The way of holiness is narrow

The path less traveled holds the greatest reward.

The path less traveled holds the greatest reward.

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.”

In reviewing the overarching themes of Yeshua’s Sermon on the Mount, many of the concepts overlap with one another and can be classified under several headings. This passage about the broad way and the narrow gate is one of those concepts.

I have typically placed this passage under the heading of vigilance, as one of the most outstanding features of this illustration is how difficult the entrance to the narrow gate is, and how persistent one must be to enter in that way. However, it is not only difficult, but narrow. This narrowness suggests a setting apart, a holiness, of those who seek to follow this way.

The Greek word used for narrow is only used in this one illustration of the way of life being a narrow door or gate. The secondary passage is a similar illustration Yeshua uses in the gospel of Luke.

Luke 13:23-25 – “Lord,” someone asked him, “are only a few people going to be saved? ” He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because I tell you, many will try to enter and won’t be able once the homeowner gets up and shuts the door. Then you will stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up for us!’ He will answer you, ‘I don’t know you or where you’re from.’

Again, Yeshua relates to his hearers how the way is not only difficult (by saying it would be necessary to make every effort), but that it would also be a narrow door. To my way of thinking, this confirms that the way of holiness or being set apart will be evident only in those few (contrasted with the many) who would persist in seeking the things of God, i.e., the narrow way.

What interests me about connecting these two passages in this way with this similar illustration is that the Luke passage is contextually about Yeshua warning that generation that the time (in his day) was short. When judgment was to fall (in the destruction of Jerusalem forty years hence), the door to being rescued from that judgment would be shut. Those of that generation who had rejected the message and teaching of Messiah, seeing that, when it came to pass, Yeshua’s prediction was correct, would suffer the ruin and loss of all that they had believed in. Most of them would lose their lives in the destruction of the city.

In the Mark passage, Yeshua says the broad way that most would travel leads to destruction, meaning ruin or loss. Connecting these two passages in this way highlights the meaning of those who would follow the narrow way would be the holy or set apart remnant, those of Israel who did recognize Yeshua as the Messiah and who diligently and faithfully strove to enter at the narrow gate.

The good news is that this teaching still rings true in the more universal fashion in which it is typically viewed: that most people in the world continue on a wide path to ruin and loss due to their own oblivious lifestyles, while those who are diligently seeking out the things of God end up setting themselves apart by maintaining their focus and journey on the narrow path of holiness and faithfulness to God. This is who we are today, those of us who continue to place our faith in the Messiah. Through our vigilant and persistent following of him, through the narrow gate of Messiah, we have access to the place of safety and fellowship with God.


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 consistent attitude and actions of those who fear God

Believers must be vigilant in both restraining evil actions and promoting the good.

Believers must be vigilant in both restraining evil actions and promoting the good.

Psalm 34:11-14 – Come, children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of Yahweh. Who is someone who desires life, loving a long life to enjoy what is good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceitful speech. Turn away from evil and do what is good; seek peace and pursue it.

The message of the Bible is not as difficult as many people believe it to be. Every now and then, a passage speaks in a simple and direct way about what God expects of his people. Here are some examples:

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

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.

Matthew 22:36-40 – “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest? ” He said to him, “Love the Lord 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.”

The passage we are looking at today in the thirty-fourth psalm is another example of this simplicity containing the same type of summarizing qualities. The psalmist, presumably David, speaks of what it means to fear Yahweh. The fear of Yahweh, he says, is pursued by someone who desires life, and many days (long life) of goodness. The life that is provided by the fear of Yahweh is more than just existence, but longevity of happiness, spiritual blessedness and the ability to enjoy it.

This fear of Yahweh is demonstrated in specific ways. On the one hand, it is achieved by diligently guarding one’s speech from deceit and also turning aside from doing evil. This requires the vigilance of a guard in a watchtower, ensuring that no deceptive or misleading comments are put forth with the intent of misguiding others. It also requires an intentional turning away from anything that is bad, vicious, unkind, harmful, or displeasing to God.

On the other hand, it is achieved by also doing or making that which is good, pleasing to God, valuable in estimation, fruitful, advantageous, excellent. All of these qualities are rolled up into the concept of doing good.

  • Galatians 6:9 – Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:13 – But as for you, brothers and sisters, do not grow weary in doing good.
  • 1 Peter 2:15 – For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good.

