The antidote against covetousness

We demonstrate God has our heart when we trust him by being sincerely generous with what he has given us.

Core of the Bible podcast #46 – The antidote against covetousness

Today we will be exploring the topic of vigilance, and how we need to be vigilant in removing all unrighteous practices from our lives. In Luke 12, Yeshua cautions his followers to be mindful and vigilant that they are not to allow themselves to be overcome with covetousness. He stated it this way:

Luke 12:15 – He told the people, “Be careful to guard yourselves from every kind of greed. Life is not about having an abundance of material possessions.”

There are two main aspects to this verse, and I think there is value if we are to break it down and view these aspects separately.

In the first aspect, Yeshua focuses on the importance of alertness to the subtilty of greed. He says to “Be aware to keep yourselves from every kind of greed.” Let’s look at the meanings of some of the main words in the text to understand it a little more deeply.

What’s translated here as “be aware” conveys the idea of staring at something intently, or to clearly discern something. It is the idea of a guard in a watchtower scanning the horizon for any evidence of invaders. This takes full attention and careful observation. Greed and covetousness are concepts that can quickly overtake us if we are not keeping a watchful eye for their sometimes subtle influence.

To keep oneself from something implies a measure of  isolating oneself. It means being on guard to avoid bad influence, or with the idea of preserving that which is good. This involves intentional effort and in the context of believers, it involves obedience to the things of God.

Yeshua says believers are to exercise this kind of watchfulness and protection to avoid “all covetousness.” The word used for covetousness includes a host of negative characteristics such as greed and aggressive materialism, which we typically associate with covetousness. However, it also includes ideas of fraudulence, extortion, or desire for any kind of advantage. Essentially, this type of person usually will do just about anything to get what they want. All of these things fall into the covetousness category.

The Geneva Bible says: “By covetousness is meant that greedy desire to get, commonly causing hurt to other men.”

John Gill writes: “all sorts of covetousness, and every degree of it, which of all vices is to be avoided and guarded against, being the root of all evil; and as the Persic version renders it, is worse than all evil, and leads into it”

Matthew Poole expands on this idea further when he writes:

“The pleonexia, here translated covetousness or immoderate desire of having of this world’s goods, which discovers itself either by unrighteous acts in procuring, or uncharitable omissions for the keeping, of the things of this life. It is that filarguria, love of money, which the apostle determines to be the root of all evil. It is also discovered by a too much thoughtfulness [of] what we shall eat, drink, or put on, or by the too great meltings of our hearts into our bags of gold or silver. All these come under the notion of that covetousness which is here forbidden. In short, whatsoever it is that hindereth our contentment with the portion God giveth us upon our endeavours, though it amounts to no more than food and raiment, according to the apostle’s precept…”

He then wisely refers us to a familiar passage in Paul’s letter to Timothy, and also the book of Hebrews:

1 Timothy 6:6-10 – But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out. If we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Hebrews 13:5 – Keep your life free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for he himself has said, I will never leave you or abandon you.

Now that we have defined what this covetousness is that we should constantly be on guard against, Yeshua then focuses on why this intense level of scrutiny is necessary. He then says, “Life is not about having an abundance of material possessions.”

According to Yeshua, life is not found in the abundance of ones material things. Having an abundance literally means to “superabound;” that is, to not only have enough to meet ones needs, but well beyond.

In the words of John Gill: “a man’s natural life cannot be prolonged by all the good things of the world he is possessed of; they cannot prevent diseases nor death; nor do the comfort and happiness of life, lie in these things; which are either not enjoyed by them, but kept for the hurt of the owners of them, or are intemperately used, or some way or other imbittered to them, so that they have no peace nor pleasure in them: and a man’s spiritual life is neither had nor advantaged hereby, and much less is eternal life to be acquired by any of these things; which a man may have, and be lost for ever, as the following parable shows.”

As Gill mentions, Yeshua then tells a parable to explain the pointlessness of the common perspective that most people have.

Luke 12:16-21 – Then he told them a parable: “A rich man’s land was very productive. “He thought to himself, ‘What should I do, since I don’t have anywhere to store my crops? “I will do this,’ he said. ‘I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones and store all my grain and my goods there. “Then I’ll say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.” ‘ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared ​– ​whose will they be? ‘ “That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

I think most of us instinctively know this to be true, but it doesn’t always stop us from desiring more, whether it is more things to possess or more power and authority or advantage over others.

Now I believe a significant caution is necessary here in saying that many commentators and preachers will use this parable and teaching to admonish those who are rich, or those who are being prudent in regards to their income and assets, but is that the true meaning of what Yeshua is teaching us here? Is he trying to say it is better to be poor than to be rich?

Here are a few examples of how commentators will typically view the meaning of this parable of Yeshua regarding the man who built bigger barns for himself:

Albert Barnes: “The passage, then, means: Be not anxious about obtaining wealth, for, however much you may obtain, it will not prolong your life. “That” depends on the will of God, and it requires something besides wealth to make us ready to meet him.”

Hermann Olshausen says that there are two propositions blended together: “Life consists not in superfluity” (the true life), and “nothing spiritual can proceed from earthly possessions.”

