613 ways to be holy

God’s law is more achievable than we may think.

God’s law is more achievable than we may think.

The details of the biblical commandments have been a source of study for millennia. Reading through the five books of Moses (Genesis-Deuteronomy) covers a wide range of information, from God’s creation of all things, to early history of the Israelite people, to their wilderness journeys and preparation to enter the promised land.

Most significantly, an event is related to us where God revealed himself to the entire nation at once at Mount Sinai. It was here that the people heard the voice of God for themselves, and it is here that Moses received the details of God’s law. This law was to set them apart from all other nations on the earth because of its wisdom and practices.

  • Deuteronomy 4:5-8 – “Look, I have taught you statutes and ordinances as Yahweh my God has commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to possess. “Carefully follow them, for this will show your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the peoples. When they hear about all these statutes, they will say, ‘This great nation is indeed a wise and understanding people.’ “For what great nation is there that has a god near to it as Yahweh our God is to us whenever we call to him? “And what great nation has righteous statutes and ordinances like this entire law I set before you today?

This law was to be the distinguishing aspect of God’s people. There are laws that regulate all aspects of the life of an ancient Israelite. From food and sanitation, to marital and sexual relations, to priestly activities, to worship and sacrificial activities, to civil disputes and criminal punishments, and to war. A quick internet search on 613 commandments will provide the entire list, typically broken out into various categories as listed above.

What is interesting to note is that not all of the commandments apply to everyone, and some are only specific to certain activities at certain times of the year. Some apply only to women, and some apply only to priests.Some are focused only on the biblical holidays, others focus on conflicts that may only arise from time to time. Some are positive commands requiring action, others are prohibitions restricting behaviors. The more one looks at the overall collection of commands and prohibitions, it becomes apparent that not all of them applied to everyone equally at all times. However, there are general similarities and overarching principles that can be derived from reviewing all of them with regularity.

Most modern believers might say that, while that is all well and good, there is little need to focus our time and energy on this outdated law because it has been done away with and no longer applies. They might say that Messiah fulfilled all of the law so we don’t have to. But is that really true? Did Messiah fulfill all of the law so we don’t have to pay any attention to it?

  • Psalm 119:142 – Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and your law [torah] is true.
  • Psalm 119:89 – Yahweh, your word is forever; it is firmly fixed in heaven.
  • Psalm 119:160 – The entirety of your word is truth, each of your righteous judgments endures forever.
  • Isaiah 40:8- The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God remains forever.

Even Yeshua mentioned the nature of God’s eternal instruction.

  • Matthew 5:17-19 – “Don’t think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass away from the law until all things are accomplished. 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.”

What we need to realize in our day is that Messiah did not abolish the law, but he did fulfill the law. Specifically, as the symbolic Lamb of God, he fulfilled everything related to the temple, sacrifices, and priestly worship, and they are no longer needed in earthly practice. This was evidenced by the destruction of the temple. However, as the beginning of the new creation, he elevated the law to its rightful place as a regulator of eternal spiritual principles. As his people, he expects us to also fulfill the law in his name.

  • Galatians 6:2 – Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Messiah.
  • James 2:8 – Indeed, if you fulfill the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well.
  • 1 John 2:3-6 – This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commands. The one who says, “I have come to know him,” and yet doesn’t keep his commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, truly in him the love of God is made complete. This is how we know we are in him: The one who says he remains in him should walk just as he walked.

Even though we may not be temple priests and not all of us are women, not all of us are civil rulers and not all of us have families of our own, we are still governed by the principles of God’s eternal torah or law. We all, as part of God’s new creation and spiritual kingdom, are expected to abide by its principles as they apply in the various aspects of our lives.

When asked about the law, Yeshua stated it this way:

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

In Yeshua’s teaching, all of the torah or law of God can be summed up in these two commands: love God and love your neighbor. These two commands are explained in more detail in the Ten Commandments; the first five apply to God and his authority and the second five apply to our relations with others. The Ten Commandments are the basis and foundation upon which all of the other commands in the law of Moses are based.

So, if everything in the 613 commands of the law makes God’s people holy and distinct, and everything in the law is explained in the Ten Commandments, and everything the Ten Commandments is, according to Yeshua, summarized in the Two Great Commandments, then how hard is it for us to be holy as God expects and for us to follow his eternal law today?


If you enjoy these daily articles, 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 at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The unmistakable contrast of God’s faithfulness with those who seek him diligently

Those who are uncompromisingly vigilant will be blessed.

