Trusting that God knows

God reveals he is close to those who are close to him.

One of the many psychological dangers believers face is to get to a point where, whatever we may be going through, we begin to think we are the only one who is experiencing this challenge. Or, we may begin to think that God no longer hears us. We may lash out wondering why he has not responded to our supplication.

However, Yeshua offers a different perspective, one that reveals how God understands our trials and needs.

Matthew 6:7-8 – “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as those among the nations do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Matthew 6:31-32 – Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For those of the nations seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

David, famous for continually pouring out his heart before God, corroborated this idea a millennium prior to Messiah:

Psalm 38:9 – O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.

For those who are trusting him and seeking to follow his ways, the Bible teaches us that God is present and involved in our lives as we seek to accomplish his will.

However, when God appears to be silent, the Word reveals it is not without good reason. When Israel struggled to hear from him, it was because they had strayed so far from him that he had to pour out his judgment upon them.

Jeremiah 14:10-12 – Thus says Yahweh concerning this people: “They have loved to wander thus; they have not restrained their feet; therefore Yahweh does not accept them; now he will remember their iniquity and punish their sins.” Yahweh said to me: “Do not pray for the welfare of this people. Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.”

Ezekiel also provides the reasoning that God would no longer hear them.

Ezekiel 8:17-18 – Then he said to me, “Have you seen this, O son of man? Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations that they commit here, that they should fill the land with violence and provoke me still further to anger? Behold, they put the branch to their nose. Therefore I will act in wrath. My eye will not spare, nor will I have pity. And though they cry in my ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.”

The blatant and shameless idolatry of Israel and Judah resulted in God pronouncing judgment upon them by having them overthrown by their adversaries: first the Assyrians and then the Babylonians. They were removed from their place of privilege and he refused to listen to them because of their persistent rejection of him by pursuing the gods of the other nations.

From these examples, in those seasons when God appears to be silent, we should do a self-check to ensure we have not strayed from his calling on our lives, from standing firm on what has been revealed to us up to this point in our walk with him. God has promised to be present among his people when we learn to continually trust in him for all things.

Ezekiel 37:27 – My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

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

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

The tangible benefits of sincere faith

Both the spiritual and the natural realms harmonize in God.

The third chapter of the Proverbs of Solomon is known most popularly for its declaration of trust in Yahweh which will lead believers in truth.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in Yahweh with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

As I reviewed the entirety of this passage recently, I noticed that the first ten verses of this chapter are a collection of five different Hebrew parallelisms. In each one, an action is encouraged and then a benefit is described by following that action.

Proverbs 3:1-2
Action: My son, don’t forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commands;
Benefit: for they will bring you many days, a full life, and well-being.

Proverbs 3:3-4
Action: Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you. Tie them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.
Benefit: Then you will find favor and high regard with God and people.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Action: Trust in Yahweh with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him,
Benefit: and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:7-8
Action: Don’t be wise in your own eyes; fear Yahweh and turn away from evil.
Benefit: This will be healing for your body and strengthening for your bones.

Proverbs 3:9-10
Action: Honor Yahweh with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest;
Benefit: then your barns will be completely filled, and your vats will overflow with new wine.

The Hebrew mindset all throughout the Bible is that trusting in Yahweh and patterning one’s life to honor him has a direct impact on the quality of life that one lives during our time here on earth. The Hebrew faith is not just one of pie-in-the-sky hope for eternity beyond this life, but for a lifestyle faith that has tangible benefits and rewards during this lifetime.

Our Western culture and mindset has separated the spiritual from the natural and stripped the Bible of its relevance for real world application in the process. If the Bible is only a book to guide us to some sort of spiritual bliss beyond this life, then it is only as beneficial as any other of the thousands of sacred traditions that promise similar utopian myths. By that logic, none of them can be demonstrated as valid, since the life is lived by the unseen faith of the individual with no real evidence of truth until after the individual dies and experiences whatever their utopian myths promise them.

To the contrary, the Bible is practical and impacts the lives of believers, and those around them, in this life. The Bible encourages positive behaviors that honor God and serve others in his name. This brings benefit to oneself and to those in need around them.

The extreme flipside of this ideal is when believers take all of the Bible benefits, plucking them from their contexts and seeking for them as being deserved or “owed” to them because they are claiming those for themselves. This “name it and claim it” mentality is the epitome of selfishness: giving to God only to get something in return, or providing some sort of lip-service to God to seek physical healing or benefit for oneself. It’s as if we suffer from a type of biblical schizophrenia and can’t maintain a consistent theology; either everything is spiritual or every earthly benefit can be selfishly claimed for ourselves.

But in reality, the Bible isn’t there to exploit for our own benefit, either spiritually or physically. It exists to point us to the Creator of all and to help us understand we exist in this world to represent him and his principles to others. We are encouraged to lay down our own lives and aspirations to serve him from the heart, and when we do so, our lives line up harmoniously with his universal spiritual principles which resonate within this physical realm. In the process, the natural benefits mentioned throughout the Bible are realized, not instantly or every time, but as a wave-form that becomes more settled and consistent over time as we pattern our lives after his will.

The walk of faith is one of consistent effort and growth as we continue to understand more of who God is and how he desires us to live our lives and interact with others. When we are faithfully following his spiritual principles of wisdom and service to others, our physical lives begin to radiate in tandem with the beneficial outcomes he provides. This is how the believing life is lived and demonstrated as real.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

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

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

Engaged with God in a faith that changes lives

True wisdom creates an active trust in God.

Core of the Bible podcast #62 – Engaged with God in a faith that changes lives

Today we will be looking at the topic of trust in God, and how remaining in and applying God’s wisdom continues to increase our faith or trust in God. As our faith increases, we then share the truths of his wisdom with others, and the Kingdom of God expands. True wisdom creates an active trust in God.

