reason the Muslims lose it, they must have a Jihad to Muslimize the place again. That is why the true Koran believing Muslim can never accept Israel’s right to exist and that is why there is so much terrorism and attacks against Israel and those who support Israel such as the USA. Jerusalem remains a stumbling stone for we try to find a way to solve an insolvable problem and only the Second Coming will bring a final solution to it.
ANW: Things continue to escalate between Israel and Iran. Iran, known as Persia, is mentioned several times throughout the Bible, but most notably in Ezekiel. What can you tell us about that?
AF: While Iran is not an Arab country it is a Muslim country and therefore as a Muslim country it has strong opposition to Israel’s right to exist. Therefore, Iran will participate in the invasion of Israel in Ezekiel 38-39. However, Jeremiah 49 also points out that the day will come when Iran will undergo a national salvation and will have peace with Israel, with the same God and the same Messiah, so as a result only then will peace finally arrive.
ANW: For years politicians have talked of a New World Order. There are many, inside and outside of the Christian community, who point to this as a call for some type of one world government. What in the Bible indicates this happening?
AF: The Bible clearly shows in Daniel 7, that eventually there will be a one-world government of some kind. Many politicians do talk of a new world order. Whether this will lead to the one-world government or not, here again, only time can tell. So again, there will someday be a one-world government but when it will happen at this point no one can know.
ANW: The Antichrist is a figure who has gained a bit of notoriety through movies, novels and even music over the past few decades. Just who is this guy supposed to be, how does he rise to power, and what is his purpose? There’s reference to people taking his “mark” in order to buy or sell in order to survive. Could you explain more about this person?
AF: The Antichrist will be a Gentile of Roman descent who will ultimately gain political control of the whole world with the exception of what is now Jordan, and once he gains political control he will also gain worldwide religious control because he will claim himself to be god and call upon the whole world to worship him as god. To signify the acceptance of his deity, people will be taking his mark of 666. Based upon the five clues given in Revelation 13 that number will simply be a numerical value of the personal name of the Antichrist. Anybody’s name can be put into Hebrew letters but whatever the personal name of the Antichrist will be, will be put into Hebrew letters and will equal 666 and that will be one of the ways it will be possible to identify who this person is when the time comes.
ANW: What is the Tribulation Period?
AF: The Tribulation is a seven-year period of time, and the most common biblical name in both testaments is “The Day of Jehovah” or “The Day of the Lord”. It begins with one decisive event, the signing of a seven-year covenant between Israel and the Antichrist, and once that covenant is signed that will trigger the seven-years of Tribulation (Daniel 9:27; Isaiah 28:14-22). The seven-year period will be an outpouring of the wrath of God finally culminating with the Campaign of Armageddon and the Second Coming.
In this period there will be three series of judgments: The seal judgments, the trumpet judgments, and the bowl judgments. The seals and trumpets come in the first half of the Tribulation while the bowls come towards the end of the second half. By the time the seven years run their course somewhere between two-thirds to three-quarters of the earth’s surface is totally destroyed and that will also include the same percentage of the world’s population. The area that will survive is the Middle East area so the two-thirds or three quarters of the earth destroyed has to be outside the Middle East area.
ANW: In your book, The Footsteps of the Messiah, you reference the city of Babylon, located in Iraq. This ancient city has been making quite a bit of news over the past years. Saddam Hussein began a rebuilding project on it. It suffered damage in the Iraq War. There are calls for it to become a World Heritage Site, and there is talk of it becoming a world tourism center. What is the significance of this city?
AF: The basic fact about Babylon is that it never suffered the kind of destruction detailed in Isaiah 13-14; Jeremiah 50-51; and Revelation 18. Therefore, it is yet a future event. That also requires the rebuilding of Babylon which it largely has been done and continues to some degree. It is destined to become the political and economic capital of the world under the authority of the Antichrist where he will be based. So all Jerusalem will remain his religious headquarters with his image in the Temple, and Babylon becomes his political and economic capital of the world.
ANW: You also write about a religious Babylon, a One World Religion of sorts. Given the world’s ongoing religious wars and divisions, how and why does this come into play?
AF: The Bible clearly prophesied the future one-world religion is a given but how that is going to come about is still too early to tell. Certainly the Ecumenical Movement has what is called the uniting of all Protestant denominations and moving towards a union with both Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. From there it even thinks about uniting into broader religions. Exactly how the prophecy will be fulfilled, is again too early to tell.
ANW: The questions that these events bring to mind for most is, “why?” and “what’s the point?”. If these events aren’t just part of some ancient fiction series, what is the purpose of it all?
AF: God in his Word has spelled out the details of prophecy and some of these prophecies have been fulfilled in the last century such as Israel becoming a state (1948) and Israel gaining sovereignty over the Old City of Jerusalem (1967). While the Temple is not yet being built there is intensive effort by three different religious Jewish groups to get the Temple rebuilt in preparation for Messiah’s coming. The fact that these things are occurring shows that God’s prophetic timetable is in the process of being fulfilled and while He gives us a sequence of events chronologically He does not provide the time element between one event and another until the Tribulation starts.
What is important for us is to know the Bible also teaches there is only one way to avoid the Tribulation and to escape from it and that is by means of the Rapture of the Body of Messiah, when all believers who passed away will have their bodies resurrected and the others living will simply be caught-up or raptured to meet the Messiah in the air. But to qualify for this event one must be a true believer and what one must believe is spelled out in I Corinthians 15:1-4: First, the Messiah died for our sins; second, He was buried (the evidence of His death); and third, He rose again on the third day.
If we believe the gospel and trust that alone for our salvation, we are given eternal life and those who are given eternal life are also given the promise that they will not have to suffer the wrath of God which is what the Tribulation is about. The Church is never promised it will escape persecution, but it is promised that it will escape the wrath of God and for that reason Church saints will be resurrected and raptured to meet the Lord in the air sometime before the Tribulation actually begins.