The priceless objective of accomplishing God’s will

Core of the Bible podcast #30 – The priceless objective of accomplishing God’s will

In this episode we will be exploring the topic of the kingdom, and how the kingdom of God, defined as doing his will, should be the primary and most urgent focus of our lives every day.

Yeshua stated it this way:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Matthew 13:45-46

How invested are you in the kingdom of God? Yeshua taught us that we should be seeking the kingdom first, not somewhere further down a list of spiritual things we think we should be doing.

This parable illustrates the immense value that a true seeker places on the discovery of the kingdom of God. To be willing to sell everything you have in order to gain one single objective is a demonstration of the very highest commitment.

John Gill in his Bible commentary comes to this interpretation of this parable, which I have paraphrased a bit for clarity from the 18th-century prose:

“…in conjunction and harmony with the other parables, I believe this is to be understood of those who seek knowledge in all of its branches, natural, moral, and spiritual; and who, like a “merchant man seeking goodly pearls,” find the Gospel and prefer it to everything else. … for those who seek wisdom and knowledge through proper means are like merchant men who trade abroad and for valuables; and these, under divine direction, find the truths of the everlasting Gospel in the Scriptures, and through the ministry of the word, and by prayer and study…”

If the merchant is the seeker of truth and the pearl is the gospel of the kingdom, then we would do well to first of all ensure we know what the kingdom is.

What is the kingdom of God?

In a very small nutshell, the kingdom of God is exhibited anywhere God reigns supreme. While he ultimately rules heaven and earth, he is not always granted rule here by men who don’t believe in him or who prefer to follow their own ways rather than his. Hence Yeshua’s prayer that God’s kingdom would come and that his will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The carrying out of God’s will on earth is the demonstration of the reality of his kingdom. According to Yeshua, God’s kingdom is all about God’s will being done here on earth in the same way that his will is accomplished in heaven. Consider the following:

Matthew 6:10: “May your Kingdom come, your will being done, as in heaven, so on earth.”

Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

When we are doing God’s will, his kingdom comes, or is present. God’s desire is for his kingdom to cover the earth; that is, that his will would be accomplished in the lives of his creation. We can know God’s will by being in his word on a continual basis. Understanding God’s perspective helps us make the choices each day that honor him. As we live out his word, we become the light and salt of the world that Yeshua spoke of in other parables.

In this parable we are encouraged to be like this merchant. In a believer’s life, everything one has and does should stem from the reality of the kingdom. God’s purposes should have priority in all decision making. Once we find the treasure of God’s will in his word, we should engage every resource we have to see it come about by living it out. It should consume all of our actions and thinking.

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If the kingdom of God is all about accomplishing God’s will on earth, then how do we discern God’s will?

Matthew 12:50: “For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.””

We know that it must be possible to know and do God’s will, otherwise Yeshua has a set a standard that is unachievable in this life.

In a similar way, the apostle Paul challenges the Ephesian believers to the same standard of knowing what God’s will is so that they can bear fruit that is pleasing to him.

Ephesians 5:8-10 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light —  for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth —  testing what is pleasing to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:15-17 Pay careful attention, then, to how you live — not as unwise people but as wise —  making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

In his letter to the Roman congregation, Paul provides some insight into how God’s will is discerned. In this specific instance, while sarcastically cautioning the Jews among the congregation against their potential for hypocrisy, he does let slip a secret on what God’s will is based.

Romans 2:17-18, 21 Now if you call yourself a Jew, and rely on the law, and boast in God, and know his will, and approve the things that are superior, being instructed from the law … you then, who teach another, don’t you teach yourself? You who preach, “You must not steal” ​– ​do you steal?

You see, he mentions the key principle that to know God’s will was to rely on and be instructed from the law. The law, or torah of God, is how we can know and approve what God sees as best for his created beings.

Paul continues this thought later on in the epistle, saying that the only way to really understand God’s will is to be transformed by not conforming to the world around us, and to have a renewed mind. Since he has already set the precedent that the knowing God’s will is based on being instructed from the law, we can know that this renewing of the mind comes from understanding God’s will from his law.

Romans 12:2: ” Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

Further, in other epistles, both he and Peter specify aspects of God’s will for his people that are once again based on his torah. Let’s look at each of these admonitions and compare them with their roots in the law of God.

