The foundation of peace

Matthew 5:9 – Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

To be a peacemaker is to be one who overcomes conflict. An online dictionary defines someone who pacifies as a person who “quells the anger, agitation, or excitement of” others, or a specific situation.

In personal relationships, this can most simply be accomplished through forgiveness. The biblical concept of forgiveness conveys ideas of dismissal or sending away of a burden; a release or letting go of insult or injury; a covering over of an offense or transgression. According to Yeshua, these are the characteristics of the true children of God.

While this may be the simplest way to create peace, it is not always easy. Forgiveness involves rejection of natural feelings of anger at having been offended, or overcoming hurt and real emotional pain. These symptoms of anger and hurt are natural, while indications of forgiveness can seem forced and unnatural. This is why it is difficult and rarely practiced in genuine ways. True forgiveness involves dying to self: the right for the self to be angry, the right for the self to inflict pain back for pain received.

But Yeshua calls us to this higher path of dying to self. Self-sacrifice was the object lesson of his life, culminating in the most widely known object lesson of all; crucifixion of self for the sake of others. Even in the enactment of this ultimate object lesson, he was forgiving those who were physically nailing him to the cross.

Luke 23:33-34 – And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

Forgiveness can be offered when one realizes that those causing the offense may not be totally aware of their actions; they are likely acting out reflexively or under the compulsion of their own misguided nature. To rise above these situations is to reject the compulsion to respond in kind, and to choose instead the way of peace and forgiveness.

I was struck recently in learning that the root of the word Jerusalem means “foundation of peace.” That meaning has far-reaching applications throughout biblical interpretation, but none so meaningful as being the eternal habitation of God with his people.

Revelation 21:2-3, 7 – And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God. … He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

According to writer of Hebrews, believers have inherited this city already. As such, this “foundation of peace” should be our base of operations, our current and active environment.

Hebrews 12:14, 22-24 – Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness ​– ​without it no one will see the Lord. … you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels, a festive gathering, to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written in heaven, to a Judge, who is God of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant…

If this is where we live, having died to ourselves, then this is how we should act. We should pursue peace with everyone. This is what sets God’s people apart; this is who we are.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The King over all the earth

Psalm 47:1-2, 7-9: Oh clap your hands, all you nations. Shout to God with the voice of triumph! For Yahweh Most High is awesome. He is a great King over all the earth…For God is the King of all the earth. Sing praises with understanding. God reigns over the nations. God sits on his holy throne. The princes of the peoples are gathered together, the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God. He is greatly exalted!

This psalm is one that captures the essence of the grand scope of the Bible: God will reign supreme over his Creation. All peoples of his Creation will abide by the principles of his kingdom. This is a message filled with hope and a longing that is fulfilled.

At the foot of Mount Sinai, God conveyed this concept of his kingdom being prevalent on the earth.

Exodus 19:5-6 – Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.”

Ever since God’s revelation of himself at Sinai, God’s people have longed for that promised kingdom to come to pass. It was the basis of national Israel and the hope for every king since the time of King David. Generation after generation of Israelites and Christians have looked for this to come to pass.

In the prophetic language of Isaiah, the consummation of the world’s acceptance of God’s rule over the whole earth is envisioned:

Isaiah 2:2-4 – In the last days, the mountain of Yahweh’s house will be the highest of all–the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship. People from many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” For Yahweh’s teaching will go out from Zion; his word will go out from Jerusalem. Yahweh will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore.

Isaiah 60:3 – Nations will come to your light, and kings to your shining brightness.

Albert Barnes writes:

The image [in Psalm 47] is that of the assemblage of great numbers of foreign princes and nobles as furnishing either a voluntary or involuntary acknowledgment of the fact that the God of Abraham was the true God, and that the people of Israel were his people…one who can thus subdue nations, and lead along captive princes and warriors, “must” be a Being greatly exalted; a Being that has dominion over the nations of the earth. This completes the imagery in the psalm, and gives occasion for the shouts and the joys of triumph. God had shown that he was a great King over the earth. Princes and armies were subdued to his will. They were led along as captives, and were gathered together to the people of God, as if to acknowledge their own inferiority; and in this solemn manner the nations thus subdued owned Yahweh to be the true God. In a higher sense this will be true when all the earth shall be subdued by the power of truth, and when kings, and princes, and people everywhere shall come and acknowledge God, reigning through the Messiah, to be the King of all nations.

