Refusing the allure of coveting

The command to not covet may be the root command guiding all of our interactions with anything, or anyone, outside of ourselves.

The command to not covet may be the root command guiding all of our interactions with anything, or anyone, outside of ourselves.

  • Exodus 20:17 – Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

This command comes as the very last instruction of the Ten Commandments. And yet, wise men and rabbis over the millennia have commented that it may be the most significant commandment of the ten, as it relates to everything we do in life.

Let’s examine this a little closer. If we view the Ten Commandments in two  sections, we can put the first five under one heading: “Commands that apply to God and his authority.” The second five can come under the the heading, “Integrity in interacting with others.”

We can see how abiding by the tenth commandment will reduce or eliminate our violation of commands 6-9. If we don’t covet, we are less likely to murder someone to get what they have. We will not seek adulterous relationships with other wives or husbands because we are not coveting or desiring them. We will not steal because we are not coveting things we don’t have. We are less likely to bear false witness against someone else or lie for selfish motives because we are not coveting.

As for the first five commandments, if we are not coveting just any type of spiritual experience, we can truly seek God only, and no other. We will not be led astray by the seductive nature of idolatry. We will not take his name in vain only to leverage our relationship with God for our own personal gain. We will not violate the Sabbath for personal gain, and we will abide by the God-given authority of our parents instead of believing we know what’s best for our own personal benefit.

Coveting does indeed seem to be at the root of all that is contrary to God and his purposes. In fact, prior to being mentioned in the Bible narrative at Sinai, the only other time the Hebrew root word is used is in relation to the trees of Eden.

  • Genesis 2:9 – Yahweh God caused to grow out of the ground every tree pleasing in appearance and good for food, including the tree of life in the middle of the garden, as well as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
  • Genesis 3:6 – The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

This pleasing appearance and desire for obtaining forbidden wisdom is the root of coveting, and Eve fell prey to its seductive allure. From this action has flowed everything contrary to God’s purpose in this world.

By contrast, the person of integrity stands against covetousness and everything that grows out of wicked desires for that which we do not have. The apostle John calls this covetous desire the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride.

  • 1 John 2:15-17 – Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world ​– ​the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions ​– ​is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.

If we are to do the will of God, it is to let these covetous desires go, and to seek to simply serve him in humility and in truth. It is to do the opposite of coveting: to give and bestow good will on all those around us. It is to consider the needs of others above our own, thereby eliminating our selfish desires.

Therefore, if you must covet something, crave and desire to only do what’s right in God’s eyes.

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

If you enjoy these daily articles, 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 at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The actions and mindset of the Kingdom

A recognition of the Kingdom of God results in a lifestyle and emotional mindset guided by its principles.

A recognition of the Kingdom of God results in a lifestyle and emotional mindset guided by its principles.

Romans 14:17-18 – For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Messiah is acceptable to God and approved by men.

The apostle Paul uttered this statement in the midst of his instruction on not passing judgment on one another within the collective of believers, specifically in regard to food and drink. This was a divisive issue within that first-century generation due to practices of idol worship in the local marketplace and traditions that had been carried over from their Jewish upbringing of those who came to believe in Messiah.

But in this teaching, Paul is trying to stress how the real issues that should be the focus of their lifestyle was not arguing over traditions of men, but their focus should be on the righteousness, peace, and joy that they share through the Spirit of God in believing in Messiah.

Righteousness is a primary indicator of the kingdom because it means acting according to the principles that God affirms are “right.” These principles were to stem from his revealed will in his Word, not from the traditions of men that were based on appearances, or the influences of the idolatrous culture among which they lived.

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

Peace is an indicator of the kingdom because the gospel of the kingdom is about peace: peace that God provides through faith in Messiah, and peace between men that comes about when we die to ourselves and live for others. As God is a God of peace, peace should be evident in our lives as well.

  • Romans 14:19 – So then, let us pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another.
  • Romans 15:33 – May the God of peace be with all of you. Amen.

Joy is an indicator of the kingdom because there is a recognition that God has fulfilled his promises to his people. Those who are privileged to participate in the kingdom are relieved from the burden of their sinfulness and are empowered by God’s Spirit to serve him “acceptably, with reverence and awe.” Believers have hope that the world does not share, because their hope is in something larger and more permanent than anything in this world.

  • Hebrews 12:28 – Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe…
  • Romans 15:13 – Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Kingdom of God is intended to provide a balanced worldview which results in righteousness, peace, and joy because this is God’s desire for all people. The hope we share as believers in Messiah is that this kingdom will become evident throughout the world as we continue to faithfully and joyfully live by its principles.