Heinrich Ewald says: “If man has not from his external wealth in general what can be rightly called his life, he has it not, or rather he has it still less by the fact that this, his external wealth, increases by his appeasing his covetousness.”

Matthew Poole writes: “The poor are as merry, and many times more satisfied, more healthy, and at more ease, than those that have abundance. It is a golden sentence, which deserves to be engraven in every soul.”

These great commentators from the past are drawing out many useful and helpful maxims and ideals that we can truly benefit from. But as Luke is using this parable for a specific purpose, it would serve us well to determine what he is trying to emphasize in Yeshua’s teaching.

On the surface, this parable appears to teach that saving up for an uncertain future is to no avail, as we cannot have any certainty of the length of our lives. While this is certainly true, I believe the real essence of the parable, based on the teaching of Yeshua that it is meant to illustrate (that of the vigilance needed in avoiding greed) is summed up in the last sentence: “That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Notice, it is not the storing up of the treasure that is the issue, but storing up treasure for oneself, that is, for one’s own ease and comfort, without being rich toward God.

And herein I believe is the real essence of what Yeshua is teaching us: the antidote for greed and selfish advantage is not necessarily being poor, but it is being rich toward God. This then begs the question, how can one be rich toward God? How are we to abound and exhibit wealth toward God?

In Luke’s telling of the story, here Yeshua goes right into the teaching of seeking first the kingdom and trusting God’s provision and not relying on our own. This is another indication of the intended meaning that I believe Luke is highlighting in this passage, and which he now has Yeshua illustrating from this complementary perspective of the kingdom.

Luke 12:22-34 – “Then he said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, don’t worry about your life, what you will eat; or about the body, what you will wear. “For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. “Consider the ravens: They don’t sow or reap; they don’t have a storeroom or a barn; yet God feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than the birds? “Can any of you add one moment to his life-span by worrying? “If then you’re not able to do even a little thing, why worry about the rest? “Consider how the wildflowers grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these. “If that’s how God clothes the grass, which is in the field today and is thrown into the furnace tomorrow, how much more will he do for you ​– ​you of little faith? “Don’t strive for what you should eat and what you should drink, and don’t be anxious. “For the Gentile world eagerly seeks all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be provided for you. “Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights to give you the kingdom. “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Make money-bags for yourselves that won’t grow old, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

If one simply stores up treasure for oneself, the result can be as uncertain as the man in the parable experienced. He spent time, effort, and money to build bigger barns to hold all of the stuff he simply wanted to use for his own purposes. However, if one seeks first the kingdom, God’s provision will be sufficient, and those things that a person might have been storing up for themself can then be used to also help those who are in need. In this way, by being generous with those who are in need, according to Yeshua, people can store up true treasure, real treasure in heaven.

Luke 12:31, 33-34 – “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be provided for you. … Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Make money-bags for yourselves that won’t grow old, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

A desire to have an abundance of wealth or material possessions is, for most people, a desire for security in life. Whether it’s financial savings plans, 401K retirement plans, or winning the lottery, we desire to have an assured future. If we know we have more than enough for the moment, then our ongoing provision is accounted for. Yeshua provides the reasoning behind why this should not be our primary focus in life.

First of all, we may work hard to save for our future, only to have our life end prematurely (from our perspective), and who would then be the recipient of everything we had worked so hard to attain? Was all that work and time spent collecting all of that wealth really the best use of our resources while we lived?

Additionally, it does not allow us to be rich towards God. If God blesses us, we should be faithful in using those material blessings to bless others, as he has done with us. This is how the child honors the Father and demonstrates their true spiritual lineage; by becoming like him.

Further, one more final and important point regarding our vigilance against covetousness in our lives, the apostle Paul provides a stern warning regarding covetousness to the believers in Colosse:

Colossians 3:5 – Put to death, therefore, whatever is worldly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”

Greed, the desire for more and more material things for personal security and satisfaction, is idolatry. This must be put to death, a term of finality; there is no middle ground. We need to be vigilant in removing all unrighteous practices from our lives, and idolatry is the primary indicator of rebellion against God. When we seek to trust our provision (which we can see) more than our Provider (whom we cannot see), then we have fallen prey to idolatry.

God promises to meet our needs, not our wants, but in so doing, he instructs us that we should demonstrate generosity with others out of respect for his care for us. If you really desire to have a godly abundance, then rather than being an idolater, be an abundant giver.

Luke 6:38 – “Give, and you will receive. A large quantity, pressed together, shaken down, and running over will be put into your pocket.”

This is not meant to teach us that we can get more earthly possessions for ourselves by giving to others, which is the basis of the prosperity gospel. But it is the representation that the large quantity that is placed in our account will be the heavenly treasure, the true wealth that only God can give. That is the wealth that will not ever be lost, as Yeshua taught: “an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

God wants our hearts, and when we trust him by being sincerely generous with what he has given us, rather than storing up everything for our own purposes, we will gain true wealth within his purpose for all eternity.


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.

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The sermon of the kingdom

The kingdom of God on earth is evidenced through the humble obedience of heart-believers

In the gospel of Matthew, one of the most significant passages of the Bible is related in chapters 5-7: the Sermon on the Mount. It is also echoed in Luke 6:20-49. Within these verses, Yeshua is teaching his disciples and followers about the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven; what it encompasses, who is included in it, and how one conducts oneself within it.