Proverbs 22:17-19 – “Turn your ear, and listen to the words of the wise. Apply your heart to my teaching. For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips. I teach you today, even you, that your trust may be in Yahweh.”

The writer of the Proverbs provides us with understanding regarding the nature and results of true wisdom. True wisdom lives deep inside of us and causes us to trust in God. However, it only accomplishes its goal as we apply and review it regularly to where it is a ready resource for us to draw from.

The process begins with our ears; we must turn or incline our ears toward wisdom. The Hebrew word conveys a stretching out, as in stretching out the fabric of a tent when pitching a tent. This involves an intentional and focused purpose in what we listen to. We have so many different audio distractions in our age that it is common for the words of wisdom to be drowned out by the many other options available to us. We have radio and music in the car, music, podcasts, and videos in our headphones and on our phones and other devices wherever we go. It’s almost as if we cannot do anything anymore without having some sort of digital crutch with us.

One of my pet peeves among my family is when the TV is on “just for background noise” while another activity is going on. It may just be the way my brain is wired, but I believe that level of multiple distraction can be harmful to our ability to focus and concentrate long term. Whatever is on the TV is not meant to be a background filler, but a full-on attention getter and keeper. Regardless if we are paying direct attention to it or not, I believe that split in focus does not go unnoticed by our subconscious mind and tends to splinter our ability to create full awareness on spiritual training when it is needed.

As a brief example of this, an article from 2016 in Science Daily related a study in child development in settings with various noise environments.

“The environments children are in, including how much and what kinds of stimulation they are exposed to, influence what and how they learn. One important task for children is zeroing in on the information that’s relevant to what they’re learning and ignoring what isn’t. A new study has found that the presence of background noise in the home or at school makes it more difficult for toddlers to learn new words.”

(Society for Research in Child Development. “Background noise may hinder toddlers’ ability to learn words.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 July 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160721072605.htm)

Understandably, we are all exposed to various audio levels throughout each day, but when we are voluntarily choosing to add additional distractive noise into our background environment out of habit, we may be hindering our ability for overall focused comprehension when it is truly needed.

Another aspect of hearing the words of the wise, as the proverb points out, is literally hearing the words spoken instead of just read internally on the page.

While most believers today are used to reading the Word for themselves, in recent years I have become more reliant upon good audio versions of the Bible for my meditative read-throughs of the Bible. I have found that if I listen with headphones I can many times glean aspects of phrasing that I have missed in just reading the passages. The headphones help to block out background distractions and allow me to focus more on the immediate text. For even further increased comprehension, I will sometimes read along with the narration, but use a different version than the audio file. This many times leads to new discoveries when I encounter unique phrasing in one text over the other, and I pause the recording to do a little quick research on why this is so.

In our modern culture, we take for granted that we have the Bible readily available in written form and in many freely available audio versions. Yet historically these truths were conveyed to each generation orally and in person, as literacy was not nearly as widespread as it is today.

To hear the words of the wise implied a nearness of relationship as these truths were conveyed person to person. To hear the words of wisdom, one had to be in the company of the wise. In so doing, the learner would be exposed to not only the teaching, but the lifestyle of the sages. The wisdom of the elders would be taught not just with a lesson, but their lives.

Proverbs 23:12 – “Apply yourself to discipline and listen to words of knowledge.”

Proverbs 5:1-2 – “My son, pay attention to my wisdom; listen closely to my understanding so that you may maintain discretion and your lips safeguard knowledge.”


The next aspect of creating a growing trust in God comes when the wisdom is applied in the most inward recesses of our being: in our hearts. To apply the wisdom is to place or station it in this place so it will remain sure and steadfast, and become part of our deepest make-up, our very constitution.

Ecclesiastes 12:11 – “The sayings of the wise are like cattle prods, and those from masters of collections are like firmly embedded nails…”

Proverbs 2:1-2 – “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, listening closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding…”

Psalm 90:12 – “Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.”

The heart is where God desires his instruction to be placed; so much so, in fact, that this was a condition of the new covenant with his people:

Jeremiah 31:33 – “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days” ​– ​Yahweh’s declaration. “I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

Because of this, one of the qualifiers of being considered among God’s people is having his Word in the heart.

Romans 12:2 – “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

As this wisdom is established in our hearts, it causes us to act in ways that honor him when we keep his commands, faithfully discerning his will in our daily lives. One of the ways this is evidenced is when the wisdom of God in our hearts progresses to become fixed upon our lips; we can recite and manifest the knowledge we have gained in daily practice.

I can recall as a new believer in Messiah I was given a list of memory verses to learn to assist with the basics of living a believing life. The method presented to me was the Topical Memory System still put out by the Navigators ministry today. It contains a total of 60 verses surrounding five separate important topics to help with recall. Looking at the list today, I can see that there are many verses I still remember from 35 years ago, and others that I will need to refresh as I haven’t reviewed them regularly since. However, I am convinced that learning that practice early on served me well as I have drawn from the resources of those verses time and time again throughout my believing life. By spending time learning the verses by heart, I was strengthened through reciting them over and over. By being able to recall those verses when needed, I was helped when I needed it most. (If you would like to consider this method for yourself, simply type in “Topical Memory System Navigators” and it should come up in a search).

Additionally, what is in our heart can’t help but come out through what we say and do. Yeshua confirms this aspect of our inmost being when he teaches, “Out of the overflow (or abundance) of the heart, the mouth speaks,” (Matthew 12:34). His immediate context was demonstrating how evil in the heart is expressed, but the writer of this proverb shows how the positive, the good, and the useful will also spill from the mouths of those who have placed good in their hearts.

Some other proverbs that also delineate the ability of the wise to pour forth wisdom in speech. Lady Wisdom, or the personification of wisdom, is illustrated with the following instruction:

Proverbs 8:6-9 – “Listen, for I speak of noble things, and what my lips say is right. For my mouth tells the truth, and wickedness is detestable to my lips. All the words from my mouth are righteous; none of them are deceptive or perverse. All of them are clear to the perceptive, and right to those who discover knowledge.”