If you enjoy these daily articles, 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 at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

There is no anonymity with God

Whenever we exercise compassion, it never goes unnoticed by God.

Whenever we exercise compassion, it never goes unnoticed by God.

As Yeshua taught about the principles of righteousness in his Sermon on the Mount, he extolled the virtues of privately demonstrating compassion to those in need.

Matthew 6:1-4 – “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward with your Father in heaven. So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

One of the things we can learn from this passage is that God the Father can see what is done in secret. This realization alone has staggering consequences in the life of the believer. There is no time in our lives that God is not witness to. This is a principle that is present throughout the Bible, and has been an accepted reality among God’s people at all times.

When Samuel was tasked with identifying the king of Israel after the rejection of Saul, he approached the family of Jesse and reviewed his sons one by one.

1 Samuel 16:6-7 – When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and said, “Certainly Yahweh’s anointed one is here before him.” But Yahweh said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature because I have rejected him. Humans do not see what Yahweh sees, for humans see what is visible, but Yahweh sees the heart.”

David himself recognized this was the reality of the believer before Yahweh in all of life.

Psalm 139:1-6 – Yahweh, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; you understand my thoughts from far away. You observe my travels and my rest; you are aware of all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you know all about it, Yahweh. You have encircled me; you have placed your hand on me. This wondrous knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it.

The writer to the Hebrew congregation likewise describes this familiarity that God has over all.

Hebrews 4:12-13 – For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. No creature is hidden from him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.

While those who don’t know God might be taken aback by this level of transparency before God at all times, this should not be a point of contention or frustration, but one of rejoicing. If we are living before him with integrity and compassion, then we should not be ashamed of our private thoughts and interactions with others. Just as in marriage the husband and wife are familiar with each other’s personalities, habits, and quirks in private, so God understands the even the deepest layers of motivation that lie at the root of all of our thoughts and actions.

While no one enjoys their selfish or petty inclinations to be known, there is some comfort in knowing that the good that we do that may go unrecognized by others is still known to the One who searches our hearts. This is the very deepest core of our faith, as God has always desired for us to act sincerely and genuinely from the heart in all matters, and to do so in accordance with his instruction.

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.”

But when we are disobedient to him, we tend to want to hide from his presence, just as Adam and Eve did.

Genesis 3:6, 8 – The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. … Then the man and his wife heard the sound of Yahweh God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid from Yahweh God among the trees of the garden.

However, when we begin to live out his Word from the heart, then there should be no need to feel ashamed before him. We should take comfort that God considers even the smallest things we do as having consequence for his kingdom and glory. That the God of the Universe knows each of us by name and cares about our actions and our intentions is a staggering thought. Like David, we cannot begin to comprehend how or why this can even be possible.

Psalm 8:3-4 – When I observe your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you set in place, what is a human being that you remember him, a son of man that you look after him?

So when we demonstrate compassion to others, this is not something to be taken lightly. The world may not recognize when we expend effort and resources on behalf of others, but God does. Yeshua instructed his hearers that God also takes action on behalf of those who do act compassionately in unseen ways. This is not compassion for the sake of shallow recognition by others, but compassion from the heart, just as God has intended all along.

Matthew 6:4 – “And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”


If you enjoy these daily articles, 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 at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Following the examples of righteousness lived by Noah and Abraham

When we walk before God with integrity and righteousness, we are living by faith in a way that pleases him.

Today we will be looking at the topic of integrity, and how when we walk before God with integrity and righteousness, we are living by faith in a way that pleases him.

Genesis 6:9 – This is the account of Noah and his descendants. Noah was a righteous man; he was blameless in his generation. He walked habitually with God.

From this description of Noah, we can begin to paint a portrait of what type of person pleases God. Noah was righteous, blameless, and walked with God as a way of life. By looking at each of these characteristics, we can draw some application for our own lives as we seek to honor and magnify God as his representatives in this world.

Noah is remembered most famously for building an ark and surviving a great flood. But most people don’t realize he is the first person in the Bible to be named as righteous. The Hebrew word for righteous is tsaddik. A tsaddik is a person who is considered just and righteous in conduct and character. Other contexts of the word include describing someone who is upright, honest, virtuous, pious. It is a word commonly used of good kings or judges who faithfully dispense justice and fairness.

