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.

Trusting God for who He is, not what He can do for you

Is your salvation an unspoken condition of your trust in God?

Core of the Bible podcast #76 – Trusting God for who He is, not what He can do for you

Is your salvation an unspoken condition of your trust in God?

Today we will be looking at the topic of trust, and how true trust in God does not care for consequences, it only knows what’s true and right and cannot be dissuaded once it is fully embraced.

To help illustrate this principle, we can take a closer look at the story of Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego. For those who know their Bibles, the story is familiar.

When the Hebrews are captured by the Babylonians, they are taken captive, and the leading families are held in the king’s palace. The king has set up an idolatrous monument to himself and commanded that everyone in the area pay homage to it at a specific time, or be killed by being thrown into a furnace. These three prominent Hebrews with the Babylonian names of Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, being Torah-observant, know of course that God has commanded that idolatry is forbidden, and honoring of any other gods is an abomination to him.

Daniel 3:17-18 – “The God we worship can save us from you and your flaming furnace. But even if he doesn’t, we still won’t worship your gods and the gold statue you have set up.”

Their act of defiance enrages the king, and he does indeed throw them bound into the fiery furnace. But, to everyone’s amazement, they not only survive, but their bonds disappear and they are visited by a mysterious angelic individual while in the midst of the flames. The king commands them to come out, and not even their clothes or their hair has been singed or burned.

In response to their miraculous survival, the king, who just previously wanted all people to worship him and his idolatrous monument, now commands everyone to honor the one true God of the Hebrews.

Daniel 3:28-29 – “They trusted their God and refused to obey my commands. Yes, they chose to die rather than to worship or serve any god except their own. And I won’t allow people of any nation or race to say anything against their God.”

While there are many fascinating facets to this story, the essence of what it conveys is both practical and challenging. True trust in God does not care for consequences, it only knows what’s true and right and cannot be dissuaded once it is fully embraced. These men were not trusting God to save them, they were simply trusting God regardless of the outcome. This demonstrates that their trust was not in a hoped-for resolution, their trust was in God alone, whatever was to come of it, even if death resulted.

So, this situation begins to draw us toward our application for today: If you are a believer, why are you trusting God? Are you trusting him to save you from the flames of a fiery hell? What if, for his own purpose and glory, there was no guarantee that he would deliver you from that fate, would you still trust in him? What if when you die, you cease to exist; would you still trust in him today?

Now, most of you might say, “This isn’t a legitimate question, since a belief in God assumes a belief in life after death, and therefore you are setting up a false premise.” Well, I guess that’s fair. But if nothing else, then, try to think hypothetically as if there was no understanding of a heaven or hell or promise of some sort of conscious existence beyond this life. Would you still trust in God based on what he has revealed about himself? I believe a real trust in God would say yes. Real trust believes that God has revealed himself to us as the all-powerful Creator and Sustainer of the universe and he alone is Sovereign. Because this would be accepted as fact, regardless of any consequence, nothing should be able to dissuade that trust. It should have nothing to do with our personal condition or situation, or salvation, for that matter.

Some might say, why believe in a God who doesn’t give you what you want? Isn’t that the purpose of a belief in God, to gain his favor so you can have things go your way? Shouldn’t we believe in him so we don’t go to hell, so we can spend eternity with him? Those kinds of questions belie an undercurrent of self-centeredness masked with false humility that runs deep in this world, and even within the halls of Christendom, today.

If the God of the Bible truly is God of all, then whatever he chooses to do with his creatures and his Creation is up to him. He has demonstrated he won’t ever go against his own word, so he is not arbitrarily creating chaos at his own whim; however, what specifically occurs in each person’s life and how it fits into his overall purpose is not always clear to us. Sometimes deliverance glorifies him most, and sometimes sacrifice.

Cases of deliverance are still circulated among believers today, especially from the mission fields. What follows is a story that took place in Peru in recent decades. I found this story on a website that includes many different examples of recent Christian testimonies:

Julio, a young lay evangelist, had been threatened by a terrorist group. “You must stop preaching,” they said. “If you do not obey us, you will pay with your blood.”