Finally, the fear of Yahweh is demonstrated by seeking and pursuing peace. To seek it is to seek with the intent to find, chasing after every opportunity to implement peaceful interactions with others.

  • Romans 8:6 – Now the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace.
  • Romans 12:18 – If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
  • Romans 14:19 – So then, let us pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another.

These, then, are the attitudes and actions required of those who would seek to demonstrate a true fear of Yahweh as children of God. They will be diligent in honoring him in all of their ways through the ongoing rejection of evil and the never-ending pursuit of goodness and peace.


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 Kingdom as a way of life

Entering the Kingdom is not just something that happens to believers at the end of their life.

Entering the Kingdom is not just something that happens to believers at the end of their life.

Deuteronomy 28:6 – “You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

In speaking of those who would be faithful to the Torah, or instruction, of God, Moses wrote that they would be blessed upon “coming in and going out.” This is a Hebraic phrase that indicates the whole of how one lives their life. In Thayer’s lexicon, it is described as, “usually denot[ing] one’s whole mode of living and acting, … [it] is used of familiar contact with one.”

This same idea was expressed by the Philistine king Achish, when David was hiding from Saul by living among them.

1 Samuel 29:6 – “So Achish summoned David and told him, ‘As Yahweh lives, you are an honorable man. It was good in my eyes to have you going out and coming in in this unit with me, because I have found no fault in you from the day you came to me until today…'”

The military unit that David was involved with would go out on “sortie” missions and raids, and each day they would “go out” to raid villages, and then “come in” at the end of the day back to their main camp. This type of language implied that this was their routine, how they conducted themselves on a regular basis.

Yeshua used this similar type of expression when he spoke about the goal of the believer’s life.

John 10:9 – “I am the gate. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture.

This going in and out doesn’t mean that one goes in to receive salvation or protection and then leaves that place of security. It speaks of anyone coming under the protection of the Good Shepherd must do so through the one gate, through the guidance and commitment to Yeshua as the controlling authority of one’s life. Then one can go about living, i.e., coming in and going out, under the protection of the Good Shepherd.

That entering the Kingdom is represented as a reality of this life, and not just reserved for some eternal existence beyond this reality, Yeshua speaks about the qualifier of those who would participate in the blessings of that existence.

Matthew 7:21 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

Here, at the culmination of the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua teaches that the one who is entering the kingdom of heaven is the one who actually does the will of the Father, not just those claiming to be disciples of the Messiah. Doing God’s will is something that must be evidenced in this life, and demonstrates who the true believers are. Yeshua had just spent the previous chapters explaining to his disciples what doing God’s will looks like, which is why the Sermon on the Mount has become such a pivotal teaching of Messiah.

Entering the Kingdom, therefore, is not just something that happens to someone upon their physical death; it is a way of life, a mode of living on this earth here and now that is centered around the good news of the Kingdom of God. By faithfully seeking how to apply the teachings of Messiah in our everyday “going out and coming in,” we demonstrate that we are seeking first the Kingdom and that we have come under the protection and security of the Good Shepherd.


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.

Consistent compassion based on love for God

The heart of the Bible lies in the simplicity of its core message.

The heart of the Bible lies in the simplicity of its core message.

There are two great summaries in the Bible of the conduct that
God expects of mankind. To believers in Messiah, one of them comes to the surface of our thinking rather easily.

Matthew 22:35-40 – And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test him: “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest? ” 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.”

According to Yeshua, to love God and to love our neighbor is the summary of all of the Law and the Prophets. However, there is another summary in the Old Testament that was spoken to the nation of Israel during one of their most turbulent times in their history.

The second of the great summaries of conduct that God expects of people occurred just prior to the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C. A prophet by the name of Micah was tasked with lining out the sins of the nation as a witness against them of the impending judgment of God. The book of Micah is one long condemnation of their idolatrous and ungodly practices. Yet, even amidst the darkness of their actions, Micah provides a glimmer of insight: they ultimately knew the right thing to do but insisted on their own ways instead. He ironically presents their case as sarcastically asking, “What does God expect of us? Sacrifices of our animals or even the first born of our children?”

Micah 6:6-7 – What should I bring before Yahweh when I come to bow before God on high? Should I come before him with burnt offerings, with year-old calves? Would Yahweh be pleased with thousands of rams or with ten thousand streams of oil? Should I give my firstborn for my transgression, the offspring of my body for my own sin?

