Keeping God’s commands from the heart

This is the stated goal that God has for all people everywhere.

1 Kings 8:61 – “Therefore let your heart be whole and complete to Yahweh our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.”

As Solomon was dedicating the newly built First Temple, he offered a long and detailed prayer to God that it would be a beacon to Israel and the rest of the world of God’s faithfulness. He prays for righteous judgment and forgiveness for Israel, for overcoming drought and famine, for victory over Israel’s enemies, and even for the foreigners who prayed God to also have their prayers answered.

As he concludes his oration by blessing the assembly before him, he issues the admonition quoted above, that they would remain whole-heartedly faithful to God by keeping his commandments.

1 Kings 8:57-58 – “Yahweh our God be with us, as he was with our ancestors; may he not leave us or abandon us, but incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his ordinances, which he commanded our ancestors.”

Key within Solomon’s admonitions to the assembly are two things: following God’s commands, and doing so with whole-hearts that are inclined toward God. This is also the hope and prediction of the prophets throughout the rest of Israel’s history:

Psalm 119:10-11 – I have sought you with all my heart; don’t let me wander from your commands. I have treasured your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you.

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.

Ezekiel 11:19-20 – “I will give them integrity of heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh, “so that they will follow my statutes, keep my ordinances, and practice them. They will be my people, and I will be their God.

The new covenant is all about keeping God’s commands from the heart. According to Yeshua, there are two commandments which are the summation of everything taught in the entire Law and Prophets, or the Tanakh, what we call the Old Testament.

Matthew 22:37-40 – “He said to him, ‘Love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.'”

If, as Solomon prayed, God’s people (even those who would have been considered foreigners to them) would simply keep God’s commands from the heart, they would be faithfully “walking in his ways.” This is the goal of all of the entirety of the Biblical narrative: that people walk in God’s ways sincerely and from the heart.

Micah 6:8 – Mankind, he has told each of you what is good and what it is Yahweh requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 – When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is the whole duty of humanity.

This is what integrity looks like: it is the fulfillment of all that Solomon prayed for, the promise that the prophets predicted, and the consummation of what Yeshua accomplished. Now it is up to us to go and live it out among our generation.


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 city in two places at once

The place where only God can truly be “all in all.”

A few months ago, I did a podcast episode (#44) on the topic of the kingdom of God being a present reality and a future certainty. In this article I am looking at some other terms that apply to the heavenly reality of godly existence: Mount Zion, the city of God, and the heavenly Jerusalem.

In the books of Hebrews and Revelation, the terms are used interchangeably. Here are passages from each next to another, underlining the key terms to show the comparison:

Hebrews 12:22 – “Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem)…”
Revelation 21:10 – “He then carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain [Zion] and showed me the holy city [city of God], Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven [heavenly Jerusalem] from God…”

Zion has been associated with Jerusalem all throughout the Bible. Yet, when that name is used for Jerusalem, or the mountain upon which it sits, it typically has a prophetic and symbolic meaning. Consider the following:

Psalm 2:6 – “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

This verse is almost universally accepted as being a Messianic verse applying to Yeshua.

Psalm 48:1-3 – “Great is Yahweh and greatly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King. Within her citadels God has made himself known as a fortress.”

This could be a psalm about the might of the earthly Jerusalem in the time it was written, but it does have overtones of a more expansive and symbolic location (in the far north).

Psalm 50:2 – “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.”

Again, this is a psalm speaking of the eternal judgment of God reaching beyond just the sacrificial system of physical Jerusalem (“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!,” v. 23).

And the most quoted prophecy in the NT (seven times in all) alluding to the rulership of Messiah over God’s kingdom:

Psalm 110:1-2 – “A Psalm of David. Yahweh says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” Yahweh sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies!”

To my way of thinking, the term Zion in the OT represents in foreshadow what begins coming to pass in reality during the ministry of Yeshua, and then comes to be an ongoing spiritual reality in the consummation of that age when the temple is ultimately destroyed once and for all.

Notice some of the “pre-consummation” instances how the city is still “in heaven.”

Hebrews 12:22 – “Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem)…”
Galatians 4:24-26 – “These things are being taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai and bears children into slavery ​– ​this is Hagar. Now Hagar represents Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.”

But then, when we arrive at the Revelation language, it appears the city is now shifted to the action of “coming down” out of heaven:

Revelation 3:12 – “The one who conquers I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never go out again. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God ​– ​the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God ​– ​and my new name.”
Revelation 21:2 – “I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.”

While I would not necessarily be dogmatic on the issue, I think it is a fascinating study of some of the terms and how they are used relating to the symbolic and representative focal point of all Creation. I believe this once again demonstrates a strong continuity between the prophecy of the past in the Tanakh (OT) and the prophetic writings demonstrating fulfillment during the NT times.