Those who are uncompromisingly vigilant will be blessed.

When we read familiar passages of Scripture, we can many times gloss over the depth of their instruction because we have seen them repeatedly and believe we know them fully. Yet, when looked at from a different perspective, whether in a different translation or another version, they can appear fresh and unique with some additional insights we may have missed.

In recently reading through the third chapter of Proverbs, I was struck by how many commands there are that relate to the vigilance required of one who is seeking to follow the instruction of Yahweh. When pulled out of the flow of the narrative and the back-and-forth rhythm of command/blessing, the commands by themselves become stark challenges that demonstrate the level of commitment required of those who would consider themselves disciples or followers of Yahweh.

  • 3:1 – My son, don’t forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commands;
  • 3:3 – Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you. Tie them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.
  • 3:5-6 – Trust in Yahweh with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him
  • 3:7 – Don’t be wise in your own eyes; fear Yahweh and turn away from evil.
  • 3:9 – Honor Yahweh with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest;
  • 3:11 – Do not despise Yahweh’s instruction, my son, and do not loathe his discipline;
  • 3:25 – Don’t fear sudden danger or the ruin of the wicked when it comes,
  • 3:27 – When it is in your power, don’t withhold good from the one to whom it belongs.
  • 3:29-31 – Don’t plan any harm against your neighbor, for he trusts you and lives near you. Don’t accuse anyone without cause, when he has done you no harm. Don’t envy a violent man or choose any of his ways;

As an aside, these last three verses are actually reiterations of some of the Ten Commandments:

  • Don’t plan any harm against your neighbor/Do not murder
  • Don’t accuse anyone without cause/Do not bear false witness
  • Don’t envy a violent man or choose any of his ways/Do not covet

As we continue through this chapter grouping similar thoughts, when the blessings of the passage are all lined up together, a beautiful picture of God’s faithfulness and provision comes to light.

  • 3:2 – for they will bring you many days, a full life, and well-being.
  • 3:4 – Then you will find favor and high regard with God and people.
  • 3:6 – …he will make your paths straight.
  • 3:8 – This will be healing for your body and strengthening for your bones.
  • 3:10 – then your barns will be completely filled, and your vats will overflow with new wine.
  • 3:12 – for Yahweh disciplines the one he loves, just as a father disciplines the son in whom he delights.
  • 3:26 – for Yahweh will be your confidence and will keep your foot from a snare.

Of course, with Solomon as the writer of the Proverbs, it is not surprise that he focuses on the value of attaining wisdom above all other disciplines we can fruitfully pursue. With the mention of wisdom and discretion, a long list of benefits naturally flows from his experience in receiving the wisdom from God that he had prayed for.

3:13 – Happy is a man who finds wisdom and who acquires understanding,
3:14-18 – for she is more profitable than silver, and her revenue is better than gold. She is more precious than jewels; nothing you desire can equal her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left, riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant, and all her paths, peaceful. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her, and those who hold on to her are happy.

3:21 – Maintain sound wisdom and discretion. My son, don’t lose sight of them.
3:22-24 – They will be life for you and adornment for your neck. Then you will go safely on your way; your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; you will lie down, and your sleep will be pleasant.

In the closing verses of this passage, the end results of righteousness are contrasted with those of wickedness. Again, separated out and grouped together, the contrasts between the consequences of wickedness and the blessings of righteousness become even sharper.

  • 3:32 – for the devious are detestable to Yahweh,
  • 3:33 – Yahweh’s curse is on the household of the wicked
  • 3:34 – He mocks those who mock
  • 3:35 – he holds up fools to dishonor.
  • 3:32 – but he is a friend to the upright
  • 3:33 – but he blesses the home of the righteous;
  • 3:34 – but gives grace to the humble.
  • 3:35 – The wise will inherit honor

To my way of thinking, the benefits in carrying out these commands of Yahweh far outweigh the negative aspects of the alternatives. Unfortunately, we see many of those negative consequences in the lives of those around us every day; this in and of itself is a testament to the reality, power, and truth of God’s word. We should be committed to the vigilant keeping of God’s commands if for no other reason than for our lives to be a testament to his faithfulness and blessing. This is the most powerful way we can shine the light of God’s grace and mercy into a world of darkness, and to continue to grow the kingdom of God as people are attracted to that light.


If you enjoy these daily articles, 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

Loving the unlovable

Believers already hold the key to overcoming worldly strife.

Believers already hold the key to overcoming worldly strife.