SEXUAL IMMORALITY

1 Thessalonians 4:3: “For this is the will of God: your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality.” What defines sexual immorality? The law does in Lev.18 and 20:9-21 when it explains all of the different family members and and appropriate and inappropriate relations.

GIVING OF THANKS

1 Thessalonians 5:18: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you.” Where are we encouraged to give thanks to God? From God’s law:

1 Chronicles 16:8 Give thanks to the LORD; call on his name; proclaim his deeds among the peoples.

Psalm 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart celebrates, and I give thanks to him with my song.

Psalm 92:1 It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praise to your name, Most High…

DOING GOOD

1 Peter 2:15: “For this is the will of God, that by well-doing you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” Where are we encouraged to do what’s right? Once again from the law:

Deuteronomy 6:18 “Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so that you may prosper and so that you may enter and possess the good land the LORD your God swore to give your fathers,

2 Chronicles 19:11 … Be strong; may the LORD be with those who do what is good.”

Psalm 34:14 Turn away from evil and do what is good; seek peace and pursue it.

All of God’s word is his torah, his instruction for his people. By purposefully and intentionally spending time each day in his word, we are transformed by understanding what things God desires for his people, so that his will can be done on earth by us. This is the way his kingdom comes.

1 Peter 4:2: “that you no longer should live the rest of your time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”

1 John 2:17: “The world is passing away with its lusts, but he who does God’s will remains forever.”

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When you are fully invested in seeking the things of God, this desire for conformity to the kingdom becomes second nature. It becomes all-consuming and touches every aspect of your life. Living out the principles of God’s kingdom brings it to life among all of those around you.

How do you know what the most important things are in your life?

The things you value most are the things that consume your time, your energy, and your resources.

In the case of this merchant seeking the pearl of great price, we can imagine his search consuming all three of those qualities.

He would have spent time searching for what he was looking for. We can imagine this to have been a lifelong pursuit. He was a merchant, a trader, this is what he did for a living.

He would also have had to expend energy in his search. Day after day he would have continued to travel to market after market and comb through merchandise. There could have been wasted trips with no results. Long, hot days would have been spent jostling among the crowded venues, trying to find the ultimate prize.

And when he finally discovered what he had been looking for, imagine his relief! All of the efforts and time expended was worth it. He had obtained his goal, the most amazing pearl he had ever seen in all of his travels. He knew he needed to obtain it, whatever it took, because it was valued above every other precious treasure he had seen. So all of his resources then went in to obtaining it to make sure he would be able to purchase it for himself.

Yeshua explains that this is what the kingdom of God is like. It’s like this merchant, spending his time, his energy and his resources to obtain the most precious treasure. The kingdom should be made up of individuals who value God’s principles and his will above everything else. All of our time and energy should revolve around the goal of accomplishing God’s will in our lives. We should be willing to travel long distances, struggle amidst crowded marketplaces and invest all that we have in this commodity which contains the highest value in our lives.

Is the kingdom to you a pearl of the highest value, or only one of many other similar pearls strung together that you wear to adorn yourself to be admired by others? By applying the principles of accomplishing God’s will in all we do every day, we can overcome our vain efforts at shallow beliefs and be engaged in the most rewarding pursuit of all: the kingdom of God on 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 here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Knowing and doing God’s will in his kingdom

According to Yeshua, God’s kingdom is all about God’s will being done here on earth, in the same way that his will is accomplished in heaven.

Matthew 6:10: “Let your Kingdom come. Let your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.”
Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 12:50: “For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.””

We know that it must be possible to know and do God’s will, otherwise Yeshua has a set a standard that is unachievable in this life.

The apostle Paul also challenges the Ephesian believers to the same standard of knowing what God’s will is so that they can bear fruit that is pleasing to him.

Ephesians 5:8-10 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light ​– ​ for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth ​– ​ testing what is pleasing to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:15-17 Pay careful attention, then, to how you live ​– ​not as unwise people but as wise ​– ​ making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

In his letter to the Roman congregation, Paul provides some insight into how God’s will is discerned. In this specific instance, while sarcastically cautioning the Jews among the congregation against their potential for hypocrisy, he does let slip a secret on what God’s will is based.

