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

Keeping to the good paths

As believers abiding within the words of Yahweh and his Messiah, we conduct ourselves in well-worn paths that have been cut by our spiritual forefathers.

As believers abiding within the words of Yahweh and his Messiah, we conduct ourselves in well-worn paths that have been cut by our spiritual forefathers.

Proverbs 2:20-22 – So follow the way of the good, and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will inhabit the land, and those of integrity will remain in it; but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous ripped out of it.

The way of the good and the paths of the righteous were found in the keeping of the commands of God. We can know this because the penalty for not remaining in those paths would result in removal from the land. When Moses had charged the people of Israel with faithfulness to Yahweh, he outlined very specific results that would occur from either obedience to the law, or rejection of it.

Deuteronomy 28:1-2 – “Now if you faithfully obey Yahweh your God and are careful to follow all his commands I am giving you today, Yahweh your God will put you far above all the nations of the earth. “All these blessings will come and overtake you, because you obey Yahweh your God…”

He then goes on to list a host of physical blessings inclusive of bountiful harvests and peace in the land. However, if they were to reject the law, there would be many horrific things that would be applied to their forfeiture of the covenant; most prominently, that they would be removed from the land he was allowing them to inhabit.

Deuteronomy 28:15; 63-64 – “But if you do not obey Yahweh your God by carefully following all his commands and statutes I am giving you today, all these curses will come and overtake you:…”Just as Yahweh was glad to cause you to prosper and to multiply you, so he will also be glad to cause you to perish and to destroy you. You will be ripped out of the land you are entering to possess. Then Yahweh will scatter you among all peoples from one end of the earth to the other, and there you will worship other gods, of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known.”

This was a common theme all throughout the Old Testament writings. Removal from the land was to be the the sign of, and penalty for, their disobedience to the commands of God. When Israel did fall to the Assyrians in 721 BC and again to the Babylonians in 587 BC, the captives were carried off to the nations, and the prophetic curse of Moses came to pass. Jeremiah recounts the distress of the faithful over the loss of their identity:

Lamentations 2:9, 15, 17 – Zion’s gates have fallen to the ground; he has destroyed and shattered the bars on her gates. Her king and her leaders live among the nations, instruction is no more, and even her prophets receive no vision from Yahweh. … All who pass by scornfully clap their hands at you. They hiss and shake their heads at Daughter Jerusalem: Is this the city that was called the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth? … Yahweh has done what he planned; he has accomplished his decree, which he ordained in days of old. He has demolished without compassion, letting the enemy gloat over you and exalting the horn of your adversaries.

Even when they returned to the land later that century, they never fully regained a solid independence and ended up remaining vassals to Egypt, Greece, and finally Rome. Upon their rejection of their true Anointed One, the Messiah in the person of Yeshua, this was the ultimate refusal to obey the God of their fathers. The temple was therefore destroyed and the nation was once for all finally disassembled and scattered among the nations for all time. This was to be, of course, since God had something much more wonderful planned for those who would demonstrate faithfulness with him.

After listing the righteous and faithful examples of believers such as Abel, Enoch, Noah and Abraham, the writer of Hebrews expresses how they never actually received what was promised and they always considered themselves sojourners in a land that was not really theirs.

Hebrews 11:13-16 – These all died in faith, although they had not received the things that were promised. But they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth. Now those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they were thinking about where they came from, they would have had an opportunity to return. But they now desire a better place ​– ​a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Even after recounting the events in the lives of Isaac, Jacob and his offspring, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, the writer is convinced that even though these had indeed lived in and inherited the actual physical land that God had promised them, they still had not received the true promise of God: a heavenly dwelling.

Hebrews 11:39-40 – All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us.

In Messiah, the promise was accomplished. The transition from an earthly land and kingdom was finalized into a spiritual land and heavenly capital city of the New Jerusalem.

Hebrews 12:22-25 – Instead [of the fiery dread of Mount Sinai], 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, and to Yeshua, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood which says better things than the blood of Abel. See to it that you do not reject the one who speaks. For if they did not escape when they rejected him who warned them on earth, even less will we if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven.

This promise to those first-century believers holds true to this day. If we continue to walk in the good ways, the paths of righteousness, we will remain within the promised inheritance, the heavenly city of Jerusalem. Living with integrity according to the words of Yahweh will guard and protect those within the well-worn and clearly defined paths of righteousness. It is up to us to abide in him by remaining obedient to his words.

Proverbs 2:6-11 – For Yahweh gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up success for the upright; He is a shield for those who live with integrity so that he may guard the paths of justice and protect the way of his faithful followers. Then you will understand righteousness, justice, and integrity ​– ​every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will delight you. Discretion will watch over you, and understanding will guard you.

  • John 12:44, 49 – Yeshua cried out, “The one who believes in me believes not in me, but in him who sent me. … “For I have not spoken on my own, but the Father himself who sent me has given me a command to say everything I have said.
  • John 14:21 – “The one who has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. And the one who loves me will be loved by my Father. I also will love him and will reveal myself to him.”

Since the words of Yeshua are the words of Yahweh, we can have every confidence that as we faithfully follow the Messiah, we are abiding within the true paths of righteousness.


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

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.

What type of lamp is within you?

Illuminating aspects of biblical obedience and sinfulness.

Luke 11:34-36 – Your eye is the lamp of the body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is also full of light. But when it is bad, your body is also full of darkness. Take care, then, that the light in you is not darkness. If, therefore, your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be entirely illuminated, as when a lamp shines its light on you.

