Trustworthy believers are faithful in speech

“‘You shall not go around as a tale-bearer among your people.

Leviticus 19:16

Believers have come to trust in Yahweh because he has proved himself faithful. He has accomplished all with his people that he said he would. As his children, we should be exhibiting the same kind of faithfulness with others. If we cannot be considered faithful, why would anyone believe us when we tell them about the faithfulness of our God?

In the Bible, untrustworthy individuals were known as tale-bearers or slanderers. The root word for this type of person describes one who is a scandal-monger, one who would travel about spreading information with the intent of stirring up dissent. Believers were cautioned not only to not participate in such activity but to avoid these type of people altogether.

Proverbs 11:13 One who is a tale-bearer uncovers secrets, but one who is of a trustworthy spirit conceals a confidence.
Proverbs 20:19 He who goes about as a tale-bearer reveals secrets; therefore don’t keep company with him who opens wide his lips.

These tale-bearers and slanderers were a main target amidst Jeremiah’s denunciation of the wickedness of his own people, and one of the primary factors of Israel’s judgment in his day.

[God speaking to Jeremiah] “I have made you a tester of metals and a fortress among my people, that you may know and try their way. They are all grievous rebels, going around to slander. They are bronze and iron. All of them deal corruptly. The bellows blow fiercely. The lead is consumed in the fire. In vain they go on refining, for the wicked are not plucked away. Men will call them rejected silver, because Yahweh has rejected them.”

Jeremiah 6:27-30

[Jeremiah laments over the wicked state of his people] Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a spring of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men, that I might leave my people and go from them! For they are all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men. “They bend their tongue, as their bow, for falsehood. They have grown strong in the land, but not for truth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they don’t know me,” says Yahweh. “Everyone beware of his neighbor, and don’t trust in any brother; for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbor will go around like a slanderer. Friends deceive each other, and will not speak the truth. They have taught their tongue to speak lies. They weary themselves committing iniquity. Your habitation is in the middle of deceit. Through deceit, they refuse to know me,” says Yahweh. Therefore Yahweh of Armies says, “Behold, I will melt them and test them; for how should I deal with the daughter of my people? Their tongue is a deadly arrow. It speaks deceit. One speaks peaceably to his neighbor with his mouth, but in his heart, he waits to ambush him. Shouldn’t I punish them for these things?” says Yahweh. “Shouldn’t my soul be avenged on a nation such as this?

Jeremiah 9:1-9

When individuals demonstrate this kind of betrayal among their own people, relatives and friends, who can trust in them?

The apostle James relates a similar understanding of the power of the tongue at the culmination of the wicked generation in his day.

James 1:26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.
James 3:5-12 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.

James encourages believers to remain faithful in their speech and not to fall prey to the wickedness of the tongue, with which many in his day used to demean and curse others.

Peter also encourages believers to be faithful in speech and conduct, and he backs up his admonition with a quote from Psalm 34:

[Do not return] evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For “He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil.”

1 Peter 3:9-12

Our code of conduct exceeds that of the world so that we can encourage instead of demean, bless instead of curse. By being trustworthy individuals in speech and manner of life, we honor the God who calls us to be the lights in a world of darkness and strife.

…for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…

Philippians 2:13-15

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.

Where you are building your storehouse is where you have placed your trust

Core of the Bible podcast #20- Where you are building your storehouse is where you have placed your trust

In this episode we will be exploring the topic of trust, and how our attitudes and actions demonstrate whether our trust is in earthly things or in heavenly things.

Yeshua stated it this way:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

A typical interpretation of this passage is that we should not be focused constantly on amassing earthly wealth which is regularly subject to loss. Instead, we should be gathering and storing heavenly wealth, for it will always be perfectly safe. Which type of wealth we are pursuing reveals our true heart motivation.

This is not an incorrect deduction; we certainly should be focused on the spiritual over that which is earthly and temporary.

However, looking at the passage from its literary construction, the subject doesn’t appear to be so much the type of wealth, but the storehouse in which the wealth is kept. The word used for treasure here is a little misleading in the English. The definition of the Greek word means “a store-house for precious things; hence: a treasure, a store.” This is where we get our English word for thesaurus; a thesaurus being a type of storehouse of words that can be used in various ways.  

A more literal rendering of the passage might be something like this:

“Do not amass storehouses on the earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But build up for yourselves storehouses in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your storehouse is, there your heart will be also.”

You see, it’s not the treasure itself that is the focus, but the storehouse. Wherever you are storing your stuff, that’s where your heart will be.

This simple shift in focus also makes more sense of the parable Yeshua uses to explain the principle.