Romans 2:17-18 Now if you call yourself a Jew, and rely on the law, and boast in God, and know his will, and approve the things that are superior, being instructed from the law,

The law, or torah of God, is how we can know and approve what God sees as best for his created beings. Paul continues this thought later on in the epistle, saying that the only way to really understand God’s will is to be transformed by not conforming to the world, and to have a renewed mind. Since he has already set the precedent that the knowing God’s will is based on “being instructed from the law,” we can know that this renewing of the mind comes from understanding God’s will from his law.

Romans 12:2: ” Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

Further, in other epistles, both he and Peter specify aspects of God’s will for his people that are once again based on his torah.

1 Thessalonians 4:3: “For this is the will of God: your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality,” (Lev.18; 20:9-21).
1 Thessalonians 5:18: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you.” (1 Chron 16:8; Psalm 28:7; 92:1).
1 Peter 2:15: “For this is the will of God, that by well-doing you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:” (Deut 6:18; 2 Chron 19:11; Psalm 34:14).

All of God’s word is his torah, his instruction for his people. By purposefully and intentionally spending time each day in his word, we are transformed by understanding what things God desires for his people, so that his will can be done on earth by us. This is the way his kingdom comes.

1 Peter 4:2: “that you no longer should live the rest of your time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”
1 John 2:17: “The world is passing away with its lusts, but he who does God’s will remains 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 here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The amazing news of the Kingdom of God

“It shall come to pass that, as you were a curse among the nations, house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and you shall be a blessing. Don’t be afraid. Let your hands be strong.”

Zechariah 8:13

In the time in ministry of Zechariah, Israel and Judah had been taken captive into the nations and had lost their temple in their homeland due to their disobedience. In all of this time, they wondered if God would ever restore their nation. As Zechariah’s prophecies continued to unfold, it was revealed to them that they would return to their land and they would be a blessing and their fortunes would be restored.

Zechariah 8:11-13: “But now I will not be to the remnant of this people as in the former days,” says Yahweh of Armies. “For the seed of peace and the vine will yield its fruit, and the ground will give its increase, and the heavens will give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to inherit all these things. It shall come to pass that, as you were a curse among the nations, house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and you shall be a blessing. Don’t be afraid. Let your hands be strong.”

This wasn’t just good news, this was amazing and wonderful news! God was planting the seed for the establishment of not just the physical kingdom of Israel, but the eternal kingdom of God on earth.

From the early beginnings of Yeshua’s public ministry, this very concept of the good news of God‘s kingdom was recorded as the first message he preached in the synagogue in his hometown.

Luke 4:16-21 He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. As usual, he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him, and unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written:  The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed,  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.  He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him. He began by saying to them, Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled.

This focus on the amazing news of the revelation of the kingdom of God continued as he went about doing good among all the villages of Israel.

Mark 1:14-15: “Now after John was taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand! Repent, and believe in the Good News.””

The nation of Israel had been God‘s demonstration of power to the world. They also became the object lesson of faithlessness and faithfulness. In their faithlessness, they were removed from the land and scattered among the nations. In their faithfulness, they were restored to their land and received the promised inheritance; not just in the physical land, but of the full spiritual riches that God intended for all people through his chosen son, Messiah Yeshua.

Galatians 3:14: “that the blessing of Abraham might come on the nations through Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

The kingdom of God had moved from the natural into the spiritual, and would be expanded to all nations. This was the amazing news of Yeshua and the early believers! As a spiritual kingdom, it could now be eternal and last from generation to generation without end. This is the kingdom that believers today are a part of, as we seek the God of Israel and as we seek to remain faithful to his Torah, or Word, and his Messiah, Yeshua.


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

The commandments of the kingdom

Exodus 34:28 – And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

Deuteronomy 4:13 – And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.

Matthew 5:19 – Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

The Ten Commandments are the basis of all human interaction with God and men. This was first exemplified through the nation of Israel, and then brought ultimately to the rest of the world through the seed of Abraham, the Messiah. If we believe Yeshua to be anointed of God to teach the way of God truly, then his words cannot be cast aside in favor of our own ideology.

Many teach today that Messiah fulfilled the law or commandments of God perfectly, and therefore we no longer need to. The foolishness of this logic is apparent in the very commands themselves. Which ones no longer need to be obeyed? Honoring God above all else? Murder? Adultery? Bearing false witness?