This terrorist group had taken control of the area where Julio walks from town to town to preach. They had closed the police outstations and governed the region by their own rules. Any individual or group that would not cooperate with them was in danger.

Julio ignored the threats and continued his usual rounds, preaching in the small mountain churches and encouraging the believers. Again the terrorists warned Julio, and again he disregarded the threats against his life. The terrorists were outraged. “Our vengeance will be complete. We asked for your cooperation, and you disobeyed us. Now we will make an example of you,” they said.

A few days later Julio was ambushed and taken to the center of one of the larger towns in the area. A crowd gathered to witness the sentencing. The terrorists hoped that Julio’s fate would put fear into the hearts of Christians and perhaps even result in closing some churches.

Julio was tied to a chair and carried to the middle of the square. Sticks of dynamite were tied to each of his arms and legs. The fuses were lit as Julio began singing praises to God. Other Christians joined him in praise, encouraging him with songs about heaven.

Then came the miracle! Suddenly there was a loud boom as the dynamite exploded. The terrorists thought nothing would be left of Julio. But when the smoke cleared, there sat Julio unharmed and still singing praises to God! The terrorists were shocked. They were so overcome by fear that they ran away. At the same time, all the Christians were saying, “It’s a miracle of God!”

Julio left the square with the Christians. He continued his ministry in spite of persecution. He held firmly to the truth that Jesus gives strength to be courageous when needed.

Christian Testimonies – Protection in Peru (the-new-way.org)

Of course, the Bible contains stories of deliverance, like Paul escaping from Damascus, or Peter being set free from prison. But it also contains accounts of those giving the ultimate sacrifice for their faith, such as Stephen being stoned to death, or the apostle James who was killed by the sword at Herod’s direction. Just because someone is a believer is not a guarantee that nothing bad or tragic will ever happen to them. It’s all about what serves God’s purposes best, not the individual.

As a testament to this, a common classic work among Protestant orthodoxy is a book titled “Foxe’s book of Martyrs,” first published in 1563 by John Foxe, detailing primarily Catholic persecution of the Protestants. However, it also covers many stories telling of heroic courage and overcoming faith, stories of the grace of God that enabled men, women, and children to endure persecutions and often horrible deaths. To illustrate, here is an excerpt of some stories regarding persecutions of believing Christians while it was still an “outlaw” religion around the year 200 AD.

“The Fifth Persecution, Commencing with Severus, A.D. 192

Severus, having been recovered from a severe fit of sickness by a Christian, became a great favorer of the Christians in general; but the prejudice and fury of the ignorant multitude prevailing, obsolete laws were put in execution against the Christians. The progress of Christianity alarmed the pagans, and they revived the stale calumny of placing accidental misfortunes to the account of its professors, A.D. 192.

But, though persecuting malice raged, yet the Gospel shone with resplendent brightness; and, firm as an impregnable rock, withstood the attacks of its boisterous enemies with success. Tertullian, who lived in this age, informs us that if the Christians had collectively withdrawn themselves from the Roman territories, the empire would have been greatly depopulated.

Victor, bishop of Rome, suffered martyrdom in the first year of the third century, A.D. 201. Leonidus, the father of the celebrated Origen, was beheaded for being a Christian. Many of Origen’s hearers likewise suffered martyrdom; particularly two brothers, named Plutarchus and Serenus; another Serenus, Heron, and Heraclides, were beheaded. Rhais had boiled pitch poured upon her head, and was then burnt, as was Marcella her mother. Potainiena, the sister of Rhais, was executed in the same manner as Rhais had been; but Basilides, an officer belonging to the army, and ordered to attend her execution, became her convert.

Basilides being, as an officer, required to take a certain oath, refused, saying, that he could not swear by the Roman idols, as he was a Christian. Struck with surpsie, the people could not, at first, believe what they heard; but he had no sooner confirmed the same, than he was dragged before the judge, committed to prison, and speedily afterward beheaded.”

The Fifth Persecution, Commencing with Severus, A.D. 192 – Fox’s Book of Martyrs (biblestudytools.com)

These are just a few of the thousands of examples of courageous conviction throughout this single volume documenting these events. Faced with similar circumstances, would you have responded in like kind with these dedicated men and women?