What I take away is that the city of God, Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, is a present reality (continually coming down) and also a future habitation of the just for all eternity. The city that lives in two realities at once is the ultimate place of God’s presence, reconciling all things to himself in one. It is in this place that God truly can be “all in all,” (1 Corinthians 15:28; Ephesians 1:23).


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.

Loving actions prove the sincerity of belief

Love must be proven, not just stated.

1 John 3:16-20 – “This is how we have come to know love: He laid down his life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has this world’s goods and sees a brother in need but withholds compassion from him ​– ​how does God’s love reside in him? Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in action and truth. This is how we will know that we belong to the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows all things.”

The apostle John has much to say when it comes to the love of God and the love of brethren for one another. Many believe this was due to John being within the “inner circle” of Yeshua’s disciples (Peter, James, and John). Others believe it is due to John’s insights into the Greek culture and being relatable to a wider audience than just the Jews of his day. While there could be many indications of John’s perspective on love, this famous portion of his first epistle carries a weighty and convicting central theme: “let us not love in word or speech, but in action and in truth.”

It is easy to love in word or speech, to say that we love someone and yet not meet their basic needs or provide any evidence to them that we do honestly care. James has a similar thought in mind when he writes the following:

James 2:15-16 – If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, stay warm, and be well fed,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it?

Peter also encourages his hearers to be actively using their gifts to serve others in love.

1 Peter 4:8-10 – Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God.

Those who put their love into action by serving others in sincerity are the ones who are really demonstrating their compassion to others. However, John also mentions that these compassionate actions must be based on the truth. On this aspect of John’s teaching, the Cambridge Bible Commentary says:

“[Let us not love in word or speech, but] in deed and in truth: Omit the second ‘in’: the preposition is not repeated in the Greek. Tyndale and the Rhemish Version have no second ‘in’.”

This original language construction then ties the word “truth” directly to “action.” The very action itself shows the truth of the intent of the heart. The Pulpit Commentary broadens this principle a little further.

“…to love with the tongue only … is to say kind things which one does not mean, and which one knows to be unreal. Deeds are needed to complete the kind word; truth is needed to correct the insincere tongue.”

Truth is always based on something concrete, some action or real evidence, not just something someone has said. It must be proven, not just stated. Until the action is completed, the intent behind it is not demonstrated to be sincere.

Paul also reinforces this idea when he encouraged the Roman congregation to exhibit ideals that are worthy of all believers.

Romans 12:9-10 – “Love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another with mutual love, showing eagerness in honoring one another.”

True love is not hypocritical or stated only; it is lived out and demonstrated to be true in the life of every believer. John concludes by saying, “This is how we will know that we belong to the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows all things.” We can know we belong to the truth when our actions line up with what we believe in our hearts. This is true compassion.


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.

Religious is not always better

The qualities in the heart are what matter.

1 Timothy 1:12-17 – “I give thanks to Messiah Yeshua our Lord who has strengthened me, because he considered me faithful, appointing me to the ministry ​– ​ even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an arrogant man. But I received mercy because I acted out of ignorance in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed, along with the faith and love that are in Messiah Yeshua.
This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Messiah Yeshua came into the world to save sinners” ​– ​and I am the worst of them. But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Messiah Yeshua might demonstrate his extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in him for eternal life.”

Most people assume that the apostle Paul here is recognizing that his former lifestyle as a persecutor of the early believers was a shameful episode of his life that he continued to be repentant of. This is not an incorrect conclusion. However, if we look a little more deeply at the characteristics he mentions that he had displayed, we may come to a slightly richer answer.

Paul did mention he persecuted the early believing congregations, and of course this would be a heinous act to one who has come to know the truth of Messiah. But he also mentions he was a blasphemer. How could that be, since he was the strictest of the Pharisees, according to his own admission?

Acts 26:4-5 – “All the Jews know my way of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own people and in Jerusalem. “They have known me for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived as a Pharisee.

Philippians 3:4-6 – …If anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised the eighth day; of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; regarding the law, a Pharisee; … regarding the righteousness that is in the law, blameless.

If he was blameless according to the law, how could he have been a blasphemer? Well, today we think of blasphemy as speaking against God, something we could imagine a Pharisee would never do. However, the original Greek word carried a slightly broader meaning of slander toward sacred things or individuals who were of high authority, not just God alone. Timothy was accused of “blaspheming” against Moses and God (Acts 6:11). Peter likewise derides those false prophets among them who were callously slandering authority of “those having glory” whom even angels dared not bring accusations against (2 Peter 2:10-11).

Paul also mentioned he was an “arrogant man.” The Greek word can mean an insulter, or a violent maltreater. It is the root of where we get the English word “hubris,” meaning pride, but in a violent and potentially physically harmful way. Paul knew that Yeshua taught against both blasphemy and evil-acting pride as being negative qualities coming from the heart.