These commandments are the very foundation of the kingdom that Messiah was bringing the good news about to his people. These are the commands that set God’s people apart from every other culture in the world; they are the very root and source of the integrity of his people.

Jeremiah 31:33 – “But this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

In the establishment of this kingdom, first with Israel and then with the rest of the nations, all of these commands would not only remain, they would be fulfilled in all who claimed to believe in him. This would be accomplished by the spirit of God living and dwelling among his people, placing these commands within their very hearts so they would all fulfill them perfectly within their lives, for endless generations to come.

This is what the kingdom of God is: it thrives wherever and whenever God’s commands are followed whole-heartedly and completely.

1 John 2:3-4 – Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
1 John 3:22, 24 – And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. … Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
1 John 5:2-3 – By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

As children of the kingdom, let us continually honor him in the simplicity of keeping his commandments.


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

A parable of the eternal and natural kingdoms

He presented them with another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a person who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.

Matthew 13:24-25

The parables that Yeshua spoke about the kingdom are varied, differing in length, complexity, and purpose. While some are deeply spiritual in nature and apply primarily to the eternal kingdom, some of them are simply veiled references to the (then) present kingdom of Israel.

Matthew 13:26-30 When the plants sprouted and bore grain, then the weeds also appeared. So the slaves of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?’ He said, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the slaves replied, ‘Do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, since in gathering the weeds you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I will tell the reapers, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned, but then gather the wheat into my barn.”‘”

The earthly kingdom (national Israel) originally had good seed (the Torah) sown throughout all levels of its society. However, it had become corrupt through the influence of an enemy (idolatry of the Dispersion). The slaves of the owner (angels of God) were instructed to gather the harvest (the righteous remnant); however the weeds (the non-righteous) were to be burned (destroyed in the fires of Jerusalem) first, leaving the righteous to be gathered into the owner’s barn (heaven/the eternal kingdom).

This type of interpretation hinges on the centrality of the urgency with which Yeshua presented the message of the kingdom.

Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach this message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Mark 1:15 He said, “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the gospel!”
Luke 13:3 No, I tell you! But unless you repent, you will all perish as well!

Many of these parables are not just nice stories about a spiritual kingdom; they are urgent warnings of a terrible judgment that was about to fall on that (mostly) disobedient generation within the natural kingdom of Israel.

Matthew 12:41-42 The people of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented when Jonah preached to them – and now, something greater than Jonah is here!
The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon – and now, something greater than Solomon is here!
Matthew 17:17 Jesus answered, “You unbelieving and perverse generation! How much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I endure you?”
Matthew 23:36 I tell you the truth, this generation will be held responsible for all these things!
Matthew 24:34 I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
Mark 8:38 For if anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

When viewed within the wider context of all of Yeshua’s teachings, we can get a better handle on understanding that he was fiercely intentional about his prophetic pronouncements regarding the coming judgment upon that generation. While believers today can (and should be) grateful for the eternal spiritual kingdom that was being created, the natural kingdom was about to come to its prophesied end.

The eternal kingdom of believers shines in the darkness

And they [the twenty-four elders] sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

Revelation 5:9-10

Since the Garden of Eden, it has been God’s intent that there would always be a group of people on earth who represent him to the rest of the world.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness, to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, and over all the earth itself and every creature that crawls upon it.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that crawls upon the earth.”

Genesis 1:26-28

The pinnacle of God’s plan was the enactment of his kingdom through Yeshua.

Matthew 4:17- From that time began Jesus to preach, and to say, Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Matthew 11:12 From the days of John the Baptizer until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.

The Ellicott commentary clarifies the unusual language of Matthew 11:12:

The words describe the eager rush of the crowds of Galilee and Judaea, first to the preaching of the Baptist, and then to that of Jesus. It was, as it were, a city attacked on all sides by those who were eager to take possession of it.

Since that time, God’s kingdom has been growing, untiringly spreading throughout the world, as it had been prophesied by Daniel and Yeshua himself.

I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

Daniel 7:13-14

Another parable set he before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: which indeed is less than all seeds; but when it is grown, it is greater than the herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the heaven come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Matthew 13:31-32

The culmination of this eternal kingdom is described in the apocalyptic language of the book of Revelation.

There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name [will be] on their foreheads. And there will no longer be [any] night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.

