The psalmist’s solution amidst social turmoil

Our perspective can be lost only when we take our eyes off of the purpose of God and his sovereignty.

Our perspective can be lost only when we take our eyes off of the purpose of God and his sovereignty.

Psalm 11:1-3 – I have taken refuge in Yahweh. How can you say to me, “Escape to the mountains like a bird! For look, the wicked string bows; they put their arrows on bowstrings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

This entire psalm which is only seven verses long highlights the distinctions between the wicked and the righteous. The psalmist seems to be expressing his frustration at the success of the wicked who appear to have overcome the righteous by “shooting from the shadows at the upright in heart.” The wicked hide in the darkness to undermine the foundational basis, or the political or moral purpose of society.

We seem to be in similar societal times today with a spinning moral compass at every turn and divisiveness rampant among our culture. As believers, we struggle to understand how we should act and react amidst the chaos and turmoil of popular opinion and current events. To this, the psalmist provides some straightforward advice.

  1. God is a secure refuge.

Psalm 11:1 – I have taken refuge in Yahweh. How can you say to me, “Escape to the mountains like a bird!

For believers, when we place our confidence and our trust in Yahweh, he becomes a refuge and a fortress of protection amidst the ebb and flow of the tides of public opinion. This is because his wisdom is timeless and unchanging. We should not seek to escape the turmoil by “escaping to the mountains,” as pleasing as that sounds. Instead, we need to be firmly committed to our trust and confidence in God’s purpose and kingdom.

Psalm 33:10-11 – Yahweh nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of Yahweh stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.

  1. God is ultimately in control of everything.

Psalm 11:4 – Yahweh is in his holy temple; Yahweh –his throne is in heaven. His eyes watch; his gaze examines everyone.

We can take comfort in the fact that God is calmly removed from the turmoil we may be experiencing. Nothing slips past the notice of God. Nothing is done in a corner.

Hebrews 4:13 – And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

  1. God’s judgment is sure.

Psalm 11:5-6 – Yahweh examines the righteous, but he hates the wicked and those who love violence. Let him rain burning coals and sulfur on the wicked; let a scorching wind be the portion in their cup.

In true Hebraic fashion, the psalmist speaks of the justice of God in terms that his hearers would understand. The burning coals and sulfur is a reference to the judgment that had been poured out on Sodom and Gomorrah and would be a compelling illustration of the unyielding judgment of God whenever society became corrupt to the core. But within that measure of judgment, the hearer would also know that God would spare the city (or nation) if even ten righteous people were found within it. As much as we would love to run away from the conflict around us, our righteous presence amidst the ungodly is the very salt needed to heal.

Matthew 5:13 – “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”

  1. God’s presence will reassure the righteous.

Psalm 11:7 – For Yahweh is righteous; he loves righteous deeds. The upright will see his face.

God loves righteous actions because he is righteous. Those who are upright and act with integrity in all things will “see his face,” a common Hebraic phrase of receiving the favor of God.

As believers, we should not fear the times we live in or the people who are erring around us within their own cultural darkness, shooting at the righteous from the shadows of their own making. Instead, we should be established confidently in Yahweh our refuge, firmly standing for what is right, not heading for the hills. Our role is to be that which is the preserver in society, the strength of the foundational and moral purpose upon which it is built. We can take comfort knowing that ultimately God is in control, even if we can’t see it ourselves at times, but knowing that his judgment is sure and his objectives are timeless and eternal. This is our strength and confidence; this is our calling.


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 gospel of the kingdom is the hope of the future of this world

Our high calling is to stand for the truth of God’s sovereignty amidst those who have not recognized him as king.

Our high calling is to stand for the truth of God’s sovereignty amidst those who have not recognized him as king.

1 Corinthians 15:50 – What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor can corruption inherit incorruption.

The kingdom of God will only be established on this earth as he rules and reigns in our hearts; this is a spiritual process, not a political one. There is no army that will rise up to fight against the armies of the world to establish a kingdom for God and his Messiah; Yeshua made this abundantly clear.

John 18:36 – “My kingdom is not of this world,” said Yeshua. “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”

There is an ongoing revolution, to be sure, but it is not one that is accomplished with the weapons of this world, but with the Word and Spirit of God.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 – For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Messiah.

As hearts are captured for him, the resulting repentant fruits of forgiveness, good deeds, and compassion continue to spread in concentric rings outward from the believers into the void of darkness around each one of them until they overlap in waves of rejoicing and glorifying the God of the universe. When this is accomplished, then the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of God and his Messiah.

Revelation 11:15 – The seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying, The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.

In one sense, this is already accomplished because it is a foregone conclusion according to the immutability of God’s counsel in his Word. In another sense, it is still being accomplished within each generation as believers continue to spread the message of the kingdom.

