Striving after the passionate faithfulness of past generations

A constant pursuit of righteousness provides a context for our own personal and collective spiritual exodus.

Core of the Bible podcast #73 – Striving after the faithfulness of past generations

Today we will be looking at the topic of integrity, and how the passionate faithfulness of past generations during their exodus experiences can lead us to a life of integrity.  Striving after their constant pursuit of righteousness provides a context for our own personal and collective spiritual exodus in our generation.

Psalm 86:11 – Teach me your way, O Yahweh, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.

Psalm 143:10 – Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!

The person of integrity is one who intently seeks to know the truth of God. They desire to walk in that way, to conform their lives to what God desires of them. They have made seeking God the passion of their life, hungering to know him more and to know the correct way. They will not rest until they have heard a word from God, until he has shown them the next steps on their path.

Yeshua taught:

Matthew 5:6 – “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

In one sense, this teaching of Yeshua is a fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah.

Isaiah 49:8-12 – Thus says Yahweh: “In a time of favor I have answered you; in a day of salvation I have helped you; I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages, saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’ They shall feed along the ways; on all bare heights shall be their pasture; they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them. And I will make all my mountains a road, and my highways shall be raised up. Behold, these shall come from afar, and behold, these from the north and from the west, and these from the land of Syene.”

It is also a reference to the wanderings in the wilderness which Israel experienced, and how God provided for them. They neither hungered nor thirsted, they were protected from the scorching sun by the cloud that covered them, and he had pity on them and led them by springs of water. In a physical way, they were experiencing what would ultimately be fulfilled within the spiritual kingdom of God, when believers would “come from afar,” as Isaiah predicts, even “from the north and from the west.”

This is a recurring theme throughout the Bible, a theme of exodus. While we may recognize the word exodus as the name of the second book of Moses, the word itself was attached to the book as a descriptor of the main topic of the book.

Now, in the original Hebrew, the name of the book is not Exodus but Shemot, meaning “names.” The Hebrew convention of book naming was through using the first words of a book as its title, and the book of Exodus begins with a list of the names of the tribal leaders, the sons of Jacob, who went to Egypt.

Exodus 1:1 – “These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household…”

But the name Exodus was assigned to the book in later years when the Greek and Latin manuscripts were produced. Exodus comes from a combination of the Greek prefix exo, meaning “out of,” and hodos, meaning “way;” it literally means “the way out.” While the names of the books are not necessarily inspired text, this is an apt description of the main topic of the book, the exodus of the people of Israel out of Egyptian slavery and through the wilderness to the land that God promised them. This event is the pivotal event in the history of Israel and is recounted and referenced time and time again.

It is the very beginning of the Ten Commandments:

Exodus 20:2 – “I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exod 20:2)

Other references include:

Numbers 20:14-16 – Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom: “Thus says your brother Israel: You know all the hardship that we have met: how our fathers went down to Egypt, and we lived in Egypt a long time. And the Egyptians dealt harshly with us and our fathers. And when we cried to Yahweh, he heard our voice and sent an angel and brought us out of Egypt. And here we are in Kadesh, a city on the edge of your territory.

Joshua 24:17 – for it is Yahweh our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed.

Psalm 78:13-16  – He divided the sea and let them pass through it, and made the waters stand like a heap. In the daytime he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a fiery light. He split rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep. He made streams come out of the rock and caused waters to flow down like rivers.

Micah 6:3-4  – “O my people, what have I done to you? How have I wearied you? Answer me! For I brought you up from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.

As Stephen was making his defense before the Sanhedrin, he also provides a detailed retelling of these events to bolster his position of how God was the architect and overseer of the Exodus event:

Acts 7:35-36 – “This Moses, whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’–this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years.

The apostle Paul also connects with Exodus imagery:

1 Corinthians 10:1-4 – For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Messiah.

This exodus event is when God proved himself as a protector and provider of his people. This is how the Israelites could be assured that Yahweh is the one true God. This is the essence of Hebraic thought, woven into all of their storytelling and tradition. It is the theme of the Passover recounted in the Haggadah, or the “Telling” of this story, to each generation, year after year. They have done this for thousands of years since the original events took place, because the story is so powerful and pervasive as a main theme in the Bible. If you’ve ever seen the movie, “The Prince of Egypt,” you have experienced the power of this Exodus narrative.