Mark 7:21-23 – “For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, self-indulgence, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. “All these evil things come from within and defile a person.”

Paul knew that even though he was about as religious as he could be, his heart and his actions were still not right. When he came to know Messiah, he recognized that he was defiled because of these hateful and dangerous characteristics that were based in a divisive, arrogant theology mixed with traditions of men and superstitions. Everything he had worked for in his whole life: his status, his understanding of Israel in the world, his role as a teacher in the synagogues; everything had to be reevaluated and whatever was unnecessary needed to be ripped away in repentance and obedience to his Lord and Messiah.

Philippians 3:8-9 – I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Messiah Yeshua my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Messiah and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Messiah ​– ​the righteousness from God based on faith.

Did Paul receive mercy and forgiveness because he was such a good person? Of course not, none of us has! Paul says he was shown mercy “so that in me, the worst of [sinners], Messiah Yeshua might demonstrate his extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in him for eternal life.”

Isn’t that true for all of us who believe in Messiah? If we are being honest with ourselves, it is certainly not by anything we have done or gotten God’s attention for. We have been brought to faith in Messiah so that God can be shown to be the great and Merciful One who forgives even such as we were: faithless, ignorant and self-serving. And we are being changed, transformed into what he desires all people to be.

2 Corinthians 3:18 – We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.

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.

Transforming the religious and ignorant and unbelieving into his image who accomplishes his will on the earth: this is what the life of a believer is all about. We just need to keep in mind, as Paul reminds us, to recognize how utterly destitute and harmful we were before knowing God and the power of new life in Messiah, and that all of this is solely for God’s glory and God’s kingdom.


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.

Trust in God is the refuge of believers

We can stand firm on the proven foundation of biblical wisdom that has been handed down to us.

Psalm 31:2, 5, 6, 14, 19, 23-24 – Listen closely to me; rescue me quickly. Be a rock of refuge for me, a mountain fortress to save me.
5 Into your hand I entrust my spirit; you have redeemed me, Yahweh, God of truth.
6 You hate those who are devoted to worthless idols, but I trust in Yahweh.
14 But I trust in you, Yahweh; I say, “You are my God.”
19 Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge and trust in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!
23 Love Yahweh, all his faithful ones. Yahweh protects the loyal, but fully repays the arrogant. 24 Be strong, and let your heart be courageous, all you who put your hope in Yahweh.

Psalm 31 is a psalm attributed to King David. If anyone knew about God being a refuge for those who trust in him, it would have been David. Hunted and pursued by Saul and his men, David was quite literally seeking refuge from danger every day.

1 Samuel 23:8, 14 – And Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men. … And David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand.

Yet in this psalm, David, in his typical poetic fashion, likens the physical refuges he had found in the caves and strongholds in the wilderness to trusting in Yahweh. The trust, faith, and hope in Yahweh itself becomes a haven of protection against the designs of detractors.

In verse 19, David says there is abundant goodness stored up for those who trust God in the sight of others. Imagine what a blessing we can be to others as our solid trust and faith in Yahweh stands firm against the swirling doubts and shifting opinions of this generation in everything from social identity to political ideals. God’s people can stand firm on the proven foundation of biblical wisdom that has been handed down to us.

Psalm 119:97-100 – Oh how I love your Torah! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.

When we can learn to let go of the cyclical patterns of conjecture by consensus and fully place our hope and trust in Yahweh, we enter that refuge, that stronghold fortress which cannot be assailed by the shifting opinions of our culture. We will then be able to say with David: “Be strong, and let your heart be courageous, all you who put your hope in Yahweh.”


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.

A spiritual house with spiritual service to others

The legacy of believers today is one of hard and necessary work on behalf of others.

1 Peter 2:4-5 – As you come to him, a living stone ​– ​rejected by people but chosen and honored by God ​– ​ you yourselves, as living stones, a spiritual house, are being built to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Yeshua Messiah.

As we have seen in previous writings, Peter is writing to groups of early Jewish believers who had been scattered throughout the Roman empire. This was the result of their diaspora, their scattering, due to their ancestral idolatry and rejection of the Torah of God. God had removed the northern ten tribes from the land of Israel with the Assyrian invasion of 740 BC, and they were distributed and exiled throughout the known world at that time.

1 Peter 1:1 – Peter, an apostle of Yeshua Messiah: To those chosen, living as exiles dispersed abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…

Now, over 700 years later, Peter is writing to their descendants and sharing the good news that God is restoring his lost sheep of those tribes into one flock and one fold through faith in Messiah. Peter is using the imagery of the temple as a way of illustrating their restored relationship to the true faith as the remnant of God, a remnant once again called out from among the overall religious majority of what was at the time orthodox Judaism.