To this foolish complaint, the prophet Micah provides the bedrock of God’s just judgment:

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 mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah then states what they already knew but were choosing to ignore. They were simply to perform true justice, to seek after merciful interactions with one another, and to be humble in their godly walk. Is this not saying the same thing as “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself?”

Micah could say that God had shown them what was good and what Yahweh expected of them, because he already had during the time of Moses.

  • Deuteronomy 6:5 – “Love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
  • Deuteronomy 10:12 – “And now, Israel, what does Yahweh your God ask of you except to fear Yahweh your God by walking in all his ways, to love him, and to worship Yahweh your God with all your heart and all your soul?
  • Leviticus 19:15 – “Do not act unjustly when deciding a case. Do not be partial to the poor or give preference to the rich; judge your neighbor fairly.
  • Deuteronomy 5:20-21 – “Do not give dishonest testimony against your neighbor. “Do not covet your neighbor’s wife or desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
  • Leviticus 19:18 – “Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am Yahweh.

When Yeshua stated the greatest commands, he was simply quoting Moses. This then, demonstrates how this simple principle of loving God and loving one’s neighbor is consistent throughout all of Torah: from Moses, to the Prophets, and into the New Testament with the teaching of Yeshua. This is the very basis, and the goal, of all biblical teaching.

If we are truly to love our neighbor, we must act in just ways, doing what is right by them according to God’s Word. We must also love them by demonstrating mercy when it is in our power to do so. And we must act in these ways with humility because of our respect and honor for God as we seek to walk in his ways.

1 John 4:7 – Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.


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.

Evaluating the wisdom of Solomon to grow in righteousness

The wise believer demonstrates integrity of speech.

The wise believer demonstrates integrity of speech.

The proverbs of Solomon are a mine of information on living with integrity. The life of the righteous is contrasted with the wicked throughout its pages, as each proverb typically highlights a specific contrast between the two types of individuals.

Because the information contained within the proverbs is so valuable to believers, many have attempted to organize the proverbs into different groupings to try to bring out the common characteristics more clearly. One of the ways I have found to illustrate this is to line up the positive characteristics of the godly in a group, and then contrast the corresponding negative characteristics or consequences of the actions of the wicked.

For example I have chosen just one of the chapters (chapter 10) and selected some verses that speak to the similar characteristic of the righteous as having knowledgeable and truthful speech.

  • 8 – The wise are glad to be instructed
  • 11 – The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain
  • 13 – Wise words come from the lips of people with understanding
  • 14 – Wise people treasure knowledge
  • 20 – The words of the godly are like sterling silver
  • 21 – The words of the godly encourage many
  • 31 – The mouth of the godly person gives wise advice
  • 32 – The lips of the godly speak helpful words

Now, by contrast, look at the corresponding distinctions that Solomon made between the representation of the godly above with the practices of the wicked.

  • 8 – babbling fools come to ruin
  • 11 – the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions
  • 13 – those lacking sense will be beaten with a rod
  • 14 – the babbling of a fool invites disaster
  • 20 – the heart of a fool is worthless
  • 21 – fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense
  • 31 – the tongue that deceives will be cut off
  • 32 – the mouth of the wicked speaks perverse words

This type of analysis and re-grouping of the text of Proverbs can prove to be very enlightening, and is a type of simple study that can be conducted by anyone who desires to learn more about how God expects his people to behave. Even from this brief example, it can be clearly seen how believers have a responsibility to seek the wisdom of God and to guard their tongues, speaking only what is helpful or encouraging to others. This is corroborated by the writings of the disciples of Yeshua, as well.

Ephesians 4:29 – Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

James 1:26 – If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.

The integrity of the believer becomes readily apparent as soon as they open their mouth. If they have not sought the wisdom of God but are only speaking their own opinion or the opinions of others that they have not verified on their own, then they are little better than a fool who invites disaster or will come to ruin, as the proverbs above state. We should be reminded that believers have the monumental responsibility to be thoughtful and mindful about how they represent the God they believe in.

Instead, let’s focus on the positive characteristics of the godly as related by Solomon, and ensure that our speech is knowledgeable, wise, encouraging and helpful.


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 Kingdom Sabbath is built into Creation itself

The Sabbath has always been intended by God to be a benefit, not a burden, to those in his kingdom.

Core of the Bible podcast #72 – The Kingdom Sabbath is built into Creation itself

Today we will be looking at the topic of the Kingdom, and how the Sabbath has always been intended by God to be a benefit, not a burden, to those in his kingdom.

