Integrity and Righteousness

Core of the Bible Podcast Episode 3

Integrity is more than just doing the right thing when no one is around – it’s about doing the right thing from the heart in all situations. Uriah the Hittite exemplifies this aspect of integrity.

Episode Notes

“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses [that] of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:20

This principle is summed up by its paraphrase: “Demonstrate virtue and purity that exceeds those who are merely following external commands.”

A life of integrity is one that is not driven solely by a list of do’s and don’ts. Right actions should spring from a willing heart, not from a grudging sense of obligation. It’s not just a matter of doing the right thing, but doing the right thing for the right reasons, with the right attitude.

The example of Uriah the Hittite – 2 Samuel 11

Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house, and wash your feet.” And Uriah went out of the king’s house, and a present from the king was sent out after him. But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. Now when they told David, saying, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?” Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in temporary shelters, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? By your life and the life of your soul, I will not do this thing.”

Once the heart is sincere and motives are pure, actions of true integrity will follow.

The Eternal Torah of the Kingdom

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others [to do] the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches [them,] he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:17-19

Do not relax even the smallest standards of Torah for yourself and others; do it and teach it. 

Torah is the Hebrew word for instruction. The kingdom of God is directly connected to his instruction, and his instruction is directly connected to his kingdom. If the kingdom began in the days of Yeshua and is a kingdom that would never end, then it makes sense that the instruction of God is also eternal and will not pass away unless it is fulfilled in every individual.

Many are of the opinion that Torah has passed away with the death of Messiah. To the contrary, his death was exactly what Torah predicted would happen. Like a seed planted in the ground, the Torah principles taught by Yeshua are continuing to grow into a mighty tree of life as they are practiced by those who follow him.

Clearly, Torah has not been fully accomplished, as we still have murder, adultery, and any other number of commandments from God’s instruction which remain unfulfilled in the lives of people today.

Since God has provided instruction for mankind in his word, we should be faithful in keeping it (i.e., obeying it) and sharing it with others who will listen. Only as it is fulfilled in our lives will it bear fruit for the continued growth of God’s kingdom.

Personal and Private Kindness

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees [what is done] in secret will reward you.”

Matthew 6:1-4

Be privately and sincerely compassionate toward those in need.

Helping others who are unable to help themselves should be a cornerstone of the practices of all believers. However, those who give or help others merely for outward recognition demonstrate the hypocrisy and pride hidden in their heart.

Yeshua relates that there is a lasting spiritual power in the sincere acts of compassion that are done for the benefits of others with no outward recognition. These are the actions that God “sees,” that are accounted as vital human interactions with real, eternal worth.

Compassion is not a business transaction where we may assist another with the hope of some sort of gain for ourselves or our organization. Real compassion is demonstrated when there is no chance of benefit to oneself. A true act of kindness rests within the act itself, solely for the benefit of another.

The Humility of Reconciliation

“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.”

Matthew 5:23-26

Reconciliation with all others must take place prior to worshiping God or seeking his forgiveness. This includes adversaries and anyone you know to be holding something against you.

God desires that we approach him without hypocrisy. The relationships we have are mirrors of our heart actions towards others. God is always looking for our hearts to be pure and consistent in all ways with everyone; this includes those who would maintain an adversarial position towards us.

God values reconciliation over proving our personal “rightness” in any situation. Forgiveness requires humility.

Trust and Action

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

Matthew 6:19-21

Do not amass earthly wealth which is constantly subject to loss. Instead, amass heavenly wealth, for it will always be perfectly safe. Which type of wealth you are pursuing reveals your true heart motivation.

Our beliefs and our actions are tied together; one reveals the other. We believe what we do, and we do what we believe. To do one thing while claiming to believe something else, something perhaps nobler, is an inconsistent position.

Intent is not the same as belief; intent is simply an abstract concept and cannot be demonstrated until an action reveals its presence. If a contrary action is demonstrated, then the true belief is revealed; the ideal in which we place our trust will be evident. If our intent and beliefs are aligned, then our actions will harmonize with our beliefs and we will be consistent.

We are urged to pursue heavenly ideals. What do your actions reveal about where your trust lies?