Proverbs 10:13, 21 – “Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of the one who lacks sense. … The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.”

Proverbs 15:7 – “The lips of the wise broadcast knowledge, but not so the heart of fools.”

I like the idea of the lips of the wise broadcasting knowledge and feeding many who are hungry to hear the truth. I am reminded of Paul’s instruction to the Roman congregation:

Romans 10:14-15, 17 – “How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news. … So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Messiah.”


As believers today, we may not always have a community of elders to live among and draw direct wisdom from. However, Yeshua reassured his disciples that the resource of God would be near to all who believed in him.

John 7:38-39 – “The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” He said this about the Spirit. Those who believed in Yeshua were going to receive the Spirit, for the Spirit had not yet been given because Yeshua had not yet been glorified.”

This was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 36:26-27 – “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances.”

Paul confirmed that this was the expected ongoing practice of believers, to be constantly engaging with spiritual wisdom that comes from God.

1 Corinthians 2:12-13 – “But we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, that we may know the gift that has been given to us from God. But those things we speak are not in the teaching of the words of the wisdom of men, but in the teaching of the Spirit, and we compare spiritual things to the spiritual.”

As believers, we have the ability to draw from a wealth of spiritual resources and to prayerfully consider and discern these truths for ourselves. We are no longer limited to a localized circle of elders, although if we have access to fellowship with such a group, we can see and learn the distinctions of the faith worked out in practical ways through their actions.

In summary, when we listen, apply, and regularly recite the wisdom of God, our lives will be demonstrating a real trust and growing faith in God. Within this process of listening, applying and reciting, God engages with us, showing us his ways and directing us to purposes and goals that glorify him and expand the Kingdom of God on the earth. We have to remember that biblically speaking, trust or faith in God is not just a feeling or an inward state of mind, it is an active outworking of revealed truth which has been assimilated into the heart. This type of “living trust” is what shines into the darkness of this world to draw others to God and his wisdom.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

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

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

To trust God by serving others removes anxiety from our lives

Allowing God to work in our interest, not against us, requires faith.

1 Peter 5:5-7 – In the same way, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you.

Peter here is encouraging humility among those to whom he is writing. First for the elders and leaders of the congregations, and then for the young who might be resistant to authority. He then justifies this position with a quote from Proverbs 3:34, saying “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” In his context, Peter relates that a position of humility is preferred so that God can then lift them up at the appropriate time. This is reminiscent of the teaching of Yeshua:

Luke 14:8-11 – “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, don’t recline at the best place, because a more distinguished person than you may have been invited by your host. “The one who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in humiliation, you will proceed to take the lowest place. “But when you are invited, go and recline in the lowest place, so that when the one who invited you comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ You will then be honored in the presence of all the other guests. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

By drawing on this imagery from Messiah, Peter is encouraging humility among all the believers so that God would then have opportunity to exalt them. In this way, Peter continues, there was no need to be anxious, since God would surely accomplish this in his perfect timing. Take care of others, he says, and God will take care of you.

Humbling oneself requires a deep trust in God. In humbling oneself, one must believe that there is a greater good for God’s purposes that can result from this humility, because our natural response is not to humble ourselves in the service and preference of others but to serve ourselves and our needs above others.

From Peter’s perspective when we focus on ourselves we tend to be more anxious, not knowing how we can achieve or gain what we need. Yet, when we humble ourselves and choose to put others before ourselves, our anxiety can be shed in this service of God, knowing that he is the One who cares for our needs. While we are busying ourselves with the needs of others, God is working quietly on our behalf, providing us favor in our time of need.

The proverb contrasts this state of grace and favor among the humble with an unfavorable alternative by saying that God actively resists the proud and arrogant. This idea goes back to a principle I believe is throughout the Bible: there are natural moral and spiritual consequences built into this Creation by God. In this instance, when one is arrogant, self-centered, and mocking others God has set bounds in place that work against that type of individual, whether socially, physically, or spiritually.

The apostle James also leverages this same quote from Proverbs for a similar use, in encouraging his hearers to get their eyes off praying for things they personally desire and onto the needs of others.

James 4:3-4, 6 – You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulterous people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God. … But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Why should we place ourselves in an adversarial position against God by seeking our own elevated status and position? According to Peter and James, this is what happens when we seek our own desires above the needs of others. This condition creates anxiety for always having to gauge who we can trust and how we can maintain our standing.

Instead, when we demonstrate our trust in God and his design for the world by producing fruit of genuine humility and service for others, we can then shed our anxiety for our position and status in this world. Serving God by serving others relieves us from our concern for ourselves and allows us the freedom to truly provide for the needs of those around us with sincerity and love.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

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

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

Acceptance by God has always been by faith

The principles of Torah are eternal.

Leviticus 4:27, 29-31 – “Now if any of the common people sins unintentionally by violating one of Yahweh’s commands, does what is prohibited, and incurs guilt, … “He is to lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and slaughter it at the place of the burnt offering. “Then the priest is to take some of its blood with his finger and apply it to the horns of the altar of burnt offering. He is to pour out the rest of its blood at the base of the altar. … The priest is to burn it on the altar as a pleasing aroma to Yahweh. In this way the priest will make atonement on his behalf, and he will be forgiven.”

In our modern view of the Torah, we typically are taught to look at the sacrifices offered according to the methods that God instructed as being works designed to bring forgiveness; as if the offerer is doing some kind of work to gain their “salvation,” or their right-standing with God. We then paint with a broad brush the entire Torah and say, “See, the whole system was a system of works that God abhors, since there is nothing we can do to become righteous with God on our own.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

First of all, why would God abhor the very system he himself put in place for the Israelites to follow? The reason the system had validity was because God designed and commanded it.