When he was confronted by religious leaders as to his interpretation of appropriate Sabbath activities, Yeshua replied with the following:

Mark 2:27 – Then he told them, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.”

In this simple statement, Yeshua was corroborating several things at once. Firstly, he validated the Sabbath as a viable concept within the eternal counsel of God, not as a mere temporary requirement. Secondly, he defined the Sabbath as being for all men, not as a practice just for Jews. And thirdly, the Sabbath has always been designed for the benefit of man, not for anxiously maintaining a detailed list of rules and regulations. As we examine this topic today, we’ll look at each of these ideas in turn as we explore how the Sabbath is involved with the Kingdom of God.


The kingdom of God has been designed by God to be not just an ideal to strive for, but to be a practical outworking of his desire for human behavior. God’s will is established and conducted through his Kingdom people.

In one scathing denunciation of the Jewish religious establishment, Yeshua told a parable of the owner of a vineyard kicking out the tenants who were not proper caretakers for him.

Matthew 21:43 – I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit.

In this statement, we find that those within the Kingdom of God have a responsibility to produce fruit, that is, to act in accordance with the purpose and plan of the owner’s will for the vineyard.

In a similar confrontation on another occasion, Yeshua provides another indication that the Kingdom of God would be different than the Jews had been expecting.

Luke 13:28-29 – “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for you will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you will be thrown out. And people will come from all over the world–from east and west, north and south–to take their places in the Kingdom of God.”

The Kingdom was to be made up of all kinds of people from all over the world, not just Jews. And they would be individuals who were accomplishing God’s will which was to be exerted through his Kingdom.

Now in many places, I have stated that I believe the Ten Commandments provided to Israel at Sinai were the revelation of the “Kingdom Charter,” the principles that establish the baseline expectations that God has for all participants in his Kingdom. It was presented first to the nation of Israel (along with those who had chosen to leave Egypt with them), it became exemplified through the pinnacle of its outworking in the physical kingdom of David and Solomon, and then further fulfilled and brought to its ultimate fruition in the teaching of Messiah.

Israel’s faithfulness to the Kingdom principles would allow them to be the “light to the nations,” as prophesied by Isaiah.

Isaiah 42:6 – “I, Yahweh, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness. I will take you by the hand and guard you, and I will give you to my people, Israel, as a symbol of my covenant with them. And you will be a light to guide the nations.”

Isaiah 60:3 – “All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see your radiance.”

However, if they were unfaithful, their place and their lamp would be removed.

Ezekiel 5:5-7, 11, 14-15 – “This is what the Sovereign Yahweh says: This is an illustration of what will happen to Jerusalem. I placed her at the center of the nations, but she has rebelled against my regulations and decrees and has been even more wicked than the surrounding nations. She has refused to obey the regulations and decrees I gave her to follow. “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Yahweh says: You people have behaved worse than your neighbors and have refused to obey my decrees and regulations. You have not even lived up to the standards of the nations around you. … “As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Yahweh, I will cut you off completely. I will show you no pity at all because you have defiled my Temple with your vile images and detestable sins. … “So I will turn you into a ruin, a mockery in the eyes of the surrounding nations and to all who pass by. You will become an object of mockery and taunting and horror. You will be a warning to all the nations around you. They will see what happens when Yahweh punishes a nation in anger and rebukes it, says Yahweh.”

Of course, all of this came to pass as the physical nation of Israel fell first to the Assyrians, and then to the Babylonians. Then, hundreds of years later, as Yeshua is teaching about the good news or the gospel of the Kingdom that was at hand at that time, he flatly states that the Jews would also lose not only their physical kingdom, but the spiritual kingdom that God had intended for them all along.

Matthew 21:43 – “I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit.”

Yeshua came to teach them how to live out the principles of the Kingdom of God, and that those who received the truth of his message would inherit the Kingdom, and with it eternal life. This was corroborated by his disciples decades after Yeshua’s physical death and resurrection.

James 2:5 – “Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him?”

Additionally, those who would not inherit the Kingdom were also described, and warned.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people–none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.”

So the kingdom has always been designed to be the earthly representation of God’s people who are faithful to his commands. And, through the example of the nation of Israel, God has demonstrated that he expects his people to abide by his commands.