The Pulpit Commentary concludes:

He is greatly exalted. The perfect submission to God of all his rational creatures is his highest exaltation and glory. When “all people bow down before him,” and “all nations do him service,” when rebellion and resistance to his will are at an end, then will he be established in his rightful position, and his exaltation will be complete.

Our understanding of this inevitability should provide motivation for us to continue to reach out to our generation with the truth of God and his Messiah. Each heart that is won will draw us closer to the fulfillment of this bright future of peace for all people everywhere.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The God of compassion has children of compassion

Genesis 6:5-8 – Then Yahweh saw that the wickedness of mankind was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. So Yahweh was sorry that He had made mankind on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. Then Yahweh said, “I will wipe out mankind whom I have created from the face of the land; mankind, and animals as well, and crawling things, and the birds of the sky. For I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of Yahweh.

As bad as we may think that our societies are today, the generation of Noah’s day was far more corrupt. God had observed that all people had become wayward from the purity and simplicity of the original intent of his Creation. God had created man in his image to rule and reign as righteous representatives over his Creation. Yet, instead, people had chosen to use their gifts and abilities in the service of wickedness and evil.

In his justice and righteousness, God determines the elimination of wicked humans is necessary in order to stop the rampant disobedience and chaos from continuing as it had. However, in his compassion for obedience and righteousness, Noah finds favor in God’s eyes. God enacts a plan that allows his human representatives to continue on the earth, albeit through the family of one righteous and obedient man, Noah.

Throughout the Bible, we find God’s wrath and justice is constantly contrasted with his mercy, grace, and compassion. In fact, this is the very description God provides of himself as he reveals himself to Moses:

Exodus 33:18-19 – Then Moses said, “Please, let me see your glory.” He said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim the name ‘Yahweh’ before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

Compassion is tied up within the very name or character of God. His presence and revelation of himself is in itself an act of grace and compassion that we may know him more, and learn of his righteous expectations for all mankind. For those of us considering ourselves as a child of God, then we should likewise have grace, mercy, and compassion embedded within every fiber of our being. This should be our demonstration to others that we are truly his children.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Growing in the maturity of forgiveness

Core of the Bible podcast #35 – Growing in the maturity of forgiveness

Today we will be exploring the topic of forgiveness, and how forgiveness is a quality that comes from a mature heart, a heart that knows and understands how powerful forgiveness is.

Yeshua stated it this way:

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Luke 6:36-37

This teaching of Yeshua instructs us to not criticize others. It also highlights several different aspects of judgment and forgiveness, so let’s take a look at some of these ideas.

UNIVERSAL BALANCE AND EQUITY

Firstly, it implies that there is a balance, or a universal equity that God maintains. This is brought out in similar passages speaking of this aspect of God’s nature. There are national examples of this as well as personal examples. Let’s look at a couple of national examples to start.

National justice – Israel

Ezekiel 7:8-9 – I will pour out my wrath on you very soon; I will exhaust my anger against you and judge you according to your ways. I will punish you for all your detestable practices.  I will not look on you with pity or spare you. I will punish you for your ways and for your detestable practices within you. Then you will know that it is I, the LORD, who strikes.

National justice – Babylon

Jeremiah 25:14 – “For many nations and great kings will enslave them [Babylonians], and I will repay them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.’ “

Personal justice as consequence of actions

Job 4:8 – In my experience, those who plow injustice and those who sow trouble reap the same.

Galatians 6:7-9 – Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a person sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.

2 Peter 2:1 – There were indeed false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves.

In this same way, Yeshua teaches that if an individual is overly critical of others, the same level of critical judgment will be applied to them.

Matthew 7:2 – “For you will be judged by the same standard with which you judge others, and you will be measured by the same measure you use.

Therefore, if we desire to be forgiven by God and others, we should be forgiving and God will then use the same measure of forgiveness with us.