The whole system was not a system of works for personal righteousness (even though that is what it had become over time). It was a system designed to bring the offerer before God in faith that the sacrifice they were bringing would be accepted by him. To bring a sacrifice according to Torah was to approach God in faith of being forgiven.

Through all of the sacrifices and offerings prescribed by Torah, there had to be an element of faith that the offerer brought with their sacrifice, otherwise, there would be no point to the sacrifice. If the offerer did not believe that they would be forgiven of their offense against God after following the prescribed method, then there would be no need to do so at all. The sacrifice or offering meant nothing without faith.

Through this process, God was attempting to teach the Israelites (and now, the rest of the world) that every action according to Torah is an act of faith, and it is only on the basis of faith that God would accept anyone.

Paul even taught that faith was the very basis of what maintained the structure of the Torah.

Romans 3:31 – Do we then nullify the law through faith? Absolutely not! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

If the ancient Israelites were to bring a sacrifice without faith, God would not accept it. If they performed the rituals of the annual festivals without faith, God would not be pleased. Inspired by the Spirit of God, the prophet Amos condemned the nation for these very things.

Amos 5:12, 21-22 – For I know your crimes are many and your sins innumerable. [You] oppress the righteous, take a bribe, and deprive the poor of justice at the city gates. … I hate, I despise, your feasts! I can’t stand the stench of your solemn assemblies. Even if you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; I will have no regard for your fellowship offerings of fattened cattle.

The reason God would not accept them was not because they were following Torah commandments, but because the people were only doing them for “religious” reasons, not because they actually had faith in Yahweh. They would offer these sacrifices and celebrate the feasts and then turn right around and worship the idols of Molech and Remphan and take advantage of their countrymen, denying them the justice due them. This demonstrated that their hearts were far from God, and they were not operating within the parameter of Torah in faith. The actual practices of Torah themselves, the sacrifices and offerings, did not have magical abilities to wipe away sinfulness of those who were not interested in bringing them in the first place; their hearts had to be right in order for the sacrifices to become effective.

The writer of Hebrews alludes to this same principle at the height of his epistle to the early believers in Messiah:

Hebrews 10:4, 26-27 – For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. … For if we deliberately go on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire about to consume the adversaries.

Whether the sacrifice was an animal or a grain offering or the symbolic sacrifice of the Messiah himself, they would only become effective when offered or accepted in faith with hearts that were sincere before God. Someone today who claims to believe in Yeshua within the congregation of believers and yet lives like every other non-believer the rest of the week is not a person of faith and does not stand forgiven of their sins. This is the same eternal principle of Torah for all time, and will never change.

We must always approach God in faith, with hearts that are truly repentant and sincere for God to restore us. Thankfully for believers today, the animal sacrifices of Torah are no longer necessary since all of the priestly rites and temple rituals have been fulfilled once for all in the symbolic offering of Messiah.

Hebrews 10:10 – By this will, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Yeshua Messiah once for all time.

We can now boldly approach God according to Torah, now through Messiah, but only with humility and true faith.

Hebrews 4:16 – Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

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

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

The Anointed One is the exclusive Lord of the Kingdom

Yeshua has a radical message in light of a culture of inclusion.

1 John 2:21-23 – I have not written to you because you don’t know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar, if not the one who denies that Yeshua is the Messiah? This one is the anti-messiah: the one who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; he who confesses the Son has the Father as well.

The apostle John lays out some ground rules for spiritual truth and error. He begins with “no lie comes from the truth.” This statement on its own would do much to identify false teaching we see in the world today if we would simply take it at face value. Anything that is not true cannot be from the truth; simple in its profundity.

But then John takes it a step further by claiming that anyone who denies that Yeshua is the Messiah is a liar. This is strong language in today’s culture of inclusion. But the Bible is not limited by any cultural definitions. It can’t be, or it could not have survived for the millennia of its existence. The Bible rises above all culture because it is eternal.

John then ties faith in Messiah to belief in God as the Father. To deny one is to deny the other. This is how closely Yeshua is identified with the teaching and character of the Father. Yeshua clarified this for us prior to his crucifixion in his conversation with Philip.

John 14:8-11 – “Lord,” said Philip, “show us the Father, and that’s enough for us.” Yeshua said to him, “Have I been among you all this time and you do not know me, Philip? The one who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who lives in me does his works. “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Otherwise, believe because of the works themselves.”

John goes so far as to say that those who deny Messiah are antichrists, or anti-messiah. This also substantiates another teaching of Messiah.

Matthew 12:30 – “Anyone who is not with me is against me, and anyone who does not gather with me scatters.”

Not recognizing Yeshua as the Messiah results in opposition to the purpose and plan of God for all time. John equates not believing that Yeshua is the Messiah means one does not have God, either.

To believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, or the “Christ,” is to acknowledge that he was anointed by God, for this is what the term itself means. If he was anointed by God to do and to teach the things he did, as he explained to Philip, then he maintained the exclusivity of his relationship with the Father as God. This is why to have one is to have the other, and to deny one is to deny both. This is also validates the Bible, because he only taught what was prophesied in the prophets and Writings (i.e., the Old Testament, or Tanakh).

Luke 18:31- Then he took the Twelve aside and told them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. Everything that is written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished.
Luke 24:25, 27 – He said to them, “How foolish and slow you are to believe all that the prophets have spoken! … Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures.

The Messiah is the Lord of God’s Kingdom. Trust in Yeshua as the Messiah provides stability beyond any cultural variability. This stability carries over into one’s personal life and provides the believer with a solid basis for consistent practice in harmony with God’s will.

And accomplishing God’s will on the earth is what the Kingdom of God is all about.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

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

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

The contrast of confidence in trusting God

We can choose where we set down our “roots” of faith.