We need to discuss this idea of righteousness a little more in detail than the other characteristics of Noah because in most Christian circles today, righteousness is typically viewed as something that is only conferred on an individual from God, as a bestowal of a righteous state that they did not possess previously. This perspective comes largely from the apostle Paul writing about the legal aspect of of a theological term called imputed righteousness, as is typically pointed out using the example of Abraham who was accounted or considered righteous for his faith in God.

Romans 4:1-5 – What then will we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? If Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about ​– ​but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness. Now to the one who works, pay is not credited as a gift, but as something owed. But to the one who does not work, but believes on him who declares the ungodly to be righteous, his faith is credited for righteousness.

Now from this passage has been built an entire theological framework known as justification by faith. This was the famous cry of the reformers of the Christian faith in the 16th and 17th centuries. John Calvin has been quoted as saying, “Justification by faith is the hinge on which all true religion turns.”

In current discussion today, Dr. Kevin McFadden of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary covers the salient points of this doctrine in his article, “10 Things You Should Know about Justification by Faith” posted last year at Crossway.com. Dr. McFadden writes:

“Imputation is an attempt to capture the truth of biblical statements like 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake he [God] made him [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Here Paul does not mean that God actually made Christ a sinner but that he imputed our sin to Christ’s account, just as, in the parallel statement, he has imputed his own righteousness to our account.”

This type of inputting something into our account that wasn’t previously there was outlined centuries earlier by Martin Luther.

“Do you now see how faith justifies without works? Sin lingers in us, and God hates sin. A transfusion of righteousness therefore becomes vitally necessary. This transfusion of righteousness we obtain from Christ because we believe in Him.” (Commentary on Galatians 3:6)

In my humble opinion, the passage in 2 Corinthians 5 has less to do with “transfusions of righteousness” and “crediting accounts” and more with the responsibility of the believer’s actions, as this passage of Paul regarding becoming the righteousness of God parallels his conclusion earlier on in the chapter.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 – For the love of Messiah compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: If one died for all, then all died. And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.

That is the point that Paul appears to be making. He is relating to his audience in Corinth that the fact that Messiah died in a representative way should then spur them on to live in a way that honors him: he died for others, therefore they should live for others by dying to themselves. In this way, they would become the righteousness of God, that is, the righteous-living people that God desired them to be.

When we take the imputed righteousness theory which is based on the characterization of righteousness being added to an account without it being actualized in behavior, the meaning of the word becomes, in a sense, masked. It implies someone can be considered righteous while not really being righteous; it is simply a way God chooses to view those who place their faith in him. According to this doctrine, because of a believer’s faith, God decides to declare them righteous (even though they are not) by substituting the sinless life of his own son, Yeshua, for the sinful life of the sinner. In essence, this idea of imputed righteousness is all about the legal and theoretical standing of an individual before God and not about what they do or how they actually live their lives.

But this is not what the Bible teaches about righteousness, or what the passage about Abraham really says. This kind of theoretical abstract thinking would have been foreign to early believers steeped in the concrete terminology and prose of the Hebraic Scriptures and culture. Even today, when we look at the source material in Genesis that the apostle Paul is quoting, the text says nothing about accounts or infusions, but simply says that Abraham believed God, specifically about his promise to make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the stars of the sky.

Genesis 15:2-6 – But Abram said, “Lord Yahweh, what can you give me, since I am childless and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus? ” Abram continued, “Look, you have given me no offspring, so a slave born in my house will be my heir.” Now the word of Yahweh came to him: “This one will not be your heir; instead, one who comes from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look at the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “Your offspring will be that numerous.” Abram believed Yahweh, and he considered it to him as righteousness.

The fact that Abraham simply believed what God told him was considered by God as an act of righteousness, not the change of some legal standing before him. We know Abraham was also considered a righteous individual because he was obedient to all of God’s revealed instruction, most likely oral at that point, just like it was with Noah. When God reiterated this promise of innumerable descendants to Abraham’s son Isaac, God states:

Genesis 26:4-5 – “I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky, I will give your offspring all these lands, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring, because Abraham listened to me and kept my mandate, my commands, my statutes, and my instructions.”

This statement helps define God’s view of righteousness. A righteous individual believes in the instruction of God (taking God at his word) and then obeys it. In God’s view, believing what he says, even though it may not yet be fulfilled, is an act of righteousness as valuable as any other act of obedience. It is the sign of ultimate trust which is considered by God as the action of a righteous person.