This passage is what I’ve come to call the core of the Bible message. It is the root of all balanced biblical understanding. Once one understands that Yeshua’s purpose was to define and firmly establish the kingdom of God upon the earth, the rest of the Bible falls into place.

Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Matthew 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

According to Yeshua, the kingdom of God belongs to those who are humble and who are constantly doing what is right regardless of personal cost. To be humble and obedient to God’s standards at all times should be the goal of every believer.

Matthew 5:19-20 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.

Those whose righteousness surpasses that of the religious leaders are to be the believers whose humble obedience to God’s commands stems from the heart, not from mere outward conformity to rules and regulations.

Matthew 6:10 – Your kingdom come. Your will be done…

It is to be these heart-believers who bring the kingdom of God to the earth. When God’s will is accomplished by the humble and obedient faithful, his kingdom is present.

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

Humble obedience from the heart comes with the privilege of God’s provision for the basic necessities of life. When God’s kingdom is first in the believer’s life, then stresses over the pressures of life that affect those around us fall into the background and fade away. Accomplishing the will of God brings peace.

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.

The kingdom of heaven is not made up of those who merely profess to believe, but of those whose profession is evidenced in the truth and power of their outward actions. Against all odds and opposition, even to death, true believers will stand for what’s right according to God’s will and purpose. They are rooted and deeply established within the word of God to recognize and act upon the principles that God expects of all people.

This is the message of the Bible reduced to its simplest form: the kingdom of God on earth is evidenced through the humble obedience of heart-believers. This is how God’s will is accomplished on the earth until his kingdom grows to encompass all nations and people.


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 at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Personal and private righteous actions for the sake of others

This is the authentic way that people receive the real help they need.

Matthew 6:1-2 – Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

While this passage is typically employed in the service of condemning negative acts of hypocrisy, there is an interesting aspect that highlights the positive aspect of the believers life: practicing private righteousness.

Yeshua here equates giving to those in need as an act of righteousness. When believers are compassionate to others, they are exhibiting their righteousness. To exhibit righteousness is not wrong, in fact, we are supposed to be the “lights of the world” and the “salt of the earth.” However, if we are doing acts of righteousness only for the sake of being seen by others to show them how superior we are for being so righteous, then this steps over into the realm of hypocrisy. This is the main point that Yeshua is attempting to convey.

But I believe the term “practicing or doing righteousness” still carries a lot of beneficial cargo for the believer today. Just because it’s wrong to be an exhibitionist with our righteous acts does not mean we should not still do them. This is why Yeshua says if there is a chance they can be seen by others as hypocritical, to do them outside the purview of others; to do them in secret.

Matthew 6:3-4 – But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

We should attempt to help others and be compassionate in ways that don’t draw attention to ourselves, but that only give glory to God. The reassurance that Yeshua provides is that God still sees those genuine acts of charity, even if no one else does, and he honors the generous heart.

Proverbs 19:17 – Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.

While there have been many fine organizations and efforts over the years to assist the less fortunate, our ultimate goal should not be to join some charity organization as a means of adding to our “resume of righteousness.” We should find ways to simply give with a willing heart whenever a need arises, and when we are able to do so. This is the authentic way that people receive the real help they need. It is personal because it comes from the heart; it is sacrificial because it takes personal time, effort, and resources; and it is genuine because it is done solely for the benefit of another.

This is the type of righteous compassion that Yeshua encourages and which God blesses. Whenever we exhibit love to others simply for the sake of loving them, we honor God and bring glory to his name.


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 at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Being nice people in a world that is not nice

Abiding by God’s pattern of forgiveness.

Ephesians 4:32 – And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.

We see so much strife and anger in this day and age. People are spending inordinate amounts of time and energy endorsing popular slogans, political parties, and national movements for or against some agenda or another. To our collective shame, much of it is also stemming from those who claim to be believers, those who say they have trusted in the God of the Bible.

Our age of social unrest is little different than that of the first century believers. Besides being caught up in one of the most revolutionary times in the life of God’s people, they were also subject to political wrangling not only of Rome, but of their own countrymen. Civil disputes, especially among themselves, were rampant; in many respects the nation was on the verge of civil war. The Jewish state had rarely been as factious and divisive politically, and families were pitted against one another.

Yet into this fray, Paul writes that believers should be kind and compassionate, forgiving one another. They should be nice people in a world that is not nice.

Colossians 3:12-13 – Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive.

Critical to this “niceness” is the idea that their forgiveness should be patterned on the forgiveness that God offered them. If we take Paul’s advice at face value and look to God’s precedent and pattern of forgiveness, we may be able to see some ways that we can faithfully represent him as his people in this world.

Psalm 103:8-14 – Yahweh is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love. He will not always accuse us or be angry forever. He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve or repaid us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his faithful love toward those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him. For he knows what we are made of, remembering that we are dust.