Jeremiah 17:5-8 – “This is what Yahweh says: Cursed is the person who trusts in mankind. He makes human flesh his strength, and his heart turns from Yahweh. He will be like a shrub in the desert; he cannot see when good comes but dwells in the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land where no one lives. The person who trusts in Yahweh, whose confidence indeed is Yahweh, is blessed. He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit.”

The Bible is all about contrasts: light and dark; summer and winter; good and evil. These contrasts serve to illustrate the characteristics of the created world and the balance of equity in God’s hand.

One of the most famous passages to illustrate this type of literary device is from the book of Ecclesiates:

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 – “There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven: a time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing; a time to search and a time to count as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time to tear and a time to sew; a time to be silent and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.”

In the passage we are reviewing today in Jeremiah 17, the tribe of Judah is being accused by God of having become unfaithful to him and pursuing idolatry as opposed to remaining loyal and faithful to him. To illustrate their sinfulness, the prophet Jeremiah is inspired to provide them a series of contrasts:

  • Trust in mankind – trust in Yahweh
  • Curse – blessing
  • Heart turned from Yahweh – confidence in Yahweh
  • Desert shrub – well-watered tree
  • Lack of vision – no anxiety

What I find interesting in this imagery is not only the contrasts, but the one constant: the drought or heat. Both the shrub in the wilderness and the tree near the water experience the heat of the drought conditions; however, only the tree planted by the water is described as having rich foliage and producing fruit.

Jeremiah had made his point well in chastising Judah for their idolatry and unfaithfulness. Yet, I think there are also some lessons we can take away from this word picture, as well.

We all experience droughts of adversity in this life, yet there is a real and qualitative difference between the shrub of the desert and the tree planted near the water. While trees can only sprout where the seeds have landed, as people we can choose where we “set down roots” of faith. Where we do so can result in a curse or a blessing; a heart of isolation on our own or a heart of confidence in God; a lack of vision or removal of anxiety. Trusting in our own limited understanding can result in short-sighted consequences, while trusting in the God of the universe can result in lasting confidence through adversity.

Left to our own devices, we may think all trees experience the same conditions; however, trusting in Yahweh helps clarify the contrasts between good and bad.

Yeshua confirms these contrasts are real and truly do exist; and yet, like Jeremiah, he also reassures his hearers of the blessing and provision afforded to the faithful.

Matthew 6:31-34 – “So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat? ‘ or ‘What will we drink? ‘ or ‘What will we wear? ‘ For the nations eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its 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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

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

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

The flexible life of faith

Living here but energized from above.

Hebrews 11:13-16 – “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and embraced them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. If indeed they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had enough time to return. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

Those individuals listed out in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews are all said to have had great faith, and that by their faith they accomplished great things. But one thing their faith did not provide was a receiving of the promises of rest in the land that were made to them and their forefathers. However, the text says they discerned them through the eyes of faith and welcomed them, as it were, from a distance, since they did not receive them themselves.

They confessed to being foreigners and “temporary countrymen” alongside the actual residents on the earth. The passage says because of this faith and declaration of not being permanent residents, it was apparent that they were seeking their own country or residence, a heavenly one.

Most commentators conclude that this passage speaks of an eternal residence “in heaven” taking place after this earthly life, and that is not an incorrect assessment. However, this phrasing does not solely necessitate that the residence actually be in the heavens, just that its source is from there. This is similar to the statement of Yeshua when he was being questioned before Pilate.

John 18:36 Yeshua answered, “My Kingdom is not of this world. If my Kingdom were of this world, then my servants would fight, that I wouldn’t be delivered to the Jews. But now my Kingdom is not from here.”

When Yeshua says his Kingdom is not OF this world, he doesn’t just mean to say that it is ethereal and heavenly and can only be experienced after this physical life. But his phrasing means it does not emanate FROM or OUT OF this world; its source of authority and reign is FROM the heavens, hence it is the kingdom of God or of heaven.

What that implies is that this heavenly country or place could also be experienced here while they lived here temporarily. It’s similar to earthly foreigners living in a country different from their own, yet abiding by the cultural practices of their home country in the foreign land.

A life of faith, then, based on the lifestyle of the patriarchs, is one that is lived here but energized from above. It is a life of interacting with this world but understanding it is only on a temporary basis. It is similar to how a temporary worker or substitute teacher might perform necessary tasks in their respective roles, yet they should just not expect to always be doing those things in the same way with the same group of co-workers or working with the same students every day.

This way of living comes with its own challenges, but also with its own freedoms: the ability to have a fresh start on a regular basis; to experience a variety of locations or establishments to work in, along with a variety of co-workers to interact with on a regular basis. While there may not be the permanency of one’s own workspace or classroom, there also is no ongoing maintenance of that space or facility.

Similar to renting an apartment is contrasted with owning a home, a renter has more ability to move on into new ventures or locations, while the homeowner must take the time to sell the home and possessions and is less likely to move around as much.

Regardless of one’s choice of work or residence, the life of faith is one of non-attachment to things. If one has a permanent job and home, they should not become so attached as to think it could never be affected by change. Likewise, if one has more temporary workstyle and living conditions, one should not always expect to simply move on if more permanent opportunities or needs arise. In all situations, believers should maintain a sense of transiency and flexibility in all things.

The key is to live for the King and his Kingdom in this place, and to be prepared to be available for whatever may be needed within that reality while we are living in this one. This is the life of faith.

Matthew 6:19-21, 33 – “Don’t lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don’t break through and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also … But seek first God’s Kingdom and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well.”


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

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

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

To trust Yahweh is to bear his image in this world

Fear of Yahweh influences every part of the believer’s life.

Psalm 115:9-13 – Israel, trust in Yahweh! He is their help and shield. House of Aaron, trust in Yahweh! He is their help and shield. You who fear Yahweh, trust in Yahweh! He is their help and shield. Yahweh remembers us and will bless us. He will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron; he will bless those who fear Yahweh — small and great alike.

