In this kingdom we bear the name and character of God

This is what the third commandment is all about.

Core of the Bible podcast #65 – In this kingdom we bear the name and character of God

Today we will be looking at the topic of the Kingdom of God, and how by being in the kingdom, we carry God’s name. Because of this, our words and actions should match his.

Exodus 20:7 – “You do not take up the name of your God Yahweh for a vain thing, for Yahweh does not acquit him who takes up His name for a vain thing.”

As one of the Ten Commandments or Ten “Words” which I believe are the charter instructions for the kingdom of God, I wanted to take some time to explore the nature of what this commandment is really all about.

This verse has classically been used throughout generations for the purpose of not abusing or misusing the revealed name of God, in the sense of using his name as a curse word, or speaking it casually in conversation outside of an appropriate worship setting, or reading it within the text of the Bible.

But as we explore this verse today I think we’ll see that these caricatures miss the intent of what God is attempting to teach us here and throughout the whole Bible. The real sense of the passage is less about misusing God’s name carelessly, and more about our character in claiming to be believers or followers of him.

To begin with, let’s look at how the verse is expressed in some of its original Hebrew key words to gain some depth of what exactly is being discussed.

To “take up” God’s name means to lift or carry; it conveys the idea of raising or bearing a load or burden; it can also mean to accept. To “take” his name is to take up, or carry his name as identifying who we are, or rather, whose we are.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the word for name. The word for “name” in Hebrew is shem. The idea of avoiding pronouncing the sacred name of God (which I refer to as Yahweh) comes from a long tradition among the Jews, who wanted to substitute another word, “adonai,” whenever Yahweh appeared in the text to avoid speaking the sacred name casually or without respect. This word translates into the English as “lord” and is usually printed in all capitals in the Old Testament to identify that verse as containing the sacred name of God.

I suppose the idea behind this practice has been to honor God’s name; however, it has not always been this way, even among God’s people. Hundreds of years before Messiah, it was still a common practice to greet one another with the blessings of Yahweh; it was not until after the return from their captivity that they adopted the practice of not pronouncing the name of God. To this day, God is typically referenced among Jews as HaShem, a title which literally means, the Name.

There is nothing really wrong in continuing this practice out of respect for God, but it is important to recognize there is nothing within the Bible itself that requires this avoidance of pronouncing the name of God, Yahweh. In fact, it could be argued from the Bible that God actually encourages and expects us to use his name, which is why he told it to Moses in the first place:

Exodus 3:15 – “God also said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘Yahweh, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: This is my name forever,

and this my title for all generations.'”

The reason this has significance is because the word shem or name also conveys some meanings about what it represents. It is associated with the fame or glory of an individual, indicative of their character. From a Hebraic perspective, to utter someone’s name is to call out their character.

This is one of the main reasons I prefer to use the name Yeshua instead of Jesus when speaking of the Messiah, because the word Yeshua in Hebrew conveys the idea of salvation, that which the Messiah came to provide.

Now as a representative name applies to Yahweh, Amos exemplifies this type of use of the word when he says:

Amos 5:8 – “The one who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns darkness into dawn and darkens day into night, who summons the water of the sea and pours it out over the surface of the earth — Yahweh is his name.”

This verse shows how God’s ability or nature as the Creator is contained within his “name” or his character. To recognize and honor his name is to recognize him as the Creator and sustainer of all.

It is also representative of a memorial of that character or essence.

Isaiah 66:22 – “For just as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, will remain before me” — this is Yahweh’s declaration — “so your offspring and your name will remain.”

The idea that Isaiah conveys here is that the Israelites’ name, that which embodies who they are, would remain with their future generations.

So from this brief look at a few of the words and phrases more closely, we can see that to take the name of God is to lift, carry, or honor his name (as in raising it up). That which is being lifted, carried and honored is his character, his reputation. Therefore, those who belong to the kingdom of God should be honoring the name, or character, of God with their thoughts, speech, and conduct.

As one of the Ten Commandments within the charter of the kingdom of God, this then implies that honoring the name through living out its values is appropriate and expected kingdom behavior.


So far we have seen that the admonition here is not about the abuse of God’s name, but it’s about when we are identifying as belonging to him, we do not dishonor or defame his name or character by our careless conduct. When someone comes to the knowledge of God and wants to be his follower, then they take his name, identifying with his character. By this participation in the kingdom of God, as his children, we carry his name and his character in this world.

To “take God’s name in vain” is not expressly to use his name flippantly (although that certainly is included). The fact that the commandment urges us to not take the name “in vain” could be paraphrased as “You shall not take my name lightly or for no purpose.”