Yeshua appears to be drawing this imagery of lamps and light from the rich veins of the Psalms and Proverbs. All throughout this literature are references to lamps as representing the inspiration and guidance of God and purposeful actions. Most famously are some passages referencing the guiding influence of God and his Word.

Psalm 18:28 – Yahweh, you light my lamp; my God illuminates my darkness.
Psalm 119:105 – Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.
Proverbs 6:23 – For a command is a lamp, teaching is a light, and corrective discipline is the way to life.

If, according to Yeshua, “the eye is the lamp of the body,” then from this background of language it is not difficult to connect our view of God’s Word, what we focus on, as being directive in our manner of living.

Contrasted with the illumination that comes from God and his Word is the “guiding lamp” of those who choose not to obey God.

Proverbs 21:4 – The lamp that guides the wicked — haughty eyes and an arrogant heart ​– ​is sin.

To Solomon, the path of the wicked is illuminated only by the sinfulness of pride and arrogance. In Matthew’s narrative on this same teaching, Yeshua is quoted as confirming the depths of darkness attached to sin:

Matthew 6:23 – “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness [i.e., the light that guides the wicked], how deep is that darkness!

To this condition, Solomon spares no flowery language and gets right to the end result of this manner of life.

Proverbs 24:20 – For the evil have no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.
Proverbs 13:9 – The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is put out.

On the positive aspects of the righteous, Yeshua, like Solomon, draws out the illuminating aspects of the righteous having a single focus on God’s Word and his commands.

Luke 11:36 – “If, therefore, your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be entirely illuminated, as when a lamp shines its light on you.”

The end result of this type of obedient life to God’s Word is that it can become set apart as a positive influence on the lives of others, and will not only be illuminated within, but shine brightly for others to see.

Matthew 5:15-16 – “No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are 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! 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.

How to endure all in the most bitter of circumstances

No matter how dire, unforgiving or treacherous the situation, God’s love never fails.

Matthew 5:10-12 – Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

As I was reading through Psalms, I came across Psalm 44 and it seemed as if I was reading it for the first time. I understood that the psalmist was feeling dismay over the situation of Israel being scattered among the nations. This would normally be a context of asking for forgiveness for their unfaithfulness, and a plea for restoration.

Psalm 44:9-16 – But you have rejected and humiliated us; you do not march out with our armies. You make us retreat from the foe, and those who hate us have taken plunder for themselves. You hand us over to be eaten like sheep and scatter us among the nations. You sell your people for nothing; you make no profit from selling them. You make us an object of reproach to our neighbors, a source of mockery and ridicule to those around us. You make us a joke among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples. My disgrace is before me all day long, and shame has covered my face, because of the taunts of the scorner and reviler, because of the enemy and avenger.

This would be understandable in the context of Israel’s national sin and constant turning to idols. God had forewarned them that if they did not keep to his commands and his covenant, that they would be sent throughout the nations and there suffer at the hands of foreign gods and other cultures. The psalmist may lament their condition, but it would be as a result of their own sin.

However, I was struck by the larger context of the psalm. In verses to follow, the psalmist recounts how they had not forsaken God, and yet were still suffering at the hands of their enemies.

Psalm 44:17-22 – All this has happened to us, but we have not forgotten you or betrayed your covenant. Our hearts have not turned back; our steps have not strayed from your path. But you have crushed us in a haunt of jackals and have covered us with deepest darkness. If we had forgotten the name of our God and spread out our hands to a foreign god, wouldn’t God have found this out, since he knows the secrets of the heart? Because of you we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered.

Then I recognized that last line as having been applied by the apostle Paul to their situation in the first century:

Romans 8:35-36 – Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: Because of you we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered.

Paul was taking the entire context of this psalm and applying it to the condition of the believers in the mid-first century. They had not forsaken God; they had not betrayed God by worshiping other gods; they had not strayed from the path of righteousness, and yet they were still being hunted down as sheep to be slaughtered. They went without food, without clothes, and were in constant danger for their lives, and yet they were living lives of integrity and faithfulness!

Psalm 44:23-26 – Wake up, LORD! Why are you sleeping? Get up! Don’t reject us forever! Why do you hide and forget our affliction and oppression? For we have sunk down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground. Rise up! Help us! Redeem us because of your faithful love.

This was the cry of that faithful generation. They longed for God to deliver them from their brutal affliction and the oppression they faced in the company of their own people who had turned against them because of their belief in Messiah. They were savagely treated and violently persecuted; yet, they maintained their hope in the faithful love of God!

Why would they do that? How could they do that? Paul provides an answer in the following verse:

Romans 8:37 – No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Paul knew that no matter what happened to them physically, they could endure because of love; God’s faithful, covenantal love for them which was expressed through the Messiah.

Romans 8:38-39 – For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.

That was all Paul needed: the love of God. That was the motivator that allowed them to continue to maintain their integrity in the face of the most intense hatred and persecution that God’s people have ever seen.

Even today, God’s redemptive love in calling his people to himself is so strong that nothing in creation can overcome it. It is a rock-solid destiny for all time.

1 Corinthians 13:6-8 – Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

This is where it plays out in real time. No matter how dire, unforgiving or treacherous the situation, God’s love never fails. When Paul says that “love never fails,” the word he used literally means that love never falls down because the strain is too great. This is the type of love that always endures. Always.

And Yeshua’s admonition is that the blessing of God and kingdom of God belong to those who are enabled to endure all because of, and for the sake of, this type of never-failing love.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvR_aNEyA7WEZJtF4B8fZ6g

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