FORGIVENESS: THE OTHER SIDE OF JUDGMENT

While condemnation and judgment are the focus of Yeshua’s teaching, forgiveness is introduced as a quality that sits outside of judgment, as a counter-balance to judgment on the scale of overall mercy.

When judgment is the primary objective, the focus of forgiveness becomes diminished, and mercy wanes. However, when forgiveness is the primary objective, judgment and condemnation are diminished, and mercy increases. Like two sides of the same coin, both judgment and forgiveness have a role in the merciful life of a believer. Both are necessary, but both serve different purposes.

Judgment provides a needed distinction between right and wrong. We rely on our judgment to ensure that fairness is being practiced or demonstrated. This is not a complex function.

For example, when two young children are playing together, they can become possessive of their belongings. Even toddlers can recognize when playmates are being fair or unfair when it comes to sharing toys.

Forgiveness is a more complex quality that requires an increased level of maturity. To express forgiveness, there  not only has to be a recognition of a wrong that has been committed (that is, a judgment), but another “something” beyond that judgment that goes beyond and reaches out to the other individual to maintain a positive relationship.

Forgiveness is the counter-intuitive solution for bringing closure to unresolved conflict or to reducing an escalation of aggression. This takes maturity of wisdom, as the natural base response is almost always to respond to injustice in kind. It also takes maturity through humility, as it is more godly to simply accept being personally wronged for the sake of forgiveness in a relationship than trying to continually force your rights upon others.

1 Corinthians 6:5-7 – I say this to your shame! Can it be that there is not one wise person among you who is able to arbitrate between fellow believers? Instead, brother goes to court against brother, and that before unbelievers! As it is, to have legal disputes against one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?

1 Peter 2:21-23 – For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth; when he was insulted, he did not insult in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.

Our perspective should always be to entrust ourselves to God; this is where the capacity and the ability to forgive others can come from. When we do so, we are fulfilling our objective of acting and reacting in the same way as our Father.

We see all through God’s word that he is forgiving and slow to anger. This is why God’s judgment may not at times be recognized by others because the timing of this judgment by God does not always immediately follow an infraction.

Nahum 1:3 – The LORD is slow to anger but great in power; the LORD will never leave the guilty unpunished…

Psalm 86:15 – But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth.

Psalm 103:8 – The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love.

FORGIVENESS AND BALANCE EXEMPLIFIED

This theme of God being slow to anger is related over and over again throughout the Bible. However, there is a passage in Nehemiah that highlights and contrasts his long-suffering compassion with the universal balance of justice we have been talking about.

Nehemiah 9:16-25 – But our ancestors acted arrogantly; they became stiff-necked and did not listen to your commands. They refused to listen and did not remember your wonders you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love, and you did not abandon them. Even after they had cast an image of a calf for themselves and said, “This is your god who brought you out of Egypt,” and they had committed terrible blasphemies, you did not abandon them in the wilderness because of your great compassion. During the day the pillar of cloud never turned away from them, guiding them on their journey. And during the night the pillar of fire illuminated the way they should go. You sent your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst. You provided for them in the wilderness forty years, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell. You gave them kingdoms and peoples and established boundaries for them. They took possession of the land of King Sihon of Heshbon and of the land of King Og of Bashan. You multiplied their descendants like the stars of the sky and brought them to the land you told their ancestors to go in and possess. So their descendants went in and possessed the land: You subdued the Canaanites who inhabited the land before them and handed their kings and the surrounding peoples over to them, to do as they pleased with them. They captured fortified cities and fertile land and took possession of well-supplied houses, cisterns cut out of rock, vineyards, olive groves, and fruit trees in abundance. They ate, were filled, became prosperous, and delighted in your great goodness.

Even though the people had not listened to God’s commands, he did not immediately crush them and deliver them over to others. His long compassion and slowness to anger allowed them to accomplish many great things for his power and purpose to be known.

However, as amazing and enabling as God’s compassion and forgiveness can be, the Bible is also clear that justice will be realized in the balance of God’s Creation, in his time. Even if it is not something that occurs right away, it still comes to pass.