In a moment, we will take a look at how some of the New Testament writers drew from this well of the exodus story to illustrate the power of the gospel of the Kingdom and how a life of integrity is illustrated by the desire to come out of slavery and darkness into freedom and light.


Based on this consistent theme of the exodus story, we can see how the biblical writers drew from this resource time and again to provide spiritual application of the exodus story in other contexts. In these passages, this theme of providing a way out is constantly recycled; an exodus from darkness to light, from slavery to freedom.

John 8:34, 36 – Yeshua answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. … So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Titus 3:3-6  – For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Yeshua Messiah our Savior…

Isaiah 9:2  –  The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.

Isaiah 42:16  – And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.

Ephesians 5:8  – for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

1 Peter 2:9  – But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

This exodus theme is representative of how God calls a person or people to himself, they seek him out and desire to follow him through wilderness experiences, and he provides for them along the way. In this way, the way out, it is represented as a life of integrity, of seeking after the one true God. As we have just seen, it is demonstrated over and over to teach us how to apply these simple principles in our own lives.

Unfortunately, we tend to complicate this powerful theme by over-religiousizing the Exodus text, to coin a phrase. We try so hard to discern the micro-application of tiny details and rules and regulations that were given to the Israelites during their wilderness journeys that we lose sight of the bigger picture of what God was doing with them holistically, as a people called out for his purpose. This is not in any way to diminish those rules or Torah of God, but to say that to truly understand how they should be applied, we need to see and understand the larger context of the biblical theme.

Additionally, throughout the biblical narrative, the ancestors or fathers are referenced as having experienced the intimacy with God through their own exodus journeys, an intimacy that was to be further carried on by each successive generation.

Genesis 48:15-16  – And he blessed Joseph and said, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

1 Kings 3:14  – And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”

Even Paul refers to his faithful forbears:

Acts 24:14  – But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets…

This desire to do what is right and to follow the right paths that God has laid out are exemplified in the deepest expressions of the people of God. The Psalms are especially filled with this type of pleading to God for guidance, for pouring out praise to God and outwardly declaring a desire for righteousness in speech and in actions.

Psalm 5:1-3, 7-8 – Give ear to my words, O Yahweh; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O Yahweh, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. … But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you. Lead me, O Yahweh, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.

Psalm 25:4-5, 8-10, 12 – Make me to know your ways, O Yahweh; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. … Good and upright is Yahweh; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of Yahweh are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. … Who is the man who fears Yahweh? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.

Psalm 51:6, 10-12 – Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. … Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Psalm 119:24, 27-29 – Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors. … Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works. My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!

As believers, we identify with the passionate expression of these principles of our faithful spiritual ancestors because we are ignited with the same Spirit. We desire to share in the exodus experience that they have given voice to over the centuries and millennia as these words were collected and compiled into our Bibles. The kindred longings and desires of our hearts beat in unison with those faithful who have gone before and expressed their deepest secrets which are immortalized among the pages of Scripture. The integrity that lived and breathed in them inspires us to learn of their ways and mimic their faithfulness.

Like the writer of Hebrews, we have the privileged opportunity to step back and view the entirety of the faithful ancestors who followed God and learn to copy their exemplary lives:

Hebrews 12:1 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Evaluating the wisdom of Solomon to grow in righteousness

The wise believer demonstrates integrity of speech.

The wise believer demonstrates integrity of speech.

The proverbs of Solomon are a mine of information on living with integrity. The life of the righteous is contrasted with the wicked throughout its pages, as each proverb typically highlights a specific contrast between the two types of individuals.

Because the information contained within the proverbs is so valuable to believers, many have attempted to organize the proverbs into different groupings to try to bring out the common characteristics more clearly. One of the ways I have found to illustrate this is to line up the positive characteristics of the godly in a group, and then contrast the corresponding negative characteristics or consequences of the actions of the wicked.

For example I have chosen just one of the chapters (chapter 10) and selected some verses that speak to the similar characteristic of the righteous as having knowledgeable and truthful speech.