First of all, God is stated to be abounding in chesed, the Hebrew word for kindness and faithful goodness.
He is slow to anger. His patience is long and he is willing to suspend judgment until absolutely necessary.
Even when his anger is expressed, it is momentary and brief in the overall scope of his dealings with mankind. His anger does not linger with slow-burning constancy.
When he does express his justice at unfaithfulness, it is not as would be deserved; it is comparatively light for the injustice that has been committed.
Most importantly, when he forgives, it is complete. It is illustrated as being as far as east is from west; complete opposites that stretch away infinitely from one another.
Certainly within the family of believers, he chooses to relate to us a compassionate parent, not as an authoritarian stranger. His compassion for the bond of faith is as of a loving parent to his children.
Ultimately, his dealings with mankind are based on the generous and sobering understanding that we are temporary individuals, we are not permanent to this time and place.

If we could learn to review, accept, and enact God’s principles, forgiving others in the same manner he is forgiving of us, imagine how we could be a force for good and “niceness” in the world today. By applying the same type of faithfulness and compassion with others, and certainly among the family of believers, we could have lasting impact in our efforts to reduce strife and anger in our world.

We are all only here for a short amount of time as temporary pin-points of light within an entire galaxy of humanity. Let’s remember we are all dust, extending God’s kindness and mercy, his chesed, while we can.


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 at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Finding good and attaining happiness

Trust in Yahweh to genuinely experience the goodness and happiness that only he provides.

Proverbs 16:20 Whoever is prudent and circumspect with the word will find and attain good, and the one who trusts in the LORD, how happy and blessed he is!

Trusting in Yahweh and in his word or instruction allows individuals to find and attain good. The Hebrew word tov implies that which is pleasant and agreeable to the senses. It carries ideas of fruitfulness and prosperity, kindness and ethical goodness, beneficial and valuable things.

When these things are realized through thoughtful consideration of his instruction or his word, then esher or happiness and blessedness results.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 – The person who trusts in Yahweh, whose confidence indeed is Yahweh, is blessed. He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit.

Notice that drought may come, but the one trusting in Yahweh has a source of water (strength and nourishment) that is not readily available to others. There is no need to worry about what others worry about.

The words of Yeshua echo this sentiment of Jeremiah:

Matthew 6:31-33 – “So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat? ‘ or ‘What will we drink? ‘ or ‘What will we wear? ‘ “For those of the nations eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

When we are truly trusting in Yahweh, we are seeking his kingdom to be expressed on this earth. This provides both an objective and a place of safety, a refuge from which to operate.

Psalm 34:8-10 – Taste and see that Yahweh is good. How happy is the person who takes refuge in him! You who are his holy ones, fear Yahweh, for those who fear him lack nothing. Villages may lack food and go hungry, but those who seek Yahweh will not lack any good.

To fear Yahweh is to trust him; it is an expression of respect, awe, and appropriate reverence for the power and might of the one true God. The psalmist encourages people to “taste,” that is, to perceive with the senses, to see. Trusting in Yahweh is not just a belief or exercise of the mind, but an ongoing act that involves all that we do and say. Trusting in Yahweh means we recognize, act, and abide by the authority of his word. It is not just a head full of abstract beliefs, but a heart from which actions spring with the understanding and wisdom he provides.

Proverbs 16:20 strikes me as addressing one of the deepest desires of mankind: to attain tov or good which brings true happiness and blessedness. The things in this world that we seek to fill that void are vain shadows of this attainable reality. It is up to us to “taste and see,” that is, trust in Yahweh to genuinely experience the goodness and happiness that only he provides.


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 at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The Ten holy Commandments

Defining the life and practice of every believer in the one true God.

We may be familiar with the Ten Commandments that were revealed by God on Mount Sinai, but perhaps it has gone unnoticed that these commandments are the very fabric of holiness that sets believers apart from the rest of the world. Let’s briefly consider each one within the context of our modern world.

To love Yahweh our God, and have no other gods besides him.
Most people today do not recognize God as being over all, and yet this truth is fundamental. To worship him alone, and to do so in spirit and truth is the essence of biblical faith.

To have no physical representation of any god, including the one true God.
Idolatry remains prevalent in this world to this day. Beyond the plethora of other gods being represented elsewhere, even within the halls of Christian denominations, iconography and representative symbolism abounds. Yet God desires we avoid this preoccupation with representing the un-representable. Our focus instead is to represent him through our faithful words and actions.

To not take his Name in vain.
Many people confess to knowing and believing in Yahweh God, and yet their lives tell a different story. Consistency in our lifestyle matching up with our belief system is essential. If we honor him only with our lips and not with our actions, then our faith is in vain.

To keep the Sabbath holy.
This culture today knows little of special days for rest from worldly activities and focus on spiritual realities. The seventh day was set apart as holy from the beginning of Creation, and recognition of this heritage provides strength and purpose for the other six days.

To honor mother and father.
This principle goes beyond just the recognition of earthly parents to the concept of authority in general. We live today in a world of parents who are not godly, children who don’t respect them, and where general authority is despised. Believers must re-connect this chain of honor in these various arenas of experience.

Do not murder.
Our news outlets are filled with this reality, as are our popular fictional television series which focus on crimes and investigation. While most people may not physically kill another individual, Yeshua heightens this commandment to not even be unrighteously angry with someone, which is where this rebellion begins. Anger is dividing this country and it’s up to believers to be the peacemakers in these storms of contention.