The gospel, or the good news we have to share, is of the kingdom of God, not of personal salvation.

  • Mark 1:14-15 – After John was arrested, Yeshua went to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news! “
  • Luke 4:43 – But he said to them, “It is necessary for me to proclaim the good news about the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because I was sent for this purpose.”
  • Luke 8:1 – Afterward he was traveling from one town and village to another, preaching and telling the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him,
  • Luke 16:16 – “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then, the good news of the kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is urgently invited to enter it.
  • Acts 8:12 – But when they believed Philip, as he proclaimed the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Yeshua Messiah, both men and women were baptized.

We have the emphasis on the wrong aspect of what God intends for human existence if we focus on the personal over the collective enlarging of the kingdom of God. We have been taught for so many decades and centuries that the gospel is about us and our personal salvation, when in reality it is all about God and his kingdom. God ruling over all of the kingdoms of the earth is an inevitable conclusion that just hasn’t come to full fruition yet in this reality because we have sidelined the main purpose of God with our preoccupation with our own selfish needs and desires. Certainly, the promise of God through Messiah is eternal life in him, but that’s only because believers will be living within the parameters and fulfillment of obedience in his kingdom. The kingdom is the primary objective, not individual salvation.

This is why the world struggles now: not because it is nearing an ending but because things are not as they are supposed to be. Stress is induced when what is meant to happen does not occur. This unrealized potential is the cause of all conflict, as individuals refuse to recognize the sovereignty of the God of the universe. When the kingdom is not the focus, there is no urgency or motivation to obey the king.

Having the focus on individual salvation causes a silo effect, where believers retreat into pockets of safety and shelter from the raging storms around us. We receive what we hoped for and pray that God accomplishes his will in the lives of others, but we want him to do so by using someone else. But the heroes of the faith did not act in this way; they recognized their independent salvation was only a means for others to profit by, and they stood for the truth of the kingdom in every aspect of their lives. This caused friction among the unrepentant, who took out their anger on the faithful, wounding and killing them to rid the world of their conscientious stand for the truth.

We need to stand for the truth for the sake of others.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 – First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Yes, God desires all men to be saved, but this only occurs as they come to the knowledge of the truth, the other part of that verse. The truth of God is that he already reigns over all in the spiritual realm, and he is choosing to only rule over the physical realm when all will willingly come to him in repentance and understanding.

Isaiah 45:22-23 – “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’

We need to pick up the banner, not the banner of some cause du jour, the latest meme-worthy event circulating through social media, but the banner of THE cause of causes: standing for the King and his kingdom amidst a generation of darkness.

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6, 8 – For you are all children of light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or the darkness. So then, let us not sleep, like the rest, but let us stay awake and be self-controlled. … But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled and put on the armor of faith and love, and a helmet of the hope of salvation.
  • Philippians 2:13, 15-16 – “For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose. … so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world, by holding firm to the word of life…”

This is the fulfillment of the kingdom of God on the earth. This is the end-goal of all Scripture and teaching within the Bible. This is how God chooses to reign over all those whom he has created. As the spiritual kingdom is established in the hearts of his people, it spreads throughout the earth until the physical kingdoms of the world are subservient to the King, and he is all in all, in both the spiritual and the physical realms. Let us hold firmly to the Word of life and be the lights of the kingdom to every generation. This is the restoration of all things, and our unwavering motivation providing hope for all time in the future to come.


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.

Intentional compassion stemming from our common bond with others

As God showed compassion to us, we are commanded to show compassion to others.

Core of the Bible podcast #71 – Intentional compassion stemming from our common bond with others

Today we will be looking at the topic of compassion, and how in allowing for gleaning of their fields, ancient Israel was making a statement that they would not be repeating the class abuse they had suffered in a foreign country. They were instead showing intentional and purposeful compassion to those in need.

Deuteronomy 24:19, 22 – “When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don’t go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Then Yahweh your God will bless you in all you do. … Remember that you were slaves in the land of Egypt. That is why I am giving you this command.”

Because ancient Israel was an agricultural society, there are many laws that apply specifically to that type of culture. Gleaning of the vineyards is one of those unique instructions, but one that I believe we can still learn from and apply today.

So, what is gleaning of the fields? When a field was harvested, sometimes the fruit or grain that was not quite ripe was left on the vine or the tree, with the idea that the harvesters would come back through the field at a later time to ensure all of the harvest was brought in. However, God instructs the Israelites to leave what remained for those less fortunate in the land. After the main harvest, the poor class without income, typically widows, orphans, and resident outsiders, would be allowed to enter the fields of the wealthy and essentially scrounge whatever was left for themselves. In this way, the wealthy in the land would be assisting in providing for the literal welfare of those who could not provide for themselves.

Throughout the Torah, or instruction of God, he has commanded his people to take note of the poor and help them, and in doing so one will be blessed.