  • 8 – The wise are glad to be instructed
  • 11 – The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain
  • 13 – Wise words come from the lips of people with understanding
  • 14 – Wise people treasure knowledge
  • 20 – The words of the godly are like sterling silver
  • 21 – The words of the godly encourage many
  • 31 – The mouth of the godly person gives wise advice
  • 32 – The lips of the godly speak helpful words

Now, by contrast, look at the corresponding distinctions that Solomon made between the representation of the godly above with the practices of the wicked.

  • 8 – babbling fools come to ruin
  • 11 – the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions
  • 13 – those lacking sense will be beaten with a rod
  • 14 – the babbling of a fool invites disaster
  • 20 – the heart of a fool is worthless
  • 21 – fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense
  • 31 – the tongue that deceives will be cut off
  • 32 – the mouth of the wicked speaks perverse words

This type of analysis and re-grouping of the text of Proverbs can prove to be very enlightening, and is a type of simple study that can be conducted by anyone who desires to learn more about how God expects his people to behave. Even from this brief example, it can be clearly seen how believers have a responsibility to seek the wisdom of God and to guard their tongues, speaking only what is helpful or encouraging to others. This is corroborated by the writings of the disciples of Yeshua, as well.

Ephesians 4:29 – Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

James 1:26 – If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.

The integrity of the believer becomes readily apparent as soon as they open their mouth. If they have not sought the wisdom of God but are only speaking their own opinion or the opinions of others that they have not verified on their own, then they are little better than a fool who invites disaster or will come to ruin, as the proverbs above state. We should be reminded that believers have the monumental responsibility to be thoughtful and mindful about how they represent the God they believe in.

Instead, let’s focus on the positive characteristics of the godly as related by Solomon, and ensure that our speech is knowledgeable, wise, encouraging and helpful.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The psalmist’s solution amidst social turmoil

Our perspective can be lost only when we take our eyes off of the purpose of God and his sovereignty.

Our perspective can be lost only when we take our eyes off of the purpose of God and his sovereignty.

Psalm 11:1-3 – I have taken refuge in Yahweh. How can you say to me, “Escape to the mountains like a bird! For look, the wicked string bows; they put their arrows on bowstrings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

This entire psalm which is only seven verses long highlights the distinctions between the wicked and the righteous. The psalmist seems to be expressing his frustration at the success of the wicked who appear to have overcome the righteous by “shooting from the shadows at the upright in heart.” The wicked hide in the darkness to undermine the foundational basis, or the political or moral purpose of society.

We seem to be in similar societal times today with a spinning moral compass at every turn and divisiveness rampant among our culture. As believers, we struggle to understand how we should act and react amidst the chaos and turmoil of popular opinion and current events. To this, the psalmist provides some straightforward advice.

  1. God is a secure refuge.

Psalm 11:1 – I have taken refuge in Yahweh. How can you say to me, “Escape to the mountains like a bird!

For believers, when we place our confidence and our trust in Yahweh, he becomes a refuge and a fortress of protection amidst the ebb and flow of the tides of public opinion. This is because his wisdom is timeless and unchanging. We should not seek to escape the turmoil by “escaping to the mountains,” as pleasing as that sounds. Instead, we need to be firmly committed to our trust and confidence in God’s purpose and kingdom.

Psalm 33:10-11 – Yahweh nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of Yahweh stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.

  1. God is ultimately in control of everything.

Psalm 11:4 – Yahweh is in his holy temple; Yahweh –his throne is in heaven. His eyes watch; his gaze examines everyone.

We can take comfort in the fact that God is calmly removed from the turmoil we may be experiencing. Nothing slips past the notice of God. Nothing is done in a corner.

Hebrews 4:13 – And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

  1. God’s judgment is sure.

Psalm 11:5-6 – Yahweh examines the righteous, but he hates the wicked and those who love violence. Let him rain burning coals and sulfur on the wicked; let a scorching wind be the portion in their cup.