Amidst this temple imagery, Peter illustrates how it is not the physical temple that matters; he knew it was about to be destroyed because Messiah had prophesied it decades earlier. Instead, Peter relates how the remnant people chosen by God were in the process of becoming something else, a spiritual priesthood that would have the privilege of offering spiritual sacrifices to God.

Biblically, the priesthood did not exist for its own purpose; the priesthood was a selected tribe within the larger community of Israel as a nation that was to be the mediators, the go-betweens. They had been chosen and set apart by God for the purpose of serving the others by presenting the sacrifices and offerings on behalf of the rest of the nation to God. Peter is conveying that these remnant believers scattered among the nations were not believing just for themselves, but that their role was to be a spiritually set-apart group that would be the example to others who would come after them, those who would believe because of their faithfulness. In so doing, they would effectively become a spiritual priesthood, the go-betweens who would bridge the divide between the natural priesthood which was about to be destroyed and the spiritual reality of the new temple in the New Jerusalem, the spiritual temple of the ongoing kingdom of God. They had become the “living stones” within the temple that Yeshua had prophesied he would build.

Mark 14:58 – “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands, and in three days I will build another not made by hands.’ “

Are believers today the spiritual priesthood that Peter is writing to? No, we need to recognize that he was writing to a specific group of people at a specific point in time two thousand years ago. However, are there symbolic parallels between believers today and those of the scattered Israelite remnant who were being brought back into the fold? Indeed, believers today are a minority group of people called out from the masses of the overall population; we are to be examples of faithfulness to those among the rest of the community; and we are to be serving others with spiritual sacrifices on behalf of God. We are participants within the spiritual temple built by Yeshua who have the privilege of enjoying God’s presence.

We must always remember that we are standing on a legacy of faithful believers who have gone before us, but we are not here to enjoy the mercies of God for our own benefit. No, if we are to be true to our calling, we are here solely for the purpose of others. We must, like the early called-out remnant, perform our spiritual service to others with obedient and caring hearts, that others may also participate in the spiritual temple within the eternal kingdom of God: The New Jerusalem.


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.

Remaining in the Way

The heritage of believers is a thread winding its way from Genesis to Messiah and beyond.

Core of the Bible podcast #54 – Remaining in the Way

Today we will be looking at the topic of holiness, and how the path of holiness, or the Way of holiness, is an intentional and purposeful path to walk.

Isaiah 35:8 – And there will be a highway called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not travel it—only those who walk in the Way—and fools will not stray onto it.

In the time that these words were written, what was called a highway was what we would consider today a well-trodden trail. Even thought it was little more than a wilderness trail, it was a definitive path that left no doubt as to the right way to go. Being on this trail brought with it a sense of confidence: all one had to do was to follow the trail to reach their destination.

The path of holiness is here called the Way. When one is on this path, one is separated from the rest of humanity that is choosing to follow its own way or its own desires.

Even today Jews are well acquainted with this Way of holiness that Isaiah spoke of. To them it is known as the Derech Hashem, the Way of the Lord, or the Way of Yahweh. Of course, no Jew would pronounce the name of God, so they have substituted instead the word Hashem which means the Name. The Derech Hashem is such a powerful metaphor, that Jewish literature abounds with this concept.

In the early 1700’s, a well-known rabbi by the name of Moshe Chayim Luzzatto penned a compilation of ideas as a type of systematic theology known as the Way of God, or the Derech Hashem. This has become a classic book in Jewish literature, much like Pilgrim’s Progress might be to Christians today. The Derech Hashem covers the nature of God, the nature of man, prophecy, the purpose and role of man and how one should conduct themself as a faithful Jew. This book also goes into detail regarding many man-made Jewish traditions and superstitious practices, some originating from the studies of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism. However, it is nonetheless a compelling and vital insight into Jewish thought and tradition and how they came about.

Now reviewing this concept in the Bible, the Way is well-attested throughout, from the earliest beginnings in Genesis all the way through the NT writings. The Way of Yahweh is variously described as the way to the tree of life, the way of wisdom, the way of righteousness, and sometimes simply the Way.

Genesis 3:23-24 – So Yahweh God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove the man out and stationed the cherubim and the flaming, whirling sword east of the garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life.

Exodus 18:19-20 – “Now listen to me [Jethro speaking to Moses]; I will give you some advice, and God be with you. You be the one to represent the people before God and bring their cases to him. “Instruct them about the statutes and laws, and teach them in the way they must walk to live and what they must do.