Psalm 41:1 – Blessed is he who considers the poor; Yahweh will deliver him in time of trouble.

Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 10-11 – “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which Yahweh your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, “but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs. … “You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing Yahweh your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. “For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’

God desires to bless the poor through those of his people who have something to share, and when they are faithful in doing so, it is as if they are giving to God himself.

Proverbs 19:17 – He who has pity on the poor lends to Yahweh, And he will pay back what he has given.

Conversely, God has always cautioned against exploiting, taking advantage of, or ridiculing the poor.

Proverbs 14:31 – He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, But he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.

Proverbs 17:5 – He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.

Proverbs 22:16 – He who oppresses the poor to increase his riches, And he who gives to the rich, will surely come to poverty.

Additionally, according to God’s pleading through his prophet Isaiah, providing for the needs of the poor is considered a type of metaphorical fasting; a sacrifice that God honors above the hypocritical self-denial of food that the Israelites in Isaiah’s day had only participated in for their own benefit.

Isaiah 58:1, 3-5 – “Cry out loudly [Isaiah], don’t hold back! Raise your voice like a trumpet. Tell my people their transgression and the house of Jacob their sins… [Yet Israel says,] “Why have we fasted, but you have not seen? We have denied ourselves, but you haven’t noticed! ” [God replies,] “Look, you do as you please on the day of your fast and oppress all your workers. You fast with contention and strife to strike viciously with your fist. You cannot fast as you do today, hoping to make your voice heard on high. “Will the fast I choose be like this: A day for a person to deny himself, to bow his head like a reed, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast and a day acceptable to Yahweh?”

The type of fasting that the leaders in Israel were conducting were only based on their own desire for God’s favor, not for truly being repentant. In response, God tells them the true type of sacrifice he was seeking in them: justice and compassion for those in need.

Isaiah 58:6-7 – “Isn’t this the fast I choose: To break the chains of wickedness, to untie the ropes of the yoke, to set the oppressed free, and to tear off every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your house, to clothe the naked when you see him, and not to ignore your own flesh and blood?”

And the promise was if they were to do so sincerely, he would then pour out his blessings upon them, the very thing they were hoping for through their own private and personal fasting.

Isaiah 58:10 – “and if you offer what you have to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted one, then your light will shine in the darkness, and your night will be like noonday.”

God was promising a blessing of recompense that would be poured out if they would simply obey his command to help the poor. Becoming a shining light is imagery that speaks to the exemplary status that would result for his people when they were faithful in carrying out what he asked.


Beyond the general Torah commands to provide for the poor of the land, what I find interesting about the command of God to allow for gleaning of the fields is that God also provides the reasoning behind it. They were to be obedient in this way, not just so they would be blessed and become a positive example to the rest of the world, but it was to be a reminder to themselves of their previous slavery in Egypt. This act of compassion was to prevent them from abusing the lowest class, because they had previously collectively been in that situation in Egypt. Therefore, as they practiced this compassion within their society, they would be honoring the memory of their ancestral bondage and making a statement that they would not be repeating the class abuse they had suffered in a foreign country with those among their own land.

In like fashion, I believe we should take this ideal to heart and put into practice actions that can be equivalent in our day and age.

Firstly, this command should encourage us to maintain a mentality that is supportive all classes of people in our society. Unless we are among the ultra-wealthy, as a working class we need to consider how slender the line is between being solvent and becoming bankrupt ourselves. For some there may only be a few months or weeks of hardship that can transition them to a similar status. This understanding should prompt us to act compassionately, as we ourselves could easily be in a similar situation. Yeshua’s command to “do unto others as you would have them do to you” should provide an appropriate response on our part.

Secondly, we should be intentional about contributing to those among the lowest classes of our culture. Whether it is through volunteering in local events or organizations designed to provide assistance, or whether it is contributing to those types of causes through our abundance, this command should prompt us to have an intentional plan of assisting others in need. We may not have agricultural fields that others can glean from, but we all have some source or sources of income which can be be apportioned thoughtfully and compassionately.

And finally, while many might seek to pursue political activism and social justice on behalf of the less fortunate, we need to be cautious if we are relying on systems and governmental institutions to fill in the gaps of our personal, spiritual obligation to assist those who are poor. I am deeply convicted when I read the personal nature of Isaiah’s exhortation to the people of God: “”Is it not to share YOUR bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into YOUR house, to clothe the naked when YOU see him, and not to ignore YOUR OWN flesh and blood?”