Returning once again to our story in Daniel, what if God had chosen to abandon those three men in the furnace? Perhaps he could have decided that their perishing in light of their undying trust in him would have better served glorifying his name: three martyrs for Yahweh. It would still be a good story and they would still be honored as heroes of the faith. Yet God chose their miraculous preservation as a way of honoring their faith and converting a pagan king. That served his purpose better. Case in point: we’re still talking about the impact of this incident thousands of years later. It is still serving his purpose to this day.

Do you think those three men had stronger trust in God after that incident? I’m sure they were relieved, but to the point I am attempting to convey here, quite honestly, I believe that if they were asked about it, they would consider that an unnecessary, silly question. I believe they would say the point of their preservation was not to enhance their faith, but to enhance others’ faith by demonstrating God’s glory. As his glory was revealed, others came to know him.

Is your salvation an unspoken condition of your trust in God? Then you are believing in God for what he can do, not for who he is. As believers, we need to remove ourselves from the center of our own faith universe and make sure that we are recognizing and trusting God simply for who he is: God. We need to let him be God, and to unswervingly place our everything: our well-being, our lifestyle, our security, into his hands and let him accomplish his own purpose in his own way. The end result may not look like we expect it to, but it shouldn’t matter. We can be confident it will always be the outcome that best serves his purpose and provides him the most glory.

For me, I believe it would be a fitting testimony to the honor of God to have said about me what was said about those three brave Hebrew men: “he chose to die rather than to worship or serve any god except his own.”

We need to check where our trust is truly placed: in our salvation, or in the God who can provide that salvation. Place your trust in God for who he is, not for what he can do for you.


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.

Learning from Job’s life of integrity

In speaking of his faithful servant Job, God reveals what a life of integrity is.

In speaking of his faithful servant Job, God reveals what a life of integrity is.

Job 2:3: – “Yahweh said to the Accuser, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.””

Out of all of the people in the Bible who are mentioned as doing what is right, Job is described by his wife, his friends, and even God himself as a man of integrity.

  • Job 2:9: – “Then his wife said to him, “Do you still persist in your integrity? …”
  • Job 4:1, 6: – “Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered: … “Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?”

In Yahweh’s honoring of Job as a man of integrity, we find one of the briefest and most succinct definitions of a life of integrity from Yahweh himself: “a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil.” At its most basic level, being a person of integrity involves at least two things: fearing God and turning away from evil.

To fear God is to recognize him for who he is as the Creator of all that exists. It is to respect and honor him by choosing to be obedient to what he has conveyed to us as his creatures. It is the fear of God that gives us the ability to gain wisdom so we can make the right choices.

Proverbs 1:7: – “The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Additionally, a life of integrity involves turning away from evil. This is known as a life of repentance, constantly viewing our choices in the context of the greater purpose of God among humanity. When we see or encounter the things that don’t honor God, it is our obligation to turn away from those things, to take a different path than perhaps the rest of those around us blindly follow.

Proverbs 4:26-27 – “Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established. Don’t turn to the right or to the left; keep your feet away from evil.”

A life of integrity it is formed around a pattern of walking in the light, not the darkness. The light that shines is the wisdom that God provides when we choose to recognize him as the Creator of all.

Ecclesiastes 2:13-14 – “And I realized that there is an advantage to wisdom over folly, like the advantage of light over darkness. The wise person has eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. …”

It is also a recognition that we shall have to answer for the choices we have made during this life, even as Job himself understood.

Job 31:6: “let me be weighed in a just balance, and let God know my integrity!”

Fear God and turn from evil. This is the life that believers are called to exemplify for themselves and for others. This hunger and thirst for doing what is right is what creates the purity of heart that God desires.

Matthew 5:6,8: ““Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. … “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see 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.

No compromise with the sinful practices of worldly culture

The type of vigilance required for maintaining righteousness is extreme and rarely practiced.

Core of the Bible podcast #74 – No compromise with the sinful practices of worldly culture

Today we will be looking at the topic of vigilance, and how the vigilance for righteousness that God expects of us is real, challenging, and unwavering.

Our story for today is taken from the narrative of Israel’s wanderings in the desert, related in Numbers 25.