Luke 12:15-21 He [Yeshua] then told them, “Watch out and be on guard against all greed, because one’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions.”  Then he told them a parable: “A rich man’s land was very productive. “He thought to himself, ‘What should I do, since I don’t have anywhere to store my crops? “I will do this,’ he said. ‘I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones and store all my grain and my goods there. “Then I’ll say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.” ‘  “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared ​– ​whose will they be? ‘  “That’s how it is with the one who amasses storehouses for himself and is not abundant toward God.”

The storehouse was for worldly security and ease; that’s where this man’s heart was. He was more focused on the storehouse of his earthly ease and security than the state of his spirituality. Everything he did was deliberate towards his own physical satisfaction, and nothing toward understanding the real spiritual nature of his life or bettering the spiritual state of others. His focus was on his personal earthly storehouse, not his spiritual one in the service of others.

We all know that the wealth of this world is temporary and the Bible is very clear on this topic, as well.

Psalm 39:6 Surely every man walks about like a shadow; Surely they busy themselves in vain; He heaps up riches, And does not know who will gather them.

Proverbs 11:4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, But righteousness delivers from death.  

Proverbs 11:28 He who trusts in his riches will fall, But the righteous will flourish like foliage.

Proverbs 23:4-5 Don’t weary yourself to be rich. In your wisdom, show restraint. Why do you set your eyes on that which is not? For it certainly sprouts wings like an eagle and flies in the sky.

Proverbs 27:24 For riches are not forever, Nor does a crown endure to all generations.

If we spend the bulk of our time focused on collecting riches for our own benefit, the Bible is clear that it is time and energy spent in vain. Like everything, there is a balance. God knows we need to have an income, and hard work and discipline are to be commended.

Yet, if this is our primary focus above all else, Yeshua warns us that it could all disappear tomorrow; someone could break in and steal everything you have.  

For example, just like anyone else, I enjoy the home and belongings my wife and I have accrued over the years, but we also recognize that some disaster like a fire or earthquake or violent storm could take it all away in an instant. Robbery is also a possibility, but we really don’t have anything of great value that would be meaningful to anyone but us. We  both recognize that the things we have, while we enjoy them, are not permanent in any way, shape, or form.  

How many times have you seen news interviews with victims of tornadoes or fires who have lost their homes, only to hear them say something like, “We’re just so grateful everyone made it out safely,” or something to that effect. In that moment, they are confronted with what is really important in life, and it is not their stuff.

You see, it’s not the riches themselves, but the attitude one carries about them that makes the difference. Some people can be super-wealthy and yet remain humble and submitted to God’s kingdom; they may use their wealth to help others in meaningful ways. Some people may be dirt-poor and yet just as satisfied knowing their basic needs are met, and they are equally generous with whatever they do have. The amount of money or wealth is not the deciding factor, but the heart-attitude toward that wealth that makes a difference. This attitude is an indicator of where a person’s storehouse is.  

We also know everything is relative to one’s circumstances or local market conditions. What might pass for poverty here in the U.S. might be considered wealth when compared to Third World conditions elsewhere. There always appears to be someone more wealthy or someone who has less. This is the way of life here on this earth. Yeshua is encouraging us to not be wrapped up in the struggle and striving for that which ultimately has little or no value.  

Additionally, Yeshua desires his followers to have a single purpose, not to have divided interests.

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Matthew 6:24

You cannot be bound equally both to God and to your confidence in wealth. One will always take precedence over the other, and the results of following either will be evident in your life.  

The issue that Yeshua focuses on is not necessarily the results of following either (which are evident throughout the biblical writings), but the complete inability of humans to multi-task loving God in among other responsibilities in this life. We all have necessary obligations in life, but if our over-arching purpose for everything we do does not rest in God and his kingdom, then we have by default chosen to place our trust in the other option.

According to the New Testament writings, covetousness is equated with idolatry.

Colossians 3:5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.

When viewed from this perspective, it is clear that God cannot be worshipped among any other gods, as one of many. Yeshua taught that every choice in life will fall under one heading or the other, God or worldly wealth, and whichever choice is made is a determination of which deity is being trusted.  

So if we have determined that a constant focus on worldly storehouses is not appropriate for believers, what should we be focusing on? So far, we have reviewed the perils of trusting in worldly wealth in earthly storehouses to the exclusion of trusting in God wholeheartedly. But Yeshua mentions another type of storehouse, a “heavenly storehouse.” What is this heavenly storehouse and what type of wealth should we be storing in it?

So, in regard to this heavenly storehouse and its contents, Yeshua states it this way:

But amass for yourselves storehouses in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal. Matthew 6:20

Why is it that thieves, moths and rust cannot touch this type of wealth? It is because the storehouse is in a heavenly place filled with a spiritual type of wealth. What is this wealth? Based on the structure of the Sermon on the Mount, the answer appears to be being rich in good works and ethical actions that God approves of through his word. There is no way that anyone or anything can detract from these good motives and good actions. This is the type of wealth that Yeshua encourages us to store up. Let’s look at how we can arrive at that type of conclusion.  