With the incredible variety of challenges that the poor and homeless in any community may be experiencing, such as mental challenges and drug addictions, inviting them into your home may not always be the safest or quite honestly best thing for them that truly helps their real needs. In those cases, we must exercise discernment. But it certainly does not absolve us of our ability to personally assist them by at least helping them to possibly find a local mission or para-ministry organization who may already specialize in providing more holistic support that can help them get back on their feet. Like the Samaritan of old in Yeshua’s parable, perhaps we can assist the disadvantaged individual by helping them to a caring organization and simply offer to help with the cost of their program involvement.

Let’s do a thought experiment. By current estimates in 2022, the average number of people per household in the U.S. is 2.6. With approximately 340 million Americans, this equates to around 130 million total households in this country. 67% of Americans claim to be Christian; this results in an estimated 87 million Christian households. The poverty rate among Americans is just above 10% of the total population. That equals approximately 34 million Americans or 13 million households in poverty. So taking all of these numbers into account, in simple math, if each one of the 87 million believing households was intentional about assisting just one of the 13 million households in poverty, poverty could easily be eliminated six times over in this country!

Now obviously these are round numbers and general assumptions that do not take into account the many-faceted challenges associated with a task of this magnitude. Is it really this simple? No, but hopefully it provides at least a glimmer of a perspective of how significant real and personal involvement can be. Isaiah encouraged his generation to take personal responsibility for their poor, and I believe God is continuing to task his people with this same objective. Think of the possibilities of what a more solvent society could mean not only for those rising out of poverty, but for our economy and for the benefit of all Americans. And beyond that, what if believers were to solve poverty in America, and then take that same momentum to other areas of the world in need? Truly acting on what we say we believe can make a real difference in this world. And that difference can honor God and bring glory to his name to a world desperately in need of him.

So, in conclusion, demonstrating compassion is not always easy; if it was, it would be commonplace, and we would not need to be encouraged to take actions that we would normally do anyway. However, what we can learn from the principle of gleaning of the fields is that it takes forethought and intentionality to be obedient to the commands of God when it comes to helping others. And while our current social status might not be based on a lineage that has been rescued out of actual slavery like the Israelites were, we as believers have all come from a background of spiritual slavery of disobedience to God in one form or another. God showed compassion to us when we were spiritually bankrupt and had nothing to offer him. If nothing else, this compassionate love of our God toward us should provide a recognition of our common bond with all others, not only in our country but around the world. This bond should then spur us on to obedience, to be faithful to God’s command of demonstrating compassion with those who cannot provide for themselves.


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.

Compassionate wisdom from above

Our primary example for how to live our lives is an example of unyielding compassion for others.

Our primary example for how to live our lives is an example of unyielding compassion for others.

James 3:13, 16-17 – Who among you is wise and understanding? By his good conduct he should show that his works are done in the gentleness that comes from wisdom. … For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, open to reason, full of compassion and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense.

To be full of the “wisdom from above” is to be compassionate towards others. From this compassion comes good actions that are sincere. Yeshua honored the practice of mercy or compassion by relating how a life of mercy towards others will result in mercy shown back towards that individual.

Matthew 5:7 – “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

That good and kind works follows a heart of mercy and compassion is evidenced by the believer from Joppa named Tabitha.

Acts 9:36 – In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which is translated Dorcas). She was always doing good works and acts of charity.

She had been instrumental in working hard to make and provide clothing for others in need, and had earned the respect of her peers and her community. The narrative relates how she had become ill and died, but because of her mercy toward others, a great miracle was performed through Peter in raising her from death; mercy had been shown toward her and her little community.

Compassion by its very nature indicates that kind actions are being performed towards others. As believers, we are commanded to be loving and helpful toward those in need. But in the passage above, James warns of the dangerous negative results which are obtained when people are instead selfish and envious of others. These qualities are the direct opposite of compassion. James relates how the out-workings of this destructive mindset are “disorder and every evil practice.”

Only by seeking the wisdom from above can we overcome a covetous and self-serving attitude. This wisdom was most dramatically displayed in the life of Messiah Yeshua, who willingly yielded his own will to the will of God, and in the process exemplified the ultimate measure of compassion amidst the tumultuous backlash of both the religious and political systems of his day. If we truly claim to be his followers, it is our obligation to do likewise by having the same sacrificial mindset on behalf of others, even amidst the tumultuous generation of our own day. The wisdom of demonstrating compassion is always a personal sacrifice that is acceptable to God and will result in mercy being presented back toward those who practice it sincerely and with a pure heart.


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.

Operating under the freedom of forgiveness

Being forgiven and forgiving others allows for great collaborations to flourish.

Being forgiven and forgiving others allows for great collaborations to flourish.

Nehemiah 1:11 – “Please, Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant and to that of your servants who delight to revere your name. Give your servant success today, and grant him compassion…”

This prayer for forgiveness was offered to God by Nehemiah as he learned of the disrepair of the city of Jerusalem. During their captivity in Babylon, the city had become burned and its walls broken down. When Nehemiah, a Jewish leader servings the Babylonian king, became aware of the city’s condition, he approached God with a prayer of repentance.