In this psalm is a contrast between those who trust in idols and those who trust in Yahweh.

Psalm 115:4-8 – Their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. They have ears but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell. They have hands but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk. They cannot make a sound with their throats. Those who make them are just like them, as are all who trust in them.

By contrast, Yahweh was known to have spoken Israel at Sinai; he listened to their prayers; the sacrifices of Israel were a pleasing aroma to him; Yahweh’s hand brought destruction upon Egypt; the clouds are described as being the dust beneath his feet. This is the God who stood in stark relief against the backdrop of the idolatry of the nations that surrounded Israel.

Fear of Yahweh is set as distinct from idolatry; for whoever trusts in Yahweh, he is to them a help and a shield. This implies that the idols are not a help and a shield to those who trust in them. Yahweh made the heavens and the earth; the idols did not. Yahweh deserves praise; the idols do not.

If those who trusted in their idols became like them, then it implies those who were to trust in Yahweh become like him. The reason idolatry is so wrong because it is assigning to a created thing the image that belongs only to Yahweh. Only Yahweh can assign his image to something, and he did that when he created man and woman.

Genesis 1:27 – So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.

If men and women are designed to be image-bearers of God, then we should not try to assign that image to anything else in this life.

Psalm 115:1 – Not to us, Yahweh, not to us, but to your name give glory because of your faithful love, because of your truth.

Yahweh is worthy of praise because he is truthful and remains faithful to his covenants. If those who fear him bear his image, then they should be truthful in all things and remain faithful to their covenants. In the psalmist’s view, Yahweh was living and active, a protector and helper of Israel, Aaron, and all who feared him. To become like Yahweh is also to become a protector and helper of those in need.

Fear (that is reverence, respect, awe) of Yahweh influences every part of the believer’s life. As we bear the image of God to the world around us, we stand in contrast to the idolatry that still exists today. Modern idolaters trust in their wealth, in their social status, and in their prideful accomplishments.

However, believers should demonstrate the true power of imaging God: being truthful and faithful in their dealings with others and being protectors and helpers of those in need. By doing these things, we can become a blessing that honors our Maker.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

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

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

Biblical faith is never blind faith

Biblical faith is obedient action based on confident assurance and conviction.

Core of the Bible podcast #55 – Biblical faith is never blind faith

Today we will be looking at the topic of trust or faith, and how biblical faith is never expected to be a blind faith. Believers have chosen a worldview that is consistent with God’s revelation of himself in his word, and he has demonstrated that he is worthy of our trust.

The life of a believer is just that: a life of faith. But to understand more about faith, we may need to lay down some definitions. Now a quick internet search on the definition of faith yields the following results:

complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion
a strongly held belief or theory

From Wikipedia, their definition of faith begins with the following:

Faith, derived from Latin fides and Old French feid, is confidence or trust in a person, thing, or concept. In the context of religion, one can define faith as “belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion”. Religious people often think of faith as confidence based on a perceived degree of warrant, while others who are more skeptical of religion tend to think of faith as simply belief without evidence.

That is the contrast that I want to highlight: faith based on evidence (what Wikipedia calls “a perceived degree of warrant), and blind faith, or faith with no evidence at all.

To believe in God is to be confident that God exists. While many people may say that is all there is to faith, in truth, most people have confidence in God because of some other reassurance they have received that he indeed exists, whether this reassurance was public or private. Perhaps it was a “miraculous” healing or rescue from a harmful situation (like a car accident), or a near-death experience with a spiritual vision of some kind. Perhaps it was some inspired preaching other type of learning experience.

For myself, I can say that I have faith in God because I believe that God has revealed himself in history through the Bible and the historical example of Israel. For me, this historical reassurance provides a foundation upon which a living faith can emerge. This living faith is a demonstration of knowledge and practices that are rooted in principles of the Bible. This is not just an expression of personal beliefs with no basis, but an expression of a specific worldview that springs from a repository of knowledge and spiritual understanding handed down through the ages.

All people operate within a specific worldview; that’s just how we are wired. The specifics of that worldview are shaped by how one interprets knowledge and understanding that one has been exposed to. For believers, these various interpretations of biblical knowledge and understanding are why we have different religious traditions all saying they are based on the Bible. Each of the various traditions emphasizes different aspects of that body of information. Some traditions focus on liturgy; others focus on social justice, while yet others focus on separation from society. Those of us who claim to believe in God have all made and are making choices about the expression of our faith that are influenced by culture, tradition, and familial upbringing.

While all of this may just sound like just a big hot mess of philosophical opinion, allow me to demonstrate from the Bible how a biblical faith is not a blind faith, but a worldview that is based on evidential experience and knowledge. To do so, we need to look no further than the examples of Gideon and Abraham. Let’s start by looking at Gideon, who is recognized as one of the great examples of faith who is memorialized for us in the eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews.


Hebrews 11:6, 32-34 – “Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.  … And what more can I say? Time is too short for me to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the raging of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength in weakness, became mighty in battle, and put foreign armies to flight.”

Now, if we review some of the accomplishments of Gideon, we may find there is more to them than simply trusting without question what God was asking of him. Gideon’s trust that God would do what he said was based on evidential reassurances that God had provided him. This was demonstrated all along in his journey to becoming a savior of Israel from the oppression of the Midianites.

Judges 6:11-12 – The angel of Yahweh came, and he sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash, the Abiezrite. His son Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress in order to hide it from the Midianites. Then the angel of Yahweh appeared to him and said: “Yahweh is with you, valiant warrior.”

When Gideon was first called by God through an angel, Gideon asked for a sign to confirm this was truly God’s plan.