Exodus 32:7-8 – Yahweh spoke to Moses: “Go down at once! For your people you brought up from the land of Egypt have acted corruptly. “They have quickly turned from the way I commanded them; they have made for themselves an image of a calf. They have bowed down to it, sacrificed to it, and said, ‘Israel, these are your gods, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.’ “

Deuteronomy 13:4-5 – “You must follow Yahweh your God and fear him. You must keep his commands and listen to him; you must worship him and remain faithful to him. “That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he has urged rebellion against Yahweh your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the place of slavery, to turn you from the way Yahweh your God has commanded you to walk. You must purge the evil from you.

Job 28:23 – But God understands the way to wisdom, and he knows its location.

Psalm 25:8-9 – Yahweh is good and upright; therefore he shows sinners the way. He leads the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

Proverbs 2:20 – So follow the way of the good, and keep to the paths of the righteous.

Isaiah 48:17 – This is what Yahweh, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says: I am Yahweh your God, who teaches you for your benefit, who leads you in the way you should go.

Isaiah 40:3 – A voice of one crying out: Prepare the way of Yahweh [derech Yahweh] in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert

This famous verse, of course, is where the charting of the way of God crosses over into the NT writings, and one which we will follow more closely in just a moment.


As we began to explore, the “voice of one crying in the wilderness” was John the baptizer’s own evaluation of himself and his ministry in the wilderness when he was questioned by the Jewish officials from Jerusalem.

John 1:22-23 – “Who are you, then? ” they asked. “We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What can you tell us about yourself? ” He [John] said, “I am a voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Make straight the way of Yahweh ​– ​just as Isaiah the prophet said.”

The ministry of John the baptizer had also been foretold by the prophet Malachi, one of the last prophets to speak to the Jews of second temple Judaism.

Malachi 3:1 – “See, I am going to send my messenger, and he will clear the way before me. Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to his temple, the Messenger of the covenant you delight in ​– ​see, he is coming,” says Yahweh of Armies.

The way was to be cleared, and this was John’s role: to warn and compel, to condemn and to provide deliverance to those who would be obedient to this Way. Therefore, Yeshua himself had also become to be identified with this Way that John had spoken of.

Matthew 22:15-16 – Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to trap him by what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are truthful and teach truthfully the way of God. You don’t care what anyone thinks nor do you show partiality.”

Even beyond the ministry of Yeshua and early in its growth among the Jewish believers of the first century, the believers in Messiah were identified with this growing sect of Judaism which became known as the Way. This was more likely conveyed as an ironic reference that was used of their detractors as a way of suggesting that these believers felt their way was the only true way to God. This could be similar to how we might use air quotes today around a phrase to mock someone’s pompous statement about themself. “Those believers of Yeshua who are part of ‘the Way’ think they have the true understanding of God’s Word.”

The true irony is that these believers actually were the continuation of the Way, the Derech Hashem, that had threaded itself all throughout the Scriptures, as we have seen. Their belief in the Messiah was the catalyst that caused the Remnant people of God to be separated for God’s purpose and ultimately spared from the judgment that was about to fall upon Jerusalem and the whole Judaic system of religious elitism and traditionalism.

That these early believers were called members of the Way is well documented throughout the book of Acts.

Acts 9:1-2 – Now Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. He went to the high priest and requested letters from him to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem.

Acts 18:24-25 – Now a Jew named Apollos, a native Alexandrian, an eloquent man who was competent in the use of the Scriptures, arrived in Ephesus. He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately about Yeshua, although he knew only John’s baptism.

Acts 19:9, 23 – But when some became hardened and would not believe, slandering the Way in front of the crowd, he withdrew from them, taking the disciples, and conducted discussions every day in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. … About that time there was a major disturbance about the Way.

Acts 24:14, 22 – “But I admit this to you: I worship the God of my ancestors according to the Way, which they call a sect, believing everything that is in accordance with the law and written in the prophets. … Since Felix was well informed about the Way, he adjourned the hearing, saying, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will decide your case.”

So it can be seen that these early believers were being identified with this concept of the Way. To be honest, and maybe this is just me, I think it is a more meaningful moniker than the name “Christian” would be, since it demonstrates the continuity of the faith that has come down to us through the millennia since God originally called Abraham.

One of the most compelling reasons that believers became associated with this Way is that Yeshua, in no uncertain terms, promoted himself (that is, his teaching and his life) as the only Way to God the Father.

John 14:3-6 – “If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also. “You know the way to where I am going.” “Lord,” Thomas said, “we don’t know where you’re going. How can we know the way? ” Yeshua told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

This exclusivity of the Way of the Messiah has been troubling to those from other faiths over the millennia, and is flat-out unnerving to the modern society where it is thought that “all paths lead to God.” Today it is sincerity to one’s own personal beliefs that is considered the only reasonable understanding of spirituality. However, this type of feral universalism is the very thing that the entire message of the Bible, not just this statement of Yeshua, rallies against.