As the commandments of God are expected by God to be observed by those who love and obey him, there is a specific command within the Ten Commandments wherein lies an aspect of the kingdom that is largely neglected among Christians today. God’s people have been instructed to remember the Sabbath and keep it set apart. It is a gift from him, a sacred memorial honoring the Creator (Yahweh), his provision, and his eternal purpose.

So let’s return to those three aspects of the Sabbath that were upheld by Yeshua in his discussions and debates with the religious leaders of his day.

Firstly, Yeshua validated the Sabbath as a viable concept within the eternal counsel of God, not only as a mere temporary requirement. Most people assume the Sabbath was instituted for Israel at Sinai. However, we find that the seventh day was actually set apart at Creation, as God demonstrated a practice of rest from his work of creating on that day.

Genesis 2:2-3 – “On the seventh day God had completed his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it he rested from all his work of creation.”

From the very beginning of all things, God declared that this day was to be set apart as special. We also can see from the Torah record that God expected his people to observe the Sabbath even before the Ten Commandments were officially spoken from Sinai.

Exodus 16:23, 29 – He told them, “This is what Yahweh commanded: Tomorrow will be a day of complete rest, a holy Sabbath day set apart for Yahweh … They must realize that the Sabbath is Yahweh’s gift to you.”

Due to their captivity and slavery through their years in Egypt, the Israelites had lost the ability to do maintain their recognition of the seventh day as a day set apart to Yahweh. So this command was a reminder that the Israelites should have been keeping the Sabbath that had been set apart at Creation.

Secondly, in his debate with the religious leaders, Yeshua said “the Sabbath was made for man,” not just as an expected practice for Jews. This had to be the case, since God’s Kingdom was ultimately to include all men, not just Jews.

Isaiah 60:3 – “All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see your radiance.”

Luke 13:29 – “And people will come from all over the world–from east and west, north and south–to take their places in the Kingdom of God.”

If the commands that were to guide the Kingdom were just for the Jews, then none of the rest of the Ten Commandments should apply as still being universal today. However, almost all believing denominations today accept that the Ten Commandments (minus the Sabbath) should still be practiced today. We still should love God, not worship idols, not bear his name for no purpose, honor our mothers and fathers, avoid killing others, not commit adultery, not steal, not lie, and not covet what others have. Why then do believers skip over the fourth commandment to honor the Sabbath and keep it set apart?

The word Sabbath actually conveys more than just rest, but an intermission; the cycle of days is intentionally interrupted by something different, a unique day unlike the others. It is a day meant for Yahweh, but the rest we can experience is a gift from Yahweh to us. It is the unique day of mutual recognition; God observes it for our benefit and we observe it in his honor. As the Creator of everything that is, he instilled the desire for this day of mutual recognition right into our DNA and into the fabric of Creation itself when he personally exhibited its purpose at the very beginning of all things. If God participates in Sabbath, and if Yeshua and all of the early believers participated in the Sabbath, then it follows as Yeshua’s disciples and as those who are trying to learn from the early believers, we also should observe the Sabbath.

And finally, Yeshua identifies how the Sabbath has always been designed for the benefit of man, not for anxiously maintaining a detailed list of rules and regulations that might offend God. While an exhaustive list of restrictions can be produced by looking up all of the passages where the concept of the Sabbath is discussed in Scripture, out of context the individual things mentioned can total up to a guideline for legalism and judgment of others. This is what the day had become in the time of Yeshua, and he railed against the religious authorities for spending their time being the Sabbath police rather than enjoying the Sabbath for what it was intended to be: a day for the rejuvenation of every man, body and spirit combined.

The exhaustive list contains a host of practices like avoiding stocking firewood, laboriously building fires, and conducting sale and trade on the Sabbath. Yet, when viewed holistically, it becomes readily apparent that these things serve to illustrate how the Sabbath should interrupt our daily routines and remain unique. It is not a day for industry, or extensive cooking and food preparation, or for trade in the marketplace. Those all can take place on the remaining six days. Things on Sabbath are meant to be minimalistic in nature: simple foods prepared ahead of time, time spent with Yahweh in his Word and with like-minded individuals, bonding with immediate family and friends.

During each week as we look ahead to the seventh day, we should be considering what preparations may need to be made ahead of time to allow for a relaxing and focused Sabbath observance. This was and still is a common practice among Judaism to this day, with Fridays being considered “preparation day” before the Sabbath the next day. It is even mentioned in our New Testaments surrounding the events of the crucifixion of Yeshua, as preparation days were also practiced prior to the annual holy Sabbath days, like Passover, as well.