So, returning to the passage in Romans where Paul is explaining this event in Abraham’s life, in reality, I think what Paul was attempting to convey is the idea that faith in God is equally considered a righteous act, along with all other lawful, virtuous, honest, and upright actions according to the instruction of God. Therefore, faith in God and his Messiah is considered a righteous action. That would have been a revolutionary concept to his audience. The believers of Paul’s day knew that to be a tsaddik was to faithfully and obediently follow the torah (or instruction) of God that has been revealed. But to do this effectively, Paul argues, requires faith, a righteous action like any other obedient action.

Noah had believed that what God had revealed to him about a coming flood, even though it had not yet been fulfilled, was going to happen. He took it seriously and built a giant boat, rearranging his entire life and enterprise to commit to this faith in what God had said. There are few greater examples of what a living faith looks like.

For Noah, this would mean that out of all others in his generation or age, he was the individual who most closely matched the ideal that God had provided up to that point because of his faith and his actions based on that faith. While those in his day may not have had any written Scripture, there were undoubtedly oral teachings that had been passed from generation to generation since the days of Adam previously. And in God’s eyes, Noah was a tsaddik, a righteous individual, one who faithfully and continually walked with him. To walk with God in this sense is to live in a way that pleases him, to abide by his counsels and admonitions, to be familiar with God and his ways and to direct one’s own personal affairs in agreement with God’s. This is biblical righteousness.

Additionally, the text says that Noah was tamim or blameless. This is a Hebrew term that can mean what is complete, entirely in accord with truth and fact. Noah’s life was not a life of hidden agendas or misrepresentation for the sake of personal gain, but everything he did and said was based completely on truth and fact. Someone who is blameless has nothing to hide from those who would inquire into their background or motivations.

This is a life of integrity, and Yeshua described this concept in various ways throughout his ministry, and most notably in his Sermon on the Mount. For Yeshua, to live with integrity and righteousness meant to demonstrate virtue and purity that exceeded those who were merely following external commands, like the Pharisees and Sadducees. It meant to be a person of your word, simply saying yes or no, and doing what you say. It was defined as craving equity; thirsting for doing the right thing because it was personally and inwardly important. It included avoiding hypocrisy in judgment and practice, and to magnify God by letting your good deeds “shine.” And finally, Yeshua taught to conduct yourself with mildness and gentleness, and, if necessary, to endure harmful attacks of those who may not agree with your right actions. All of these things could essentially be said of Noah, which is why he was considered a tsaddik.

We would do well to follow in his footsteps among our generation, doing what’s right in the face of adversity and corruption around us. God may not task each of us with building a literal ark, but we should be just as mindful of our responsibility to “become the righteousness of God” by positively influencing those around us through our integrity and faithful obedience to God’s revealed word.


If you enjoy these daily articles, 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 at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Seeking peace amidst those who hate it

Believers recognize that the justice of God is real, but that does not relieve us of our responsibility to pursue reconciliation at all times.

Believers recognize that the justice of God is real, but that does not relieve us of our responsibility to pursue reconciliation at all times.

Psalm 120:5-7: “Woe is me, that I live in Meshech, that I dwell among the tents of Kedar! My soul has had her dwelling too long with him who hates peace. I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war.”

The psalmist is decrying his situation among those who are brutal as the nation of Meshech and idolatrous as the people of Kedar. These were surrounding nations from the nation of Israel known for their barbarous traits, and the psalmist uses their names as epithets for the wickedness of those who would oppose him.

His stance before Yahweh, though, is that he is for peace, and even though that is what he speaks, it is responded to with further aggression. Ani Shalom, the phrase “I am for peace,” illustrates the author’s intent with those who oppose him. To be for peace is to be a reconciler, someone who seeks to find the common ground between themselves and those who would oppose them. Yet, despite his best intentions and efforts, it appears that his enemies continue to battle against him.

To this ongoing aggression, the psalmist can only resort to the justice of God.

Psalm 120:1-4 – In my distress I called to Yahweh, and he answered me.  “Yahweh, rescue me from lying lips and a deceitful tongue.”  What will he give you, and what will he do to you, you deceitful tongue?  A warrior’s sharp arrows with burning charcoal!

This is in line with the biblical principle of allowing room for the vengeance of God, but only after we have made unmitigated advances toward reconciliation and peace. So many times, we are quick to call down the judgment of God on those who are at odds with our purposes and plans, only to find that God expects us to at least make honest attempts at reconciliation prior to releasing the situation to his vengeance.

Romans 12:19-21 – Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says Yahweh. But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.

The apostle Paul here is encouraging believers to do the hard thing first by going above and beyond for one’s enemies, and never to pursue revenge based on personal grievance. Our role as believers in Yahweh is to seek peace at all costs, and only then will the justice of God be realized amidst those who are adversarial. Ani Shalom, “I am for peace,” should be the phrase on every believer’s lips.