Isaiah 45:5-6 – “I am Yahweh, and there is no other; there is no God but me. I will strengthen you, though you do not know me, “so that all may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is no one but me. I am Yahweh, and there is no other.

Nehemiah 9:6 – You, Yahweh, are the only God. You created the heavens, the highest heavens with all their stars, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them, and all the stars of heaven worship you.

1 Corinthians 8:5-6 – For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth ​– ​as there are many “gods” and many “lords” ​– ​ yet for us there is one God, the Father. All things are from him, and we exist for him. And there is one Lord, Yeshua Messiah. All things are through him, and we exist through him.

Ephesians 4:4-6 – There is one body and one Spirit ​– ​just as you were called to one hope at your calling ​– ​ one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

1 Timothy 2:5 – For there is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, the man Messiah Yeshua,

All throughout the Bible there is only one God, and all others are to be rejected. Therefore it makes perfect sense that there would be only one logical path that the Anointed One of that God, the Messiah, would direct us toward. Understanding this concept is one of the over-arching themes within the narrative of the Bible, and a reality that allows the kingdom of God to come alive within each generation since that time. Every believer in the Messiah is a demonstration that the kingdom of the one God is continuing to expand over time, with the goal that it will be fully realized among all the nations of the world.


Now that we have charted a brief history and context for the phrase “the Way” through the Old Testament, the ministries of John and Yeshua, and the early believers, let’s review the original verse in Isaiah that started us down this road once again to hopefully draw out some helpful conclusions for application.

Isaiah 35:8 – And there will be a highway called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not travel it—only those who walk in the Way—and fools will not stray onto it.

We have seen how historically this Way of Holiness has played out through faithful believers all through biblical history. But Isaiah focuses here on the holiness of this Way, the fact that it is set apart from all other ways that might also be out there.

The teaching of Messiah on the Narrow Way echoes this statement of Isaiah.

Matthew 7:13-14 – “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. “How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.

Once again, Yeshua defines the exclusivity of this Way, which points to its set-apartness from the routine paths and highways of the world. Those who travel this path are uniquely set apart for a specific purpose, the purpose of God in establishing his kingdom in this world.

Depending on which version of the Bible you may read, the last part of the verse in Isaiah 35:8 where it says “fools will not stray onto it” can be viewed in a couple of meaningful ways. In some versions, like the Berean Study Bible I have quoted here, it gives the impressions that the fool will not accidentally stray onto it. This would imply that the Way is intentional; one chooses to be on it and does not fall upon it by whim or chance. Psalm 25, as we have seen, states that one has to be shown, taught, or guided to the right Way, and does not stumble upon it on their own or by their own wisdom.

Psalm 25:8-9 – “Yahweh is good and upright; therefore he shows sinners the way. He leads the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”

This implies that being on the path is not something that we can take credit for ourselves, as if by our own volition, wisdom, and cunning we have somehow figured out the meaning of life.

There are also English versions of Isaiah 35:8 that provide a different shade of meaning to “fools will not stray onto it.” These renderings will say something along the lines of “even a fool will not stray from it.” This provides a different sense of meaning that the Way is so clearly defined that even if one is foolish they have the ability to remain on the path. This is also echoed in the teachings of Yeshua where he states that one can only enter the kingdom in the simplicity and humility of a child.

Matthew 18:3-4 – “Truly I tell you,” he said, “unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child ​– ​this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

If even a child can be shown the Way and be considered great within the kingdom, this carries the idea that once we are on that path, we have all the ability needed to remain faithfully traveling its length for the duration of our lives here on earth.

In either view, the Way is something that is distinct from where the rest of the world travels. As we have seen, this Way has a long and winding legacy through the faithful believers of the distant past, right down to our present day belief in the true God of the Bible through his Messiah, Yeshua. Being on this Way of holiness means that one is traveling within a way of life that is intentionally set apart for God’s purposes, and this Way can keep even our foolish inclinations in check.


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.

Communion with God

The deepest relationships are built over shared communication, not one-way conversations.

Psalm 5:1-3 – Listen to my words, Yahweh; consider my sighing. Pay attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for I pray to you. In the morning, Yahweh, you hear my voice; in the morning I plead my case to you and watch expectantly.

This psalm is attributed to David and is contextually a prayer for protection of the wickedness of his enemies. However, there is a common biblical principle embedded in the verses of this psalm that, if applied on a regular basis, can enhance our communication with God.

At the end of verse 3, David says, “in the morning I plead my case to you and watch expectantly.” This Hebrew word translated as expectantly is sometimes rendered as “look up, eagerly watch, look forward, or look out expectantly.” The definition of the word means, “to lean forward, i.e., to peer into the distance; by implication, to observe, await.” The idea is to present an earnest request to God and then to eagerly wait for an answer. It’s not as if one prays and then goes about their usual business, but instead after praying they remain or immediately go to a place where they intently wait for a response from God, not doing any other activities until they have heard from him.