Revelation 22:3-5

This corroborates with the vision presented to Daniel, hundreds of years before Messiah fulfilled the establishment of the kingdom.

The kingdom and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole sky, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High: his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

Daniel 7:27

The kingdom has been prophesied to be given to the people, and to be everlasting. In antiquity the role of priests was to be the intermediary between the people and God. In that sense, believers today fill this role analogously as they exhibit and demonstrate the patterns of God and share the torah/instruction of God with others.

For believers today, there are no actual priests or priestly sacrifices, because there is no longer a need for physical offerings and sacrifices; there is only one representative High Priest forever, Yeshua.

Though its foundations are well beyond this physical realm, the influence of the Kingdom of God is exerted and demonstrated in the lives of those here who are now submitted to God and his eternal throne. As his representatives, we reign on the earth when we seek first the kingdom and demonstrate righteous actions based on his word. When that happens, “there is no longer any night,” because “the Lord God illumines us.”

Believer, know yourself and your role in this place. When you are faithfully serving your Lord and Master, you are being a light in a dark place, and the kingdom of God can advance through your faithful example.


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




The Kingdom of God has a name

In one of the most famous passages of the Bible, we learn that the Kingdom of God, which is the main theme of the Bible, has a name. Here is the context of the passage:

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Jeremiah 31:31-34

This passage of course is extremely familiar to believers. This promise is specifically addressed to Israel and Judah that a new covenant would be made with them by God, not by them. The demonstration of this new covenant would be that his law or Torah would be within them, and they would all personally have an intimate relationship with him. This was to be the economy of the kingdom: an internal reality governing the lives of its people, not just an outward set of laws as their forefathers had received at Sinai.

Now, it is actually the next passage in Jeremiah that identifies the name of this kingdom.

Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name: “If this fixed order departs From before Me,” declares the LORD, “Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever.” Thus says the LORD, “If the heavens above can be measured And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done,” declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 31:35-37

The eternal nature of this kingdom is defined in these verses. As long as the order of the moon, stars, and sun and essentially the whole natural order of things exists, the offspring of Israel will remain. And that is who this group is, the members of this kingdom: the offspring, or seed, of Israel.

The Hebrew calls them the zera Yisrael, the seed of Israel. The zera or seed is extremely symbolic throughout the Bible and has layers of meanings, as seeds do. A seed can be related to plants or human descendants. A seed carries the potential for new life of its genus into the future indefinitely. Seed can refer to a singular future descendant or a group.

As this applies to believers, the Bible is clear that Yeshua was the zera or seed promised from the days of Abraham, who was the father (technically, the grandfather) of Israel.

Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as [referring] to many, but [rather] to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.

Galatians 3:16

The apostle Paul makes the point that the scripture in this case points to an individual seed, Yeshua, as the recipient of Abraham’s blessing and that through him Abraham, the father of Israel, would be the father of many nations.

And herein lies one of the deepest layers of meaning, and the root of the good news of the gospel message of the kingdom: if we are believers in Messiah, the Bible says we are “in him,” meaning, we are in the zera, the seed, just as Yeshua taught.

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
2 Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
Colossians 2:6-7, 10 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, [so] walk in Him, having been firmly rooted [and now] being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, [and] overflowing with gratitude. … and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;
1 John 2:6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
1 John 3:9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
1 John 4:13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

If we are in the seed, and he in us, then we are participants in the zera Yisrael, the seed of Israel; hence, the kingdom. This kingdom will never end, and the seed will continue to perpetuate forever until it fills the earth.

“And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and [men of every] language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.

Daniel 7:14

This is the promise of God and the hope that we have. The zera Yisrael is the name of the everlasting Kingdom of God. As we faithfully walk in the ways of Yeshua, we are co-laboring with God to plant seed for future generations of believers, until his kingdom fills 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 here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The kingdom of humility and wisdom

Core of the Bible podcast #23- The kingdom of humility and wisdom

In this episode we will be exploring the topic of the Kingdom of God, and how the individuals making up this ever-expanding kingdom have hearts of humility and are filled with wisdom.

Yeshua stated it this way:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 5:3

A paraphrase to expand on the meaning of this passage conveys that to have an empty spirit, ready to receive and obey the slightest instruction, you will be blessed as the kingdom of heaven is yours.