Nehemiah 9:26-30 – But they were disobedient and rebelled against you. They flung your law behind their backs and killed your prophets who warned them in order to turn them back to you. They committed terrible blasphemies. So you handed them over to their enemies, who oppressed them. In their time of distress, they cried out to you, and you heard from heaven. In your abundant compassion you gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the power of their enemies. But as soon as they had relief, they again did what was evil in your sight. So you abandoned them to the power of their enemies, who dominated them. When they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven and rescued them many times in your compassion. You warned them to turn back to your law, but they acted arrogantly and would not obey your commands. They sinned against your ordinances, which a person will live by if he does them. They stubbornly resisted, stiffened their necks, and would not obey. You were patient with them for many years, and your Spirit warned them through your prophets, but they would not listen. Therefore, you handed them over to the surrounding peoples.

So through all of this we can see the contrast of judgment and forgiveness, back and forth, over and over again. God is patient and compassionate, but if rebellion continues there comes a point where justice is needed to restore the universal balance. And all of this occurs in God’s timing, not our own. When this lack of immediate justice happens, we may feel as the prophet Habakkuk did:

Habakkuk 1:13 – Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, and you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. So why do you tolerate those who are treacherous? Why are you silent while one who is wicked swallows up one who is more righteous than himself?

This is why God may appear to us to be hidden or not taking action when we think he should. It may just be that the cycle of his long-suffering compassion is in play before the universal balance of justice needs to be restored.

This is also why we are commanded to refrain from our own vengeance.

Romans 12:17-21 – Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord. But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.

Our role as God’s people is to not focus on the natural response toward judgment and retribution, but instead to let God be God and to focus instead on doing good through forgiveness.

Through recognition of the reality of this universal balance that God maintains, on even the most basic of levels we should be challenged to grow in maturity in our relationships and our dealings with others. As we encourage the seeds of this nascent maturity of forgiveness to thrive, they are enabled to grow into acts of mercy, and ultimately to blossom into genuine love.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Trusting in the God who is over all

Matthew 6:13 …For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’

If God has all power, receives all glory, and the kingdom is his, there is nothing outside of all he is and does. Therefore, why should we, as believers in him, be anxious about anything?

Many scholars believe this doxology to the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:13 is not original to the text, and was a later addition. While this may or may not be the case, it is important to note that it is not beyond Hebraic practice to do so.

For example, one of the most used and loved practices of Jews even to this day is to recite the Shema; or Hear O Israel:

“Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

This is a straight recitation of Deuteronomy 6:4, however, in true Hebraic fashion they have added: “Blessed be his Name and his glorious kingdom forever.”

This is almost a word for word parallel to the doxology of Matthew 6:13. Beyond this traditional practice, the Bible supports the content and message it contains.

2 Chronicles 20:6 – He said: LORD, God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven, and do you not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in your hand, and no one can stand against you.
Jeremiah 10:12 – He made the earth by his power, established the world by his wisdom, and spread out the heavens by his understanding.
Daniel 2:19-22 – …Daniel praised the God of the heavens and declared: May the name of God be praised forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to him. He changes the times and seasons; he removes kings and establishes kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals the deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with him.
Revelation 7:12 – saying, Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen.

Daniel even ascribes the same type of “kingly doxology” to Nebuchadnezzar:

Daniel 2:37 – “Your Majesty, you are king of kings. The God of the heavens has given you sovereignty, power, strength, and glory.

But notice, the sovereignty, power, strength, and glory that an earthly king may have comes ultimately from God; they therefore are inherently his.

Scholarly debates notwithstanding, the Bible makes it clear that to trust God is to know that he has all power and is over all kingdoms and nations, all of his Creation, forever. This type of assurance can ground our faith and trust and allow us to operate from a source of strength and confidence in him, in all we do every day.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Why God’s people are holy

In the preparation of the Mishkan, the tabernacle-tent precursor to the temple, Moses was given instruction by God about how to prepare a special anointing oil. This oil was to be used as a way of identifying everything and everyone who was to be consecrated or set apart for God’s use.