The Sermon on the Mount has a natural flow and progression to it when it is viewed as a whole. Whether this was an actual sermon or a collection of Yeshua’s teachings, what is recorded for us in Matthew has a certain structure that moves logically from one focus to the next.

It begins with the blessings of the righteous and how the righteous stand out from the rest of the world. This is due to their adherence to torah, the instruction of God, not just the traditions of the elders. In abiding to torah, believers begin to shine in the world.

Matthew 5:14-16 You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden. People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.

After presenting his hearers with this truth about good deeds, Yeshua then reminds them that they should not be letting the recognition of their good deeds become the motivation for doing them. He proceeds to give some examples of oral traditions of the religious leaders, which were considered examples of good works or doctrine, but he presents them as teachings to be avoided.

Matthew 5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43 “You have heard that it was said to an older generation, ‘Do not murder,’ and ‘whoever murders will be subjected to judgment.’ … “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ … “It was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a legal document.’ … “Again, you have heard that it was said to an older generation, ‘Do not break an oath, but fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ … “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ … “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’

While these oral traditions were based on the truth of God’s written torah, or instruction, the leaders had corrupted those things into false and hypocritical practices, and Yeshua set about to correct those teachings.

Further, Yeshua provided reassurance that God does in fact see the things that we do for the right reasons when they stem from a heart of obedience, even when they are done privately and intimately as a heart of obedience to God.

Matthew 6:3-6, 17-18  

GIVING:

But when you do your giving, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your gift may be in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.  

PRAYING:

“Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.  

FASTING:

When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others when you are fasting, but only to your Father who is in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

The overall context of Yeshua’s instruction is that true obedience to God’s torah or instruction comes from the heart, not from outward conformity to corrupted traditions or opinions of others. The wealth of heaven is exhibited in God’s recognition of our heart motives and private obedience, while the wealth of this world comes as outward recognition of actions. When our heart motives and private obedience are exhibited in the service of others, it is then that we become the light of the world. But our motives should always remain tied to a heart of compassion and love, regardless of any outward recognition. This, in God’s eyes, is what true wealth is.

The focus in the sermon then becomes the benefits of trusting in God and single-minded devotion to the kingdom of God. This will keep us from hypocrisy and keep us on the narrow path. This will also allow us to see false teachings (and teachers) for what they are. If we remain faithful to the wisdom that Yeshua provides, we will be able to weather any storm.

Throughout the entire Sermon on the Mount, we can see how our beliefs and our actions are tied together; one reveals the other. We believe what we do, and we do what we believe. To do one thing while claiming to believe something else, something perhaps nobler, is an inconsistent and potentially hypocritical position.

Some people may say they intend to do the right thing, but they aren’t always successful in doing so. Intent is not the same as belief; intent is simply an abstract concept and cannot be demonstrated until an action reveals its presence. If a contrary action is demonstrated, then the true belief is revealed; the ideal in which we place our trust will be evident. If our intent and beliefs are aligned, then our actions will harmonize with our beliefs and we will be consistent.

All through the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua is encouraging those who are righteous to be faithful to their calling and act in righteous ways, not in the hypocritical ways of their false teachers and leaders. The storehouses we build will be filled with something, either good and faithful actions, or hypocritical self-serving actions. Where your storehouse is will likely determine what you fill it with, and where your heart will be. An earthly storehouse will receive worldly actions, but a heavenly storehouse can receive righteous actions. One is built on sand, the other is built on the rock. Yeshua encourages his followers to trust and abide by his words, and so be building upon the rock.

Well, once again, I hope I’ve been able to provide you some ideas and concepts to meditate on further. We need to keep in mind that through our attitude and actions we are building storehouses either here on earth or in heavenly places. If we have an attitude of trust in God, we can remain focused on his purpose and kingdom, even in private and intimate ways of obedience to his instruction. God will recognize and reward those efforts, and those spiritual storehouses will provide eternal rewards.  

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.

God knows and provides refuge for those who trust in him

Yahweh is good, as a fortified refuge in a day of distress. And He knows those trusting in Him.

Nahum 1:7

In the context of pronouncing judgment against the city of Nineveh, the prophet Nahum provides a jewel amidst the various descriptions of God’s wrath being poured out on his enemies: “Yahweh knows those trusting in him.”

This was meant as a reassurance to the faithful in Israel who were living in a climate of Assyrian dominance. It is thought at the time of the writing of this prophecy that the northern ten tribes had already been taken captive a generation earlier, and now judgment was falling on the enemies of Israel as well. What guarantee was there that they also would not be swept up in the surrounding warfare? “Yahweh knows those trusting in him.”