As believers, we know that the commandment we have been charged with is simply to love. It sounds so simple, and yet when we consider the state of the world and the social environment in which we live, we see what appear to be unlovable people everywhere. There is rumor and inuendo prevalent through personal social media, criticism and outright vitriol promoted in the legacy media, all of which spills over into division and strife among our friends and family groups.

Many believers feel this is an indication of how things are getting worse and worse, and we just need to hold on until Messiah returns. However, this is nothing new. Even in Yeshua’s day, the wicked state of the population even in that time could be characterized in a similar fashion. Paul elucidates the characteristics evident even within that generation.

Romans 1:29-31 – …They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

How can we love people such as this? Aren’t these the people that God will destroy in vengeance? Perhaps we need to step back and broaden our understanding a bit and recognize how that type of mentality plays out.

Consider how Paul believed that the Torah command to love one’s neighbor was effective even amidst that wicked generation.

  • Galatians 5:13-14 – For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
  • Romans 13:8-10 – Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

These encouragements, of course, were equally based on and supported by the teaching of Messiah.

Matthew 22:37-40 – And he said to him, “You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”

But besides this clear teaching of Yeshua, Paul’s admonition to love others struck at a deeper place in the hearts of his hearers. He simply confronted them with their own histories of past disobedience.

Titus 3:2-3 – to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

Paul includes himself in this characterization of “malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.” If we can likewise arrive at this place of naked recognition in our own lives, we can begin to find the compassion for others who seem at first glance to be unlovable. We ourselves have been in that dark place, and yet God somehow saw past that rebellious and disobedient exterior to demonstrate his own love for us.

And this leads to the corresponding method of our own love for others: to love the unlovable, we need to view them, not with the eyes of our flesh, but through the eyes of God’s compassion. It is the most difficult thing any of us can hope to accomplish, at least in our own strength. However, relying on his Spirit for our strength, we can take steps toward compassionate actions that would be beyond our own strength or willingness to do so.

Galatians 5:16, 22-25 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. … the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Messiah Yeshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.


If you enjoy these daily articles, 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

Practical compassion

God expects his people to act upon his words, not just believe them.

God expects his people to act upon his words, not just believe them.

Zechariah 7:8-11 – Then this message came to Zechariah from Yahweh: “This is what Yahweh of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other. Your ancestors refused to listen to this message. They stubbornly turned away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing.”

Judgment had been poured out on ancient Israel due to the fact that they had refused to listen to Yahweh. They had rejected the plain teaching of his Torah and instead had chosen to oppress and take advantage of those who could not defend themselves among their own people.

Yahweh had been very clear in his Torah about how they should have been treating the disadvantaged among their society:

  • Exodus 22:21-24 – “You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. You must not exploit a widow or an orphan. If you exploit them in any way and they cry out to me, then I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will blaze against you, and I will kill you with the sword. Then your wives will be widows and your children fatherless.”
  • Deuteronomy 24:14-15 – “Never take advantage of poor and destitute laborers, whether they are fellow Israelites or foreigners living in your towns. You must pay them their wages each day before sunset because they are poor and are counting on it. If you don’t, they might cry out to Yahweh against you, and it would be counted against you as sin.”

Their fathers had even taken an oath that they would act justly in all of these matters.

Deuteronomy 27:19 – “‘Cursed is anyone who denies justice to foreigners, orphans, or widows.’ And all the people will reply, ‘Amen.'”

Due to Israel’s unfaithfulness even to their own oath covenant, God systematically removed them from the land, first by the Assyrians and then the Babylonians. In effect, the Israelites had brought down wrath upon themselves by disobeying the Torah. If they would not follow the law from their hearts, then the curse of the law would fall upon them, and it did.

I’m not sure how much clearer God can make it that he expects his people to take care of those among them who cannot take care of themselves, those who are easily exploited and taken advantage of, those who may not be familiar with the culture. In effect, through these Torah commandments and the historical demonstration of consequence, Yahweh is illustrating how he expects his people to demonstrate compassion.

How can we express compassion with these people groups today? Rather than inventing some new program or agency to deal with these issues from afar, as we abide by the Torah of the heart, God desires we make these instructions personal to our experience and our lives. Who within your sphere of influence can benefit from this instruction: an aged woman who is a widow who can’t provide for herself, a child (or children) who have lost their parents, a foreigner who is struggling with the dominant culture and system?

Yeshua taught that practical compassion and mercy are the curative qualities that provide healing and preservation of righteousness.