Exodus 30:25-29, 31-33 – “Prepare from these a holy anointing oil, a scented blend, the work of a perfumer; it will be holy anointing oil. With it you are to anoint the tent of meeting, the ark of the testimony, the table with all its utensils, the lampstand with its utensils, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the basin with its stand. Consecrate them and they will be especially holy. Whatever touches them will be consecrated. … Tell the Israelites: This will be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations. It must not be used for ordinary anointing on a person’s body, and you must not make anything like it using its formula. It is holy, and it must be holy to you. Anyone who blends something like it or puts some of it on an unauthorized person must be cut off from his people.”

To use this unique anointing oil for any other purpose was to violate the standard of holiness, or set-apartness, that God was establishing for this oil. This is what holiness is: to be set apart for specific use only in the service of God, not to be engaged with the commonality of everything else, otherwise the holiness no longer remains.

There is nothing magical or inherently powerful within the thing or person who is considered holy, other than there is the recognition that that thing or person is uniquely identified as God’s, and to be used only for God’s purpose and will. This anointing oil was just a mixture of common elements and spices, and yet once it was created and designated as holy, it became holy. Similarly, the Sabbath is just another day of the week, and yet because God set it apart as holy, it is therefore holy.

Deuteronomy 7:6 – “For you are a holy people to Yahweh your God; Yahweh your God has chosen you to be a people for His personal possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

Just like the ancient desert wanderers, we as God’s people are just people like any others. Yet because God has designated his people as holy, we are set apart from all other people on the earth because God has made it so. Just like the holy anointing oil, we have been set apart for use in within the purpose and will of God. Therefore, we should not be primarily engaged with the commonality of practices that the rest of the world is engaged in, otherwise, we are no longer holy.

1 Peter 2:9-10 – But you are a chosen people, A royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

This is why God has provided the standards of his Torah, his instruction, through the Ten Commandments. This is why we have recorded for us the words and teaching of God’s Torah through Yeshua in the Sermon on the Mount. If we understand nothing else about God’s word, we would honor God and remain holy by abiding by these directives. This is what sets believers apart: our obedient actions and practices in the service of God. This is how his kingdom is established on the earth.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Being mindful and vigilant with the message of the Bible

In our desire to share the good news of the kingdom with others, we need to be mindful that not everyone will be receptive to the message. This is a difficult lesson, as we may have sincere desires to see those around us come to a knowledge of the truths of God and his kingdom as he has revealed them in the Bible. However, the biblical standard, and the instruction of Yeshua, is that those who are resistant to the instruction of God should be left to their own perceptions.

Matthew 7:6 – “Don’t give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them under their feet, turn, and tear you to pieces.

Yeshua used the example of “dogs” and “pigs” not being receptive to the “holy things” or “pearls” being offered to them. The designation of dogs and pigs typically was used of those outside of the house of Israel. We know that Yeshua himself used this imagery in his discussion with the woman from the region of Tyre and Sidon (outside of Israel proper) as she begged him to help her daughter.

Matthew 15:21-22, 24-27 – When Jesus left there, he withdrew to the area of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came and kept crying out, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely tormented by a demon.” … He replied, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came, knelt before him, and said, “Lord, help me! ” He answered, “It isn’t right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said, “yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

While this type of apparent profiling may be unseemly to our modern ears, the truth of the matter is that Yeshua clearly stated his mission in his day was “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” The disciples were carrying on that work as they ministered first and foremost to the Israelites in Israel, and then to those whom had been scattered throughout various regions during the Dispersions which had occurred hundreds of years earlier due to the conquests of Assyria and Babylon.

1 Peter 1:1 – Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ: To those chosen, living as exiles dispersed abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…
Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.

That the message of the kingdom was being shared with the scattered Israelites first was a fulfillment of prophecy; God was reclaiming and regathering his people, his faithful “remnant.”

Deuteronomy 30:4 – “Even if your exiles are at the farthest horizon, he will gather you and bring you back from there.
Ezekiel 20:41 – “When I bring you from the peoples and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered, I will accept you as a pleasing aroma. And I will demonstrate my holiness through you in the sight of the nations.
Zephaniah 3:20 – At that time I will bring you back, yes, at the time I will gather you. I will give you fame and praise among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes. The LORD has spoken.