This Hebrew conception of knowing conveys real knowledge, distinguishing, recognizing, being acquainted with someone. This is how Yahweh lives among his people. He knows them and understands them, he is familiar with their ways and their character.

Psalm 1:6  For Yahweh knows the way of the righteous; but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

2 Timothy 2:19  Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, Yahweh knows those who are his. And let every one that names the name of Messiah depart from iniquity.

How often we struggle to understand the conflicts going on around us. Sometimes it may feel as if we are lost in a sea of corruption and opposition. Yet, if we are trusting in him and seeking his kingdom and his righteous ways, we can rest assured that he knows and distinguishes us as his own, and that he is that refuge in which we can be safely sheltered.

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 care and protection of God for his people requires their complete trust

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.

Psalm 36:7

There is interesting imagery here of trust in God that is similar to being protected by him as a bird might shelter their young under their wings. This type of imagery evokes elements of danger in which the parent hides and camouflages its young from any predators that might by in the vicinity. The parent bird, vigilant and alert, watches for any signs of danger, and is willing to fend off any careless intruders.

Psalm 57:1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by.
Psalm 61:4 I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah
Psalm 91:4 He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

The Hebrew word for trust in these passages encompasses ideas of refuge, safety from danger, protection. In studying this metaphor, I stumbled across a reader comment who had experience with farmyard birds and their behaviors:

I used to raise chickens. The hens would spread their wings, scoop up the babies and gather them underneath their wings. The faces of the hens would shine with contentment, knowing the babies were being kept warm and safe. One of my hens was protecting her eggs when the rooster let her know that he wanted her to get off the eggs and mate with him. She refused to put her babies in jeopardy. So, the rooster pecked her in the head in a violent attach until she lost consciousness. He also killed her babies. She was willing to die for the safety of her babies. My young son gave the rooster away, nursed her back to health by feeding her water with a dropper, and placed new eggs under her from a neighbor’s chicken. She recovered to enjoy her new family. Indeed, hens will go to their death for the sake of their children.

Why is the Hen Gathering Her Chicks? (Matt 23:37; Luke 13:34) | HolyLandPhotos’ Blog (wordpress.com)

This reality comes into stark relief against the backdrop of first-century Israel, when Yeshua himself speaks for the Father’s care and concern over Israel.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling!

Matthew 23:37

Jerusalem and Israel would be destroyed because of their stubbornness and refusal to trust in Yeshua and rest securely in God’s protective care, a prophetic prediction that would come to pass 40 years later.

For us today, the word trust is defined as “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” When we flee to the refuge of God’s care and protection under his wings, we are demonstrating our total dependence on him that he is able, and willing, to keep our spiritual lives safely protected within his watchful care.

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.

Goodness and blessing follow those who trust in God and his word

He who wisely heeds the word will find good; whoever trusts in Yahweh, happy is he.

Proverbs 16:20

One of the things that I find fascinating about the Proverbs is their construction. Sometimes the proverb will highlight a contrast; other times it will provide two supporting statements, both saying the same thing but stated differently for emphasis. In this case, this proverb falls into the latter category.

The admonition of this proverb involves paying attention to or heeding the word of God. The emphasis is stated in the second half of the proverb so that the halves can be equated. One who heeds the word is equated with trusting in Yahweh. The attainment or finding of good is equated with being blessed or happy. Therefore, trusting in Yahweh by heeding his word will result in good, blessing and happiness.

Most people seek to have this hope of goodness and happiness as much as possible in their lives. However, goodness and happiness are not rights as some would contend, but a privilege. According to this verse, these are a privilege afforded to those who trust in God, who abide by his word. This is not a guarantee in every single situation, but a theme or pattern that will prevail in the lives of those who trust in him.

If this equation is true, then highlighting the opposite carries a logical conclusion, as well. Those who do not heed God’s word will not find good; whoever does not trust in God will not be happy. This also does not mean that they will never experience any good or any happiness, but these will not be the predominant characteristics of their lives.

Coming openly to God’s word we are confronted with his power and majesty, a mighty Creator who guides the nations. Established as the ultimate authority over his Creation, and demonstrating this in vivid detail with his people time after time, we are drawn into a vivid understanding that he is worthy of our trust, respect, and honor. We see how his purposes are designed for the good of his people, not their harm. His word therefore fosters our trust.

But we are also struck with the reality of those who disobey his instruction, and they do so at their own peril. Many times their disregard for the wisdom of God brings their misfortune back on their own heads.

The more we remain in his word and seek to understand his will, the more our lives are characterized by the goodness and blessing that he seeks to provide us when we place our trust in him.

Trust in Yahweh with all your heart, and don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

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.

Desiring to be in God’s presence is a demonstration of trust

LORD Almighty, how happy are those who trust in you!

Psalm 84:12

This entire psalm is a hymn of longing to be in God’s presence represented by the Temple courts and prophetic Mount Zion.