Do not commit adultery.
In the beginning, God created one man and one woman for each other. This is God’s ideal. Faithfulness to that ideal in today’s world may be considered a fairy tale for some, but is necessary all the same. In fact, monogamous faithfulness can provide much needed stability within the family unit. As goes the family, so goes the community; as goes the community, so goes the city, and the country, and the world.

Do not steal.
Not taking anything that doesn’t belong to you involves anything from physical objects to online copyright infringement. Believers are challenged to honor this commandment in all areas of life, and to be examples of righteous actions within their circles of influence.

Do not bear false witness.
Beyond perjuring oneself in a court of law, this commandment applies whenever something falsely may be said about someone else. Believers set themselves apart by being truth-tellers in all aspects of their lives.

Do not covet.
Some believe this commandment sums up all of the others, for if we do not covet what others may have, we will honor God and our parents and we won’t seek to harm others in any other way. According to Yeshua, this is the summary of all of the commandments in the Bible: to love God and love others.

Matthew 22:37-40 – 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.”

Believers are grateful for what they have, not jealous of what they don’t have. Gratefulness is one of the most sincere ways of honoring God, as it involves honoring him with everything we have.

This brief summary of the Ten Commandments should provide us with a fresh perspective of holiness. God has designed these commandments as the means and methods of being uniquely qualified to represent him in this world. The fact that we can still see how impactful they are is testament to the fact of their universality.

To be holy is to be set apart. When we faithfully practice these commandments, empowered by his holy Spirit, then we, too, become holy and set apart which is God’s desire for all people.


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 at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Involving God’s word and his Spirit in all of your ways

Ancient wisdom which provides continual direction and guidance within the will of God.

Proverbs 14:8 – The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving.

Vigilance of thought is one of the most challenging yet most rewarding aspects of a believer’s life. The thoughts and plans we have will reveal what is truly in our hearts. To lead a life that is constantly focused on defrauding others or finding ways to exploit relationships is one that is bound to fail. In this proverb, Solomon illustrates this way as “folly.”

According to the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew lexicon, this type of individual demonstrates characteristics of always being morally bad, one who:

  • despises wisdom & discipline
    • Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
    • Proverbs 15:5 – A fool despises his father’s instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.
  • mocks at guilt
    • Proverbs 14:9 – Fools mock at the guilt offering, but the upright enjoy acceptance.
  • is quarrelsome
    • Proverbs 20:3 – It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.
  • is licentious
    • Proverbs 7:7, 10, 21-23 – and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, … And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart. … With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life.
  • it is folly and useless to instruct him
    • Proverbs 16:22 – Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly.
    • Proverbs 27:22 – Crush a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his folly will not depart from him.

All of this speaks to the foolishness of the one who rejects wisdom and discipline. The proverb goes further, though, and explains that fools are deceiving. They will operate from a base of deception and exploitation of the weakness of others. Their continual mode of operation is selfish gain with no regard for the harmful effects on others. This in itself is a mode of self-deception, as well; thinking one can always simply manipulate a situation for their own gain.

By contrast, those believers who are vigilant in all their ways will seek to avoid these dead-ends of life by “discerning their way.” The Hebrew word for discerning means “to consider, perceive, understand, distinguish, have insight.” Just reviewing this list of words demonstrates that to discern one’s ways is a practice that takes time and careful thought. Fools may rush in, as the old saying goes, but it’s the wise who take their time to review the consequences of their actions. Only then will they take the appropriate course of action.

One of the key benefits of this practice that I have seen in my own life is having peace about momentous decisions which need to be made. When I feel pressured to make a big decision about something, whether it is a large purchase or a career move, I have learned to ensure that I do not arrive at a hasty decision. Anything that presents itself as urgent immediately goes into a “consideration buffer.” Through meditation on God’s word and through prayer, the correct ways will ultimately present themselves.

The apostle Paul related this principle to the Ephesian congregation, as well.

Ephesians 5:15-18 – Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to reckless indiscretion. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

He represents how paying careful attention to how a believer should walk involves understanding the Lord’s will and being filled with the Spirit. Being vigilant with our actions means that we are taking the time to involve God in all of our decisions in life. We are examples to others of how God’s goodness and mercy watch over us and protect us from every false way.

Psalm 119:103-104 – How sweet your word is to my taste — sweeter than honey in my mouth. I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every false way.

Psalm 119:127-128 – Since I love your commands more than gold, even the purest gold, I carefully follow all your precepts and hate every false way.

Hating every false way means there is a high dependence on the truth of God’s word. If Paul related the days were evil in his day, how much more we need to vigilantly follow his advice, and the advice of Solomon and the Psalmist, today: “Pay careful attention as to how you walk, discerning your way, carefully following God’s precepts.”


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 at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Biblical meekness that inherits the earth

The biblical definition of meekness provides the basis of integrity

Core of the Bible Podcast #38 – Biblical meekness that inherits the earth

Today we will be exploring the topic of integrity, and how integrity is vividly illustrated in the concept of biblical meekness.