In true Hebraic fashion, the psalmist speaks of the justice of God in terms that his hearers would understand. The burning coals and sulfur is a reference to the judgment that had been poured out on Sodom and Gomorrah and would be a compelling illustration of the unyielding judgment of God whenever society became corrupt to the core. But within that measure of judgment, the hearer would also know that God would spare the city (or nation) if even ten righteous people were found within it. As much as we would love to run away from the conflict around us, our righteous presence amidst the ungodly is the very salt needed to heal.

Matthew 5:13 – “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”

  1. God’s presence will reassure the righteous.

Psalm 11:7 – For Yahweh is righteous; he loves righteous deeds. The upright will see his face.

God loves righteous actions because he is righteous. Those who are upright and act with integrity in all things will “see his face,” a common Hebraic phrase of receiving the favor of God.

As believers, we should not fear the times we live in or the people who are erring around us within their own cultural darkness, shooting at the righteous from the shadows of their own making. Instead, we should be established confidently in Yahweh our refuge, firmly standing for what is right, not heading for the hills. Our role is to be that which is the preserver in society, the strength of the foundational and moral purpose upon which it is built. We can take comfort knowing that ultimately God is in control, even if we can’t see it ourselves at times, but knowing that his judgment is sure and his objectives are timeless and eternal. This is our strength and confidence; this is our calling.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The integrity of people of faith

We must base our actions with faith in the revealed words of God above the opinions of men.

We must base our actions with faith in the revealed words of God above the opinions of men.

Those who believe in the God of the Bible have a quality that is not evidenced among outsiders or pretenders to the faith. They possess an undaunted sense of surety about the words of God that leads to different conclusions than that of the general population of a community. This is what can cause friction among communities and congregations.

A good example of this can be exemplified by the group of Israelites that was selected to go spy out the land of Canaan prior to their moving into the land. The story is related that the land was viewed as being plentiful and productive, albeit currently inhabited by some of the most feared inhabitants: a people of extremely large stature known as the descendants of Anak. Because of this, the majority of the scouting group became fearful and therefore provided a negative report of the land, while Joshua and Caleb provided the positive aspects of the land relying on God’s help to overcome the current inhabitants.

Numbers 14:6-9 – Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who scouted out the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite community: “The land we passed through and explored is an extremely good land. “If Yahweh is pleased with us, he will bring us into this land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and give it to us. “Only don’t rebel against Yahweh, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land, for we will devour them. Their protection has been removed from them, and Yahweh is with us. Don’t be afraid of them! “

This quickly divided the congregation of Israel into groups of those who wanted to return to Egypt and those who wanted to continue on into the land of Canaan. This caused God’s anger to be aroused at the unfaithful scouts who would not obey his commands to take the land, while Joshua and Caleb were spared for their faithfulness.

Numbers 14:22-24, 30, 37-38 – “none of the men who have seen my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tested me these ten times and did not obey me, “will ever see the land I swore to give their fathers. None of those who have despised me will see it. “But since my servant Caleb has a different spirit and has remained loyal to me, I will bring him into the land where he has gone, and his descendants will inherit it. … “I swear that none of you will enter the land I promised to settle you in, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. … those men who spread the negative report about the land were struck down by Yahweh. Only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh remained alive of those men who went to scout out the land.

As dramatic as this event was, we find that it illustrates how God delineates between those who are truly faithful and obedient to him from those who only pay lip service to him until their own perceived notions or opinions clash with what God has revealed as his purpose. This was a principle that has always existed among God’s people, even up to New Testament times.

The apostle Paul dealt extensively with these types of issues. In his letter to the Corinthians, he had to spell out specifics on different cultural and doctrinal issues that were causing divisions within the congregation, yet he states the following:

1 Corinthians 11:18-19 – “For to begin with, I hear that when you come together as a church there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. Indeed, it is necessary that there be factions among you, so that those who are approved may be recognized among you.”

Interestingly, he said these factions were necessary as indicators of right and wrong practices within the congregation. Those of integrity within the congregation were doing everything they could to abide by the word of God while others tried to find loopholes in the doctrine and abuse their privileges based on their own opinions.

In the wilderness, Caleb and Joshua could see beyond the physical appearance of the giants of the land and believed that their “protection had been removed” (since God was commanding the Israelites to overcome them). Because of the wickedness of the land, Caleb and Joshua rightly believed the Canaanites had become exposed to the justice of God that was about to be meted out through the faithful Israelite armies. Joshua and Caleb were merely stating in faith what they knew would come to pass if only the people obeyed and took the land.