Intimacy with God

“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites [do,] for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees [what is done] in secret will reward you.”

Matthew 6:16-18

When you fast, take measures to be certain it is not obvious to others.

Our private works of humility and worship in the service of, and communion with, the one true God should remain private. If we are sincere in preparing our hearts and bodies to be receptive to the leading of God, we must maintain that intimacy.

When our inner convictions become just an outward show, we have denied ourselves and create a mockery of God. Self-adulation and false humility demonstrate a shallow understanding of our spiritual condition for the simple purpose of bettering ourselves in the eyes of others.

Denying body and soul is a personal discipline that is meant to take our eyes off of ourselves and our own needs. Making a display of it contradicts everything it is intended to accomplish.

However, maintaining a vital and dynamic intimacy with God through our heart understanding working in concert with our actions provides great personal reward. This is an unseen way in which we are strengthened to visibly serve others effectively in his name.

The Constant Pursuit

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

Matthew 7:7-8

Always keep asking, knocking, and seeking in order to receive, have doors opened to you, and to find what you’re searching for.

Vigilance can be defined as concentrated focus over long periods of time during which one is searching for any indication of a target objective. It is in this sense that Yeshua is explaining how continued and prolonged effort is required in pursuing the things of God. Many will pray and then do nothing more; true believers are expected to keep praying, to keep searching, and to keep interacting with others in hopeful anticipation of sensing God’s direction and purpose.

It is this process of constant pursuit that branches into new possibilities. These can then open up into unforeseen (by us) directions of God’s will, thereby achieving his purpose. Remaining static and hoping that God’s will drops into our lap is not the biblical way. It is only as we remain consistently searching and moving that we can then be drawn and directed into the areas of growth that God has for us according to his will.

Right Actions Sustain Life

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

Matthew 5:6

Crave equity; thirst for doing the right thing, and you will be blessed as you are satisfied. A craving is something that cannot be ignored, it must be pursued until it is satiated.

Hunger and thirst are the body’s urgent indicators that nutrition and fluids necessary and vital for life need to be ingested as soon as possible. In like fashion, a believer cannot deny the indicators of holy injustice and inequity which can only be satisfied with right actions. Just like the correct food and drink allow us to live healthy lives, believers thrive on righteousness.

The Kingdom

Episode 2 – The Kingdom

From the beginning of all things, God designed mankind in his own image for the purpose of providing representative rulership for him on the earth. According to Yeshua, this was so that God’s will would be accomplished within his physical Creation, to mirror what is always accomplished in the ideal of God’s reign in his spiritual realm.

Matthew 6:9-10 “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

What is the kingdom of God?

God’s reign is revealed to us as the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven, which are synonymous terms. The root of the word kingdom as used in the Bible literally means the realm in which a king sovereignly rules. In its simplest definition, the kingdom of God is present anywhere God reigns supreme. 

God, as the Creator of all, has the inherent right to instruct people as to what is good and right, and he has done so through his Word (or torah/instruction), what we now call the Bible. Because he has created all things and given life to all, he deserves our honor, respect, and allegiance.
The kingdom is present anywhere and anytime that people acknowledge God and his instruction as sovereign; when he is honored, respected, worshiped, and obeyed in spirit and in truth.

The Rule of God expressed in Creation

To teach all of mankind the principles of God’s reign, the kingdom of God on earth was first foreshadowed by Adam and Eve in the Garden, then the nation of Israel at Sinai, and ultimately the reigns of David and Solomon. 

Adamic – Natural kingdom (rulership)

Genesis 1:26-28- Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Psalm 8:4-8 What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.

Man has been designed by God from the beginning to be an overseer of all that God has created. For us to do that effectively, we must be faithful to the Creator and the principles he has provided for us to operate by: his torah/instruction.

Mosaic – National kingdom

Exodus 19:3-6 Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and [how] I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” 

At the foot of Mt. Sinai, God was preparing another example: the people of God would collectively be set apart from all others, and God would be their king. By naming them as priests, he was illustrating the responsibilities of man beyond just the created natural order into the moral/spiritual realm as well. God was beginning to bridge the two realms of his kingdom/rulership into one.

However, he also foresaw that Israel would want a physical king, and they would ultimately fall away from his sole rulership. Even this was by his design, though, since he always intended for a representative individual to be at the head of his people.