Judges 6:17, 20-23 – Then he [Gideon] said to him, “If I have found favor with you, give me a sign that you are speaking with me. … The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat with the unleavened bread, put it on this stone, and pour the broth on it.” So he did that. The angel of Yahweh extended the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread. Fire came up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the angel of Yahweh vanished from his sight. When Gideon realized that he was the angel of Yahweh, he said, “Oh no, Lord Yahweh! I have seen the angel of Yahweh face to face! ” But Yahweh said to him, “Peace to you. Don’t be afraid, for you will not die.”

So Gideon’s first evidential sign was demonstrated by a dramatic acceptance of his sacrificial offering. Immediately after this, God instructed him to tear down his father’s idolatrous altar.

Judges 6:25 – “On that very night Yahweh said to him, “Take your father’s young bull and a second bull seven years old. Then tear down the altar of Baal that belongs to your father and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”

Gideon acted in faith, but it was faith based on the evidential sign he had previously received.

Soon after, when he was instructed by God to attack the Midianite armies, Gideon asked God for a sign by placing a fleece of wool on the ground overnight. If the fleece demonstrated wetness or dryness opposite to the normal dew patterns, he would know that it was really God who was asking this of him.

Judges 6:36-40 – “Then Gideon said to God, “If you will deliver Israel by my hand, as you said, “I will put a wool fleece here on the threshing floor. If dew is only on the fleece, and all the ground is dry, I will know that you will deliver Israel by my strength, as you said.” And that is what happened. When he got up early in the morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung dew out of it, filling a bowl with water. Gideon then said to God, “Don’t be angry with me; let me speak one more time. Please allow me to make one more test with the fleece. Let it remain dry, and the dew be all over the ground.” That night God did as Gideon requested: only the fleece was dry, and dew was all over the ground.”

Once this evidential sign was confirmed, Gideon rallied his troops for battle.

Judges 7:1-2 – “Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the troops who were with him, got up early and camped beside the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them, below the hill of Moreh, in the valley. Yahweh said to Gideon, “You have too many troops for me to hand the Midianites over to them, or else Israel might elevate themselves over me and say, ‘My own strength saved me.'”

As a final act of trust, God asked him to reduce his forces to just 300 men. When he did so, he was still fearful that they would potentially be overwhelmed by the Midianite forces.

Judges 7:9-11 – That night Yahweh said to him, “Get up and attack the camp, for I have handed it over to you. “But if you are afraid to attack the camp, go down with Purah your servant. “Listen to what they say, and then you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” So he went down with Purah his servant to the outpost of the troops who were in the camp.”

God still provided him reassurance as he and his servant spied on the enemy camp and overheard their fear based on a dream that Gideon was going to overtake their army.

Judges 7:13-15 – “When Gideon arrived, there was a man telling his friend about a dream. He said, “Listen, I had a dream: a loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp, struck a tent, and it fell. The loaf turned the tent upside down so that it collapsed.” His friend answered: “This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has handed the entire Midianite camp over to him.” When Gideon heard the account of the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship. He returned to Israel’s camp and said, “Get up, for Yahweh has handed the Midianite camp over to you.”

Of course, the famous story is that Gideon and his 300 troops were able to put an “innumerable” host of Midianite aggressors to flight along with their allies.

Judges 7:20-22 – “The three companies blew their trumpets and shattered their pitchers. They held their torches in their left hands, their trumpets in their right hands, and shouted, “A sword for Yahweh and for Gideon! ” Each Israelite took his position around the camp, and the entire Midianite army began to run, and they cried out as they fled. When Gideon’s men blew their three hundred trumpets, Yahweh caused the men in the whole army to turn on each other with their swords. They fled to Acacia House in the direction of Zererah as far as the border of Abel-meholah near Tabbath.”

All of these examples in the life of Gideon point to an interesting facet of trusting God: if we are sincere in wanting to accomplish God’s will, God can provide reassurances when he asks for our trustful actions. In these examples, these were not outward signs to all of Israel, but were private and personal reassurances that gave Gideon the confirmation that God was communicating with him, and that he would come through for Gideon if Gideon would act in faith by trusting in what he asked of him.


Now, at one point in my journey of faith, when I came across this concept, I determined that I would seek God’s direction in my life in a similar fashion as Gideon, asking for verification of what I thought I was hearing by seeking specific signs and indications ahead of time. If the indication occurred, then that would serve as the confirmation needed to take action. Sounds good, right?

Well, if you thought that didn’t sound right, you would be correct. What ended up happening is I began crafting a whole process for ascertaining what I thought would be God’s will in any big life decision I was facing. I kept a journal for things I was praying about, and if the indication came to pass or not. Based on the indication I would take the appropriate action “in faith.” However, I began to ask for indications or signs on anything, not just what God may have been trying to communicate to me, and this is where I believe the whole thing went off the rails. I began to use this journal as a “magic 8-ball” of sorts to determine important things.

For those of you not familiar with the magic 8-ball, just Google it. It was a party game where you would ask a question of the 8-ball, shake it up, and then a generic “answer” to your question would show up in a liquid-filled window on the 8-ball. The answer might go beyond just yes or no to something like “not at this time,” or “outlook not good.” Essentially, I was conducting my faith-life like a party game on whether or not a junior-high crush liked me or not.

Needless to say, I did not continue with this method of determining God’s will, even after making some hefty life decisions with it which, fortunately, I believe God still worked out in spite of my own ignorance. But I will say, one of the positive aspects of this concept is that my awareness of God’s communication with me was heightened throughout the day. I was literally looking for these indications to occur, just like Gideon might have been looking to see if the fleece was wet or not. The problem was that I was not asking for confirmation of something I thought God was trying to communicate to me; instead, I was basically telling God to provide me an answer to a question of my own choosing. That is a radically different thing all together, expecting God to be the genie to magically answer any question that I might pose to him. Gideon did not do this; Gideon was simply seeking confirmation of something God had already revealed to him that he wanted to be sure was legitimately God speaking to him. I hope you can see the difference between those two things, because for a very long time, I did not.