To be poor in spirit is to remain humble amidst an abundance of wisdom and provision. It is a recognition of personal lack in the face of great resources. As the sayings go, “The more you learn, the less you understand,” or, “The more you know, the more you learn what you don’t know.” It is an acceptance of this spiritual type of destitution as a foundation for understanding.

To illustrate this, the Rev. Joseph Benson in his 19th century commentary, conveys the following.

By this expression, “the poor in spirit,” [some] understand [this to mean] those who bear a state of poverty and want with a disposition of quiet and cheerful submission to the divine will; and [others] interpret it of those who are ready to part with their possessions for charitable uses. But it seems much more probable that the truly humble are intended, or those who are sensible of their spiritual poverty, of their ignorance and sinfulness, their guilt, depravity, and weakness, their frailty and mortality; and who, therefore, whatever their outward situation in life may be, however affluent and exalted, think meanly of themselves, and neither desire the praise of men, nor covet high things in the world, but are content with the lot God assigns them, however low and poor. These are happy, because their humility renders them teachable, submissive, resigned, patient, contented, and cheerful in all estates; and it enables them to receive prosperity or adversity, health or sickness, ease or pain, life or death, with an equal mind. Whatever is allotted them … they consider as a grace or favour. They are happy, because theirs is the kingdom of heaven — The present, inward kingdom, righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, as well as the eternal kingdom, if they endure to the end. The knowledge which they have of themselves, and their humiliation of soul before God, prepare them for the reception of Christ, to dwell and reign in their hearts, and all the other blessings of the gospel; the blessings both of grace and glory.

Benson concludes by quoting from the prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Isaiah 66:1-2 Thus says Yahweh, “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: what kind of house will you build to me? and what place shall be my rest? For all these things has my hand made, and [so] all these things came to be,” says Yahweh: “but to this man will I look, even to him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my word.

Let’s look a little more closely at some of those descriptions.

To be of a contrite spirit is to be smitten or afflicted in spirit. This is a very strange way of describing a heart that is ready and yearning for God. One English dictionary describes contrite in the following way:

“Someone who feels remorse or guilt is contrite and in addition to feeling sorry, part of the definition includes wanting to atone for having done something wrong.”

Based on this type of understanding, it makes sense to describe a remorseful individual as someone who has had their heart smitten.

It appears that God is saying he is able to teach individuals who recognize their own humble standing before him, the God of the universe. The passage in Isaiah 66 is speaking of individuals who tremble at God’s word. To tremble at God’s word is to have a recognition and acceptance of his authority. If an individual recognizes that God is the ultimate authority and has concrete standards, then one has a perspective of either abiding by or defying those standards.  When an individual realizes their actions have transgressed the requirements of God, and they are truly remorseful about those transgressions, then they can be said to have their hearts or spirits smitten, and they become willing vessels, open to correction and training by the Spirit of God through his word. This is the type of individual who, according to Yeshua, is blessed, and who is a participant in the kingdom of God.

To be poor in spirit is also to be humble. In the Hebrew Scriptures, a word to describe this condition is shaphal, meaning depressed, as in, lower than other things, not depressed emotionally. This condition of lowliness is illustrated as something God honors. By that reckoning, humility should be a primary characteristic of all of God’s people.

Let’s take a look at how consistent this idea of humility and lowliness is throughout God’s Word.

Deuteronomy 8:14  “be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.

2 Samuel 22:28 You rescue an oppressed people, but your eyes are set against the proud — you humble them.

Job 5:8-11: “”But as for me, I would seek God. I would commit my cause to God, who does great things that can’t be fathomed, marvelous things without number; who gives rain on the earth, and sends waters on the fields; so that he sets up on high those who are low, those who mourn are exalted to safety.”

Job 10:16 “If I am proud, you hunt me like a lion and again display your miraculous power against me.

Psalm 138:6: “For though Yahweh is high, yet he looks after the lowly; but the proud, he knows from afar.”

Proverbs 16:5 Everyone with a proud heart is detestable to Yahweh; be assured, he will not go unpunished.

Proverbs 16:19: “It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor, than to divide the plunder with the proud.”

Proverbs 18:12  Before his downfall a person’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.

Proverbs 29:23: “A man’s pride brings him low, but one of lowly spirit gains honor.”