1 Samuel 8:6-7, 22 But the thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the LORD. The LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them. … The LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to their voice and appoint them a king.”

Davidic – the Ideal Kingdom

1 Chronicles 17:23-24, 27 “Now, O LORD, let the word that You have spoken concerning Your servant [David] and concerning his house be established forever, and do as You have spoken. “Let Your name be established and magnified forever, saying, ‘The LORD of hosts is the God of Israel, [even] a God to Israel; and the house of David Your servant is established before You.’ … “And now it has pleased You to bless the house of Your servant, that it may continue forever before You; for You, O LORD, have blessed, and it is blessed forever.”

The physical kingdom of Israel reached its pinnacle with the reign of David and his son, Solomon. David was so faithful to God that he became a type and foreshadowing of a more expansive, universal kingdom that would once again allow God to reign through a leader that he himself would appoint.

All of these representations, from Adam to Moses to David, collectively set principles in place that would instruct mankind about this eternal kingdom of God which was to be fulfilled on the earth in the days of his anointed one, Yeshua. 

Prophecy – A Messianic Kingdom

From David on, prophets of Israel began to point towards a new type of kingdom that would surpass any one national representation to a universal reign over the earth. 

Isaiah 9:6-7 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of [His] government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.

Daniel 2:44 “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and [that] kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.

Daniel 7:13-14, 27 “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. “And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and [men of every] language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed. … ‘Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of [all] the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom [will be] an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.’

This universal reign expressed by the prophets was to be fulfilled within God’s timing, with a man of God’s own choosing, one appointed by God. He would faithfully carry out God’s directives and be rewarded with lordship over the kingdom, bridging the divide between this temporal, physical reality and the eternal spiritual reality.

Messianic – The spiritual kingdom

The coming of the kingdom with Yeshua was the fulfillment of the pattern and prophecies that had been established for hundreds of years.
Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Mark 4:11 And He was saying to them, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables…

Luke 16:16 “The Law and the Prophets [were proclaimed] until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.

Acts 1:3 To these He [Yeshua] also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over [a period of] forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.
Yeshua taught that the kingdom was not a political or religious rulership, but a dynamic that was already present in his day and being manifested for everyone to see. This demonstrates the spiritual and moral aspects of the kingdom.

Luke 17:20-21 Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He [Yeshua] answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here [it is!]’ or, ‘There [it is!]’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

John 3:3, 5 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” … Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

The kingdom, not the church

Today, many believers equate the “church” with the kingdom. However, it must be remembered that Yeshua was sent to bring the good news (gospel) of the kingdom, not the good news of the church. He did not come to start a new religion, but to fulfill the promises of God to his people. 
Yeshua was sent by God to manifest the kingdom (reign) of God in this physical Creation, starting with the foundational teachings that had been long established since Adam and Eve. However, his teachings were not based solely on a list of things to do and not to do, but on an attitude of genuinely respecting God’s authority in every area of life. 

Yeshua taught that right-living is attained through honoring God and his torah (instruction). That’s it. No organizations, no infrastructures, no strategies for growth; just doing what’s right at all times. 

Matthew 6:31-34 “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

This is kingdom living. It is not limited to a certain building or geographical area or time of day or day of the week. It is fluid, organic, and self-replicating through selfless actions of believers seeking the manifestation of the kingdom and the direction of the spirit of God through his Word.

Because this is not a natural concept for most people, God demonstrated kingdom principles through his ekklesia (what we call the church),so people could see what this set apart type of life in this world could look like. But the goal was not to set a pattern of duplicating copies of the temporary ekklesia, but to model the positive actions and attributes of the ekklesia. Just like Israel in the wilderness, the ekklesia represented in the Bible provides object lessons and examples for right-living; it was the kingdom of God expressed among the nations of the earth.

Through the efforts and network of the ekklesia, the disciples also carried this message of the kingdom to the scattered Israelites among the nations, where many different people, Jews and non-Jews alike, were encouraged by the gospel of the kingdom and became believers:

Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.

Acts 28:23, 31 When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. … preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.

Paul also spoke of the spiritual nature of the kingdom, as it was not something to be governed with traditions of men.

