Humbly serving others reveals God’s glory

We can magnify God by genuinely helping others in need.

We can magnify God by genuinely helping others in need.

Matthew 5:16 – “…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

According to Yeshua, integrity is demonstrated when our right actions are visible to others.

This is not to say that we should hypocritically conduct good actions just to be seen by others; this is the opposite of integrity and the very thing Yeshua accused the religious leaders of.

Matthew 6:1 – “Beware of practicing your righteousness before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

No, Yeshua encourages right actions that cannot be hidden because they are simply the right thing to do, and one is not ashamed of doing the right thing, even if ridiculed or persecuted for it.

Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Being a righteous individual involves doing the right thing in situations where others are not; to shine in the darkness around us because we are demonstrating honesty and integrity when others are not.

In Luke 10, Yeshua tells the parable of the Good Samaritan in which the supposedly righteous people passed by the individual in need, but the Samaritan actually stopped to provide real help. This is integrity. The Samaritan’s deeds became apparent to the innkeeper and others; however, the actions were not done for their benefit, but for the benefit of the one in need. In doing the right thing when others aren’t, our deeds become more apparent and contrast more starkly with the “acceptable” opinions and deeds of the world around us.

Most times, even when there does not appear to be a biblical precedent, we can still know what the right course of action is because, like the Samaritan’s assistance, righteous actions typically involve effort and self-sacrifice. By contrast, what’s popular is usually convenient and easy and allows us to remain uninvolved.

God’s kingdom becomes apparent when we take action on behalf of others in this world through effort and self-sacrifice. As long as our focus is on others and not on ourselves, we can become lights that shine for God and through our actions point people to him. The lamp that Yeshua speaks of is thereby placed on a lampstand and others can learn by our example of humble service to others what kind of God we serve.

Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”


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.

Zion, the eternal monument

The transformation of an earthly icon into a spiritual witness for all eternity.

When we encounter the name Zion in the Bible, we are immediately drawn to the city of David, Jerusalem.

2 Samuel 5:7 – “Yet David did capture the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David.”

Throughout the historical pages of Scripture, Zion is equated with the city of Jerusalem, and the sacred place where God dwells within his temple. The name itself appears to be derived from a form of a Hebrew word meaning a conspicuous sign, or a monument like a pillar or signpost. Certainly, Jerusalem has been that throughout the pages of history.

However, as we move into the writings of the prophets, the picture of Zion becomes a bit more ethereal, more hazy in time and space, and becomes transformed into an ideal. Zion becomes equated with concepts like Eden and eternity; it comes to represent the source of God’s presence on the earth throughout time.

Isaiah 51:3, 11 – “For Yahweh will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of Yahweh. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and melodious song. … And the redeemed of Yahweh will return and come to Zion with singing, crowned with unending joy. Joy and gladness will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee.”
Micah 4:5-7 – “Though all the peoples each walk in the name of their gods, we will walk in the name of Yahweh our God forever and ever. On that day — this is Yahweh’s declaration — I will assemble the lame and gather the scattered, those I have injured. I will make the lame into a remnant, those far removed into a strong nation. Then Yahweh will reign over them in Mount Zion from this time on and forever.”

We find that this prophetic Zion becomes defined more clearly as we move to the culmination of God’s revelation in the New Testament. The writer of Hebrews pulls the prophetic Zion imagery into the present reality of the work that God was doing among his people at that time.

Hebrews 12:22-23 – “Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels, a festive gathering, to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written in heaven, to a Judge, who is God of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect…”

This imagery of the heavenly Jerusalem, a spiritual Mount Zion, is further expressed in the closing pages of the book of Revelation.

Revelation 21:2, 10 – “I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. … He then carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God…”

Here, the New Jerusalem is identified with a high mountain like Zion, and is named Jerusalem like Zion. However, it is NEW, it is no longer the earthly mountain or city; it is something different, something that had become an eternal, iconic representation of God and his people.

It is possible that Yeshua was even referencing this imagery when he defined the “city on a hill” that could not be hidden, whose light would be visible everywhere by its conspicuousness.

Matthew 5:14 – “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.”

In the fullness of the revelation of God’s word, we find Zion, the monument and signpost city, represents the presence of the heavenly kingdom, the Kingdom of God on this earth, now and for eternity. It is the “kingdom which cannot be shaken,” (Hebrews 12:28), and it will never fade nor diminish in its power or influence (i.e., its light), but only continue to grow until it covers the earth.

Revelation 21:23-26 – The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never close by day because it will never be night there. They will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.


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.

Believers are not just the light of the city on a hill, but also the salt of the earth

Right doctrine should result in compassionate actions.

Matthew 5:13-14 – “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Because these two metaphors of Yeshua appear back to back in this passage in Matthew, most traditional commentators will apply a similar, combined meaning to both. An excerpt from Matthew Henry below will illustrate this point:

“Mankind, lying in ignorance and wickedness, were as a vast heap, ready to putrify; but Christ sent forth his disciples, by their lives and doctrines to season it with knowledge and grace. If they are not such as they should be, they are as salt that has lost its savour. If a man can take up the profession of Christ, and yet remain graceless, no other doctrine, no other means, can make him profitable. Our light must shine, by doing such good works as men may see. What is between God and our souls, must be kept to ourselves; but that which is of itself open to the sight of men, we must study to make suitable to our profession, and praiseworthy. We must aim at the glory of God.”

What I like about this quote is how Matthew Henry captures the idea that salt and light have to do with both the believers’ “lives and doctrines.” What is believed as doctrine should naturally pave the way for actions in life that support those beliefs.

The way I view this passage is in a similar way, with light standing for doctrine and salt standing for the physical things we do in interacting with the world around us. To me, this distinction is provided by the metaphors themselves.

For example, the light of the city on a hill simply radiates into the darkness, and can be seen even from a distance with no direct interaction with anyone; it just shines. To my way of thinking, this stands for believers being examples of righteousness based on the truth of what they believe. When doctrine is rightly aligned, the individual’s personal actions and habits are also aligned with the truth, and these can become a shining example to all those who see it.

By contrast, salt can only affect its purpose when it comes in physical contact with that which it is designed to preserve or cleanse as an antiseptic. In this sense, I view the “saltiness” of believers as those physical acts of compassion that are conducted in the process of reaching out to, as Matthew Henry puts it, the putrefaction of “ignorance and wickedness” among men. Believers must have a right doctrine, yes, but also right actions of compassion among non-believers. Otherwise, anytime someone believed in Messiah, they would simply be instantly transported into God’s presence. No, the reason we remain on this earth after the new spiritual birth is to be the light to the rest of the world with right doctrine, and to be the salt of purification to the world that is in many ways is considered rotting in its own ignorance and wickedness.

This purification involves believers being compassionately involved in providing real, tangible help to those who need it. If we are correct in our doctrine but it doesn’t spur us on to purifying actions in the world around us, then what good is that doctrine? Yeshua puts it this way:

Matthew 5:13 – “But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”

If we are not exhibiting the salt of compassionate actions towards those around us, then our light becomes nothing more than an unattainable beacon of hypocrisy to a world that can only be preserved with our participation in helping to meet their physical needs. Instead, as our compassionate interaction with the world around us is recognized for its genuine intent, then the light of the true doctrine of the kingdom that we hold becomes brighter and more visible, allowing more individuals to be drawn to the truth of that light.

Don’t just be the light, remember to actively be the salt, too.


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.