Matthew 5:9 – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.


If you enjoy these daily articles, 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 at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

A faith that leads to new realities

Exhibiting true faith in God provides him the means with which to be glorified in ways beyond our imagination.

Exhibiting true faith in God provides him the means with which to be glorified in ways beyond our imagination.

The prophet Samuel was one of the greatest prophets to arise in ancient Israel. His mother, Hannah, was a woman of great faith. Even though she had been childless for many years, she steadfastly trusted in Yahweh through the depth of the emotional trauma she experienced at lacking the ability to conceive.

1 Samuel 1:10-11 – She was deeply distressed and prayed to Yahweh and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, “O Yahweh of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to Yahweh all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”

This is the prayer of someone of great faith. Hannah was placing all of her trust in the One whom she knew could provide for her deepest need, even though she could not yet see the results of that faith. In the anguish of her heart, she prayed silently but earnestly in the presence of the Eli, the high priests at that time, who inadvertently thought she was muttering to herself due to drinking.

1 Samuel 1:15-17 – But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before Yahweh. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.”

Hannah replied to Eli that she had been “pouring out her soul” before Yahweh. The Hebrew phrase means to spill over, or gush out. This describes the intensity with which she prayed to God, and exhibits the depth of the anguish in her very soul.

I can recall in my own life only a handful of times where I have prayed with a similar level of intensity. Yet it was in those times of my deepest anguish that I also felt closest to the presence of God. God seems to reward our honesty within ourselves with his own presence; when all of our defenses are broken down and we are left alone with only the bare root of some raw emotion. It is as if the intensity of our experience and the diminishment of self somehow thins the veil between the natural and the supernatural, and suddenly we somehow sense his presence, even though he is always there. This type of deep communion with God when we have reached the end of ourselves is the most honest expression of faith. In Hannah’s case, it resulted in the granting of her desire for a son.

1 Samuel 1:20 – And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from Yahweh.”

This event so strongly influenced Hannah that she could only rejoice in the blessing of receiving what she had asked for.

1 Samuel 2:1-2 – And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in Yahweh; my horn is exalted in Yahweh. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. There is none holy like Yahweh: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.”

I believe it was this intensity of Hannah’s’ faith that provided the foundation for Samuel to become one of the strongest and most influential prophets Israel had ever known. Her practical experience of God’s providential working in her life set the tone that allowed her to guide and direct the small boy Samuel to God’s service in the tabernacle. Her faith spilled over into the blank canvas of her son’s life which then resulted in the establishment of a kingdom and the oversight of the direction of an entire ancient nation.

We must never underestimate the influence of our sincere faith as it affects the lives around us in ways that God can use for his purpose and glory, and in ways that we may not even be able to fathom. This is how faith in God can move mountains.


If you enjoy these daily articles, 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 at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The anointing that makes for a holy sacrifice

The Biblical pattern of anointing and sacrifice lays down a template for the spiritual life of believers today.

The Biblical pattern of anointing and sacrifice lays down a template for the spiritual life of believers today.

In the Bible, holiness, in the sense of something being set apart for God’s use, is a quality that was to have been instituted through a process of anointing. Anointing was the practice of rubbing, smearing, or pouring a substance on a thing or person to designate it as being set apart exclusively for God’s purposes. The most common method of anointing was with a type of oil or sacrificial blood, or both.

  • Exodus 30:25-29 – And you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil. With it you shall anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony, and the table and all its utensils, and the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils and the basin and its stand. You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy. Whatever touches them will become holy.
  • Exodus 29:21 – Then you shall take part of the blood that is on the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments, and on his sons and his sons’ garments with him. He and his garments shall be holy, and his sons and his sons’ garments with him.

The idea that things could be set apart as holy became an object lesson for the people of Israel. They would come to recognize that when God sets something apart, it was special and uniquely his and should not be tampered with. Anything touching the altar or consecrated article would become holy, that is, set apart for God’s purpose.

A famous example of this is when King David was attempting to transport the anointed and set apart articles of the tabernacle, including the ark of the covenant, up to Jerusalem for the new temple.

2 Samuel 6:5-7 – And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating beforeYahweh, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger ofYahweh was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God.

As harsh as this may sound in a surface reading of this passage, Uzzah, with the best of intentions, attempted to keep the ark from falling off of the cart, but because he came in direct contact with something that was wholly set apart for God’s use, he died. In a sense, he became instantly holy, that is, he became set apart for God’s purpose by being wholly consumed by the anointed article.