Romans 14:17-18 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking [worldly rules and regulations], but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this [way] serves Messiah is acceptable to God and approved by men.

Other than the Messiah (and his post-resurrection first-century body of believers), there has not been, is not now, and will not be any one physical representation of the kingdom on earth. The kingdom is propagated solely by the spirit of God, through his word, working his will in the hearts and minds of people as they submit to its authority in their lives. It does not (and cannot) reside in any one physical building, location, or institution.

The kingdom which cannot be shaken

In Hebrews 12, the writer spends a good deal of time contrasting the New Jerusalem, symbolic of the kingdom, with the fleshly kingdom of Israel which was founded at Sinai. Using imagery taken from Moses and the prophet Haggai, he outlines this contrast.

Hebrews 12:25-26: “Watch out that you do not refuse the one who is speaking! For if those did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth [that is, Israel and Moses], much less will we escape, if we reject the one who warns from heaven, whose voice shook the earth at that time, but now he has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also heaven.””

Haggai 2:6-7,9: “For thus says Yahweh of hosts: ‘Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and dry land. I will shake all the nations so that the treasure of all the nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says Yahweh of hosts. … ‘The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,’ says Yahweh of hosts, ‘and in this place I will give peace’ declares Yahweh of hosts.’””

Hebrews 12:27-28: “Now the phrase “yet once more ” indicates the removal of what is shaken, namely, things that have been created, in order that the things that are not shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us be thankful, through which let us serve God acceptably, with awe and reverence.”

The fleshly kingdom of Israel was of this creation and therefore susceptible to shaking and removal. However, the kingdom of God is unshakable because it is not of this world.

John 18:36: “Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews. But now my kingdom is not from here.””

Application for today

To rule on the earth is to be “image-bearers” of God and act in ways that honor him and his Creation, as he originally intended. Ruling/reigning on this earth does not necessarily mean to rise to political sovereignty or power, but it does mean to “exercise dominion” by intentionally applying God’s righteous standards in all we do and say. In this way, God’s kingdom standards are expressed and fill the earth at all levels of society. 

The kingdom therefore exists as an independent reality within itself, but it is expressed here in this Creation when and where God’s will is accomplished by those who love and serve him. The life that is set apart is a life of right-action, not just words, creeds, or traditions, and is based on the whole of God’s torah/instruction.

While everything in the spiritual realm (the heavenly host) is submitted to him, not everyone in this physical realm recognizes him as the Creator, and therefore his kingdom authority (in practice among humans) is limited by those who either do not know him or who choose not to obey him. 

However, as individuals submit to his rightful authority in their lives, he then rules over them; hence, his kingdom becomes expressed in this physical realm through the hearts and actions of those who are faithful to him. 
This is the goal (and prophetic declaration) of the entire biblical narrative: for people to honor God as the Creator of all, and righteously represent his standards while propagating humanity in all lands. This is, and will be, the completion and fulfillment of all that was stated from the Garden of Eden through the prophesied New Jerusalem of Revelation. 

As God’s standards become more and more prominent with successive generations, then God’s kingdom is increased until it fills the earth. As humans continue to align with God’s sovereign rule over all things, then all things become harmonized with his will, and as Yeshua taught us to pray, his kingdom comes “on earth as it is in heaven.”

Brittle Rille by Kevin MacLeodLink:

The King Will Provide

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

Matthew 6:25

Do not be anxious about your necessary subsistence like food, drink and clothing. Isn’t your life about more than these? Unnecessary anxiety over the essentials of life can consume us and cause us to lose our eternal perspective.

Life is about more than these things. If we are truly trusting in God, we can know that he will supply these basics of life through whatever means he chooses. They may not be in the brand or style that we would choose for ourselves, but knowing that they can and will be provided can free us up to focus on the more significant aspects of this life.

Yeshua taught us that true life is knowing and trusting God, and also trusting in his own life and teachings. Trusting God liberates us from micro-managing. Trusting God allows God to be God, and for Yeshua to reign as Lord in our lives.

When we truly trust God, we demonstrate that we are not subject to the typical anxieties of this life. We are living out the values of his kingdom, knowing the King provides for his subjects.