Numbers 25:6-8 – One of the Israelite men brought a Midianite woman to his brothers. He did this right in front of Moses and the whole community of Israel while they were crying at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Phinehas, son of Eleazar and grandson of the priest Aaron, saw this. So he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand, and went into the tent after the Israelite man.

The type of vigilance required for maintaining righteousness is extreme and rarely practiced. Yeshua spoke of it in hyperbolic terminology, that even if your eye or hand causes you to sin, you should be prepared to gouge it out or chop it off.

In the example of Phinehas, a priest in Aaron’s line at the time of Israel’s wandering in the desert, he demonstrated this commitment to righteousness in an extreme way that he is famously remembered for to this day. The men of Israel had become complacent in their commitment to Yahweh. They began to succumb to the idolatry of the local Midianite population as they were being seduced by the women of Moab.

Numbers 25:1-3 – “While Israel was staying at Shittim, the men began to have sex with Moabite women who invited the people to the sacrifices offered to their gods. The people ate the meat from the sacrifices and worshiped these gods. Since the Israelites joined in worshiping the god Baal of Peor, Yahweh became angry with Israel.”

Due to this rampant idolatry, God sent a plague among the general population that was killing thousands of people. He revealed to Moses and the leaders what must be done to put things right.

Numbers 25:4-5 – “Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Take all the leaders of the people, and execute them in broad daylight in Yahweh’s presence. This will turn Yahweh’s anger away from Israel.’ So Moses said to the judges of Israel, ‘Each of you must kill the men who have joined in worshiping the god Baal of Peor.'”

This directive seems so contrary to our modern sensibilities; surely there must have been some alternative, some form of rehabilitation that could be enacted to reform those who had fallen into idolatry and sexual promiscuity. But there were no compromises, no discussions, no negotiations; those who had sinned in idolatry had to be removed from the population of Israel. Yahweh had been extremely clear with this directive when the Israelites came out of Egypt:

Exodus 23:24-25 – You must not worship the gods of these nations or serve them in any way or imitate their evil practices. Instead, you must utterly destroy them and smash their sacred pillars. You must serve only Yahweh your God…”

Now, before they had even reached the land promised to them by God, the offenders within Israel had become so brazen in their sinfulness that they had continued to proceed in their practices, even as Moses and the assembly leaders were seeking God’s direction and favor. Upon seeing this, Phinehas instantly jumped into action in obedience to God’s command. He didn’t hesitate or wait for a committee to decide on the right timing; he simply got up, grabbed a spear, and followed the offenders into their tent.

Numbers 25:7-8 – So he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand, and went into the tent after the Israelite man. He drove the spear through the man and into the woman’s body. Because of this, the plague that the Israelites were experiencing stopped.

Phinehas is remembered because he unhesitatingly did a difficult thing that God required, and in so doing, saved the rest of the assembly. In his vigilance for righteousness, he saw the iniquity and took immediate action.

This story is a metaphor for us today. The example is extreme because God wants to make sure we understand how serious it is for us to remain in blatant disobedience to his purposes. In our modern permissiveness, we excuse all types of aberrant behavior as being acceptable based on the fact that the biblical culture was distant and removed from our current relativistic and inclusive morality today. However, while the culture may indeed be distant, the moral underpinnings that anchored the ancient Israelites should be the exact same foundation we build upon today.

I hasten to add that I am not advocating here that we should kill everyone who practices a different, idolatrous religion from us. But it is to say that we should be aware of the corruptive power of tolerating sin among the ranks of believing congregations. We may feel that reform is possible if destructive individuals remain connected to the life of the local believing community, however, when we do so we are simply enabling sinful behavior among our own ranks. This is contrary to the purpose of God and needs to be dealt with in a similar swift and decisive fashion as Phinehas did with the Midianite culture. Perhaps removal from the community is the impetus required to jar an individual back to their spiritual senses, where they can repent and return to the purpose of God within the larger spiritual community of believers. This was blatantly exemplified as one workable solution within the life of the Corinthian congregation who had faithfully followed the apostle Paul’s advice after he had called them out on their toleration of sin within their midst.