This is meant to teach us, not of the harshness of God, but of his set-apartness, his otherness that has real impact and lasting effect on our physical lives here. We can see from the physical examples of the articles of the tabernacle and temple that anything that is anointed and set apart as holy to Yahweh is to be taken very seriously.

Exodus 29:36-37 – and every day you shall offer a bull as a sin offering for atonement. Also you shall purify the altar, when you make atonement for it, and shall anoint it to consecrate it. Seven days you shall make atonement for the altar and consecrate it, and the altar shall be most holy. Whatever touches the altar shall become holy.

Yeshua confirmed that anything placed on the altar was to become completely holy and set apart for God’s purpose.

Matthew 23:16-19 – “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold holy? And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift holy?

The idea that anything which touched the altar specifically would become holy has to do with the idea that an offering that is on the altar is being used for its highest purpose, given in complete and full sacrifice to God.

In the New Testament writings of the apostle Paul, he touches on this aspect in the life of a believer.

Romans 12:1 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

If our living bodies are to be considered living sacrifices, and sacrifices that are on the altar are considered holy, then our lives become a holy offering to God. Following the logic of the narrative of Uzzah, if we touch the altar of sacrifice with our living body, we must die. Paul expresses the paradox of the believer in that we are constantly in a state of dying to ourselves when we willingly offer ourselves to God.

The apostle John, however, focuses on the living aspect about the anointing of God. His contention is that believers have been anointed by God with his holy Spirit for the purpose of understanding truth, and learning to live and abide in him.

1 John 2:20, 27 – But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. … But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie–just as it has taught you, abide in him.

This paradox of the life of the anointing and the sacrifice of holiness is a reality that we must understand if we are to truly serve Yahweh faithfully in obedience to Yeshua.

  • John 15:4-5 – Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
  • Matthew 10:38-39 – And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

We have been called to die to ourselves and live for him. This is the path of the anointing and the way of holiness.


If you enjoy these daily articles, 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 at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Consistently seeking the kingdom of God

In order to receive the benefit of God’s instruction, we must become saturated with it.

In order to receive the benefit of God’s instruction, we must become saturated with it.

Psalm 1:1-3 – How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers! Instead, his delight is in the Yahweh’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams that bears its fruit in its season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

I love the brevity and directness of these few verses. In them, we learn that happiness for the believer is derived from the avoidance of certain practices and the diligent pursuit of something else. They also convey the results that can be expected when this advice is followed.

As believers we are to avoid:

  • walking in the advice of the wicked
  • standing in the pathway with sinners
  • sitting in the company of mockers

For each one of us, this may take different forms, whether it is our interactions with our work and social groups, or the company we keep online with friends and acquaintances. These typical behaviors, while popular choices in the current culture, are not fruitful at all for the believer.

Instead, we are to diligently pursue Yahweh’s instruction or torah, and meditate on it day and night. This should be the consistent focus of our daily lifestyle. If we do so, we can expect the following results:

  • We will be like a tree planted beside flowing streams (constantly nourished)
  • bearing its fruit in its season (being productive within the kingdom of God)
  • and whose leaf does not wither (remaining vibrant)
  • Whatever we do will prosper (based on the right knowledge of following God’s word)

According to the text, there is no downside for the believer to be thoroughly engaged with God’s word on a daily basis. All of these results are benefits not only for ourselves, but also for that of others who may be seeking to understand more about the God of the Bible. To bear fruit is to provide practical guidance and assistance to others who can be helped by our positive influence in their lives.

While there are many examples throughout the Bible, in Psalm 119 is most completely conveyed the attitude of someone who is desirous of God’s instruction, seeking whole-heartedly to follow his ways.

  • Psalm 119:14-16 – I rejoice in the way revealed by your decrees as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and think about your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.
  • Psalm 119:43-48 – Never take the word of truth from my mouth, for I hope in your judgments. I will always obey your instruction, forever and ever. I will walk freely in an open place because I study your precepts. I will speak of your decrees before kings and not be ashamed. I delight in your commands, which I love. I will lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and will meditate on your statutes.
  • Psalm 119:97 – How I love your instruction [torah]! It is my meditation all day long.