Isaiah 57:15: “For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

Ezekiel 17:24: “All the trees of the field shall know that I, Yahweh, have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish; I, Yahweh, have spoken and have done it.”

In modern terms, this concept of lowliness might be conveyed by saying an individual is an empty cup, ready to be filled. The cup, in its “poor” state, lacks the liquid with which it desires to be filled. However, recognizing that it is empty, it is willing to receive with joy the liquid wisdom as it is poured out.

By contrast, a cup that is already full of its own liquid cannot receive any further instruction, since it is already full. This individual has no room for growth or further revelation.

Yeshua confronted the leaders of his day because they were so full of their own teaching and doctrine, they had overshot the commands of God and had created their own un-keepable system of rules and regulations.

Mark 7:6-7, 9: “He answered them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ … He said to them, “Full well do you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.”

An individual’s heart or soul that is full of something else cannot receive what God originally intended for it. In the extreme sense, Yeshua even confronted his own disciple Peter when Peter was introducing his own agenda into God‘s purpose and plan. This was in the context of Yeshua explaining to the disciples his impending crucifixion and subsequent resurrection.

Mark 8: 32-33 Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But he [Yeshua], turning around, and seeing his disciples, rebuked Peter, and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you have in mind not the things of God, but the things of men.””

Injecting one’s own intent upon God‘s will and purpose is so objectionable to Yeshua that he labels it with the most egregious of titles: that of the satan or the ultimate adversarial position. Once an individual is consumed with their own passion and desire above that which God intends, their life has essentially moved to an adversarial position against the things of God. If that is the case, then that individual is no longer inside the kingdom, which is why Yeshua could confidently say within a parable to those tradition-filled Jewish leaders:

Luke 13:27-28 – …’I tell you, I don’t know you or where you’re from. Get away from me, all you evildoers! ‘ “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth in that place, when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves thrown out.

Certainly, we don’t want to place ourselves in that position, so we need to be mindful of that possibility while yet remaining firm upon the truth and power of God. To that end, believers have been provided a wealth of resources and strength through the Spirit of God and his Word so they can always know the right things to do.

For example, the apostle Paul writes about his duty to ensure that the word of God was available to God’s people among the nations.

Colossians 1:25 “I have become [the servant of the assembly], according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known…”

John also conveys how this combination of their written instruction along with the anointing of God’s Spirit within the believers provided the ability to know the truth and overcome adversity and false teaching.

1 John 2:14, 20  I have written to you, children, because you have come to know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you have come to know the one who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, God’s word remains in you, and you have conquered the evil one. … But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.

Paul also conveys this same understanding about the ability of believers to understand spiritual things.

1 Corinthians 2:10-12: “But to us, God revealed them through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For who among men knows the things of a man, except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so, no one knows the things of God, except God’s Spirit. But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that were freely given to us by God.”

If we, then, are seeking to follow in the footsteps of these early believers by remaining faithful to God’s Word and by seeking to be filled with his Spirit, we should have the same abilities to understand the truth and overcome adversity and falsehood.

To be poor in spirit is to keep your cup empty. This way, as we remain humble and teachable, we can then have plenty of room to receive whatever wisdom and instruction God is willing to pour into us. And in this fashion, the kingdom will continue to grow for his purpose and glory, and not our own.

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

The Kingdom of God is near

“The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand! Repent, and believe in the Good News.”

Mark 1:15

The words of John the baptizer rang in the ears of the first century Jews with a sense of impending urgency. The time was fulfilled; the kingdom of God was at hand! This reality was the motivation of John’s cry for repentance. If people were not serious about their torah obedience, they were to be left among those who would experience the coming judgment of God on the land.

This message of the nearness of the kingdom can be easy to misunderstand. Did John mean it was already present, or soon to come? The short answer is that both meanings are true; the kingdom was already unfolding and yet was going to be coming to pass as the judgment that would fall on them.

We can see this is the case as Yeshua continues this message in his ministry:

“Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ “But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off [in protest] against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city.

Luke 10:8-12

He instructs the disciples to explain the nearness of the kingdom; to those who would receive their message, it was a message of comfort. However to those who were judged unworthy, it was a message of condemnation. It’s the same message: “the kingdom is near,” just with two completely different applications depending on how the message was to be received.