Our desire to follow his ways should not be rooted in our own selfish ambition or schemes. We should not join the kingdom impetuously, without any real thought for the responsibility we bear. Unfortunately, I have witnessed many “altar calls” for people to become believers based on transient emotions, getting swept away in the moment by some moving stories or demonstrative worship experience.

These type of theatrics were not how Yeshua practiced ministry; he never “worked” the crowds to cause people to come to him. In fact, if anything, his teaching was so polarizing and hotly debated that sometimes people left by droves.

John 6:60-61, 66 “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’ But Yeshua, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, ‘Does this offend you?’ … Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.”

Coming to faith in the God of the Bible is not a matter of spiritual feelings or some worshipful experience based on emotion; it should be a willing desire based on a knowledge and understanding of what being a disciple, a member of God’s kingdom, means.

Luke 14:27-30 – “Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’”

Sadly, I have seen many sincere people begin to build a tower that they could not finish, and I believe it was because their foundation was not based on a knowledge of the Holy One, but on feelings and emotions that faded when the reality of the daily participation in the kingdom was realized. Essayist and poet G.K. Chesterton has been famously quoted as saying: “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and left untried.”

The carrying of one’s cross implies that in some respects the life of a disciple is one of carrying a sacrificial burden, one that involves the reduction of self in all things. Carrying the name of God is such a burden, as it is a diminishment of ourselves and a lifting up of his honor and character. Within the kingdom of God, we should be sincere in our desires to live for him and to bring honor and glory to his name. When we carry his name, our actions and our words should match his.

Yeshua demonstrated this so completely that it was impossible to distinguish between him and his Father.

John 5:19 – “So Yeshua said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.'”

John 7:16 – “So Yeshua answered them, ‘My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.'”

John 12:49 – “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment–what to say and what to speak.”

John 14:8-9 – “Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’ Yeshua said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?'”

When we consider following the Messiah, we are accepting that he was sent from the Father, and carried the name of God so completely that he was essentially indistinguishable from the Father. If we are to become more and more like Messiah, then this same characteristic should be evident in our lives. When people see or hear us, they should be seeing what the Father would want to do or say in that situation.

Does this sound like a heavy responsibility? Of course, which is why we should not take his name lightly or for no purpose, which is the whole point of the third commandment. As we have seen already, we are admonished by Yeshua to count the cost of kingdom living (Luke 14:25-33), but in so doing, to accept it willingly and gladly.

The kingdom is a place of great joy and fulfillment, but it is also a participation in a lifestyle of discipline and self-control. As one of the gifts of God’s Spirit, we should demonstrate self-control so that we do not defame the name that we bear. As we reflect his glory and honor in our words in our actions, we can be sure that we are providing every opportunity for others to be drawn to him, and for the kingdom to become a little bit larger in our generation.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The most intimidating woman in the Bible

How do we measure up?

In reading the last chapter of the Proverbs of Solomon, we encounter a description of the wife of noble character. This outline provides an intimidating look at a woman who is faithful to her husband (v. 11-12), helps provide for her family (v. 27) and reaches out to others in need (v.20).

While this woman has intimidated many wives throughout history and continues to do so today, I think we can glean a bit more wisdom in this description if we look at her as being representative of how a faithful wife interacts with her family and those around her, and not a description of a real person. More importantly, I think we gain clarity when we see that this passage describes the wife that God has called to himself: those in the Kingdom of God.

Isaiah 54:5 – “Indeed, your husband is your Maker — his name is Yahweh of Armies — and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of the whole earth.

Jeremiah 3:14 – ” ‘Return, you faithless children ​– ​this is Yahweh’s declaration ​– ​for I am your husband, and I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.

Hosea 2:16, 19-20 – In that day — this is Yahweh’s declaration — you will call me, “My husband,” and no longer call me, “My Lord.” … I will take you to be my wife forever. I will take you to be my wife in righteousness, justice, love, and compassion. I will take you to be my wife in faithfulness, and you will know Yahweh.

Revelation 21:2 – I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.

The vigilance of the wife of God is evident in this passage in Proverbs 31, as we see all of the noble and positive characteristics of this woman. She works with willing hands, rising while it is still dark to provide food for her family, working late into the evening making clothing for her household. She invests in vineyard production, and demonstrates strength in all things.

Proverbs 31:29 – “Many women have done noble deeds, but you surpass them all! “

This surpassing of all other women demonstrates how this “super-woman” is a representative ideal and not an historical individual. Her vigilance in all things is captured in a few lines:

Proverbs 31:25-27 – Strength and honor are her clothing, and she can laugh at the time to come. Her mouth speaks wisdom, and loving instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the activities of her household and is never idle.