1 Corinthians 5:1 – “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and the kind of sexual immorality that is not even tolerated among the Gentiles ​– ​a man is sleeping with his father’s wife.”

After a period of time, Paul writes back to the congregation after they had removed this individual from their fellowship.

2 Corinthians 2:6-8 – “This punishment by the majority is sufficient for that person. As a result, you should instead forgive and comfort him. Otherwise, he may be overwhelmed by excessive grief. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him.”

This example should be a bellwether, a leading indicator, for all believing congregations. When we shy away from our duty to not compromise with the surrounding culture, it can affect us in ways that will continue to erode spiritual stability throughout the believing community.

In a moment, we will return to evaluate Yeshua’s understanding of the principle of removing sin from among God’s people, along with further ideas for personal purity conveyed by the apostles and some of the classic commentators of recent generations.


In like fashion to the men of Israel, we can be easily seduced by the surrounding idolatry of our day and age. The culture and technology we are immersed in provide ample opportunities for us to be led away, seduced as by Midianite women, from our commitment to the one true God. It is only when those disobedient thoughts and actions are decisively put to death that we can be restored to wholeness with God. As mentioned previously, Yeshua used the example of gouging out eyes and chopping off hands.

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 hell. 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 hell.”

Charles Ellicott comments on this hyperbolic or exaggerated language of Yeshua in this way:

“The bold severity of the phrase excludes a literal interpretation. The seat of the evil lies in the will, not in the organ of sense or action, and the removal of the instrument might leave the inward taint unpurified. What is meant is, that any sense [or instrument], when it ministers to sin is an evil and not a good, the loss of which would be the truest gain. Translated into modern language, we are warned that taste, culture, aesthetic refinement may but make our guilt and our punishment more tremendous. It were better to be without them than “for life’s sake to lose life’s noblest ends.”

The apostle Paul wrote about it this way:

Romans 8:12-13 – Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.

Commenting on this putting to death the deeds of the sinful nature, the Jamieson-Faussett-Brown review of this passage focuses on the following:

“The apostle is not satisfied with assuring them that they are under no obligations to the flesh, to hearken to its suggestions, without reminding them where it will end if they do; and he uses the word “mortify” (put to death) as a kind of play upon the word “die” just before. “If ye do not kill sin, it will kill you.” But he tempers this by the bright alternative, that if they do, through the Spirit, mortify the deeds of the body, such a course will infallibly terminate in “life” everlasting.”

Continuing this same theme to the Colossian congregation, Paul wrote:

Colossians 3:5 – “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.”

On this, Matthew Henry writes:

“It is our duty to mortify our members which incline to the things of the world. Mortify them, kill them, suppress them, as weeds or vermin which spread and destroy all about them. Continual opposition must be made to all corrupt workings, and no provision made for carnal indulgences. Occasions of sin must be avoided: the lusts of the flesh, and the love of the world; and covetousness, which is idolatry; love of present good, and of outward enjoyments. It is necessary to mortify sins, because if we do not kill them, they will kill us. The gospel changes the higher as well as the lower powers of the soul, and supports the rule of right reason and conscience, over appetite and passion. There is now no difference from country, or conditions and circumstances of life. It is the duty of every one to be holy, because Christ is a Christian’s All, his only Lord and Saviour, and all his hope and happiness.”

I find it interesting that Matthew Henry says, “there is now no difference from country, or conditions and circumstances of life.” In one sense this is true, at least in regard to the universality of the biblical spiritual scope. However, there are many different countries and cultures affecting the conditions and circumstances of life. Believers in many walks of life throughout the world face many differing challenges that can affect their spiritual life and practice. How are we to overcome these varieties of challenges to the purity of the kingdom message?

The good news is that the same Spirit which empowered Yeshua and the early disciples still lives within the regenerated lives of believers today. As Paul wrote in Romans 8, “if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.” It is the power of the Spirit of God that provides the ability to overcome sinful practices of whatever culture among which we find ourselves.

Yeshua instructed his disciples that they would have power from God to be witnesses throughout the known world at that time:

Acts 1:8 – “But you will receive power when the holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers to be strengthened in the Spirit of God:

Ephesians 3:14, 16-17 – “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, … that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith…”

He also encouraged Timothy to rely on the indwelling Spirit for power, self-control, and guarding of godly gifts.