Matthew 5:7, 13 – God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. … “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

This is how the eternal Torah of God continues to impact the lives of people today. When we not only believe the words that are written there, but we take them to heart and then personally act upon them in real ways, we open up the compassion of God to others, and the possibilities of expanding the Kingdom in the process.

James 1:22 – But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.


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

Making righteous choices everyday

Routine habits of integrity or wickedness can each pull us into established patterns, for better or worse

Core of the Bible podcast #80 – Making righteous choices every day

Today we will be looking at the topic of integrity, and how routine habits of integrity or wickedness can each pull us into established patterns, for better or worse. Those patterns then become the template of God’s judgment upon our lives.

Proverbs 13:6 – Righteousness keeps him who is upright in the way, and wickedness overthrows a sin offering.

Those who have integrity are often described with similar terms such as “upright” or “perfect.” This idea of perfection, though, is not as though one is completely without fault; it is more a concept of completeness, or wholeness.

Yeshua uses the phrase in a similar way when he encourages believers to “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” (Matt. 5:48). This is a Hebraic way of expressing that believers should be totally consistent in their lifestyle: their beliefs and what they say should match 100% with what their actions convey. This is wholeness, perfection, integrity.

In the proverb above, walking in righteousness is said to guard or “keep” one in the way of God. The more our lives demonstrate consistency in righteous actions, the simpler it is to stay on the correct path.

Psalm 25:10, 12-14, 21 – Yahweh leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands. … Who are those who fear Yahweh? He will show them the path they should choose. They will live in prosperity, and their children will inherit the land. Yahweh is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant. … May integrity and honesty protect me, for I put my hope in you.

Psalm 26:1-5 – Declare me innocent, O Yahweh, for I have acted with integrity; I have trusted in Yahweh without wavering. Put me on trial, Yahweh, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart. For I am always aware of your unfailing love, and I have lived according to your truth. I do not spend time with liars or go along with hypocrites. I hate the gatherings of those who do evil, and I refuse to join in with the wicked.

Proverbs 11:3, 5 – Honesty guides good people; dishonesty destroys treacherous people. … The godly are directed by honesty; the wicked fall beneath their load of sin.

By contrast, when our lives are in disarray and when our actions are inconsistent, we struggle more to keep our focus where it needs to be. The wickedness of those who do not walk with integrity is said to “overthrow their sin offering.” This is a demonstration of how even the best of intentions can be counteracted by a pattern of inconsistent behavior or outright sinful rebellion.

Psalm 25:3 – No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced, but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.

Psalm 140:9-11 – The chief of those who surround me, the perverseness of their lips covers them. They cause to fall on themselves burning coals, Into fire He [God] does cast them, Into deep pits — they arise not. A talkative man is not established in the earth, One of violence — evil hunts to overflowing.

Proverbs 1:29-32 – For they hated knowledge and chose not to fear Yahweh. They rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected them. Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way, choking on their own schemes. For simpletons turn away from me–to death. Fools are destroyed by their own complacency.

Proverbs 5:22-23 – An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him. He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness.

Even in the light of the national sin of Israel that Jeremiah was recounting against them, the same principle applied:

Jeremiah 2:19 – Your wickedness will bring its own punishment. Your turning from me will shame you. You will see what an evil, bitter thing it is to abandon Yahweh your God and not to fear him. I, the Lord, Yahweh of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!

In a moment, we will explore the logical outcomes of this biblical principle as it relates to the judgment of God and the outworking of sinful actions into the chaos of the world.


As we have seen in the foregoing verses, living a life of integrity or wickedness is a life of momentum. The weight of our everyday thoughts and actions drives a flywheel of consequence that can keep us headed in positive or negative directions based on patterns we are establishing in every decision.

Galatians 6:7-8 – Don’t be misled–you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.

The Galatian congregation was challenged by Paul to recognize what it is they were planting with the types of lives they were choosing to lead. Whatever they planted would be the fruit that would come to bear when it reached maturity in the events that would unfold after the fact.

But this now raises a question, at least in my mind: if, as Paul says, we reap what we sow, how involved is God in the execution of that justice in one’s life? Does God arrange events and situations to challenge us or to justify us, or are those situations merely the outworking of natural consequence?

I think the answer may reveal itself in the wording of the question. What if the “natural consequence” is a law built into the very fabric of Creation, like the physical laws of gravity or light? We reap what we sow. We see that exhibited in the natural world as well; whatever seed is placed in the soil is what will come to fruition when it matures. What if, when someone experiences the fruit of their own doing, whether good or bad, this is what the Bible calls the “judgment of God,” or “God’s justice.” It would make sense, and still remain consistent with the bulk of Scripture as we have seen in all the instances quoted earlier.