If I was to contemporize Gideon’s experience, it might go something like this: It starts with hearing something from God. Today, we have God’s word to inspire and encourage us to obedient actions. Perhaps it is an admonition from a sermon or bible study, or more typically, a spark of inspiration from personal meditation in God’s word. Then, we respond by reaching out to him in prayer to make sure we understand clearly what we think we heard. This can be done by verifying with other scripture passages to ensure we are being contextually faithful, or it can also be a recognition of some internal confirmation that still lines up with Scripture. If we are sincere and attentive, we will likely find God responding to us in a way that only we can know, a way that has his “fingerprints” all over it but may not be recognizable to others.

In our lives today, we may not have visions of angels or miraculous fleeces to provide us confirmation of God’s direction. However, if we are attentive and serious about understanding what we believe we have heard from God, we receive confirmations that are private and personal to us. Perhaps it may be a saying on a billboard which you pass on the freeway that resonates in answer to prayer, or a song that comes up in your playlist with encouraging lyrics that match what you believe God is conveying to you.

This is the relationship God wishes to have with us: an active, living relationship based on trust. And for trust to take place, there has to be back and forth communication between both parties to establish that trust on which our actions are based.


Even Abraham did not respond in blind faith to God when he famously accepted the understanding that God would make him the “father of many nations.” While it may have been presented to us that way when it says “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness,” the apostle Paul goes into greater detail on Abraham’s experience, and reveals a little closer look into the mechanics of Abraham’s faith.

Romans 4:3, 17-22 – “For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness.’ … As it is written: ‘I have made you the father of many nations.’ He is our father in God’s sight, in whom Abraham believed ​– ​the God who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist. He [Abraham] believed, hoping against hope, so that he became the father of many nations according to what had been spoken: ‘So will your descendants be.’

“He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body to be already dead (since he was about a hundred years old) and also the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, because he was fully convinced that what God had promised, he was also able to do. Therefore, it was credited to him for righteousness.”

Abraham could only demonstrate faith in God because he already believed in God. The text says he did not weaken or waver in the faith he already had, simply because his reason was telling him he and Sarah were both way too old to have a child. He continued to maintain his existing faith in God and merely accepted that what God said would come to pass somehow.

Hebrews 11:6 – “Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

If we accept this as a principle of faith, then we can understand Abraham already had a faith in God in order to even be hearing from him about being the father of many nations. While we don’t have specifics in Scripture, we can see a glimmer of the establishment of that faith in Genesis chapter 11.

Genesis 11:31-32 – “Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot (Haran’s son), and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they set out together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there. Terah lived 205 years and died in Haran.”

Why was Terah heading out to the land of Canaan? The text doesn’t say, but immediately following this passage in the first verses of chapter 12 we read the following:

Genesis 12:1, 4-5 – Yahweh said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. … So Abram went, as Yahweh had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated, and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan…”

Is it possible that Abraham’s father Terah had already heard from God about taking his family to Canaan and simply got waylaid in Haran on their way? Perhaps he became ill on the journey and they had to settle there hoping for his recovery, but then died. Then Abraham, hearing and recognizing the call of the God he already believed in, picked up where his father had left off to continue the family’s journey to Canaan as originally intended. If so, this could indicate that Abraham already had a familial understanding of Yahweh as the one true God, and he could then obey in faith based on an understanding of how God had already protected their family from Ur to Haran (which was a huge journey in and of itself).

While this may be speculative based on the lack of detail in the text, it is not entirely unfounded based on the pattern of faith in the Bible. The writer of Hebrews says that to have faith in God, one must believe he exists. To think that a God exists means one must have heard of him somehow, and must believe that account of God is reasonable. For anyone to be able to call on Yahweh in the first place, Paul writes:

Romans 10:14 – How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? …

Somehow Abraham had come to know Yahweh, whether in Ur or Haran, or perhaps through his father Terah, or by straight-up self-revelation of God directly to Abraham. However it occurred, I believe it is very likely that Abraham had reason to recognize that God was trustworthy in order to place his faith in him and to become the father of a multitude of nations.

What this means is that when Abraham believed God that he would be the father of many nations, he did not need to look for evidence of this, even though he knew that both he and Sarah were typically too old to have children. Abraham knew God was trustworthy and simply believed without trying to figure out how it could be accomplished, and that type of faith was what God honored and considered righteous.


So, to summarize all of the distance we have covered today, I believe it can be shown that faith is something that is based on a multitude of factors that we have been exposed to in our lives. Whether by tradition or society, the individual interpretation of that information will lead to a specific worldview. Within the biblical worldview, we can receive personal guidance if we sincerely seek God’s direction, which may be known to us but unseen by others, and this direction will be in harmony with God’s revealed will in his word.

Gideon acted in faith even though he had received confirmations or indications from Yahweh before he took action. This does not necessarily mean his faith is any less worthy or valid, as is demonstrated by the fact that he is included in the “Hall of Faith” of Hebrews 11. However, it does indicate to us that even though God may ask his people to do unusual things at times, it is still a demonstration of courageous faith to recognize a personal indication that may be received and then to act on that direction from God. Obeying direction from God is still obedience.

It is my belief that the Bible knows nothing of a blind faith, only a trust and confidence in what may be unseen to others but known to be real to us.

Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the conviction of things not being seen.”

Biblical faith, then, is obedient action based on confident assurance and conviction. This confident assurance may simply be an individual recognition of specific direction that agrees with the revealed principles in the Bible.

Another way to say this is we can trust God today for what he has revealed to us yesterday. And we can trust God for tomorrow and beyond when we trust him for today. Acting on that unseen conviction is how we demonstrate our faith in God and fulfill his purposes in this world.


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