2 Timothy 1:7, 13-14 – “…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. … Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Messiah Yeshua. By the holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”

This is the great plan of God in dispersing believers throughout the world and causing them to live lives of righteousness where they are, to be the light and salt to those who need it most.

Philippians 2:15 – …”that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…”

The same vigilance and determination of Phinehas for the righteousness of his people needs to be evidenced in us today for our own standing in God’s presence. The only way we can be truly set apart for God’s purposes is by brutally putting to death, gouging out, chopping off, and stabbing a spear through the heart of those things in our lives that offend God.

This is the determination needed to remain on God’s path. This is the vigilance it takes to be a child of God. Collectively, we need to mimic the no-compromise mentality of a Phinehas, not waiting, but taking immediate and decisive action on the habits and practices in our lives that are offensive to a holy 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.

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.

David and Yeshua encourage faith in Yahweh

Trusting in God provides security and motivation for righteous actions.

Trusting in God provides security and motivation for righteous actions.

Psalm 37:3 – Trust in Yahweh and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

This entire psalm by David is devoted to reassuring those who trust in Yahweh, encouraging them not to be envious or overly concerned with the practices of the wicked. Trusting in Yahweh is illustrated as fostering behavior that results in his favor. By trusting in Yahweh, one is motivated to do good.

Psalm 37:26-27, 30-31 – All day long he [the faithful one] is gracious and lends, And his descendants are a blessing. Depart from evil and do good, So you will abide forever. … The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, And his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; His steps do not slip.

The psalm also says the faithful will dwell in the land; a reference to the security of the position of the one who trusts in him. By contrast, the wicked are spoken of as disappearing, being cut off, and vanishing like smoke. This is illustrated repeatedly throughout the psalm.

  • Psalm 37:9-11 – For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for Yahweh, they will inherit the land. Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.
  • Psalm 37:20, 22, 35-36, 38 – But the wicked will perish; And the enemies of Yahweh will be like the glory of the pastures, They vanish–like smoke they vanish away. … For those blessed by Him will inherit the land, But those cursed by Him will be cut off. … I have seen a wicked, violent man Spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil. Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more; I sought for him, but he could not be found. … But transgressors will be altogether destroyed; The posterity of the wicked will be cut off.

In a similar fashion, Yeshua encourages faith in Yahweh and obedience to his commands by illustrating the two houses that are built on differing foundations.

  • Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
  • Matthew 7:24-27 – “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell–and great was its fall.”

Even though these passages were conveyed to their hearers a thousand years apart, we can see a consistent theme: by placing our faith in Yahweh, we can have an established security that can weather any storm, while those who instead choose their own ways will suffer the consequences of their own wickedness.

Returning to Psalm 37, it speaks of how the righteous actions of those who trust in Yahweh will become self-evident, as bright as the noonday sun.

Psalm 37:4-6 Delight yourself in Yahweh; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to Yahweh, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday.

Trusting in Yahweh is just that: trust. But it is a trust that is demonstrated through righteous actions; the two cannot be separated. Additionally, the evidence provided over a millennium of tried-and-true experience in the fortunes of Israel should bolster our confidence to trust him, and not to trust in our own ways which only lead to wickedness. We can be established and secure in the land, or we can be cut off and vanish away like smoke. As followers of the Messiah, we should be strengthened to abide in his words that have been demonstrated as true since the times of David and will continue to do so throughout 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 integrity of people of faith

We must base our actions with faith in the revealed words of God above the opinions of men.

We must base our actions with faith in the revealed words of God above the opinions of men.

Those who believe in the God of the Bible have a quality that is not evidenced among outsiders or pretenders to the faith. They possess an undaunted sense of surety about the words of God that leads to different conclusions than that of the general population of a community. This is what can cause friction among communities and congregations.

A good example of this can be exemplified by the group of Israelites that was selected to go spy out the land of Canaan prior to their moving into the land. The story is related that the land was viewed as being plentiful and productive, albeit currently inhabited by some of the most feared inhabitants: a people of extremely large stature known as the descendants of Anak. Because of this, the majority of the scouting group became fearful and therefore provided a negative report of the land, while Joshua and Caleb provided the positive aspects of the land relying on God’s help to overcome the current inhabitants.