Yeshua spoke about it this way:

Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”

Meditating on God’s word involves reflection and musing over its meanings and implications providing insights into righteous ways. It involves study, but also a deep and intimate devotion, resulting in prayer and communion with God. It is not just about setting aside fifteen or thirty minutes or an hour a day, but about having a constant baseline of relying on the principles of God’s word throughout the day. In between and underneath our necessary functions as members of our society, we should always default to a godly perspective that can help guide our decisions and actions. The promise is that if we intentionally keep this mental focus, we will prosperous and fruitful for God, which ultimately honors him. And isn’t that the type of believer we should be?


If you enjoy these daily articles, 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 at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

A royal priesthood of integrity

A faithful tribe created the pattern of intercession, reverent peace, and knowledge to turn others from iniquity.

A faithful tribe created the pattern of intercession, reverent peace, and knowledge to turn others from iniquity.

Malachi 2:5-7 – “My covenant with him [Levi] was one of life and peace, and I gave these to him; it called for reverence, and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth, and nothing wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and integrity and turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should desire instruction from his mouth, because he is the messenger of Yahweh of Armies.”

Out of all of the tribes of ancient Israel, the tribe of Levi was entrusted with the ministry of the priesthood. Moses and Aaron were Levites, and the high priesthood remained within the specific line of Aaron, while the remaining priestly duties were distributed amongst the rest of the Levites.

Many today who are believers in Messiah consider themselves to be a type of priesthood because of a very famous passage written by the apostle Peter.

1 Peter 2:9-10 – But you are a chosen family, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

As always, it’s important to maintain the context and audience relevance of a passage to better understand its meaning. In this case, this passage was written to a specific group (or groups) of people almost two thousand years ago. The people that Peter was writing to are listed as “those chosen, living as exiles dispersed abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient and to be sprinkled with the blood of Yeshua Messiah.”

According to the Cambridge Bible commentary:

“Literally, taking the words in their Greek order, to the elect sojourners of the dispersion. The last word occurs in the New Testament in John 7:35 and James 1:1, and in the Apocrypha in 2 Ma 1:27. It was used as a collective term for the whole aggregate of Jews who, since the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, had been scattered in Asia and elsewhere.”

These were the descendants of Israelites who had been scattered throughout the known world 750 years earlier, when the Assyrians had taken the northern ten tribes captive and intermixed them among all of the people they ruled over at that time. We know this is the case based on Peter’s reference from the prophecy of Hosea. This prophecy of Hosea spoke about how God would reject his people for their disobedience, scatter them among the nations, but then again he would restore them and call them sons of God.

Hosea 1:9-10 – Then Yahweh said: Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not my people, and I will not be your God. Yet the number of the Israelites will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or counted. And in the place where they were told: You are not my people, they will be called: Sons of the living God.

In the minds of the disciples, this prophesied restoration and reunification of the tribes was taking place before their eyes.

1 Peter 2:10 – Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

This is why Peter could call those people a priesthood; they were the descendants of the Israelites who had stood at the foot of Mount Sinai 1500 years earlier.

Exodus 19:1, 5-6 – In the third month from the very day the Israelites left the land of Egypt, they came to the Sinai Wilderness. … “Now if you will carefully listen to me and keep my covenant, you will be my own possession out of all the peoples, although the whole earth is mine, “and you will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation.‘ These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.”

All of the Israelites were not Levites, but the Levites were only representatives of the nation before God, just as the nation was representative of God before the rest of the world.

But this is not a condition of race or ancestry, but one of faith. There were non-Israelites also present at Mount Sinai who were included in that holy nation of the kingdom of priests.

Exodus 12:37-38 – The Israelites traveled from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand able-bodied men on foot, besides their families. A mixed crowd also went up with them, along with a huge number of livestock, both flocks and herds.

God was creating a new thing, a nation out of all nations that would be called to represent him in the world. It was made up of his people chosen out of all the nations. This is why this passage comes to have important meaning to believers in Messiah. Just like those ragged folk standing at the foot of Mount Sinai, God is now calling people from all nations to join the kingdom of God. This is made possible through faith in his Messiah, his representative king. Faith in the Messiah allows believers to participate in a type of priesthood, a representation of God to the rest of the world.

As such, we are commissioned just as Levi was to be a people of integrity. The same qualities that were evident in the ancient tribe of Levi as related by Malachi should be evident in us today.

  • He revered God and stood in awe of his name.
  • True instruction was in his mouth, and nothing wrong was found on his lips.
  • He walked with God in peace and integrity and turned many from iniquity.
  • For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should desire instruction from his mouth, because he is the messenger of Yahweh.

If we are to take our walk with Messiah seriously, we should consider that we represent all that God wants to convey to the world. We can intercede on behalf of others and provide true instruction to all people. Most importantly, we must walk in integrity and peace; this is how others will be turned from iniquity.