Nehemiah 1:6-7 – “…let your eyes be open and your ears be attentive to hear your servant’s prayer that I now pray to you day and night for your servants, the Israelites. I confess the sins we have committed against you. Both I and my father’s family have sinned. We have acted corruptly toward you and have not kept the commands, statutes, and ordinances you gave your servant Moses.”

This recognition of their humbled state in their captivity then allowed Nehemiah to petition the king to allow him to return and oversee the rebuilding of the city.

Nehemiah 2:4-5, 8 – Then the king asked me, “What is your request? ” So I prayed to the God of the heavens and answered the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor with you, send me to Judah and to the city where my ancestors are buried, so that I may rebuild it.” … The king granted my requests, for the gracious hand of my God was on me.

The rest of the book of Nehemiah then relates the struggles and persistence of the Jewish people to rebuild Jerusalem under the oppression of their enemies. This was a Herculean effort that involved the coordination of many different families and tribes to overcome the adversity to successfully rebuild the protective walls of Jerusalem. Yet all of this work and effort could only be conducted under the recognition of God’s forgiveness and his promise to restore his people to their land.

Nehemiah 1:8-9 – Please remember what you commanded your servant Moses: “If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples. “But if you return to me and carefully observe my commands, even though your exiles were banished to the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place where I chose to have my name dwell.”

The history of this event reminds us of the power of forgiveness and its ability to allow us to operate with passion and purpose again. The Jews had felt defeated and powerless after their captivity, and yet the power of God’s forgiveness and the promise of restoration re-energized them to conduct one of the largest volunteer efforts in ancient times.

When we recognize our own disobedience and are truly repentant before God, we too can be relieved of the oppressive state of inactivity within his purpose. More importantly, even beyond ourselves, when we forgive others, we also release them from the weight of unresolved conflict, allowing the continued growth of relationships and shared experiences to prosper. This freedom afforded by forgiveness is the bedrock foundation of the New Jerusalem, the kingdom of 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.

Fear of man or trust in Yahweh

Having the correct perspective strengthens believers to boldly stand for the truth of God.

Having the correct perspective strengthens believers to boldly stand for the truth of God.

Proverbs 29:25 – The fear of man is a snare, but the one who trusts in Yahweh is protected.

Reading this verse as a standalone instruction, it is generally considered to be speaking to the believer trusting in Yahweh rather than fearing what evils another man could do them. It could also be considered as an admonition against cowardice as “the fear of man,” that fear which a man has within himself, is also a snare and a trap.

However, the bulk of Scripture would lean toward the first and most common idea that believers should not fear what any evils a man could do to them, but they should always have a strong and vibrant trust in God.

Psalm 118:5-9 – Out of my distress I called on Yahweh; Yahweh answered me and set me free. Yahweh is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? Yahweh is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in Yahweh than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in Yahweh than to trust in princes.

Here the psalmist relates how there is no reason to fear when one takes refuge in Yahweh and calls out to him for help in their time of need. Trusting in God is to be preferred above trusting in man, even in princes, leaders, or an emperor.

1 Peter 2:17 – Honor everyone. Love the brothers and sisters. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

While believers are commanded to show honor and respect for their leaders, it does not follow that they should blindly follow and obey them without any reference to the overarching authority and fear of God. Instead, we should take to heart the words of the apostle Peter when met with resistance by the religious authorities of his day:

Acts 5:27-29 – And when they had brought them, they set them before the council [the chief priests and leaders of Israel]. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name [the name of Yeshua], yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Peter here was simply following the example of his Master who taught about the supremacy of God’s authority over the authority of men:

Matthew 10:21-22, 26-28 – Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. … “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.”

Yeshua encouraged his followers by ensuring they had a correct view and understanding of the true order of authority. It was this same type of mindset, fearless of the evils of men, that motivated believers to stand up for the truth throughout the history of God’s people.

Hebrews 11:35-38 – …Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated– of whom the world was not worthy–wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

These saints of old demonstrated they did not fear what man could do to them, but their trust was placed firmly in the One who would usher them into his presence as they faithfully stood for his truth.

The principle contained in Proverbs 29:25 is succinctly summarized by the commentary of Joseph Benson:

  • The fear of man — Inordinate fear of harm or suffering from men, which is properly opposed to trust in God, because it arises from a distrust of God’s promises and providence;
  • bringeth a snare — Is an occasion of many sins, and consequently of punishments from God:
  • but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord — Walks in God’s ways, and securely relies upon him, to protect him from the designs and malice of wicked men;
  • shall be safe — Shall be preserved from all real evil, through God’s watchful providence over him.”

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.

Holiness based on fulfilled prophecy and promises

Believers today are participating in the ongoing Exodus of God’s people from the worldliness around them.