And isn’t it still the judgment of God? For example, God warned Israel what would happen if they turned from him, and it came to pass. The judgment that fell upon that nation was decreed by God, but it was accomplished as a result of their own disobedience.

The personified Wisdom of Proverbs shares the same view:

Proverbs 1:29-32 – For they hated knowledge and chose not to fear Yahweh. They rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected them. Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way, choking on their own schemes. For simpletons turn away from me–to death. Fools are destroyed by their own complacency.

It’s as if God has pronounced a specific judgment on that individual, when in a practical sense, they have caused their own troubles as a result of their rejection or ignorance of his ways.

In bearing this principle into the New Testament writings, Yeshua also intimated the foregone judgment of those who make certain choices, especially in regard to those who chose to believe in him, and those who did not.

John 3:18 – “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”

John 5:24 – “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.”

And I guess this is where I am headed with the trajectory of this principle today. Why is it that the world is in the chaotic condition it is today? As humans, we argue and fight about every inane idea that happens to be trending on social media; we struggle against oppressive authorities; we try to garner support for whatever the cause du jour happens to be; we watch painfully as people brutalize one another over ideologies that are outdated or misapplied. Believers would say all of this is the result of sin, and that’s not an incorrect conclusion. However, I believe it is not from sin as the typical believer would characterize it.

The mainstream idea within Christianity would assert that sin, equated with the fallen nature of mankind, is the cause of the chaos world. Through the passages we have looked at today, and hundreds of others we haven’t, I would draw a slightly different conclusion.

Sin is indeed the cause of the issue, but I would characterize this sin as the act of not obeying the revealed will of God, not a predisposed nature of humans. This disobedience may be out of outright rebellion, having known the truth of God and simply choosing to ignore it (like national Israel), but it may also be the result of straight-up ignorance about what God expects of mankind as his creation. Whenever anyone, anywhere, knowingly or unknowingly, acts in opposition to the righteous commands of God, sin is the result. They have violated a “law” of nature. That’s what sin is: disobedience to his righteous command. And if sin has predetermined consequences as God has revealed, then that resulting sin sets in motion a chain of other actions and reactions that can further be guided by acting in alignment with God’s commands or in the absence of them. Every new branch in the moral decision-tree is a junction where righteousness can be reestablished, or sin can continue to progress into other areas.

I don’t believe man has a “sin-nature” other than it appears to be quality of man that, left to our own devices, we will always choose the path of least resistance to get whatever we want. Always. Just like water flowing down a mountain and around rocks and bluffs, the path of least resistance leads to the lake or ocean into which it empties. I believe that is a universal human principle that is experienced in every culture.

However, when a command of God is introduced into a potential situation, the ongoing human response can be to continue to follow the path of least resistance (now in blatant rebellion to the command, having heard and understood it) or to expend some sort of effort or restraint in attempting to follow the dictate of the command. The water must now flow uphill or turn another direction upon hitting the Rock. This is the crux of the human condition, and a deeper understanding of the chaos in the world.

The reason this principle can be so hidden from view is that each person is sinning or obedient to varying degrees, knowingly or unknowingly, and all of those various natural consequences are being borne out in overlapping, concentric circles throughout the entire world and as a result, causing chaos. Generally speaking, this is why it can be truly said that all of the chaos in the world is due to sin, or disobedience to God’s commands.

God’s judgment comes into play in the sense that he has made it abundantly clear through his Word and with the historical example of the nation of ancient Israel that he expects mankind to follow his commands, and he has also shared the consequences of not following his commands. His commands are the key.

1 John 5:3-4 – Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.

If you’ve listened to this podcast for any length of time, then you know I believe the Ten Commandments are the basis for all human conduct, and they are not burdensome. The teachings of Yeshua in the Sermon on the Mount which are built upon these commandments are also not burdensome. But they must be obeyed and lived out to be effective in bringing God’s light to this chaotic world.

When we recognize Yahweh God as the one true authority in the universe and make a conscious decision to abide by his Word, we will be empowered to do so by his Spirit guiding us.

Galatians 5:16, 22-25 – “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. … But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Messiah Yeshua have nailed the passions and desires of their flesh to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.”

This happens both inwardly and within the ongoing review of his Word, having our minds renewed to match the inward renewal of the new Creation that we have become in him.