This same thing occurs to this very day, but we need to realize that factions can be, as the apostle Paul says, necessary to ensure that those who are doing what is approved become apparent from the rest. This is why it is so important that we have a holistic grasp of the entire Bible, not just a concentrated focus on a few parts. The wider our perspective on the whole of how God has worked and continues to work among his people provides us a wide and firm foundation to draw conclusions for our daily practices.

This is the integrity that people of faith can demonstrate when faced with similar obstacles. Understanding and obeying the word of God from the heart brings the blessings of God, just as Caleb and Joshua received their inheritance while the others did not.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Meekness provides stability and strength with integrity

Believers should be shining the light, not cursing the darkness.

Believers should be shining the light, not cursing the darkness.

Matthew 5:5 – Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Few are aware that this famous saying of Yeshua is actually a quote from the Psalms:

Psalm 37:10-11 – Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and delight in abundant prosperity.

The depth of meaning provided by the reference in this psalm widens the scope to show the contrast between the wicked and the meek. The wicked, due to their unfaithfulness to Yahweh, were to be removed from the land. This is a principle borne out by the testimony of the prophets and the witness of history, as Israel was removed from its land due to its idolatrous practices; first by the Assyrians, and then by the Babylonians.

The wicked were those who were guilty of sin, criminal, hostile to God. But by contrast, those who were to be inheritors were those who were meek. The Hebrew meaning of this word is to be humble, lowly, poor, weak, and afflicted. When we overlay the Hebrew meaning with the Greek definition from Matthew 5 we get the idea of mildness and gentleness. Combined, the idea of humility, being lowly of mindset, fits well with the mild and gentle demeanor that should be a hallmark of all believers.

This same Greek word for meekness was a characteristic that was exemplified for us by Yeshua and encouraged by the apostles, most significantly in Peter’s epistle to the scattered believers.

Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. “Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 21:5 – Tell Daughter Zion, “See, your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

1 Peter 3:3-4 – Don’t let your beauty consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and wearing gold jewelry, but rather what is inside the heart ​– ​the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

In our current generation of rampant criticism, politicization of fringe practices, and trampling of common sense and objectivity, many believers have been caught up in the swirl of sensationalism and self-promotion that continues to divide our society. However, our role in this world is to exemplify the qualities of mildness and gentleness, not as doormats for others to walk on, but as having great strength under control. We have a duty to speak out for what is right, but to do so with humility and reserve so that the reasonableness of truth can be shown for what it is.

1 Peter 3:15-16 – but in your hearts regard Messiah 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, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Messiah will be put to shame.

1 Peter 2:12, 15 – Conduct yourselves honorably among the nations, so that when they slander you as evildoers, they will observe your good works and will glorify God … For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good.

We need more of this.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The powerful witness of integrity

We can stand out as God’s own children by speaking and acting in truth at all times.

We can stand out as God’s own children by speaking and acting in truth at all times.

Titus 2:7-8 – “Show yourself in all respects a model of good deeds, and in your teaching show integrity, gravity, and wholesome speech that is above reproach, so that anyone who opposes us will be ashamed, having nothing bad to say about us.”

Throughout the letter to Titus, Paul is instructing him how to effectively oversee the people of God who have been left in his care. Titus was to appoint leaders over the congregations in each town in Crete, and to encourage godly behavior among them all.

In the process of doing so, however, Paul is aware he may encounter opposition from detractors, especially “those of the circumcision,” (1:10). He reminds him that “[t]hey profess to know God, but they deny him by their actions. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work,” (1:16).

To counter those who would oppose him, Paul instructs Titus in a couple of areas. First, he encourages him to “be a model good deeds” in all things. In order for believers to be taken seriously, we must practice what we preach. We all know that if we say one thing but do another, we can be accused of hypocrisy which can hurt the message of the gospel of the kingdom.

Secondly, Paul relates to Titus that “in your teaching show integrity, gravity, and wholesome speech that is above reproach…” It’s not only in our actions that we must be consistent, but even in the smallest of things we may say that may be out of bounds. Those who would oppose the things of God will look for any inconsistency in what we say to try to detract from the kingdom message.