Mark 15:42 – “This all happened on the day of preparation, the day before the Sabbath.”

Luke 23:54 – “This was done late afternoon, the day of preparation, as the Sabbath was about to begin.”

John 19:14, 42 – “It was now about noon on the day of preparation for the Passover. And Pilate said to the people, “Look, here is your king!” … And so, because it was the day of preparation for the Jewish Passover and since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.”

These preparation days were designed as ways of ensuring the “set-apartness” of the Sabbath would be thoughtfully maintained, not just a careless day of not doing anything.

So in conclusion of what we have reviewed today, Yeshua was very pointed in ensuring that the Sabbath day was to be employed for its intended purpose within the Kingdom of God’s people, not hijacked for the strict traditions of religious extremists. Seeing that the Jewish authorities had corrupted the purpose of the day into a long list of requirements and restrictions, Yeshua stated simply that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for Sabbath. The day was originally and solely intended to be a benefit, not a burden. The New Living Translation brings this out in its rendering of this verse:

Mark 2:27 – NLT – “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.”

Taking the whole of the Bible into consideration, it becomes apparent that God intended for the Sabbath to be recognized and practiced by all people, especially exemplified by those representing his Kingdom. As humans come to recognize and honor their Creator and the Kingdom of God expands, the Sabbath cycle instituted at the creation of all things can then continue to grow in influence and benefit, intentionally interrupting our daily routine and becoming the living mode of reconnecting with the Source of our true life.


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.

Creating peace in a world of chaos

The believer’s mission in society is all about promoting peace where it does not currently exist.

The believer’s mission in society is all about promoting peace where it does not currently exist.

Romans 12:16-18 – Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Paul was writing to the Roman believers to instill in them a strong foundation in not only the doctrinal facets of their faith but the practical aspects, as well. In summarizing the believers’ responsibilities toward others, Paul latches on to one of the most profound teachings of Messiah:

Matthew 5:44 – But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…

Paul conveys this as, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse,” (Romans 12:14). Why would the Roman believers need to hear this unless they were indeed being persecuted for their faith? Paul goes even further to quote this consistent biblical ethic as it was stated by Solomon in the proverbs.

Romans 12:20 – 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.

Boiled down into a modern vernacular, what Paul, Solomon, and Yeshua all appear to be saying is that doing nice things to those who are not nice to you results in them feeling the heat of shame at having been mean to you, vividly described as having hot coals poured on their head. To bless them when they are persecuting you means to say and do nice things to them even though they are oppressing you.

But we can only be nice in the face of opposition when we are not reacting with like emotion for like. We have to bring a new resource to the conflict, a resource of forgiveness and desire for love and open communication. Paul says to not repay evil with evil, but instead, to “overcome evil with good,” (Romans 12:21). This is the only way peace can be promoted within a society of divided interests.

We live in an age where this type of divisive environment breeds at an accelerated pace due to the instantaneous communication channels available to us as the internet continues to link the world together. To make matters worse, many oppressors feel empowered to spread conflict by remaining anonymous behind user names. For those of us who are tasked with being peacemakers, there is no small challenge in trying to remain unaffected by comments and commentary that cannot be unseen or unheard. Yet, as believers, if we are directly confronted by these anonymous pot-stirrers, we are tasked with praying for them and blessing them, which is to speak kindly toward and about them regardless of their harmful attitudes.

Online communication aside, we must not allow those hateful attitudes to spill over into our real world interactions with others. While we have an obligation to remain informed on the important cultural issues of the day, we must withhold the reactive impulse to debate acquaintances and family on the same level of animosity that may be thrust at us. Whenever we are confronting the evils of our day, we must do so with a spirit of gentleness, kindness, and goodness. Otherwise we are simply adding fuel to the raging fires of contemporary debate.

Paul encourages believers, “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” For us to do so, we must be thoughtful and consistent in our responses. Our mission is to share the love of God but to do so without compromising the truth of his Word. This may sound simple, but it is incredibly nuanced and at times extremely difficult, as many hard facts about God’s truth can appear intolerant to others. But this is what we are called to do. This is how we, as living sacrifices, are challenged with navigating the cultural debates of our day.

