The undeniable distinction of God’s people

As believers, we should check how much we blend into the background of this world.

As believers, we should check how much we blend into the background of this world.

Leviticus 20:26: “You shall be holy to me; for I, Yahweh, am holy, and have set you apart from the peoples, that you should be mine.”

This act of God setting his people apart from all other nations was decisive and clear cut. There was not any ambiguity about the requirements that he was establishing for his people. He provided them clarity on many of the main cultural characteristics which were prevalent in that day, as well as today. There was to be an avoidance of idolatry, which was an avoidance of essentially all of the mainstream religions of the day. They were to maintain distinctions based on the food they were to eat, their sexuality, and the types of clothing they would wear, and the calendar they would keep. All of these things played into how God was setting a standard that was in no uncertain terms to distinguish his people from all others.

To illustrate this, the word that is used to describe how they have been set apart is the same Hebrew word that was used in the act of Creation itself, and how God separated and distinguished some things from other things.

  • Genesis 1:4 – God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
  • Genesis 1:6-7 – Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” God made the expanse, and separated the waters that were below the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse; and it was so.
  • Genesis 1:14-15 – Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and they shall serve as signs and for seasons, and for days and years; and they shall serve as lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.
  • Genesis 1:16-18 – God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; [He made] the stars also. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good.

I don’t think anyone would have a problem telling the differences between the night and the day, or darkness and light. This is the level of distinction (i.e., holiness) that should be evident in God’s people of any generation, even unto this day.

God still calls us to be holy and set apart, not to walk in the compromised ways of the nations where we find ourselves. We should be attentive to the commands and rules that God has set in place since, as our Creator, he knows what’s best for us and what is also in his best interest and purpose.

1 Peter 1:14-16 – “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written: ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.'”


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

Separation through the Word

Obedience to God’s Word is essential to a holy life.

Obedience to God’s Word is essential to a holy life.

Psalm 119:101-102 – “I hold back my feet from every evil way in order to keep your word. I do not turn away from your ordinances, for you have taught me.”

Believers cannot live holy lives unless they know the Word of God. It is the instruction of God that teaches us what is right and what is wrong.

Psalm 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.”

Left only to our own understanding, we can’t know what the evil way is because typically every way can look equally beneficial.

Proverbs 16:25 – “There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death.”

Sometimes we go along with what everyone around us is doing because it seems like the right thing to do. But when we shine the light of the Word of God onto it, it can change its appearance to end up being the very thing that is leading people astray. Many campaigns and movements seem to be beneficial, but they end up causing greater issues than expected. As humans, our foresight is limited, and we can’t always see the ramifications of all of our choices.

This is why we, as believers, need to choose a different path, one that is separate from the way of the world. We may appear to others to be the one fish that is swimming upstream while all the others are heading in the other direction. But this is only because we have chosen to follow One who has perfect knowledge and is not just following statistics. We are the ones who are looking for the narrow entrance while all the others are continuing on through the broad road.

Matthew 7:13 – “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to destruction is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.”

We have received God’s Word as the gracious gift that it is. Just as Yahweh set apart Israel in the wilderness by giving them his commandments, we have been set apart by this same instruction of God.

Titus 2:11-12 – “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age…”

Those of us who are seeking to be followers of Messiah and children of Yahweh must operate under different principles than the rest of those who are only out for themselves and what they can obtain on their own. Seeking to be image-bearers of God in this world, we are not only instructed to be on a different path, but we are obligated to.

Psalm 34:12-14 – “Who is someone who desires life, loving a long life to enjoy what is good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceitful speech. Turn away from evil and do what is good; seek peace and pursue it.”

The way of holiness is a way that is separate and distinct for a reason. It is not only a protection and benefit for those who are obedient, but it is also a light to those in the darkness, that they may be drawn to its wisdom and thereby drawn closer to God.


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

Vigilant obedience to Torah

Demonstrating obedience to God’s Word takes resolve and commitment.

Demonstrating obedience to God’s Word takes resolve and commitment.

Nehemiah 13:1-3 – At that time the book of Moses was read publicly to the people. The command was found written in it that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God, because they did not meet the Israelites with food and water. Instead, they hired Balaam against them to curse them, but our God turned the curse into a blessing. When they heard the law, they separated all those of mixed descent from Israel.

At first reading, this type of action by Nehemiah and his reformers can seem harsh and unjustified. Separating people from the assembly of Israel due only to their racial descent grates against our modern perspective on race and inclusion. Was it true that someone could be excluded from the civil life of Israel simply because of their ethnicity?

First, we have to realize that Israel was to be a pure, holy, and set apart people. They were to be distinct from all others and could only maintain that distinction if they did not intermarry with other nations. This was a direct command of God through Moses that had been forsaken in the days of Nehemiah:

Deuteronomy 7:1, 3-4, 6 – “When Yahweh your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess, and he drives out many nations before you​ … You must not intermarry with them, and you must not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, because they will turn your sons away from me to worship other gods. Then Yahweh’s anger will burn against you, and he will swiftly destroy you. … “For you are a holy people belonging to Yahweh your God. Yahweh your God has chosen you to be his own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth.”

While avoiding contamination from idolatrous worship was the primary reason for their separation, in the present case, Nehemiah was quoting another portion of the law of Moses where they were directed to exclude the Moabites and Ammonites specifically from ever joining in the civil life of the community, due to those tribes’ resistance to assist Israel in their wilderness journeys.

Deuteronomy 23:3-4, 6 – “No Ammonite or Moabite may enter Yahweh’s assembly; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, may ever enter Yahweh’s assembly. “This is because they did not meet you with food and water on the journey after you came out of Egypt, and because Balaam son of Beor from Pethor in Aram-naharaim was hired to curse you. … “Never pursue their welfare or prosperity as long as you live.