Yeshua exhibited this ability when he was confronted by those who would oppose him. Time after time, his firm and truthful responses would silence the crowd.

Matthew 22:46 – “No one was able to answer a word, and from that day on no one dared to question Him any further.”

Luke 14:6 – “And they were unable to answer these questions.”

Luke 20:39 – “Some of the scribes answered, ‘Teacher, You have spoken well!’ And they did not dare to question Him any further.”

The apostle Peter in a similar fashion encourages the believers’ deeds to match up with what it is they professed:

1 Peter 2:12 – “Conduct yourselves with such honor among the nations that, though they slander you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.”

The integrity of the believer should be exhibited in the consistency of the message as well as the actions that go along with that message. If we profess to know God, then we should speak and act as those who have been renewed in the image of the One who calls us to himself. This is the greatest witness to the truth of the Word of God.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The life of integrity that honors God

Believers should always be counted on to state the truth plainly.

Believers should always be counted on to state the truth plainly.

Matthew 5:33-37 – “Again, you have heard that it was said to our ancestors, You must not break your oath, but you must keep your oaths to the Lord. “But I tell you, don’t take an oath at all: either by heaven, because it is God’s throne; “or by the earth, because it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. “Do not swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. “But let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ mean ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.

The simplicity of this teaching cannot be overstated: simply be a person of your word. When you are asked about your motivation or actions, consider how black and white your answers should be. You should not have to appeal to other corroborating authorities; your life should be so steadfast and pure that when you are questioned about your actions or your beliefs, the simplicity of your yes or no answer will be believed.

James 5:12 – “Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “yes” mean “yes,” and your “no” mean “no,” so that you won’t fall under judgment.”

Echoing the words of Yeshua, James concludes that being forthright in all of one’s speech is one of the most necessary qualities of believers. In the context of the impending judgment that was about to fall upon Jerusalem, he encourages them to maintain their truthfulness by the integrity of their words and actions.

People typically have to resort to things outside themselves to “prove” that what they are saying is the truth, such as, “I swear to God,” (as if that means anything in general usage anymore) or “on my mother’s grave.” These colloquialisms demonstrate a sincerity that needs to be established on something important outside of one’s own self, some sort of reference to an outside authority or thing that is held sacred as a demonstration of the truth of a statement.

In contrast to this common way of thinking, Yeshua and James are encouraging believers to be so thoroughly imbued with integrity that their lives ARE the reference to their sincerity; when they say they have done something or are going to do something, they do it. If they say they have not done something or are not going to do something, they remain firm. There is no need to appeal to an outside authority greater than themselves to demonstrate the truth of what they are attesting to.

This type of black and white integrity is liberating. It frees one from always needing to appeal to some other reference as a means of demonstrating truth; people believe what you say simply because you have said it. You gain a reputation for being a person of your word, and that is all that is needed if any behavior or commitments have been called into question.

This is a quality sorely required in the lives of believers, because we represent the One who always does what he says. If for no other reason, a life of integrity mimics the actions of our Father, and brings honor to his name.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Resisting compromise through passionate faithfulness

A life of integrity is forged in the constant pursuit of righteousness.

Core of the Bible podcast #66 – Resisting compromise through passionate faithfulness

A life of integrity is forged in the constant pursuit of righteousness.

Psalm 86:11 – Teach me your way, O Yahweh, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.

Psalm 143:10 – Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!

The person of integrity is one who intently seeks to know the truth of God. They desire to walk in that way, to conform their lives to what God desires of them. They have made seeking God the passion of their life, hungering to know him more and to know the correct way according to his Word. They will not rest until they have heard a word from God, until he has shown them the next steps on their path.

Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

Psalm 63:1 – “O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my body yearns for You in a dry and weary land without water.”

Psalm 107:9 – “For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”

The Psalms are well-known among believers because they are filled with this type of pleading to God for guidance, for pouring out praise to God and outwardly declaring a desire for righteousness in speech and in action.