In the time of the prophet Habakkuk, God was raising up the Chaldeans against unfaithful Israel, and Habakkuk would pray to God and then God would answer him in a reciprocal fashion; this became the text of the prophecy and the outline of the book. However, this same Hebrew word is used again as Habakkuk delivers his plea to Yahweh, and then describes his time of waiting for an answer:

Habakkuk 2:1 – I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.

Habakkuk committed himself to “look out” to see how God would respond, and to formulate his next response. It is my belief that this type of back-and-forth communication is something that God desires to have with all of his children. Yet we typically become so distracted with the things of this life that, after presenting a request or question to God, we run off and go about our business hoping to somehow receive some sort of subconscious sign or indication of God’s response to us. In that self-induced busy-ness, I think we sometimes miss what he actually does respond to us, and we assume that his “silence” on a matter is an indication that he has left us to our own devices.

We need to slow down and savor our relationship with our Creator. We don’t build real relationships with other people over text or messaging or “tweeting.” For those who are important to us in this life, we carve out time in our days and evenings to spend time with them, sharing activities and long conversations with them. The back-and-forth discussions provide insights into each other’s thoughts and emotions that actually bind us to each other.

If we truly want to have a relationship with God, we must do the same. We need to provide some room in our days and nights to spend quality time alone with him, bringing him our concerns, praying over difficult scripture passages, seeking answers to to life challenges we face with open hearts and open Bibles in our laps. And then we need to do the most important thing: we need to listen, expectantly waiting to hear what direction or insight, comfort or correction he may have for us.

This is how close friends and family members communicate effectively. This is what it means to be a child of God in communion with him.

Micah 7:7 AMP – But as for me, I will look expectantly for Yahweh and with confidence in Him I will keep watch; I will wait [with confident expectation] for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.


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.

Living out a legacy of integrity

The best hope for faithful future generations is the faithfulness of those living today.

Proverbs 20:7 “The righteous walk in integrity—blessed are the children after them!”

It is a wonderful thought to consider that a life of integrity can result in the happiness and blessedness of one’s children after them. Whether parents are sensitive to this principle or not, they have the responsibility to provide and care for their children. Most parents will demonstrate this through the physical provision for their children like the food they eat and clothes they wear, making sure they have a safe place to live and grow up, hopefully into productive adults.

However, parents also have a responsibility to be examples of integrity before their children; they must walk in their integrity, not just preach it. The Hebrew word for walk can mean to go or come, to travel or traverse, but it also means a manner of life or how one lives out their life.

Proverbs 14:26 “In the fear of Yahweh one has strong confidence, and one’s children will have a refuge.”
Psalm 112:1-2 – Praise Yah! Happy is the person who fears Yahweh, taking great delight in his commands. His descendants will be powerful in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.

Parents need to provide the opportunity not only for a physical refuge for their children, but a spiritual one. By demonstrating their faith in their everyday dealings, the children can tangibly understand what it means to truly fear Yahweh and to place one’s trust in him.

Now, these admonitions to live a life of integrity are not guarantees that one’s children will follow in the faithful footsteps of their parents. Unfortunately, there are many examples of great heroes of the faith whose children took a different, and sometimes opposite path.

Samuel was a great prophet of God, but his sons were wicked deceivers.

1 Samuel 8:1-3 – “When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges over Israel. His firstborn son’s name was Joel and his second was Abijah. They were judges in Beer-sheba. However, his sons did not walk in his ways ​– ​they turned toward dishonest profit, took bribes, and perverted justice.”

David is considered a man after God’s own heart, and yet his sons did not all follow in his righteous ways. Absalom attempted a popular coup to usurp David, his own father, as king.

2 Samuel 15:6, 10 – “So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. … Then Absalom sent agents throughout the tribes of Israel with this message: “When you hear the sound of the ram’s horn, you are to say, ‘Absalom has become king in Hebron! ‘ “

Jotham was a faithful king and did what was right, but his son Ahaz was so wicked as to even sacrifice his own son.

2 Kings 15:32, 34, 38; 16:2-3 – “In the second year of Israel’s King Pekah son of Remaliah, Jotham son of Uzziah became king of Judah. … He did what was right in Yahweh’s sight just as his father Uzziah had done. … Jotham rested with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of his ancestor David. His son Ahaz became king in his place. Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. He did not do what was right in the sight of Yahweh his God like his ancestor David but walked in the ways of the kings of Israel. He even sacrificed his son in the fire, imitating the detestable practices of the nations Yahweh had dispossessed before the Israelites.”