Believers today are participating in the ongoing Exodus of God’s people from the worldliness around them.

2 Corinthians 7:1 – So then, dear friends, since we have these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

Speaking to the congregation in Corinth, Paul encourages them to maintain their holiness or their separation from all impurity of flesh and spirit. He does this by quoting from some promises that are mentioned in the previous chapter.

2 Corinthians 6:16-18 – And what agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, as God said: I will dwell and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says Yahweh; do not touch any unclean thing, and I will welcome you. And I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to me, says Yahweh Almighty.

Paul here appears to be quoting from a specific passage of Scripture, and yet when cross-referencing this passage with the rest of the Torah, we find it is actually a loose compilation of several promises that were provided to Israel at various stages of their history. However, when we view these passages together, an interesting picture begins to emerge.

  • Exodus 4:22 – “And you will say to Pharaoh: This is what Yahweh says: Israel is my firstborn son.
  • Exodus 29:45-46 – “I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. “And they will know that I am Yahweh their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, so that I might dwell among them. I am Yahweh their God.
  • Jeremiah 32:37-38 – “I will certainly gather them from all the lands where I have banished them in my anger, rage and intense wrath, and I will return them to this place and make them live in safety. “They will be my people, and I will be their God.
  • Isaiah 52:9-11 – Be joyful, rejoice together, you ruins of Jerusalem! For Yahweh has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem. Yahweh has displayed his holy arm in the sight of all the nations; all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God. Leave, leave, go out from there! Do not touch anything unclean; go out from her, purify yourselves, you who carry the vessels of Yahweh.
  • Isaiah 43:5-6 – “Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west. “I will say to the north, ‘Give them up! ‘ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back! ‘ Bring my sons from far away, and my daughters from the ends of the earth —

Each of these promises has to do with the deliverance of the nation and a regathering of God’s people. By quoting a variety of Torah passages, this seems to me to indicate that Paul was teaching that his missionary efforts throughout ancient Europe, Greece and Asia were designed to fulfill these promises: that God would bring his people together from wherever they had been scattered due to previous captivities among the nations. Because this great re-gathering was underway, they were to abstain from all unclean activities to remain pure and holy before God in the day of this great fulfillment of these prophecies.

The reason that this perspective gets overlooked is because where these types of promises are mentioned, believers have always been looking for a physical restoration to the physical land. By Paul using this collection of quotations rather than a single reference is an example of how the gathering of God’s people was to be a spiritual event based on these principles. Israel came out of Egypt into a land of their own. Israel was brought back to their land after a captivity in Babylon. These examples that they were familiar with indicate a principle of a collective of all who were willing to come to the God of the Bible in spirit and in truth out of the worldliness around them. As Paul applied these passages and principles, this was an indication of the great Second Exodus, a mixed multitude leaving the idolatry of their various cultures by becoming holy and set apart for God’s use in his kingdom.

Because this was a spiritual calling and gathering of God’s people, the emphasis for believers to remain holy and set apart is just as valid and relevant in our modern culture as it was in the days of the Second Exodus of the New Testament. We too, as believers in Messiah, can be considered among the sons and daughters of the Almighty. Because of these great and precious prophetic examples and promises, we too should take to heart the admonition of Paul to those early believers:

2 Corinthians 7:1 – So then, dear friends, since we have these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of 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 challenge of staying dead

The reality of the new life in Messiah is only possible through death, death to self.

The reality of the new life in Messiah is only possible through death, death to self.

2 Timothy 2:11 – This saying is trustworthy: For if we died with him, we will also live with him…

The life of the believer is all about dying to self and living for God. The problem with this simple concept is that our self continues to want to live. Paul calls this conflict the struggle between the old self and the newness of life.

Romans 6:1-7 – What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Messiah Yeshua were baptized into his death? Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Messiah was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be rendered powerless so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, since a person who has died is freed from sin.

Paul uses this metaphor of the old self dying throughout his writings:

  • Romans 6:11 – So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Messiah Yeshua.
  • Galatians 2:19 – For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live for God.
  • Colossians 2:20 – If you died with Messiah to the elements of this world, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world?
  • Colossians 3:3 – For you died, and your life is hidden with Messiah in God.

All of these references are simply speaking in metaphorical language about how that, in the believer’s life, one must forsake all previous disobedience to God with the finality of death. A dead person cannot commit sin; this is how abruptly and decisively we must act within the remaining time of our lives.

Paul continues his thought in this “trustworthy saying” that he was committing to Timothy:

2 Timothy 2:11-12 – This saying is trustworthy: For if we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him;

Paul here conveys a sense of endurance in remaining dead to those things that displease God. The word for endure literally means to “stay under,” as in remaining, persevering, bearing up under trials. However, Paul also presents Timothy with the opposite result if we choose to yield to our self and deny the One who calls us to himself.