Yeshua stated it this way:

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5

What I would like to do today is to look at the two main aspects of this principle of Yeshua: what the Bible says this meekness or gentleness is, and then to review what inheriting the earth is all about.

Looking at some modern definitions of the word “meek” present us with ideas like “easily imposed on” or “overly submissive.” Words like “weak, timid, soft, and yielding” are also considered modern synonyms.

Yet, if you were to look a little further into some of the archaic definitions, you would find “gentle” and “kind.”

As is typically the case, in shifting between languages throughout time certain meanings are lost and others are gained. Looking at definitions derived from the original Hebrew and Greek of the Bible we come up with some definitions that provide a different emphasis.

For example, the Easton Bible dictionary says that meekness is “a calm temper of mind, not easily provoked.”

Friberg Lexicon says that meekness is as “a mild and friendly disposition, gentle, kind, considerate.”

Bauer’s Lexicon says meekness is when a person is “not being overly impressed by a sense of one’s self-importance, gentle, humble, considerate.”

What Yeshua is expressing here when he says the meek shall inherit the earth is certainly not timidity or weakness, but rather strength that is under complete control, having the ability to demonstrate great power without harshness. This is a vital ingredient in the make up of the integrity of a believer.

This is a non-intuitive way of viewing power in general, as we typically associate power with directness and abruptness of absolute authority or influence. However, the quality spoken of here is one of constancy of purpose and direction, yet having the ability to convey that definitive purpose in a way that is steady and unyielding but without being severe.

I had recently come across an article from Llewelyn Martin, writing over at Pilgrim Ministries, that conveys a sense of this nature of Moses and how we should view his actions and behavior along with those of Yeshua.

“Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3). Vine’s defines meekness like this: “It is an inwrought grace of the soul; and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God.” It is the attitude of accepting God’s work in our lives without disputing or resisting what He brings our way. It is the ability to see everything that comes along as something that God allows and wants to use to strengthen and purify our character. Whether it is circumstances that are contrary to our plan or people that insult or injure us, we realize that God has allowed it to purify us. It is complete reliance on God in what He asks of us or brings to us.

We tend to view meekness as weakness or mildness; however, in reality, meekness is strength. We know that Jesus was meek, but He was not weak. It took strength to meekly accept God’s lot for His life without using all the resources at His disposal to avoid it. He instead laid that all aside to follow through with God’s plan for Him. Meekness is the ability to use God’s power to fulfill His will when we have the power and ability to follow our own plan or defend ourselves. It is not being at the end of our rope and then needing to rely on God. It is having rope left but choosing instead to accept God’s plan. Therefore, meekness is the opposite of self-assertiveness or self-interest. It is the calmness of spirit that is neither self-exulting nor self-degrading; it is not preoccupied with self at all. Meekness can only be realized through the Holy Spirit empowering our lives.

-Llewellyn Martin, Moses the Meekest Man

Moses The Meekest Man | Pilgrim Ministry

That biblically meek men can be influential leaders was also brought into focus by an article I found at Perspective Digest. This excerpt highlights the driving force behind biblical meekness which is a patient yet firm conviction of God’s will.

Review of the biblical use of the term translated as “meek” pertaining to Moses (Num. 12:3), provides good insight into Old Testament significance of this quality. Though at times synonymous (and even confused) with the related word translated “poor” or “afflicted,” the term’s 18 most certain occurrences never represent high social standing or popular esteem. …

For meekness as leadership principle is neither dependent on popular permission, nor on personal whim and preference. It is controlled neither by social status nor by personal will. It is the simple conviction that this is what God, unique and supreme Authority, has required and would will. It is doing what God says to do regardless. Patience with human perversity is part and parcel of such leadership, for the crowds do eventually follow, however reluctantly. But however unwilling the multitude may prove to be, God will still lead, and His meek human agent will lead by following Him (Ps. 25:9). Such single-minded, shame-despising commitment was and is the leadership of Jesus (Heb. 12:2), and of His servant Moses.

  • Lael Caesar, Moses’ Meek Leadership

Perspective Digest : Moses’ Meek Leadership

Believers are encouraged to have this quality of great strength and capability within humble and steady control, coupled with respect and kindness for others.

Titus 3:1-2 – Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

Some other words from other versions of verse 2 use language like, “they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone,” or “to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.

Biblical meekness is powerful because it is also one of the visible fruits of God’s holy Spirit working within us:

Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

This Biblical meekness or strength that is under humble control can be likened to a forest stream as it winds its way down a mountain in the wilderness. The power of the water is steady and unyielding, yet it doesn’t flow in a straight line from the top of the mountain to the sea into which it empties itself. It flows over and around rocks and obstacles as it makes its journey, softening the edges of hard rock and scooping bits of soil and pebbles in its path and carrying them away. Over time, its effects become more prominent as the channel for the stream becomes deeper and more defined. While, from one perspective, the water can be thought of as yielding to the hard rocks along the way, it is actually molding, shaping, and moving the mountain as it flows over and around the rocks and pebbles in its path.

Matthew 11:29 – Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Yeshua encourages us to learn of this biblical meekness from him. When we take it to heart and actually practice this with those around us, our strength that is under control can positively influence the hardened and sharpened opinions of the world around us.