As disheartening as these examples may be, they stand to remind us that there are no guarantees that children will be faithful to the same spiritual standards that are laid out for them by their parents. However, that does not relieve parents of their obligation to live righteously and uphold those spiritual standards for their children.

Colossians 3:21 – “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they won’t become discouraged.”
Ephesians 6:4 – “Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Just as parents want to provide their children the best odds at being successful and productive in life, we must also provide them the best odds at becoming faithful and active within God’s kingdom. This can only be done when we also walk and live faithfully and actively with God in our exemplary lives before them.


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 eternal hegemony of the kingdom of God

Political world domination takes a back seat to the real Authority over the world.

Hegemony is not a word that is often used today, and if it is, it is typically conveyed with a negative connotation. The Oxford Dictionary describes hegemony as: “leadership or dominance, especially by one country or social group over others.” The Merriam-Webster definition is similar: “the social, cultural, ideological, or economic influence exerted by a dominant group.”

The Merriam-Webster definition provides some added background of the word:

“Hegemony was first used in English in the mid-16th century in reference to the control once wielded by the ancient Greek states, and it was reapplied in later centuries as other nations subsequently rose to power. By the 19th century, it had acquired a second sense referring to the social or cultural influence wielded by a dominant member over others of its kind, such as the domination within an industry by a business conglomerate over smaller businesses.”

Synonyms include words like: leadership, dominance, dominion, supremacy, ascendancy, predominance, primacy, authority, mastery, control, power, sway, rule, sovereignty.

Now, in the sense of geopolitical strategies and governmental power over regions of the world, historically there have always been dominant civilizations. The Bible mentions ancient world-stage players such as Babylon, Assyria, Greece, Rome. More modern examples might include the 18-19th century British Empire, or the Nazi expansionism in the early 20th century which sparked the last World War.

Yet, viewed from the lofty perch of our current perspective in time looking back over the millennia, one constant theme emerges: they all pass away. This does not imply that they were or are without significance, but history has shown how one civilization or empire is always succeeded by another.

As believers in the God of the Bible, whether we recognize the specificity of the term or not, we are believers of an eternal hegemony: the kingdom of God. This is easily demonstrated by the terms used to describe his kingdom. In Hebrew, the term for his kingdom is the mamlakah, meaning kingdom, sovereignty, dominion, reign. In Greek the word is basileia, meaning kingdom, sovereignty, royal power.

We read about this eternal dominion of God in our Bibles, and even sing about it in our hymns and psalms. Here is just a small representative sampling:

Psalm 33:8 – Let all the earth fear Yahweh; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
Psalm 47:2, 7 – For Yahweh, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth. … For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!
Psalm 57:11 – Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!

Psalm 83 even goes so far as to urge the overthrow of the surrounding nations to Israel in defence of God’s own glory and protection of his people.

Psalm 83:1-2, 17-18 – O God, do not keep silence; do not hold your peace or be still, O God! For behold, your enemies make an uproar; those who hate you have raised their heads. … Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever; let them perish in disgrace, that they may know that you alone, whose name is Yahweh, are the Most High over all the earth.

This is the kingdom that Yeshua ushered in to the reality of this world two thousand years ago.

Matthew 4:17 – From that time Yeshua began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Matthew 24:14 – And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

The world’s most famous prayer, the Lord’s prayer, even contains the revolutionary concept of God’s kingdom coming to earth with His will, not the will of the nations, being accomplished in its fulfillment.

Matthew 6:10 – Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

But this is not a kingdom we fight flesh and blood to establish. Our warfare is not defined by the weapons of this world, but it is just as difficult a struggle, if not more so, than the occupation of a foreign army in a land not their own. Paul conveyed some of the struggles the apostles fought in their establishment of various congregations, and revealed their weapons were not those of hardened steel, but of righteous actions and overpowering wisdom of God.

2 Corinthians 6:4, 7 – but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, … by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left…

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 – For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Messiah…

Yeshua himself conveyed how the kingdom of God was not something that would be fought for on the battlefields of this earth, but it was a real and enduring kingdom nonetheless.

John 18:36 – Yeshua answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

While the kingdom may not be physically originating from this world, it is no less encompassing than any world-dominating empire of the past. However, this kingdom will not pass away like the civilizations of the past. The prophet Yeshua said it was like the mustard seed that would grow “larger than all the other garden plants.”

Matthew 13:31-32 – “He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

Daniel was so bold to pronounce that this kingdom would grow to fill the earth and not only last forever but put to rest all other kingdoms of this world; that is the very definition of hegemony.

Daniel 2:44 – “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever…”

Hegemony may have a negative connotation today, but remember that we serve a world-dominating King and look forward with anticipation to his dominion and rule over the hearts of men of all nations, where swords are beat into plowshares, and his peace reigns supreme over all.


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.