2 Timothy 2:24-25 – The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth.

We should never want to be responsible for shutting the gates of Zion to those who most need to gain entrance. If we are faithful to this consistent instruction throughout God’s Word, we provide opportunities for reconciliation where there were previously none. We can learn to be promoters of peace and calm amidst the chaos of popular opinion, but it takes careful thought and reasoned intention. We can become the peacemakers that both Yeshua and Paul encouraged their followers to be.


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.

Faith is being receptive to the abundance of God’s Instruction

For anyone to trust in Yahweh, there must be a trust in his Word.

For anyone to trust in Yahweh, there must be a trust in his Word.

Psalm 19:7-11 – The Instruction of Yahweh is perfect and complete, refreshing and bringing back the soul [to him]; the decree of Yahweh is trustworthy, wisdom for the simple. The precepts of Yahweh are upright, joy for the heart; the commandment of Yahweh is clear, light for the eyes. The fear of Yahweh is pure, lasting for ever; the judgments of Yahweh are true, righteous, every one, more desirable than gold, even than the finest gold; his words are sweeter than honey, even than honey that drips from the comb. Thus your servant is warned by them [as by a shining light], observance brings great reward.

All of the ancient writings of the biblical texts speak with a unified voice on the reward of keeping the Torah, the Law or Instruction, of God, just as it is mentioned here in the nineteenth psalm. Wisdom is crowned as the ultimate prize, and it is depicted as residing within God’s Instruction.

  • Psalm 111:10 – The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his instructions have good insight. His praise endures forever.
  • Proverbs 2:6 – For Yahweh gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
  • Proverbs 3:13 – Happy is a man who finds wisdom and who acquires understanding,
  • Proverbs 4:7 – Wisdom is supreme ​– ​so get wisdom. And whatever else you get, get understanding.

As the apostle Paul is crafting his argument to the congregation in Rome, he quotes from this very psalm as he isolates the source of faith in Yahweh:

Romans 10:17-18 – so then the faith is by hearing a report, and the report is through the Word of God, but I say, Did they not hear? yes, indeed — ‘to all the earth their voice went forth, and to the ends of the habitable world their sayings.’

Paul is here quoting Psalm 19 where it speaks about the witness of God in his creation, specifically the wonder of the heavens:

Psalm 19:1-4 – The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse proclaims the work of his hands. Day after day they pour out speech; night after night they communicate knowledge. There is no speech; there are no words; their voice is not heard. [Yet] their message has gone out to the whole earth, and their words to the ends of the world…

This corroborates what he has previously mentioned in his opening statements to the Roman believers:

Romans 1:19-20 – …what can be known about God is evident among them [those who don’t know him], because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse.

When one is drawn to the God of the universe through his Creation and begins to look for further insight, his Word, his Instruction is found to contain his wisdom and understanding.

Psalm 19:7 – The Instruction of Yahweh is perfect and complete, refreshing and bringing back the soul [to him]; the decree of Yahweh is trustworthy, wisdom for the simple.

Living in this world one is placed in a paradigm of God’s crafting: a world and universe that is a living illustration of his power and majesty, and a book of Instruction that can guide one into a living relationship with him. Faith in the God of the Bible would be inevitable if it were not for the stubbornness of our own hearts in wanting to be independent and self-sufficient, drawing our own conclusions about our worldview rather than obeying the wisdom of his abundant Instruction.

The Psalmist encourages us that “observance [of God’s Instruction] brings great reward.” The reward is self-contained within the keeping of it and is available to all! According to this passage, it brings joy, clear perception of truth, and warning from dangerous error. If these are only some of the primary benefits of faith in God, why would we instead persist in choosing our own way?


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.

God’s will is the purity of his people

Believers must maintain their faithfulness to God in order to remain pure for his purpose.

Believers must maintain their faithfulness to God in order to remain pure for his purpose.

1 Thessalonians 4:3, 7 – For this is God’s will, your sanctification: … For God has not called us to impurity but to live in holiness.

As Paul is writing to the Thessalonian congregation, he is reminding them of their high calling to purity.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-2 – Additionally then, brothers, we ask and encourage you in the Master Yeshua, that as you have received instruction from us on how you should live and please God ​– ​as you are doing ​– ​do this even more. For you know what commands we gave you through the Master Yeshua.