Romans 12:2 – “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by renewing your minds. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 – “This means that anyone who belongs to Messiah has become a new creation. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

The Spirit of Messiah is a spirit of unswerving obedience to God. When we place our faith and our hope in Messiah, we fulfill the Word of God because that faith will keep us obedient to his commands and guide us on the correct paths.

When we are consistent in our actions and our speech, we establish patterns of righteousness that tend to keep us walking in the right way. Sin is less of a temptation and a distraction because we have established views and behaviors that we begin to thrive in. This encourages further righteous actions and as a result, we begin to exhibit larger measures of integrity in our interactions with others. Just like the water not flowing in the path of least resistance, the Spirit of God empowers us in new channels of right actions within which we begin to flow. The more we obey God’s commands, the more righteousness is injected into the rippling chaos of the world. As others see and experience the light of God, then further righteous choices are made which continue to radiate out in calming waves, as well. The goal of God is to have his instruction universally recognized and practiced on the earth, thereby making all things whole.

This should then be our goal, as well. To make righteous choices every day means the expansion of the Kingdom of God into the world of chaos. This is the effect our faith can have when we choose to be obedient to the Creator of all and live by his standards established for all time.

1 Peter 1:23 – For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.


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

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

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

A kingdom of sincere obedience

God does not desire forced subjection, but willing faithfulness.

God does not desire forced subjection, but willing faithfulness.

1 Chronicles 28:5, 7, 9 – “And out of all my sons ​– ​for Yahweh has given me many sons ​– ​he has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of Yahweh’s kingdom over Israel. … “I will establish his kingdom forever if he perseveres in keeping my commands and my ordinances as he is doing today.’ … “As for you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father, and serve him wholeheartedly and with a willing mind, for Yahweh searches every heart and understands the intention of every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you abandon him, he will reject you forever.

As David was bringing to conclusion his life’s activities, one of his greatest desires was to build a magnificent temple for Yahweh as a permanent replacement for the Mishkan or tent of the Tabernacle. However, Yahweh had refused him this privilege due to his warrior background, but would allow David’s son Solomon to continue and finish the task. In this grand speech recorded for us at the close of 1 Chronicles, David transfers the kingdom and authority to Solomon, along with tasking him with the building of the temple.

More importantly, he charges Solomon with the keeping of the commandments of God, since a grand temple means nothing without sincere hearts of the faithful. In this instruction, we find that the real foundation of the temple was not all of the stone and gold and silver that David had set aside for the task; no, the real foundation was to be based on the sincere faithfulness of Solomon and all of the people.

David charged Solomon with the lofty ideals of a true heart that seeks out an obedient lifestyle in the presence of God: “know the God of your father, and serve him wholeheartedly and with a willing mind, for Yahweh searches every heart and understands the intention of every thought.”

A thousand years later, the writer to the Hebrews would convey the same convicting sense of God’s immanence to his readers.

Hebrews 4:12-13 – For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. No creature is hidden from him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.

It is upon this recognition of God’s individual attention to every person that the kingdom of God is built. To become part of his kingdom, the individual opens his or her heart to the ultimate scrutiny of an all-knowing Creator. There is nothing outside of God’s gaze in his kingdom; not even what we would consider the hidden recesses of our individual hearts.

The permanent dynasty that David was seeking to establish for God’s glory was based on heart obedience. The message of the kingdom did not change over a thousand years. Even today, a further two thousand years removed from the writing to the Hebrew congregation, God’s kingdom is still based on heart obedience.

And to ensure that we have the ability to remain faithful, he still desires believers to hold each other accountable to the truth of his word so that all may be able to overcome the deceptive nature of sin.

Hebrews 3:12-13 – Watch out, brothers and sisters, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.


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 diligent study of God’s Word

Understanding biblical doctrine is no different than learning and planning for other goals.

We all must learn how to do properly plan things out in order to be successful in accomplishing whatever we set out to do. Understanding biblical doctrine is no different.

For example, if a cross-country trip is in order, there is a fair amount of planning that must be done to ensure a route is identified, that enough supplies are gathered or stops are available, and that incremental goals for resting each night along the way are spaced out in achievable intervals.

On a larger scale, if one is majoring in a certain subject at a college or an institute for higher learning, then the correct courses of study must be achieved incrementally in order to reach the desired goal of ultimately graduating and attaining a degree.

We may take for granted that these types of investments of time and energy are necessary to achieve larger goals, yet many times we view learning about the Bible differently. It’s as if different rules seem to apply and it is expected that even believers who are very young in the faith should somehow instantly understand deep theological ideas.