2 Timothy 2:12-13 – if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.

This is reminiscent of the admonition of Yeshua, explaining what will be the state of those who refuse to give up their sinful actions, the breaking of God’s laws.

Matthew 7:21-23 – “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. “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name? ‘ “Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers! ‘

This is why we are constantly reminded to endure and to bear up our trials with a persevering and faithful spirit. The writer to the Hebrews and James also provide similar encouragement under trial, even referring to the endurance of Messiah as a motivating consideration in the believers’ own endurance.

  • Hebrews 10:32 – Remember the earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings.
  • Hebrews 12:3 – For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up.
  • James 1:12 – Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

We should recognize that it is through these types of struggles that God is causing us to grow and continually be renewed to become more like him.

Colossians 3:9-10 – …you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator.

As we grow in the image of God, we can then become more useful to him in the accomplishment of his purpose in expanding the kingdom of God on the earth. This is why this encouragement to remain dead to sin must become a guiding principle in our daily lives.


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 integrity of people of faith

We must base our actions with faith in the revealed words of God above the opinions of men.

We must base our actions with faith in the revealed words of God above the opinions of men.

Those who believe in the God of the Bible have a quality that is not evidenced among outsiders or pretenders to the faith. They possess an undaunted sense of surety about the words of God that leads to different conclusions than that of the general population of a community. This is what can cause friction among communities and congregations.

A good example of this can be exemplified by the group of Israelites that was selected to go spy out the land of Canaan prior to their moving into the land. The story is related that the land was viewed as being plentiful and productive, albeit currently inhabited by some of the most feared inhabitants: a people of extremely large stature known as the descendants of Anak. Because of this, the majority of the scouting group became fearful and therefore provided a negative report of the land, while Joshua and Caleb provided the positive aspects of the land relying on God’s help to overcome the current inhabitants.

Numbers 14:6-9 – Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who scouted out the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite community: “The land we passed through and explored is an extremely good land. “If Yahweh is pleased with us, he will bring us into this land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and give it to us. “Only don’t rebel against Yahweh, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land, for we will devour them. Their protection has been removed from them, and Yahweh is with us. Don’t be afraid of them! “

This quickly divided the congregation of Israel into groups of those who wanted to return to Egypt and those who wanted to continue on into the land of Canaan. This caused God’s anger to be aroused at the unfaithful scouts who would not obey his commands to take the land, while Joshua and Caleb were spared for their faithfulness.

Numbers 14:22-24, 30, 37-38 – “none of the men who have seen my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tested me these ten times and did not obey me, “will ever see the land I swore to give their fathers. None of those who have despised me will see it. “But since my servant Caleb has a different spirit and has remained loyal to me, I will bring him into the land where he has gone, and his descendants will inherit it. … “I swear that none of you will enter the land I promised to settle you in, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. … those men who spread the negative report about the land were struck down by Yahweh. Only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh remained alive of those men who went to scout out the land.

As dramatic as this event was, we find that it illustrates how God delineates between those who are truly faithful and obedient to him from those who only pay lip service to him until their own perceived notions or opinions clash with what God has revealed as his purpose. This was a principle that has always existed among God’s people, even up to New Testament times.

The apostle Paul dealt extensively with these types of issues. In his letter to the Corinthians, he had to spell out specifics on different cultural and doctrinal issues that were causing divisions within the congregation, yet he states the following:

1 Corinthians 11:18-19 – “For to begin with, I hear that when you come together as a church there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. Indeed, it is necessary that there be factions among you, so that those who are approved may be recognized among you.”

Interestingly, he said these factions were necessary as indicators of right and wrong practices within the congregation. Those of integrity within the congregation were doing everything they could to abide by the word of God while others tried to find loopholes in the doctrine and abuse their privileges based on their own opinions.

In the wilderness, Caleb and Joshua could see beyond the physical appearance of the giants of the land and believed that their “protection had been removed” (since God was commanding the Israelites to overcome them). Because of the wickedness of the land, Caleb and Joshua rightly believed the Canaanites had become exposed to the justice of God that was about to be meted out through the faithful Israelite armies. Joshua and Caleb were merely stating in faith what they knew would come to pass if only the people obeyed and took the land.

This same thing occurs to this very day, but we need to realize that factions can be, as the apostle Paul says, necessary to ensure that those who are doing what is approved become apparent from the rest. This is why it is so important that we have a holistic grasp of the entire Bible, not just a concentrated focus on a few parts. The wider our perspective on the whole of how God has worked and continues to work among his people provides us a wide and firm foundation to draw conclusions for our daily practices.

This is the integrity that people of faith can demonstrate when faced with similar obstacles. Understanding and obeying the word of God from the heart brings the blessings of God, just as Caleb and Joshua received their inheritance while the others did not.