Now that we have a broader understanding of biblical meekness and how we should exercise this same quality that Yeshua had, how is it that this quality allows believers to inherit the earth? Well, we can begin to understand this better when we recognize that when Yeshua was saying that the meek shall inherit the earth, he was actually referencing a quote from one of the Psalms.

Psalm 37:11 – But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

However, in Psalm 37, the contextual reference is to the land as an eternal inheritance, not the earth as a whole. The Hebrew word for earth (eretz) can be translated as either “earth” meaning the whole globe, or “land” as in the land of Israel. It is up to the translator to choose the usage.

We can see the land referenced throughout this Psalm:

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. …

9 For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land. …

11 But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. …

22 for those blessed by the LORD shall inherit the land, but those cursed by him shall be cut off. …

29 The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell upon it forever. …

34 Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

The reason that using the word land instead of earth in these passages is preferred is that this same type of language of inheriting the land is all through the Old Covenant. This was the promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and his descendants.

Genesis 12:7 – Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

Genesis 13:17 – Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.”

Genesis 15:18 – On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates…”

In that last passage, the land is even physically described as being bordered by Egypt to the Euphrates, the physical land of Israel.

To Isaac, God said, “Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father,” (Genesis 26:3).

To Jacob he said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring,” (Genesis 28:13).

So to inherit the land was the result of faithfulness and obedience to God. Conversely, to not enter or to be cut off from the land was language that defined the consequences of unbelief.

Numbers 32:11 – ‘Surely none of the men who came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, because they have not wholly followed me…

Deuteronomy 28:58, 63-66 – “If you are not careful to observe all the words of this law which are written in this book, to fear this honored and awesome name, the LORD your God, … “It shall come about … you will be torn from the land where you are entering to possess it. Moreover, the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known. Among those nations you shall find no rest, and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot; but there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing of eyes, and despair of soul. So your life shall hang in doubt before you; and you will be in dread night and day, and shall have no assurance of your life.

This is the state of the wicked and unrepentant: to be cut off from the land.

God told Solomon: 1 Kings 9:6-7 – “But if you or your sons indeed turn away from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them, and the house which I have consecrated for My name, I will cast out of My sight. So Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples.

So we see that the land was instrumental to the promises and purpose of God for national Israel. These promises then reached their fulfillment within the spiritual kingdom of God.


When Yeshua said the meek shall inherit the earth, I believe he used this phrase of inheriting the land metaphorically, applying it directly to the kingdom that emanates from heaven. This can be demonstrated by looking at the immediate context of the teaching of meekness within the Sermon on the Mount:

Mat 5:3, 5, 10 3 Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. … 5 Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth [land]. … 10 Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Therefore, if Yeshua used references to the land inheritance to metaphorically stand for the Kingdom, then I believe we can also. God gave national Israel (physical descendants of Abraham) the Land; he gives believers (spiritual descendants of Abraham) the Kingdom.

Luke 12:32 – “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

Therefore, we now come to the final aspect of this land question. If the land was to be given to Israel forever, then why did this not come to pass, as they were removed through several different scatterings through the ancient empires of Assyria, Babylon and Rome?

I believe this has to do with the nature of the eternal promise, and its fulfillment in the kingdom of God.

We know that nothing on this earth is eternal. The apostle Paul even taught that everything which can be seen is temporary.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 – For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

By that logic, the land is something that can be seen and is therefore not an eternal possession in and of itself. I believe these references to an eternal land are foreshadowing the everlasting kingdom, the New Jerusalem, the kingdom of heaven.

The prophetic Zion is mentioned as having everlasting qualities.

Psalm 125:1 – Those who trust in the LORD Are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever.

Psalm 146:10 – The LORD will reign forever, Your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!

Micah 4:7 – “I will make the lame a remnant And the outcasts a strong nation, And the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion From now on and forever.

This is also as the writer to the Hebrews relates when he ties all of this imagery together:

Hebrews 12:22 – But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…

He even carries forward the promise of the land that was made to Abraham as a promise that even Abraham knew was something larger, more permanent, and a future possession:

Hebrews 11:9-10, 13-14, 16 – By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign [land,] dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. … All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. … But as it is, they desire a better [country,] that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

Psalm 125:1 reads: Those who trust in the LORD Are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever.” In an allusion back to this passage, the writer of Hebrews also mentions how the kingdom of God cannot be shaken.

Hebrews 12:27-28 – This [expression,] “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;

This kingdom which cannot be shaken is the New Jerusalem, Mount Zion, representative of the kingdom of heaven. Just as the physically faithful inherited the physical land, then the spiritually faithful inherit the spiritual kingdom. This is the kingdom that was prophesied to spread to all kingdoms, and last forever.

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

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

As this kingdom is to be spread over the entire earth, then in a very real way, the meek shall indeed inherit the earth, with the caveat that it will be so when the realization of the heavenly kingdom is over all the earth.

So to summarize a lot of broad-ranging information today, we can see that Yeshua’s saying that “the meek shall inherit the earth” is indeed a reality that is underway and growing to fulfillment with each passing day.