However, we need to recognize that our faith is (or should be) a constantly growing body of knowledge. The more we learn about the history and culture from which the Bible has been produced should expand our perception of how to appropriately apply the precepts of biblical wisdom.

The psalmist writes about the freedom that is derived through constant study:

Psalm 119:45 – I will walk freely in an open place because I study your precepts.

Yet he also cautions about the dangers of being uninformed:

Psalm 119:155 – Salvation is far from the wicked because they do not study your statutes.

When we neglect a regular intake of God’s Word, we run the risk of making poor spiritual or moral choices or operating on unreliable doctrine. Having a holistic understanding of the context of all of the Bible and not just a few cherry-picked ideas or pet concepts is critical to having a correct worldview.

Even Timothy, a direct student of the apostle Paul, was encouraged by Paul to continue in his studies to ensure his teaching was valid and appropriate for those whom God had entrusted to his care.

2 Timothy 2:15 – Be diligent to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth.

This vigilance in doctrine should be the standard operating procedure for every believer. We should always be checking our facts and seeking to understand the overall sense of the challenging ancient documents that make up the Bible. We have to recognize that they were not written in an environment of our current culture, but that the human authors were immersed in a reality that was vastly different than our own.

The good news is that with God as the ultimate author of his Word, and this same Spirit available within believers today, we have the necessary resources to correctly discern the truth.

The apostle John speaks to this principle when he writes:

1 John 2:27 – As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, his anointing teaches you about all things and is true and is not a lie; just as it has taught you, remain in him.

John was directing his first-century audience to the inner witness of the truth of the Spirit so they could avoid false teaching. This was not to say they no longer needed any type of exposure to God’s Word, but that they were to take responsibility for their own learning by recognizing their inner discernment.

  • 1 John 3:19-20 – This is how we will know that we belong to the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows all things.
  • 1 John 4:1 – Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

This ongoing testing of doctrinal accuracy is a practice that has fallen by the wayside in much of contemporary Christendom. It has done so largely because it requires effort and study to know the principles of God’s Word and not just sharing popular memes or biblical-sounding rhetoric.

1 John 5:2-3 – This is how we know that we love God’s children: when we love God and obey his commands. For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden…

We cannot keep his commands, that is, abide by his Word, if we don’t know them. This involves diligent study and ongoing understanding to ensure that we are operating from a correct biblical worldview. When we do so, we have the corroborating inner witness of the Spirit to guide us into all truth. This is the discipline and responsibility of every believer.


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.

Separated for a purpose

Holiness is the evidence of the salvation God provides.

Holiness is the evidence of the salvation God provides.

Leviticus 20:23, 26 – “You shall not follow the practices of the nation that I am driving out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them. … ‘Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I Yahweh am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine.”

All throughout the book of Leviticus, God reiterates over and over how his people were to be distinct from the people around them. They were to avoid copying their religious practices and social customs. Yahweh says, “Because they did all these things, I abhorred them.” And yet, as the history of Israel unfolds, we find that they stubbornly continued the idolatrous practices that eventually led to God removing them from their land by the Assyrians and Babylonians.

2 Kings 16:6-8 – “In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria captured Samaria; he carried the Israelites away to Assyria. He placed them in Halah, on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. This occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They had worshiped other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had introduced.”

The same God still desires his people to be holy and set apart today. Yet there appears to be an ongoing desire to participate in the customs of the people around us. It is no longer just a mild or sporadic resistance to certain aspects of obedience to God, but now flagrant disregard for the commandments and practices that should be setting us apart. God has provided the commandments as a way of protecting his people from the harm that comes from these destructive practices, and yet it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish God’s people from the rest of the nations.

Fearful of appearing to be legalists, God’s people instead go along with the cultural and societal practices under the guise of “reaching out” to others, or simply out of ignorance. Believers have been taught for so long that the law of God has been “done away” in Messiah, that they have adopted an “anything goes” mentality instead of maintaining a purposeful separation from the harmful practices of our societies.

Understanding why God wanted his people separate can help: God’s people are his, and bear his name in this world.

Leviticus 20:26 – “You shall be holy to me; for I the Lord am holy, and I have separated you from the other peoples to be mine.”

When we recognize our lives as believers are not our own, we begin to understand that God has rightful authority to direct us and that he does so because he cares for us and wants to rescue us completely from the worldliness around us. The longer we resist his authority and instead choose our own paths, the longer we will remain in conditions he never desired for us to be in.