As believers, we identify with the passionate expression of these principles, because we are ignited with the same Spirit. The kindred longings and desires of our hearts beat in unison with those faithful who have gone before and expressed their deepest secrets which are immortalized among the pages of Scripture. The integrity that lived and breathed in them inspires us to learn of their ways and mimic their faithfulness.

However, a passionate love for the things of God brings with it a passionate opposition to those who would speak or act in defiance to the one true God. The psalms are also sprinkled with statements of curses against non-believers; those who would decry the authority of God. These imprecatory or cursing psalms stand in stark contrast to the more syrupy, love-filled passages.

Psalm 26:5 – “I hate the company of evildoers, and will not sit with the wicked.”

Psalm 31:6, 17-18 – “I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in Yahweh…Do not let me be put to shame, O Yahweh, for I call on you; let the wicked be put to shame; let them go dumbfounded to Sheol. Let the lying lips be stilled that speak insolently against the righteous with pride and contempt.”

Psalm 68:1 – “Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered; let those who hate him flee before him.”

Psalm 101:3 – “I will not set before my eyes anything that is base. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.”

This passionate aversion to the practices of the wicked is a natural by-product of a passionate love for God. However, we need to recognize that God does not condone outright acts of hatred against the wicked. The fact that these psalms have given voice to the emotional loathing of anyone who stands against God does not carry with it a tacit permission to destroy them.

We are constrained by the teachings of Yeshua to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us, to do only good toward them and to seek their best interest. But that does not mean we have removed all sense of disdain for the wicked practices they may do. It is our responsibility to love without conceding to their immorality, to serve without bitter resolve toward their destructive behavior .

The eleventh chapter of the epistle of Hebrews speaks to a long list of those who demonstrated their faith and integrity through their actions. But when we consider the depth of their commitment to the one true God, our own faith seems to pale by comparison:

Hebrews 11:33-38 – “…who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two,[l] they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.”

This is the spiritual stock of those who would seek after God today. We must seek ways to become the hardy believers like they were, living without compromise in their time. The integrity of their faith led them to uncompromising conflict with the culture around them, and many of them gave their lives in honor of the God of the universe. They represented him against the rebelliousness of their generations.

In what ways do we compromise today?

  1. We try to stand with an incomplete knowledge of the Hebrew culture and social structure, and instead try to interpret the Bible through the lens of our current societal standards.
  2. We fall into the “us-against-them” mentality by subdividing the singular truth of the kingdom into denominations and hierarchies causing unnatural rivalries as to which group is “right.”
  3. We attempt to support the temporal politics of the land when we should instead focus on the eternal kingdom that supersedes any political issue.
  4. We attempt to manage current, popular social issues and conflict as simply being new ways of expression rather than confronting the degradation and erosion of biblical moral values that are eternal.

As an antidote to these compromises, we should seek the opposite in each case.

  1. We need to cultivate teachers who understand the Hebrew culture and can express the New Covenant within the context it was intended. Yeshua was not an American or European; he was not just a philosopher or great moral teacher. He was the Messiah of the Hebrew people, and the spiritual leader of all Israel.
  2. We need to stop creating new congregations founded on differences of minor theological emphasis and instead seek to find ways to reconcile with other believing congregations. We are all one in Messiah, but apparently not on paper.
  3. We need to recognize that politics are fueled by controversy for the sake of argument, and that bringing that mentality into the congregation of believers only causes further strife and division among ourselves. Spirituality and moral behavior are not something that can be legislated.
  4. We need to remain firm in standing against sinful social behavior; yet we need to reach out with love to those who are not believers to help them understand that principles of race, gender and sexuality are settled issues in God’s eyes. Rather than lash out in ignorance, we need to educate ourselves as to how to knowledgeably and lovingly confront the error of defiance toward the authority of God. Of course, we should not be advocates for hate, but we certainly cannot be advocates for sin.

Hebrews 12:1 – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

This race we are in is not a sprint that is over after a burst of effort and energy. No, the lives we live are long-distance endurance rallies, challenging us at every turn with new obstacles attempting to wear us down and cause us not to quit, but to compromise. Once we accept the premise of cultural degradation, our message becomes diluted by non-essentials.