The psalm ends with the statement above, “how happy are those who trust in you.” This Hebrew word for trust also includes meanings like confidence and reliance. To trust is to be confident in and to rely on God. How do we demonstrate a confident reliance on God?

  • When we operate our lives from an understanding that there is one God who is establishing an eternal kingdom on earth, we are relying on him.
  • When we base our worldview upon the principles he has revealed in his Torah, or his Word, we are relying on him.
  • When we keep the eternal perspective over the temporary things of this world, we are relying on him.
  • When we give sacrificially of ourselves and what we have in obedience to his Torah, we are relying on him.

We are relying on God when we trust him for the things we cannot see, but are no less real than the physical Temple and Mount Zion. Paul encouraged the early believers to maintain their trust and reliance on God through tumultuous suffering and persecution, because the reality of eternal things superseded any earthly travail.

That is why we are not discouraged. Though outwardly we are wearing out, inwardly we are renewed day by day. Our suffering is light and temporary and is producing for us an eternal glory that is greater than anything we can imagine. We don’t look for things that can be seen but for things that can’t be seen. Things that can be seen are only temporary. But things that can’t be seen last forever.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Longing for God’s house is a longing to be in his presence. The Temple and Mount Zion, while they were established as real places in the land of Israel, are metaphors for the larger work of God on the earth in his kingdom. However, these images both stem from his eternal presence in heavenly places.

The psalmist writes, “One day spent in your Temple is better than a thousand anywhere else.” Yeshua taught his disciples, “Don’t be troubled. Believe in God, and believe [i.e., trust, have confidence or reliance] in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house, and I am going to prepare a place for you. I would not tell you this if it were not so,” (John 14:1-2).

To be in God’s presence is the fulfillment of the life of the believer, the one who trusts in, or relies on, him. How happy and confident we should be!

How to demonstrate the ultimate trust in God

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Anxiety can find its way into the smallest cracks in our emotional armor. As much as we seek to keep a strong and positive mental attitude, we can sometimes be overwhelmed by a flood of possible outcomes to a given situation, or our circumstances in general.

It is natural to consider the possibilities of things that might happen; this is a response to ensuring we are safeguarding our positions and being circumspect regarding our known responsibilities. We all have plans that need to be made and kept in line as we progress through life.

However to dwell unnecessarily on thoughts of unknown things that might happen to the point of stress can be debilitating. Anxiety can creep in where unknown influences come into play. When the fear and thoughts of things beyond our control begin to take over, the advice of Paul to the Philippians can be a way through the incoming fears.

His advice is to pray about everything. When we express our needs and our thanks to God, we are recognizing him as the one who is ultimately in control of all things. Where we sometimes err is in thinking that if we pray about a situation, God will control the outcome to be beneficial to us in all aspects. However, in this recognition of his ultimate authority in all things, we should ensure that our desires always fall under the category of trusting in his judgment for the outcome that is best.

Yeshua expressed this as, “Not my will, but yours be done.” This is the prayer that demonstrates ultimate trust in God releasing us from our self-induced prison of anxiety. When we really take those words to heart and mean them, we do receive a sense of peace, a peace that absorbs our anxiety and stress because we are being honest about our limitations to change or influence a specific outcome. We are deferring to him as the ultimate authority in all aspects of life. We are allowing God to be God.

However, in praying this way, we must remain open to seeking and recognizing what his will really is in any given situation. This comes through consistently being in his word, receptive to his torah, or instruction. This is how, according to Paul, we “live in Christ Jesus.” With our prayers containing the sense of Yeshua’s relegation of obligation to God, we can maintain our trust in God while minding our own responsibilities. This is where our peace and rest from anxiety lies.

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.

A demonstration of trust that delivered a city

Then the chief of staff stood and shouted in Hebrew to the people on the wall, “Listen to this message from the great king of Assyria! This is what the king says: Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you. He will never be able to rescue you from my power. Don’t let him fool you into trusting in the LORD by saying, ‘The LORD will surely rescue us. This city will never fall into the hands of the Assyrian king!’ “Don’t listen to Hezekiah!…

2 Kings 18:28-31

Assyria was on a military campaign against the surrounding nations, and Israel had come into its sights. The king of Assyria, Sennacherib, had declared war on Jerusalem and prior to setting up a siege, the commander was declaring its intent to the city.

However, Hezekiah, not being deterred by the king’s arrogance, laid out the demands of the Assyrian king before God in the temple, and prayed for deliverance.

After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the LORD’s Temple and spread it out before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed this prayer before the LORD: “O LORD, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. Bend down, O LORD, and listen! Open your eyes, O LORD, and see! Listen to Sennacherib’s words of defiance against the living God. “It is true, LORD, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed all these nations. And they have thrown the gods of these nations into the fire and burned them. But of course the Assyrians could destroy them! They were not gods at all–only idols of wood and stone shaped by human hands. Now, O LORD our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O LORD, are God.”