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.

Keeping God’s commands from the heart

This is the stated goal that God has for all people everywhere.

1 Kings 8:61 – “Therefore let your heart be whole and complete to Yahweh our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.”

As Solomon was dedicating the newly built First Temple, he offered a long and detailed prayer to God that it would be a beacon to Israel and the rest of the world of God’s faithfulness. He prays for righteous judgment and forgiveness for Israel, for overcoming drought and famine, for victory over Israel’s enemies, and even for the foreigners who prayed God to also have their prayers answered.

As he concludes his oration by blessing the assembly before him, he issues the admonition quoted above, that they would remain whole-heartedly faithful to God by keeping his commandments.

1 Kings 8:57-58 – “Yahweh our God be with us, as he was with our ancestors; may he not leave us or abandon us, but incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his ordinances, which he commanded our ancestors.”

Key within Solomon’s admonitions to the assembly are two things: following God’s commands, and doing so with whole-hearts that are inclined toward God. This is also the hope and prediction of the prophets throughout the rest of Israel’s history:

Psalm 119:10-11 – I have sought you with all my heart; don’t let me wander from your commands. I have treasured your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you.

Jeremiah 31:33 – “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days” ​– ​Yahweh’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.

Ezekiel 11:19-20 – “I will give them integrity of heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh, “so that they will follow my statutes, keep my ordinances, and practice them. They will be my people, and I will be their God.

The new covenant is all about keeping God’s commands from the heart. According to Yeshua, there are two commandments which are the summation of everything taught in the entire Law and Prophets, or the Tanakh, what we call the Old Testament.

Matthew 22:37-40 – “He said to him, ‘Love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.'”

If, as Solomon prayed, God’s people (even those who would have been considered foreigners to them) would simply keep God’s commands from the heart, they would be faithfully “walking in his ways.” This is the goal of all of the entirety of the Biblical narrative: that people walk in God’s ways sincerely and from the heart.

Micah 6:8 – Mankind, he has told each of you what is good and what it is Yahweh requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 – When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is the whole duty of humanity.

This is what integrity looks like: it is the fulfillment of all that Solomon prayed for, the promise that the prophets predicted, and the consummation of what Yeshua accomplished. Now it is up to us to go and live it out among 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.

Hope that comes from faith in God

His commands are sure and faithful, leading to his kingdom.

Proverbs 23:17-18 – Let not your heart envy sinners: but be in the fear of Yahweh all the day. For if you should keep these things, you shall have a future; and your hope shall not be removed.

In this passage of Proverbs, Solomon conveys that when it comes to trusting in Yahweh, there is a promise of continuance, a future where posterity thrives and hope lives.

by contrast, the wicked will not maintain hope in any recognizable future.

Proverbs 24: 19-20 Rejoice not in evil-doers, neither be envious of sinners. For the evil man shall have no future: and the light of the wicked shall be put out.

Hope is a rare and precious commodity, especially in our current day. People are longing for any thread of optimism to cling to. Many are convinced that things are only getting worse and that society as a whole is headed toward some sort of climactic shift or end where a renewal will take place. For the secular among us, crises of all proportions loom on the horizon, from global warming to over-population to mutual nuclear destruction. From the religious camps are touted apocalyptic endings within this generation, with the destruction of the wicked and the establishment of a reign of subsequent peace.

Yet God’s Word remains steadfast in its declaration of faithful continuance. The kingdom of God that was established with the coming of the Messiah two millennia ago will continue to increase, ebbing and expanding in synchronous harmony with the faithfulness of each generation until it fills the earth. There will be good times, and there will be bad times, but all times are moving steadily toward its fulfillment in reality.

As individuals, when we faithfully trust God and enact his principles in our lives, we shine a light within our circles of influence. As these lights grow and move, they can overlap and spread, increasing with luminosity as hope and truth spread.

In the proverb above, the simple admonition of Solomon captures the essence of all of the ten commandments by stating its first command and its last: “Let not your heart envy sinners: but be in the fear of Yahweh all the day.” The tenth commandment is not to covet or “envy sinners”; the first is to not have any other gods but Yahweh, to “be in fear of Yahweh all the day.”

By following these commands personally, we can have a future and a hope. This hope and future can be communicated to those around us, thereby carrying the light of truth a little further out into our world. When other hearts become committed to Yahweh and his principles contained within his commandments, the kingdom grows, and we grow steadfastly toward the ultimate reality of his kingdom together. When we share faith and trust in Yahweh, we share hope.


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.