The message of the kingdom is a separator of individuals. To those who receive God’s kingship authority and turn away from disobedience to his Word, the message of the kingdom is a comfort and a blessing. But to those who reject the kingship of God and are unwilling to turn away from disobedience to his Word, the message of the kingdom is an annoyance and a burden; their judgment has come upon their own heads.

And this is the verdict: The Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness rather than the Light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come into the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever practices the truth comes into the Light, so that it may be seen clearly that what he has done has been accomplished in God.”

John 3:19-21

While this message still rings true for every generation, it was especially true for that first-century generation. Those who were to “come to the light,” as John mentions, demonstrated the grace and mercy of God among the remnant of his people. Yeshua says of these: “Truly, truly, I tell you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment. Indeed, he has crossed over from death to life,” (John 5:24). The crossing over had already happened; these individuals were not to come under the pending judgment of God’s people. However, upon those who were not willing to come into the light, it was as if the judgment had already come: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life,” (1 John 5:12).

The New Jerusalem of Revelation is symbolic of the Kingdom of God. Its purpose and glory is described there as being the home of the righteous, those who have received the message of the Kingdom of God.

But I saw no temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, because the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its lamp. By its light the nations will walk, and into it the kings of the earth will bring their glory. Its gates will never be shut at the end of the day, because there will be no night there. And into the city will be brought the glory and honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who practices an abomination or a lie, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Revelation 21:22-27

In like fashion to that exemplified group of Yeshua’s original audience, to each generation since that time the message of the kingdom is the same: “the light of the Kingdom of God is near.” Will we accept the kingship of Yahweh or not? Will we be obedient or not? Will we choose to enter its gates or 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 here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Yahweh the King

Yahweh said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they tell you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me as the king over them.

1 Samuel 8:7

The political kingship of Israel began with a rejection of Yahweh as their king.

Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together and came to Samuel to Ramah. They said to him, “Behold, you are old, and your sons don’t walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” Samuel prayed to Yahweh. Yahweh said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they tell you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me as the king over them.

1 Samuel 8:4-7

Even when presented with all of the tyrannous things a national king would do: the taxes, the conscription, the giving over of land, children, and slaves to the service of the king, the people would not relent.

Yahweh told Samuel that their desire for a political king, and their forsaking of Samuel as judge over them, was akin to their idolatry.

According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, in that they have forsaken me and served other gods, so they also do to you.

1 Samuel 8:8

Throughout their tumultuous political kingdom, Yahweh still had plans to use Israel’s national kingdom as an object lesson for all time. Although Saul had originally been God’s choice for ruler, Saul became corrupt and demonstrated he was not obedient whole-heartedly to the torah, or instruction, of God. So instead, God raised up David as a man after his own heart to firmly establish the kingdom.

While David was originally rejected by the people of Israel, through him and his son Solomon, the pinnacle of the earthly, political kingdom of God was reached. The corrupted initial kingdom was replaced with a king who was yielded to Yahweh and who ruled wisely as God’s faithful representative with the wisdom of God.

Just like the kingdom of David and Solomon, God always had plans to consummate his rulership over his people with a representative who would honor and represent him whole-heartedly. The coming of a Messiah, a son of David, an anointed one (i.e., a king), was foretold through the prophets and longed for by the Israelites who suffered under each rebellious king and through exile in foreign lands.

Yeshua arrived into a world of immense national and political corruption, just like the conditions of the kingdom of Saul. However, just like the house of David, Yeshua demonstrated through his faithfulness that he was truly anointed of God, and the rightful king of God’s people.

True to form and the cyclical pattern of torah, Israel rejected God’s anointed king (for that is what the word “Christ” means). But God’s plan to go full circle back to his own rulership over his people was not yet complete. Through the demonstration of his power and through the resurrection of Yeshua, Yahweh maintained a rightful ruler of his people, one who would oversee the affairs of his kingdom as if he himself were king. Through his Messiah, his anointed king, the rightful rulership and all honor would ultimately return to Yahweh himself.

Then the end comes, when he (Messiah) will deliver up the Kingdom to God the Father, when he will have abolished all rule and all authority and power. …When all things have been subjected to him, then the Son will also himself be subjected to him who subjected all things to him, that God may be all in all.

1 Corinthians 15:24, 28

Through the faithfulness of his Messiah, Yahweh remains as rightful king over his people for all time, and is worthy of all honor and praise.

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