2 Kings 19:14-19

He trusted in God to deliver his people. Through this act of humility and trust, God responded through the prophet Isaiah that he would indeed protect Jerusalem and the honor of his Name.

The very next day, almost the entire Assyrian army was dead:

That night the angel of the LORD went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there.

2 Kings 19:35-36

It’s one thing to trust God for one’s own private needs or the needs of one’s own family, but consider how much faith Hezekiah was displaying by trusting God for an entire city, and even the nation of Israel!

Think of some of the alternatives: he could have mustered troops to come out in battle against Assyria, trusting in the might of his own army. Or he could have sent word to Egypt trusting in a foreign country as an ally to come and defend the city, but he didn’t do either of these things. He simply laid out the situation before God and prayed humbly and sincerely for deliverance. Through his simple act of faithfulness, the aggression of a military “superpower” was averted.

In like fashion, Yeshua encouraged his hearers to not be anxious for the future by trusting in God. How much more can your trust in God be emboldened to consider that God, through a sincere and humble trust in him, is able to deliver an entire nation from the aggression of another?

Trusting in the Provision of the King

Core of the Bible podcast #13 – Trusting in the Provision of the King

In this episode we will be exploring the topic of trust in God, and how God’s provision is promised within the activities of the kingdom.

Yeshua stated it this way:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Matthew 6:25

In the core of the Bible paraphrase, I have stated it this way:

“Unnecessary anxiety over the essentials of life can consume us and cause us to lose our eternal perspective.”

Life is about so much more than the temporary things of this existence in this world. And yet we are constantly distracted with the basics of living that we forget about the true life that only comes from God. For believers, this is an ongoing struggle: to remain focused on God while overcoming the flash and noise of this world.

But a way to overcome this is to change our perspective. If we are able to get our focus off of ourselves and our problems, and focus on the important things like the Kingdom of God, we have more strength to overcome our struggles, which by comparison, are much less significant. Having our perspective changed from temporary to eternal will change how we respond to these hurdles. We will find over time that the anxiety and distress over temporary things will begin to fade as we focus more on the eternal things.

So to begin looking at this passage in Matthew 6, according to Yeshua, life is more than food.

Matthew 6:26 – Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them.

He is reassuring his hearers that if God is able to provide animals their food, he can certainly provide it for those who are serving him in his kingdom.

This is an echo from the Psalms:

Psalm 104:20-21 – You send the darkness, and it becomes night, when all the forest animals prowl about. Then the young lions roar for their prey, stalking the food provided by God.

Those who are serving God in his kingdom may not always know how or what kind of food they will have, but God is able to provide it when the focus is first and always on him.

Continuing in Matthew 6:26, Yeshua states the conclusion of this provision for animals by saying, “And aren’t you far more valuable to God than they are?” The implied answer, of course, is yes you are! You have far more worth than many sparrows or lions because you are created in the image of God; your whole being is modeled on his.

Yeshua also teaches us that the body is more than clothing.

Matthew 6:28-30 – “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

God’s provision of food and clothing for believers is being compared to the natural order within God’s creation. Just as being a participant in God’s creation entitles his creatures to the natural provision of their needs, being a participant in God’s kingdom naturally entitles his children to the basic necessities of living.

Psalm 37:23-25 – The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand. Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.

The provision of these basic needs belong to those who are seeking first the kingdom, i.e., believers. However, if there is no kingdom-seeking going on, there is no guarantee that this provision will be met. The benefits of the natural order of creation belong to those who trust in the Creator, as the benefits of the natural order of the kingdom belong to those who trust in the King.

Also, the basic needs being discussed here may not be what one would expect or is accustomed to. What we consider basic and what God considers basic may be two different ideals completely. But if we are trusting in him for our spiritual needs, Yeshua is implying that God will meet our physical needs. We may not be rich, but we will be able to get by. We may not always have the type and quantity of food that we want, but we will not actually starve. That gives God a wide latitude of options when it comes to meeting our needs.

Our role is to recognize his provision and to be grateful and content with what he has provided for us. As Paul writes:

Philippians 4:11-13 – Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Messiah, who gives me strength.

To understand more about how God can provide, we can view some examples of how he has done so in the past.

The most apparent and significant example of this principle is expressed in how God provided for the priests who spent all of their time regarding the things of God involved with sacrifice and maintaining the Tabernacle. Because they spent all of their time in this necessary service and ministry, they were not granted any land inheritance, and they could not farm for themselves. God provided for their needs by allowing them to eat (with specific limitations) the choicest offerings of the people that were brought to God.