So it appears that ethnic descent could bar someone from participating in the civil life of an Israelite. But so could having a physical deformation or being born outside of marriage.

Deuteronomy 23:1-2 – “No man whose testicles have been crushed or whose penis has been cut off may enter Yahweh’s assembly. “No one of illegitimate birth may enter Yahweh’s assembly; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, may enter Yahweh’s assembly.”

The command to be excluded from the assembly has been variously interpreted to mean marriage, to participating in the leadership of the Israelite community, or to mean total and complete excommunication. But the word used here means to separate, or to set apart as distinct. It is also used of God separating light from darkness, the Levites being set apart from the rest of the Israelites, the veil separating the ark in the holy of holies from the rest of the temple, the cities of refuge being set apart from the rest of the towns of Israel, and Israel themselves being set apart from all other nations.

I find it interesting that all of the conditions of separation have nothing to do with the free will choice of the individual in question; therefore they could not be held spiritually accountable for a condition which they had no control of, such as the conditions surrounding the marital status of their parents at birth, their physical deformities, or their racial heritage. Being identified as distinct from the assembly of Yahweh was a condition of separation only for temporary time within the nation of Israel’s history for the sake of teaching an eternal lesson about purity, holiness, and vigilance.

As we have seen, the Bible is filled with distinctions being made between all types of places and individuals, and this appears to me to be another one of those instances. To me, the command does not appear so much a punishment on those who were to be excluded, but a test for the faithful to see if they would abide by God’s command.

Consider the vigilance needed to physically remove individuals from the core life of the community who had families, jobs, and responsibilities within the congregation of Israel. This would require a deep commitment to honoring the Torah of God above those relationships. This is akin to the level of commitment that Yeshua spoke of when it comes to removing the mechanisms of sin from within one’s own life.

Matthew 5:29-30 – “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into Gehenna. “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into Gehenna.

Ultimately, all who would demonstrate sincere worship of Yahweh would be honored by him. Isaiah spoke of the time of the Messianic kingdom when anyone truly seeking Yahweh would have the ability and freedom to do so, specifically mentioning foreigners and eunuchs who were formerly to be separated.

Isaiah 56:3-8 – No foreigner who has joined himself to Yahweh should say, “Yahweh will exclude me from his people,” and the eunuch should not say, “Look, I am a dried-up tree.” For Yahweh says this: “For the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, and choose what pleases me, and hold firmly to my covenant, “I will give them, in my house and within my walls, a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters. I will give each of them an everlasting name that will never be cut off. “As for the foreigners who join themselves to Yahweh to minister to him, to love the name of Yahweh, and to become his servants — all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold firmly to my covenant — “I will bring them to my holy mountain and let them rejoice in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” This is the declaration of Yahweh GOD, who gathers the dispersed of Israel: “I will gather to them still others besides those already gathered.”

The Israelites had to practice “tough love” and vigilance of separation in order to abide by the Torah that applied to them in their day. God was preserving the purity of the congregation until the kingdom of Messiah would arrive, and once that occurred, the physical lineages and distinctions would no longer retain the same significance.

Galatians 3:28 – There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.

For anyone in Messiah, the barriers would be broken down and all would be honored in him. But those spiritual lessons regarding vigilance and purity would remain for eternity.


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

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 separation of the righteous is holiness

Living in this world means there will always be a distinction between the people of God and everyone else.

See that you walk in the way of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will inhabit the land, and men of integrity will remain in it; but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.

Proverbs 2:20-22

God is a god of distinction; everything in his creation is set against its opposite: light and darkness, high and low, near and far, good and bad. In Hebrew thought, this duality is what actually defines the created world; everything stands in contrast with something else.

In a similar way, holiness is a process of being set apart. A contrast is created; a distinction between one thing or person and something or someone else. The vessels of the tabernacle were holy because they served a unique and special purpose in the tabernacle. The priests were holy because they served a unique and special purpose in the work and operation of the tabernacle. In a similar fashion, God’s people are holy because they are set apart for a unique and special purpose.

Yeshua alluded to this principle as he shared the dynamic of the kingdom of God, and how the good and bad would be distinguished from one another.

Matthew 13:47-48 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad.

Proverbs 2:20-22 above (as many of the proverbs do) also makes this distinction between the good and the bad, the righteous and the wicked. In the language of the law of God, only the obedient and faithful individuals were guaranteed to remain in the land that God gave them. They would be set apart as holy and distinct from all other nations. However, if they became disobedient and pursued other gods, they would be removed from the land.

Deuteronomy 28:58, 64 – If you are not careful to obey all the words of this law, which are written in this scroll, by fearing this glorious and awe-inspiring name ​– ​the LORD, your God ​– ​ … Then the LORD 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.

Yeshua prophesied the same thing to the Israelites as he ministered among them, sharing the news of the kingdom.

Luke 21:22-24, 32 – …these are days of vengeance to fulfill all the things that are written. Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days, for there will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will be killed by the sword and be led captive into all the nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled by the nations until the times of the nations are fulfilled. … Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all things take place.

As this prophecy came to pass in the fiery destruction of Jerusalem in the first century, we can see that God is consistent in his view of separation; the good are rewarded the wicked are removed. Since he has demonstrated how seriously he takes this principle of holiness, we would do well to heed the admonition of Moses to “fear the awe-inspiring name of Yahweh our God,” along with abiding by the advice of Solomon:

Proverbs 2:20 – See that you walk in the way of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous.


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