The concept of biblical meekness or gentleness is strength under control, flexible but unyielding, having a powerful purpose but adapting to its environment while accomplishing its ends.

This is the force that overcomes the mighty and powerful, beating swords into plowshares, replacing the kingdoms of men with the kingdom of God, as believers remain firm on the principles of God’s kingdom. We, as the biblical meek, are the stream cascading down the mountain of God, smoothing the rough stones and scooping up the willing along its way into the vast ocean of eternity.

As believers are diligent in bringing about this integrity of gentleness in expressing God’s powerful purpose around them, anything is possible. The world of rebellious men becomes the possession of God as willing hearts turn to him. To him every knee shall bow, and to him every knee shall confess. This is the type of power that truly inherits the earth.

Living as a new person

His Spirit can renew our hearts for him.

1 Samuel 10:6, 9 – …and the Spirit of Yahweh will come mightily on you, and you shall prophesy with them, and shall be turned into another man … When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day.

The Spirit of God has the ability to transform believers. Saul, as the first king of Israel, was mightily anointed by God for the task, so much so, that he effectively became another person. The text says that God when the Spirit of God came upon him, God “gave him another heart.”

God’s desired goal with individuals is that when they encounter him in a personal way, they are effectively changed from the inside out.

God had told Ezekiel that the whole nation of Israel was going to be able to receive his influence in their lives. This was to provide them the strength and wisdom to obey his commands.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 – I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances.

This was God’s plan for them all along: to become a new people, set apart from all others, and to be obedient examples to the rest of the world. They were to be a nation following his torah, his instruction for all to see. This obedience would not be one of rote compulsion, but one of freedom and joy from the heart.

Jeremiah 31:33 – Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days ​– ​the LORD’s declaration. I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

The only way this could effectively be accomplished was by transforming the individual’s heart to understand and to desire to follow God.

Hebrews 10:22 – let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.

Just as God had promised Israel that he would cleanse them from all of their impurities and their idols, he promised that believers in Messiah could draw near to him as they received cleansing for their rebellious deeds of conscience and body.

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

To live as a believer in God and his Messiah is to live as a new person with lives of integrity and righteousness. This is the goal that God has for every individual who comes to him in sincerity and truth, and he can make it so.

Many people come to congregations seeking to change their own lives, as if somehow they can learn enough or do the right “church things” they can mold and shape themselves into who they think God wants them to be. However, all of these passages speak to the changing of the heart to be an act of God, not a twelve-step plan to becoming a better person.

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

It doesn’t take a program of study to experience God’s presence in our lives, but it does take a sincere approach that lays down all personal objectives and known transgressions against a holy and righteous God. A true seeker must be willing to die to self, for the call of the true believer is the call of the martyr.

Just like Saul of long ago, God is still willing to transform. Once we have surrendered all to God, then he can mold and shape us into whom he desires us to be for 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 at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

A kingdom that is distinct from this world

Believers live in a tension between two worlds.

When God revealed to Moses the true purpose for bringing Israel out of Egypt, he stated they would be a kingdom set apart.

Exodus 19:5-6 – Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.”

For God’s kingdom to be a kingdom to be a set apart kingdom, a holy kingdom, there would have to be a moral distinction between the people of the kingdom and the people of the world.

John 18:36 – Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”

Yeshua had begun to draw the distinction between the two worlds; the world where God reigns supreme, and this world. However, as people began to accept the message of Messiah through the hands of the apostles, they had begun to bring some of their accepted practices from this world into the midst of the kingdom congregations, and Paul used one of these opportunities to bring correction to the Corinthian congregation of their error.

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.

Not only were some of these practices evident among them, but they had even been reduced to taking each other to court (1 Corinthians 6:1-7). However, Paul encourages them to continue to turn away from those practices, because they were a changed people. When they believed in Messiah, they had become spiritually clean and were set apart as holy.

1 Corinthians 6:11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Messiah Yeshua and by the Spirit of our God.

Paul was clarifying that if people are changed by God, of course there will be a difference between their actions and those of the world around them. In the previous chapter, he had illustrated this distinction vividly.

1 Corinthians 5:9-13 – When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. But I wasn’t talking about those of this world who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people. It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those within the congregation who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.”

The lure of this world is to indulge in these things. The believers in Corinth had begun to think they might still be able to “dabble” with some of these because God’s forgiveness was readily available, or they had never fully repented of those things which were not of God’s standards for his children in his kingdom.

In his writings, the apostle John also makes it clear that believers were living in a tension between two worlds: this world, and the world of the kingdom.

1 John 2:15-17 – Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

Yeshua even prayed for this very thing, knowing that believers would be challenged with continuing to live in a juxtaposition between two worlds.

John 17:9, 14-17 – “My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. … I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil existing here. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.

His prayer was for the disciples to keep that distinction, and to remain safe from the evil in this world. And his prayer extends even to those of us in the kingdom today who have placed our faith in him.

John 17:20 – “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.

The privilege of knowing Yeshua prayed for us can be deeply reassuring when we are faced with the lure and temptations of this world. We need to remember his kingdom is not something that has been created here, but is something beyond this world and its shallow desires. We are called from another world to be a set apart and distinct example to this world.

Matthew 5:14-16 – “You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.


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