Leviticus 10:12-15 And Moses said to Aaron and his remaining sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, “Take the grain offering that remains from the offerings made by fire to the LORD and eat it without leaven beside the altar, because it is most holy. You shall eat it in a holy place, because it is your share and your sons’ share of the offerings made by fire to the LORD; for this is what I have been commanded. And you and your sons and daughters may eat the breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the contribution in a ceremonially clean place, because these portions have been assigned to you and your children from the peace offerings of the sons of Israel. They are to bring the thigh of the contribution and the breast of the wave offering, together with the fat portions of the offerings made by fire, to wave as a wave offering before the LORD. It will belong permanently to you and your children, as the LORD has commanded.”

Deuteronomy 18:1-2 The Levitical priests—indeed the whole tribe of Levi—shall have no portion or inheritance with Israel. They are to eat the offerings made by fire to the LORD; that is their inheritance. Although they have no inheritance among their brothers, the LORD is their inheritance, as He promised them.

So we see that because the priests were wholly occupied with the work of the Tabernacle, God was providing for their needs in the very acts of their service.

The Tabernacle or Mishkan in Hebrew was the symbolic root of God’s kingdom on the earth, which is why it is explained in such detail in the Old Testament. It represented God’s presence on the earth; it is where forgiveness was offered as repentant people brought their offerings. It was the center and heart of the camp of Israel in the wilderness, and everything in that community revolved around the presence of God in that place and his guidance in every aspect of their lives. To be a member of the Levites who were continually working within the courts of the Mishkan was considered a great honor, and they were highly regarded by others in the community.

This was the initial and primary pattern of how God would provide for those who were sacrificing all of their worldly inheritance to participate in this model of the kingdom on earth. And this is an eternal pattern that is established for us right down to our current day and age. As we seek first his kingdom, we need to trust that God will provide for us so we can keep our attention and focus on him and his purpose at all times. And when we truly trust him for our provision, he will not disappoint us.


Another interesting aspect of God’s provision is brought out as we look at the sacrifice of Abraham. In the story, Abraham is preparing to sacrifice his son Isaac in amazing and unswerving obedience to God’s request. As they are assembling everything necessary for the sacrifice to take place, Isaac innocently asks where the lamb is for the sacrifice.

Genesis 22:8, 14 – “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.”

Well, of course, all along Isaac was intended to be the sacrificial offering, and yet just as Abraham is about to fulfill his duty in faithful obedience, something happens.

Genesis 22:12-14 – “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.” Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the LORD will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of Yahweh it will be provided.”

While this famous passage is used to teach many wonderful and, yes, challenging aspects of God’s character and purpose which we do not have time to explore in this lesson, it primarily focuses on the idea that God is a provider; in fact, that is one of his names: Yahweh-Yireh (Or Jehovah Jirah, as the song goes).

While this passage confirms God’s ability to provide, let’s take a step back from the imagery of the story into the text itself. I find it interesting to note that the word for provide actually has a root in the word ra’a: to see, perceive, appear, cause to see. It’s as if at a point, God’s provision is made apparent when it wasn’t apparent previously.

Genesis 22:13 Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and saw that behind him was a ram caught in the thicket by his horns. Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering instead of his son.

As soon as the test was over, Abraham saw the ram caught in the thicket. So then the question becomes, had the ram been there the whole time, or did it just happen to get  caught right at the time Abraham needed it? Well, the verse doesn’t actually say, but it does raise some interesting ideas of just how God’s provision comes to pass.

We can see a similar idea of seeing God’s provision another narrative involving Abraham with the story of Hagar. When she was being sent away by Abraham into the wilderness, the passage says she saw a well of water when the need arose:

Genesis 21:14-16, 19 – So Abraham got up early the next morning, prepared food and a container of water, and strapped them on Hagar’s shoulders. Then he sent her away with their son, and she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba. When the water was gone, she put the boy in the shade of a bush. Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards away. “I don’t want to watch the boy die,” she said, as she burst into tears. … Then God opened Hagar’s eyes, and she saw a well full of water. She quickly filled her water container and gave the boy a drink.

So the question is, did God miraculously provide a well that wasn’t there previously, or did he just reveal its location, make it apparent, to Hagar when her need was greatest?

Another famous example revolves around the rivalry between the nation of Aram and Israel. Elisha was the prophet of God at the time, and knew that God would deliver the Israelites from the hand of Aram:

2 Kings 6:14-17 – So one night the king of Aram sent a great army with many chariots and horses to surround the city [of Dothan]. When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha. “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!” The LORD opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.

By contrast, just like revealing provisions that were not apparent previously, God can also cause some not to see when the reality is right before them.