For which social or political principle or ethic would you be willing to be tortured, sawn in two, flogged, stoned or killed? Now consider which theological or spiritual position you would be willing to put your life on the line for? I dare say the integrity and faith of our spiritual forebears tends to quickly bring the essentials into focus.

Our integrity is based on how we pull these disparate concepts together and yet honor God with our speech and our actions. I believe we should find ways to maintain a perspective that recalls the faithfulness of generations before us, and that we should do everything in our power to seek to emulate them.

1 Kings 8:57-58 – “The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our ancestors; may he not leave us or abandon us, but incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his ordinances, which he commanded our ancestors.”


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Humbly serving others reveals God’s glory

We can magnify God by genuinely helping others in need.

We can magnify God by genuinely helping others in need.

Matthew 5:16 – “…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

According to Yeshua, integrity is demonstrated when our right actions are visible to others.

This is not to say that we should hypocritically conduct good actions just to be seen by others; this is the opposite of integrity and the very thing Yeshua accused the religious leaders of.

Matthew 6:1 – “Beware of practicing your righteousness before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

No, Yeshua encourages right actions that cannot be hidden because they are simply the right thing to do, and one is not ashamed of doing the right thing, even if ridiculed or persecuted for it.

Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Being a righteous individual involves doing the right thing in situations where others are not; to shine in the darkness around us because we are demonstrating honesty and integrity when others are not.

In Luke 10, Yeshua tells the parable of the Good Samaritan in which the supposedly righteous people passed by the individual in need, but the Samaritan actually stopped to provide real help. This is integrity. The Samaritan’s deeds became apparent to the innkeeper and others; however, the actions were not done for their benefit, but for the benefit of the one in need. In doing the right thing when others aren’t, our deeds become more apparent and contrast more starkly with the “acceptable” opinions and deeds of the world around us.

Most times, even when there does not appear to be a biblical precedent, we can still know what the right course of action is because, like the Samaritan’s assistance, righteous actions typically involve effort and self-sacrifice. By contrast, what’s popular is usually convenient and easy and allows us to remain uninvolved.

God’s kingdom becomes apparent when we take action on behalf of others in this world through effort and self-sacrifice. As long as our focus is on others and not on ourselves, we can become lights that shine for God and through our actions point people to him. The lamp that Yeshua speaks of is thereby placed on a lampstand and others can learn by our example of humble service to others what kind of God we serve.

Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The surpassing righteousness of love

The truly righteous actions can’t be legislated.

Matthew 5:20 – “For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.”

Many of the scribes and the Pharisees were famous for abiding by the letter of the law in scrutinizing detail, yet they were guilty of disobeying the spirit of it.

Matthew 23:23 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, and yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law ​– ​justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These things should have been done without neglecting the others.”

They had become examples of legalistic rule-following; outwardly appearing to obey the law when in their hearts they were just as wicked as the vilest law-breakers whom they would condemn. Yeshua continually called them out for their hypocrisy, and this is what enraged them against him.

For Yeshua, outward actions should stem from the sincerity of the heart; it is not possible to make the heart right just by conducting some outward ritual. This is why it is impossible to legislate morality; it must be something that springs from a place of inward purity, not just outward conformity.

Not every Pharisee or scribe was wicked, and many ultimately came to faith in Messiah among the early believers, albeit struggling to understand how the law would apply to believers in Messiah, as is demonstrated in Acts 15. However, for Yeshua, of primary concern was regenerative work of God’s Spirit on the heart.

John 3:6-8 – “Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. “Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. “The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

When the heart is right, the actions will be right. The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees can only be surpassed when the actions that conform to the Word of God are sincere with no agenda or motivation for self-aggrandizement.

1 John 3:14, 16 – We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers and sisters. The one who does not love remains in death. … This is how we have come to know love: He laid down his life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

If our true motivation is love for others, not just rule following to make ourselves look good, then we can be confident that we are doing the right thing for the right reasons. When the Spirit of God is present in our lives, we can’t help but do things that benefit others, because God is love. And only when we act in truly loving ways towards others is when our righteousness surpasses that of the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees. We can then see the kingdom, and others can see the kingdom in us. It is then that the kingdom of God is manifest in our lives.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.