If you enjoy these daily articles, 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 at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The authority of the eternal kingdom

Messiah purchased a people and delivered an eternal kingdom to his Father, the God of the universe.

Messiah purchased a people and delivered an eternal kingdom to his Father, the God of the universe.

I believe one of the reasons the gospel of the kingdom is so misunderstood today is because people fail to see that the kingdom is all about authority. If there is a kingdom, there is a king, and if there is a king, then that king has authority. So to admit that there is a kingdom of God is to admit that God has authority to rule and reign over all kingdoms.

I have mentioned before that most people who consider themselves believers in the Bible would likely view this eventuality of God ruling all nations as a future event. However, I am in a minority of those who consider this to be a current fact, a fact that will remain so for all time and eternity.

In the absolute sense, he is God, after all, and therefore has in a primary sense always ruled all of his Creation. However, in a specific sense, God had, through ancient Israel, prepared a people who would become his representatives and light of instruction to the rest of the world. There was a point in time when he began an earthly kingdom through Moses and David up to the time of Messiah. It was then that another aspect of the kingdom, a spiritual one, was to be enacted to fulfill the earthly model, and then to remain into eternity.

Yeshua repeatedly urged the people to be repentant of their own ways because of the nearness of the impending spiritual kingdom of God, and how it was to be earnestly sought after even in those days.

  • Matthew 4:17 – From then on Yeshua began to preach, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
  • Matthew 5:10 – “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
  • Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

As the fulfillment of all of Israel’s hopes and prophecies, Yeshua stood as the promised seed of Abraham who was the true King of Israel, faithfully representing God the Father in all his ways.

  • John 12:50 – “… So the things that I speak, I speak just as the Father has told me.”
  • Galatians 3:16 – Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say “and to seeds,” as though referring to many, but referring to one, and to your seed, who is Christ.
  • John 1:49 – “Rabbi,” Nathanael replied, “You are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel! “
  • John 12:12-13 – The next day, when the large crowd that had come to the festival heard that Yeshua was coming to Jerusalem, they took palm branches and went out to meet him. They kept shouting: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of Yahweh ​– ​the King of Israel! “

Yeshua ruled and reigned as the true king as God’s Son, inaugurated in his resurrection to the right hand of the Father.

Acts 13:32-34 – “And we ourselves proclaim to you the good news of the promise that was made to our ancestors. God has fulfilled this for us, their children, by raising up Yeshua, as it is written in the second Psalm: You are my Son; today I have become your Father. As to his raising him from the dead, never to return to decay, he has spoken in this way, I will give you the holy and sure promises of David.

This was the fulfillment of Psalm 110, one of the most repeated prophetic statements applied to Messiah in all of the New Testament.

Psalm 110:1 – This is the declaration of Yahweh to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.”

Messiah had to reign at God’s right hand until his enemies, the unfaithful Jewish leaders and apostate Jews who had fallen from their own God-given belief system, were dealt with. This occurred at the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, when Jerusalem and the physical temple system was destroyed, never to be rebuilt. It was then, having achieved the victory over his enemies, that Yeshua handed the kingdom back over to the Father, as had been prophesied.

1 Corinthians 15:24-28 – Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he abolishes all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until he puts all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be abolished is death. For God has put everything under his feet. Now when it says “everything” is put under him, it is obvious that he who puts everything under him is the exception. When everything is subject to Christ, then the Son himself will also be subject to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.

Since his enemies have been destroyed, the kingdom has reverted to God the Father. As the passage above from Paul relates, the last enemy that was to be abolished was death. This was evidenced through the destruction of his enemies. This is the good news of the kingdom! Death has been abolished! For believers, there is no cessation of existence at physical death! This was the great message of faith in Messiah.

John 11:25-26 – Yeshua said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live. “Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this? “

The authority of God has been firmly established for all eternity by his Messiah accomplishing all that the Father sent him to do. God now rules and reigns over all nations, illustrated by the idealized city of Zion, the New Jerusalem, reigning over all the kings of the earth.

Revelation 21:10, 24, 26 – He then carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, … The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. … They will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.

This is the God whom we serve, the authority over all the earth, King of the earthly and spiritual kingdom once for all fused into eternal unity through his Messiah, Yeshua.

Revelation 22:17 – Both the Spirit and the bride say, “Come! ” Let anyone who hears, say, “Come! ” Let the one who is thirsty come. Let the one who desires take the water of life freely.


If you enjoy these daily articles, 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 at coreofthebible@gmail.com.