2 Kings 6:18-20 – As the Aramean army advanced toward him, Elisha prayed, “O LORD, please make them blind.” So the LORD struck them with blindness as Elisha had asked. Then Elisha went out and told them, “You have come the wrong way! This isn’t the right city! Follow me, and I will take you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to the city of Samaria. As soon as they had entered Samaria, Elisha prayed, “O LORD, now open their eyes and let them see.” So the LORD opened their eyes, and they discovered that they were in the middle of Samaria.

Yeshua touched on this concept of “seeing and not seeing” in the preaching of the kingdom:

Luke 10:23-24 Then Jesus turned to the disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

Mark 4:11-12 “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to those on the outside everything is expressed in parables, so that, ‘ they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven.’”

Of course, this is a quote from a famous passage in Isaiah, demonstrating how God would be very intentional with reaching out to Israel, and yet they would reject him, being blind and deaf to his pleadings:

Isaiah 6:8-10 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying: “Whom shall I send? Who will go for Us?” And I said: “Here am I. Send me!” And He replied: “Go and tell this people, ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the hearts of this people calloused; deafen their ears and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”

So what can we take away from all of these stories of God’s provision, and seeing and not seeing? Well, according to the example of the Levites, we can see that God will provide for those who are wholly engaged in the service of the kingdom. We can also understand from the stories of Abraham, Hagar and Elisha that God’s provision becomes apparent when it is needed, in his timing.

What this implies is that God’s provision is already here, but many times we just can’t see it. Though we may be physically incapable, mentally incapable, or spiritually incapable of seeing clearly, we can be certain that God’s provision is always at hand for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28 – And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

When we are trusting in God and his Messiah, we are placing ourselves in line with those believers in the past who have had real provision of needs shown and available to and around them. God’s bounty is abundantly more than we can ever ask for.

Learning to trust God in this way liberates us from micro-managing. Trusting God allows God to be God, and for Yeshua to reign as Lord in our lives, because then we can be freed to live for him. As we focus on the kingdom and the righteousness of God, God provides for our needs.


Well, once again, I hope I’ve been able to provide you some ideas and concepts to meditate on further. We need to keep in mind that If we are truly trusting in God, we can know that he will supply these basics of life through whatever means he chooses. They may not be in the brand or style that we would choose for ourselves, but knowing that they can and will be provided can free us up to focus on the more significant aspects of this life. When we truly trust God, we demonstrate that we are not subject to the typical anxieties of this life. We are then living out the values of his kingdom, knowing the King provides for his subjects.

Have questions about todays topic, or comments or insights you would like to share? Perhaps you have found this podcast helpful or encouraging. If so, I would love to hear from you and include listener comments in future episodes, so feel free to email me at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

You can also view all previous episodes of the podcast here.

Real peace is generated by trust in God

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

This verse has been very popular over the years due to its simple admonition to prayer and its promise of peace of a troubled mind.

But rather than focus on the peace it provides, I would like to draw out another unstated concept present in this verse: trust in God. You see, peace can only come when there is an understanding that something, or someone, larger than our current troubling circumstance is handling the situation, and we don’t need to be anxious about it.

I think about when I was a small child, riding in the back of our car on a trip home from visiting relatives. I had no concerns about which roads we had to take, how much traffic there was, what the weather conditions were. My dad was taking us home, and that’s all that mattered. I would inevitably drift off to sleep with the rhythmic motion of the car and the road noise. I had no cares to concern me, only knowing that I would be home at the end of the trip. I trusted my dad to get us home; I had no reason not to trust him to do so.

When I became a dad and our family was on road trips to visit relatives, it was up to me to take all of those factors into consideration, since I was responsible for getting my family home safely. My role as a dad had increased responsibilities, but even with those responsibilities, my skills had grown to meet them. Certainly I had to focus on things that I was not concerned about as a child, but even though I had to manage all of those concerns, I still had an over-arching trust that we were going to make it home. Regardless of the right route to take, the traffic, or the road conditions, we would be home soon.

You see, trust is not an abdication of all responsible action; it is a recognition of power or skill beyond your own that will ultimately accomplish the outcome. That trust can be present at every skill and responsibility level. When we pray about everything, our trust is in God.

You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.

Isaiah 26:3

We need to be strategizing our route, but not to the exclusion of allowing for detours along the way. We need to be considering traffic and road conditions, but remain open to having to modify our plans accordingly as needed. We need to be faithful with what we’ve been called to do, but we need to always keep a higher sense of trust and dependency beyond our own abilities and actions.

When we pray for the outcome according to God’s will, we can rest assured that regardless of any modifications along the way, everything will come to pass within his purpose and timing.

This is where the peace that passes understanding comes from: it is generated in the recognition that God ultimately has us, and will bring us safely to our destination, regardless of what happens along the way. It is beyond our understanding, because only he knows which route we will ultimately have to take to get there. We should always maintain a healthy understanding of the limits of our abilities and be sure our ultimate trust is in the One who will be bringing us safely home at the end of the trip.