Isaiah 10:21 – The remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the Mighty God.
Isaiah 11:11 – On that day the Lord will extend his hand a second time to recover the remnant of his people who survive ​– ​from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and the coasts and islands of the west.
Micah 5:7 – Then the remnant of Jacob will be among many peoples like dew from the LORD, like showers on the grass, which do not wait for anyone or linger for mankind.
Romans 9:27 – But Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, Though the number of Israelites is like the sand of the sea, only the remnant will be saved;
Romans 11:5 – In the same way, then, there is also at the present time a remnant chosen by grace.

As the door of faith was opened to those scattered among the nations, this also provided the opportunity for non-Israelites, the Greeks and “gentiles,” to also come to God through belief in his Messiah.

Romans 15:8-12 – For I say that Christ became a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises to the fathers, and so that Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and I will sing praise to your name. Again it says, Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people! And again, Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples praise him! And again, Isaiah says, The root of Jesse will appear, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; the Gentiles will hope in him.

The wonder and beauty of the message of the kingdom is that as God reclaimed his remnant from among the nations as he had promised, the door was opened to all to come to the God of Israel in the eternal kingdom. There would no longer be the distinction between Jews and everyone else; all could become one in the Messiah.

Galatians 3:28 – There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Colossians 3:11 – In Christ there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.

While our enthusiasm in our inclusion among the people of God may cause us to want all others to share in these truths, we must remember temper our enthusiasm with vigilance in recognizing our audience. If we are sharing with those who are unreceptive to the message, we should recognize that they are simply following a pattern that has been evident even from the days of Messiah. We should follow Yeshua’s instruction and not continue to throw our “pearls” and “holy things” before them, and focus rather on those who do have a sincere interest and desire in learning more about the God of Israel.

Acts 10:34-36, 43 – Peter began to speak: “Now I truly understand that God doesn’t show favoritism, “but in every nation the person who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. He sent the message to the Israelites, proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ ​– ​he is Lord of all. … All the prophets testify about him that through his name everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins.”


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The integrity of praising the Creator of all

Psalm 33:1 – Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous ones; praise from the upright is beautiful.

According to the Psalmist, those who are righteous are expected to be praisers of God. We have reviewed before how the righteous ones of God are people of integrity; the tzaddikim, those who are just or righteous in conduct and character. Rejoicing by those of integrity is appropriate and beautiful.

True to form, it is evident that God’s people are a praising people. Worship music is not only a primary aspect of services around the world, but it is also a huge industry in and of itself.

Unfortunately, I have seen musical tastes divide congregations and create tensions and hard feelings among members who have differing views on what would be considered appropriate worship styles. Some people prefer traditional, hymn-like worship, others prefer contemporary music styles along the lines of pop culture. The Bible, though, makes no distinction between these styles.

Psalm 33:2-3 – Praise the LORD with the lyre; make music to him with a ten-stringed harp. Sing a new song to him; play skillfully on the strings, with a joyful shout.

However, regardless of the abuses and contentions about the role and place of music in congregations today, it is definitely scriptural for God’s people to praise him. A realization of the truthfulness of God’s word and his works all throughout his Creation should provide all the motivation needed for us to lift our praises to him.

Psalm 33: 4, 6, 8-9 – For the word of the LORD is right, and all his work is trustworthy. … The heavens were made by the word of the LORD, and all the stars, by the breath of his mouth. … Let the whole earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spoke, and it came into being; he commanded, and it came into existence.

I typically will listen to instrumental music while I write, and, as if to validate this point further, even as I am writing, the hymn below has begun to play. This is a perfect indicator of this very principle put forward by the Psalmist. How amazing is the working of God in continuity and encouragement!

This is my Father’s world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world,
the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world:
he shines in all that’s fair;
in the rustling grass I hear him pass;
he speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world.
O let me ne’er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!

This is my Father’s World, by Maltbie D. Babcock

“Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.” People of integrity everywhere should be encouraged by this message of hope and positivity based on the eternal and all-powerful nature of our God. I hope in some way it also blesses your life today.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The eternal inheritance of the kingdom

Ephesians 5:5 – For know and recognize this: Every sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

This verse is in the midst of a lengthy passage describing and encouraging the preferred conduct of the people of God. Paul arrives at this statement that there will be people who do not have an inheritance within the kingdom, and he lists a host of unsavory qualities as examples.