If this is the case, can we say that this picture describes us, those whom God has chosen to represent him in this generation? Do we act with strength and honor, or do we give up when things get difficult? Do we speak wisdom and loving instruction or are we constantly talking others down? Are we watching over our household (i.e., kingdom) activities with diligence, or are we idly letting it go its own way?

The woman of Proverbs 31 is not just an intimidating character for wives, but when rightly understood as the representative ideal for God’s people, she stands to challenge us all to be our best at all times 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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Living for good no matter what

Those who fear Yahweh will always do what’s right.

1 Peter 3:13 – “Who then will harm you if you are devoted to what is good?”

Peter explains to the believers he is writing to that those who are devoted to doing good at all times are, by the nature of their good actions, less likely to be persecuted for their faith. He strengthens this argument by quoting from David in Psalm 34.

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

Peter is quoting David’s description of someone who truly fears Yahweh. Their life will be a display of right speech, turning away from evil, and seeking and pursuing peace and doing good. The benefit, Peter argues by continuing David’s quote, is that those who act with integrity will be placing themselves under the watchful care of Yahweh.

Psalm 34:15-16 – “The eyes of Yahweh are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry for help. The face of Yahweh is set against those who do what is evil, to remove all memory of them from the earth.”

However, Peter is not so naive as to assume that bad people won’t do bad things to good people; he is just emphasizing that suffering for righteousness and doing what is right can result in a blessing, as well.

1 Peter 3:14-15 – But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be intimidated, but in your hearts regard Messiah the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.

All of this, in Peter’s line of thinking here, results in God being glorified; either through believers doing what is right, or suffering for doing what is right and still being able to defend the truth of their hope in the Kingdom of God.

Demonstrating a fear of Yahweh through living with integrity in all things therefore can bear fruit at all times; whether living in peace or suffering for righteousness’ sake. Our conduct should not be based on our circumstances but on our true spiritual character.


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.

Guarding against moral degradation

We must protect ourselves against falling into old, destructive patterns.

1 Corinthians 15:33-34 – Do not be deceived: “Bad associations corrupt good moral habits.” Come to your senses and stop sinning; for some people are ignorant about God. I say this to your shame.

The text here speaks of bad associations; those companionships and conversations that have little to no redeeming value. In our association with these types of relationships and interactions, the apostle Paul warns that we are in danger of becoming deceived. We need to demonstrate vigilance in our activities among those who are ignorant about God as we can be led into sinful areas.

While we certainly need to interact with those around us who may not presently know God, we may sometimes feel that our remaining involvement with them, especially those closer acquaintances and relationships, can help to pull them toward God. However, I once received some sage advice from a former pastor. He mentioned how if someone is standing on a chair, it is much easier for a group of people to pull them off of the chair than for the person on the chair to pull others up.

Proverbs 13:20 – He who walks with the wise will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.

While these cautionary admonitions apply to those around us, the same logic holds true for those who may be within our congregations. We may feel more confidence that those inside our local groups can be reliable companions. However, earlier in the same epistle to the Corinthians, Paul has some similar advice.

1 Corinthians 5:6 – Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little leaven leavens the whole batch of dough?

Paul here uses the analogy of how yeast can overtake an entire batch of dough with just a little bit of time. In Hebraic thinking, an unleavened batch of dough that is left to itself can absorb yeast particles from ambient conditions and become leavened in as little as a day or two, sometimes only a matter of hours. In this sense, we need to guard ourselves and our local believing communities from those who could potentially bring in harmful ways.

1 Corinthians 5:9-11 – I wrote to you in a letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. I did not mean the immoral people of this world or the greedy and swindlers or idolaters; otherwise you would have to leave the world. But actually, I wrote you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister and is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or verbally abusive, a drunkard or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person.

While we can’t escape all worldly influence in our daily lives, we can certainly be vigilant with those who claim to be believers and yet persist in ways that are ungodly. Our role then switches from one of shared companionship to one of accountability.

1 Corinthians 5:12-13 – For what business is it of mine to judge outsiders? Don’t you judge those who are inside? God judges outsiders. Remove the evil person from among you.

While we are not in a position to be judgmental of how those in the world conduct themselves, Paul says ultimately God judges them. In closer relationships with non-believers, we can distance ourselves when we see that our familiarity with them is not bearing fruit, and we ourselves may be in danger of falling into old, destructive patterns.