Paul’s objective is that the Thessalonians would live and walk in a way that pleases God. Even though they had been doing so, he is encouraging them further to refrain from the impurity of the accepted culture around them and specifically the “lustful passions” of those who didn’t know God.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 – For this is God’s will, your sanctification: that you keep away from immorality of idolatry, that each of you knows how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not with lustful passions, like those of the nations, who don’t know God. This means one must not transgress against and take advantage of a brother in this manner, because Yahweh is an avenger of all these offenses, as we also previously told and warned you. For God has not called us to impurity but to live in holiness.

We can learn from this that some of the cultural permissiveness may have begun seeping into the congregation, as Paul warns them not to conduct these types of offenses between themselves as members of the assembly. Many Bible versions will relate this offense as some type of sexual promiscuity; however, the word can also mean whoredom, in the sense of immoral idolatrous practices, as related here. As stated many times before, God views idolatry as a type of spiritual harlotry, since when it is practiced the people are substituting the covenant bond of Yahweh for another god, and thereby committing adultery against him.

1 Thessalonians 4:8 – Consequently, anyone who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who gives you his holy Spirit.

Paul strengthens his warning by saying God is an avenger of these practices, and to participate in these worldly activities is to reject the very holy Spirit of God.

From this, we can learn that if we are sincere in following the commands of God as followers of the Master Yeshua, we likewise have an obligation to resist the permissiveness of the culture we live in, since it is God’s will (or his intention, determination, and desire) that we be holy, set apart as pure and clean for his purpose. If we take lightly this responsibility and we fall into the seductive lair of cultural acceptance, we are dishonoring the name of the One who has called us to be his own. Our distinctiveness and usefulness as salt and light is diminished because we neglected to put our light on the lampstand and instead have hid it under a bushel. We have lost our saltiness and are good for no purpose of God except to be thrown out into the street to be crushed under the foot traffic.

Succumbing to the permissiveness of our culture robs us of our power in representing God to a world who needs to know him. We must sacrifice our own desires for the desires of God, and his desire and will is that we remain holy and set apart. This is God’s ultimate will for anyone who places their faith in him through Messiah, and he empowers us through his holy Spirit to do so.


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.

Discipline on the path of life

Believers must constantly evaluate their choices in light of the eternal purpose of God.

Believers must constantly evaluate their choices in light of the eternal purpose of God.

Proverbs 5:21-23 – For a man’s ways are before the eyes of Yahweh, and he ponders all his paths. The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.

Believers cannot become complacent within their walk with God. Every day we are challenged by the world: the desires of the eyes, the flesh, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). Yahweh sees and knows our ways and desires us to remain faithful and productive for him. However, he also warns us that if we lack discipline in the things of God, we can easily be led astray.

Proverbs 14:14 – The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways…

This is the only Bible verse where the term “backslider” is used. The underlying word itself means “to turn back” or “to turn aside.” To retreat from the ways of God is to fall back on practices that one may have become comfortable with in life previous to becoming new creations in Messiah. In this proverb, Solomon warns that there does not have to be some divine judgment from turning aside, but that the very wicked practices themselves will come back to the wayward individual. They will be filled with the fruit of their own (wicked) ways.

The apostle Peter uses similar language in warning the early believers of the false prophets and false teachers who had infiltrated the ranks of believers.

2 Peter 2:15 – Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing…

Peter here says these false teachers were not just evil individuals, but they were people who had forsaken the right way, having gone astray. This means that at one point they were believers in the truth and yet had somehow turned away from it, lured by the profits of wicked practices.

Yeshua taught that believers must remain unwaveringly vigilant in the ways of righteousness. He metaphorically referred to this commitment to right practices as the equivalent of removing the members of the physical body which would be involved in wicked practices.

Matthew 5:29-30 – If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into Gehenna.

This is the level of discipline needed by believers to remain on the narrow path of life and to avoid the judgment of wicked practices. By contrast, much of our modern spirituality is based on the careless attitude that “Jesus paid it all” and somehow we are no longer responsible for maintaining our own sanctification and righteous actions; however, nothing could be further from the truth.

Walking in faith as a disciple of Yeshua takes daily resolve and discipline to ensure that we are not being seduced by the world and our own desires. In fact, even the literary derivation of the English word “disciple” comes from “one who practices a certain discipline.” We should not become distracted or disillusioned by our one-off slips and failures, but, relying on the ongoing forgiveness God offers for the truly repentant, these should harden our resolve to always behave in ways that honor God. After all, when we step back and take the long view of an eternal perspective, we can be comforted in knowing that these struggles will ultimately pass away.

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 all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.


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.