Rather than focus on the obvious qualities of those who would not obtain this inheritance, I would rather highlight the quality of those who do achieve this inheritance.

Ephesians 4:32, 5:1-2 – And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.

Those who “imitate God” are the inheritors. We find the specific qualities of God that Paul is speaking of here in v. 32 of the previous chapter: being kind and compassionate, and forgiving one another. These are they who walk in self-sacrificing love like Yeshua did. These are those who demonstrate they are in the kingdom now, and who also have an eternal inheritance.

We know this inheritance is eternal from the words of Peter.

1 Peter 1:3-4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.

An inheritance, in this context of the kingdom, is a place of dwelling, both as a way of life and a residence. We see this exemplified by both Noah (the inheritor of righteousness by faith; a way of life) and Abraham (the inheritor of a land; a residence).

Hebrews 11:7-8 – By faith Noah, after he was warned about what was not yet seen and motivated by godly fear, built an ark to deliver his family. By faith he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and set out for a place that he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, even though he did not know where he was going.

But even in the example of Abraham, we find he never did “officially” inherit “the land,” but was living only as a temporary resident in a land of promise.

Hebrews 11:9-10 – By faith he stayed as a foreigner in the land of promise, living in tents as did Isaac and Jacob, coheirs of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
Hebrews 11:39-40 – All these [Abraham and other Old Testament saints] were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us.

The city of God, “something better” than a physical land, was his true inheritance, the eternal residence of those who, as Paul says, “imitate God” by walking in love.

Hebrews 12:22, 28 – Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels, a festive gathering, … Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe…

This kingdom cannot be shaken because it is outside of and beyond this created world. This is why it is eternal; the rule of God exists here and now as we walk in love, and also exists as a reality of residence beyond this created existence. This is the hope of every believer! To live in the domain of God’s rule now, and forever!

Anytime we are not walking in love, we are operating in principles outside of the kingdom. These types of activities are against our true nature, and are not aligned with our eternal inheritance. Instead, we should abide by the same demonstrative faith of the saints of old by living by the principles of this eternal inheritance, the city/kingdom where God rules forever.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The compassionate teacher is always willing and motivated to share

Mark 6:34: “Jesus came out, saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.”

The very act of Yeshua teaching the crowds is listed as an act of compassion. Like a flock of sheep who wander around aimlessly and need direction, Yeshua saw the desperate need in the community and compassionately taught them the things of God.

Teaching people the right ways according to God’s revealed word is an honor and a great responsibility.

James 3:1 – Not many should become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we will receive a stricter judgment.

This is based on the principle that Yeshua taught:

Luke 12:48 – “…From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be expected.

Regardless of this important caution, this should not dissuade anyone from compassionately sharing what they have learned with others. We are all growing and moving toward greater and greater truth, and we should always be willing to demonstrate to others what we know and have experienced.

1 Peter 3:15-16 – …in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience…

This indicates that our sharing should be coming from a place of compassionately wanting others to understand more about God‘s purpose and plan, rather than just trying to win arguments about doctrinal minutia.

Bringing people to an understanding of the nature of who God is and what he desires for his people should lead them to a place where God himself teaches and instructs them, and they can then be motivated directly from the heart.

This should be the goal of every teacher of the word: to put themselves out of a job when a follower of Yeshua matures to learn directly from God. However, in another sense, the work is never done, as they should continually reach out to keep the process moving forward with the others who are just beginning to learn the truth about God.

This is our goal and our mission in life, whether we are formally a teacher or not. All believers should desire others to come to the closer knowledge of the truth of God and closer in relationship with him.

Matthew 5:19: “Whoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and teach others to do so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but whoever shall do and teach them shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. “

Our goal should be to bring all people to the place of being able to discern God’s voice. Then will be fulfilled the purpose and plan of God from eternity past.

Hebrews 8:11: “They will not teach every man his fellow citizen,
and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all will know me, from their least to their greatest.”

1 John 2:27: “As for you, the anointing which you received from him remains in you, and you don’t need for anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is no lie, and even as it taught you, you will remain in him.”


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.