Within our congregations, however, our responsibility is to ensure that we are not associating with those who claim to be believers but are unrepentant. Then we do have the right, and the responsibility, to confront their sinfulness.

Ultimately, with all of our interactions in life, we need to be vigilant about maintaining truth and following Yeshua in sincerity and obedience. When we do so, we can be led to further areas of wisdom and understanding.

Proverbs 9:6 – Forsake foolishness and live, and go in the way of understanding.


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! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The momentum of integrity can keep one on the right path

The momentum of actions, good or bad, create a path of life that can define us.

Righteousness guards him whose way is blameless, But wickedness overthrows the sinner.

Proverbs 13:6

There are a lot of rich words in this short proverb that convey a wealth of helpful information for those who are seeking the motivation and wisdom to live with integrity.

Righteousness is a word conveying right actions, or just decisions that a ruler might make. This word is used of those who follow and pursue the torah or instruction of God. This proverb begins by telling us that righteousness guards or preserves from danger, watches over and keeps close the one pursuing it. As a watchman on the wall of a city is always looking out for possible intruders, this guarding takes place because of the righteous actions.

The way of a person is their path or their habits, manner of life, course of their character. If that way of life is blameless or full of innocence and simplicity, complete in integrity, then their right decisions protect their way from the danger of straying from the truth.

However, the caution of this proverb is that wickedness, a moral, ethical, or religious straying from the right path can distort, twist, turn upside down the one who sins, that is, who is an offense to God.

What is interesting is that the emphasis in this proverb is on the actions of the individuals, and how their habitual actions keep them on one path or the other. We typically are inclined to think that good or bad people do good or bad things. This proverb, though, is implying that the actions of the individuals actually define who they are and keep them doing so.

The wicked person’s actions work in a way to prevent them from doing right. By contrast, the righteous actions of the person of integrity act as guardrails to keep them on right path. From this we can learn that the momentum of actions, good or bad, create a path of life that can define us.

My hope for all those seeking God is that they would remain motivated to continue to live in the ways of righteousness; following righteousness and integrity is a powerful protector for those who are continually seeking him.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week I take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Who can attain to the ideal of the woman of noble character in Proverbs 31?

If Proverbs 31 is viewed as the ideal for all of God’s people, we can be encouraged to collectively attain its lofty ambitions.

She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.

Proverbs 31:27

The thirty-first chapter of Proverbs contains a famous passage providing the characteristics of a “noble” or “virtuous” woman. Many a wife has reviewed this passage with trepidation, as the ideal set forth in these verses can indeed be intimidating.

However, instead of describing the ideal woman and holding wives to an unreachable standard, this passage can be viewed from a different, and perhaps more attainable, perspective that aligns with the middle-eastern propensity to couch word pictures and ideas in parabolic language.

Especially in the prophets, God has revealed himself as desiring his people as a husband desires the pure love of a faithful bride. He is equally disappointed when that love is not returned to him, but is instead wasted on the idolatry of the nations around them.

“O Israel and Judah, what should I do with you?” asks the LORD. “For your love vanishes like the morning mist and disappears like dew in the sunlight.

Hosea 6:4

But he holds out the promise of renewed faithfulness and marital fidelity for the people of Zion.

Never again will [Jerusalem] be called “The Forsaken City” or “The Desolate Land.” Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” and “The Bride of God,” for the LORD delights in you and will claim you as his bride. Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem, just as a young man commits himself to his bride. Then God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.

Isaiah 62:4-5

This theme is echoed in the book of Revelation:

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.

Revelation 21:2-3

If this noble woman in Proverbs is viewed as the ideal for all of God’s people as his prophetic bride, then it begins to make sense of the overall passage lining out the expectations God has for his people, not just wives.

One of the characteristics God expects of his people is the vigilance with which this woman watches over her family, that nothing is outside of her purview. She carefully looks ahead to the needs of her family, identifying dangers ahead of time, like a watchman on the walls of a city.

This vigilance is contrasted with laziness, or more literally the eating of “the bread of idleness,” as one who sits idle, concerned only with their own appetite and nothing else. In today’s terminology, they might be considered a “deadbeat mom.”

However, we have the opportunity to view the passage in its entirety of what God expects of his people, and his goal for us is not to remain trapped in the idleness of our own selfish passions, but to be ever watchful, caring for the welfare of those of our “family.”

As an ideal for wives, Proverbs 31 can be intimidating and unattainable. However, viewed as an ideal for all believers, collective attainment of its lofty ambitions suddenly becomes more applicable and practical. We would do well to imbue our lives with her character of vigilance for her family in respect and honor of our Husband and Provider.