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.

Authentic forgiveness influences others to do the same

The most impactful messages are backed up by the actions of those who are presenting them.

Core of the Bible podcast #70 – Authentic forgiveness influences others to do the same

Today we will be looking at the topic of forgiveness, and how the most impactful and influential examples are made by the consistency and authenticity of those who are living them out.

Luke 23:34 – Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.

One of the main reasons that Yeshua’s teachings have been so influential in the centuries and millennia is not just because of the wisdom, logic, and truth of what he taught, but because he actually demonstrated how to apply what he implored others to do. As was the case in the instance of his crucifixion at the hands of his oppressors, he didn’t just preach forgiveness of enemies, he actually lived it out, praying for God to forgive those who had no intent toward him except extreme harm.

A message of instruction can have impact because it makes sense, or because it is an accepted tradition, or it may be a requirement of an institution or governing authority. However, the most impactful messages are those that are conveyed with consistency and authenticity, and backed up by the actions of those who are presenting them.

By contrast, in our culture today, the opposite happens so frequently that there is the ironic statement expressed by the saying, “Do what I say, not what I do.” This is the epitome of sad weakness in which one may have an understanding of what the right thing may be in a given situation, but they do not have the strength or fortitude to carry out even their own advice. Hypocrisy is powerless.

But wisdom with consistent action makes a difference, especially with hard teachings like those about forgiveness. Anyone can say people should be forgiving of those who are intent on harm, but to do so in the most extreme of circumstances demonstrates authenticity that has power to change lives.

This is corroborated in the lives of Yeshua’s disciples, most visibly in the noble act of Stephen when he faced the same type of hostility of those who would see him dead for his speaking of the truth. When he was called before the religious high court to defend his beliefs, Stephen provides a protracted description of God’s favor with Israel, and then abruptly accuses the religious leaders of his day of forsaking everything they should have been practicing. In boldly speaking this truth, the situation then proceeded toward its inevitable conclusion.

Acts 7:53-54, 57-58, 60 – [Stephen said,] “You received the law under the direction of angels and yet have not kept it.” … When they heard these things, they were enraged and gnashed their teeth at him. … They yelled at the top of their voices, covered their ears, and together rushed against him. They dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. … He knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them! ” And after saying this, he died.

Stephen was so captivated with the powerful example of his Lord in forgiving his enemies that, thrust into a similar circumstance, he responded in the same way. His actions were consistent with his recognition of the truth related by his Master, and he was able to respond with the same level of demonstrable conviction. His righteous actions were so powerful they still influence and challenge us to this day.

In contrast, Yeshua provides an opposite example in stark relief against the nobility of Stephen’s type of forgiving actions. At one point when his disciples were asking him questions, he had responded to Peter’s question about how many times believers are expected to forgive. Yeshua’s answer was couched in a story, a parable, about what this looks like from God’s perspective.

Matthew 18:21-35 – Then Peter approached him and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? As many as seven times? ” “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven. “For this reason, the kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. “When he began to settle accounts, one who owed ten thousand talents was brought before him. “Since he did not have the money to pay it back, his master commanded that he, his wife, his children, and everything he had be sold to pay the debt. “At this, the servant fell facedown before him and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you everything.’ “Then the master of that servant had compassion, released him, and forgave him the loan. “That servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him, started choking him, and said, ‘Pay what you owe! ‘ “At this, his fellow servant fell down and began begging him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ “But he wasn’t willing. Instead, he went and threw him into prison until he could pay what was owed. “When the other servants saw what had taken place, they were deeply distressed and went and reported to their master everything that had happened. “Then, after he had summoned him, his master said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. “Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you? ‘ “And because he was angry, his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he could pay everything that was owed. “So also my heavenly Father will do to you unless every one of you forgives his brother or sister from your heart.”

This parable is so comprehensive and compelling that it leaves little room for any comment. Yeshua sets a clear indication of God’s desire for his people to be people of forgiveness based on on their own recognition of how much they have been forgiven. The apostle Paul carries this forward to the believers in Colosse, as well.

Colossians 3:12-13 – “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others.”

Our ability to forgive should not be based solely on an emotional feeling of sadness or pity toward someone else. There may be times where our emotions are running completely opposite to empathy or pity, and yet, we are commanded to forgive anyway, if for no other reason than we have been forgiven by God. That is the standard that should guide us.

Based on these demonstrations of genuine forgiveness of enemies by both Yeshua and Stephen, can we somehow find it within ourselves to forgive others with this same level of authenticity? If this is the ultimate level of obedience demanded of every disciple of Yeshua, then forgiving those who have wronged us in some minor detail seems much less daunting. Every time we do so, we have an opportunity to provide an authentic response that can influence others to do the same.


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.