Numbers 14:6-9 – Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who scouted out the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite community: “The land we passed through and explored is an extremely good land. “If Yahweh is pleased with us, he will bring us into this land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and give it to us. “Only don’t rebel against Yahweh, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land, for we will devour them. Their protection has been removed from them, and Yahweh is with us. Don’t be afraid of them! “

This quickly divided the congregation of Israel into groups of those who wanted to return to Egypt and those who wanted to continue on into the land of Canaan. This caused God’s anger to be aroused at the unfaithful scouts who would not obey his commands to take the land, while Joshua and Caleb were spared for their faithfulness.

Numbers 14:22-24, 30, 37-38 – “none of the men who have seen my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tested me these ten times and did not obey me, “will ever see the land I swore to give their fathers. None of those who have despised me will see it. “But since my servant Caleb has a different spirit and has remained loyal to me, I will bring him into the land where he has gone, and his descendants will inherit it. … “I swear that none of you will enter the land I promised to settle you in, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. … those men who spread the negative report about the land were struck down by Yahweh. Only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh remained alive of those men who went to scout out the land.

As dramatic as this event was, we find that it illustrates how God delineates between those who are truly faithful and obedient to him from those who only pay lip service to him until their own perceived notions or opinions clash with what God has revealed as his purpose. This was a principle that has always existed among God’s people, even up to New Testament times.

The apostle Paul dealt extensively with these types of issues. In his letter to the Corinthians, he had to spell out specifics on different cultural and doctrinal issues that were causing divisions within the congregation, yet he states the following:

1 Corinthians 11:18-19 – “For to begin with, I hear that when you come together as a church there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. Indeed, it is necessary that there be factions among you, so that those who are approved may be recognized among you.”

Interestingly, he said these factions were necessary as indicators of right and wrong practices within the congregation. Those of integrity within the congregation were doing everything they could to abide by the word of God while others tried to find loopholes in the doctrine and abuse their privileges based on their own opinions.

In the wilderness, Caleb and Joshua could see beyond the physical appearance of the giants of the land and believed that their “protection had been removed” (since God was commanding the Israelites to overcome them). Because of the wickedness of the land, Caleb and Joshua rightly believed the Canaanites had become exposed to the justice of God that was about to be meted out through the faithful Israelite armies. Joshua and Caleb were merely stating in faith what they knew would come to pass if only the people obeyed and took the land.

This same thing occurs to this very day, but we need to realize that factions can be, as the apostle Paul says, necessary to ensure that those who are doing what is approved become apparent from the rest. This is why it is so important that we have a holistic grasp of the entire Bible, not just a concentrated focus on a few parts. The wider our perspective on the whole of how God has worked and continues to work among his people provides us a wide and firm foundation to draw conclusions for our daily practices.

This is the integrity that people of faith can demonstrate when faced with similar obstacles. Understanding and obeying the word of God from the heart brings the blessings of God, just as Caleb and Joshua received their inheritance while the others did not.


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.

Asking, seeking, and knocking

Being persistent in the ways of God is expected by Yeshua of his followers.

Being persistent in the ways of God is expected by Yeshua of his followers.

Matthew 7:7-8 – “Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Yeshua’s teaching has been an inspiration to many over the centuries, encouraging believers to be persistent in following after God’s will. By consistently asking, seeking, and knocking, the faithful believer will have those things that God desires for them in the outworking of the kingdom here on earth.

It begins with asking. Asking God in prayer for his will to be accomplished in one’s life through the work of his holy Spirit is an imperative.

Matthew 21:22 – “And all things, whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.”

As we seek for his ideals to be worked out through us, we recognize that we are carrying out his purpose for his kingdom.

Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Yeshua promises that for whoever knocks, the door will be opened. But there was also a warning to those of his generation who would not accept his message. The message of salvation from physical destruction was effective for his people for a limited time; the wrath of God was about to be poured out on Jerusalem in their lifetimes. There would be those who would only understand the truth of Yeshua’s prophecies and teaching when it was too late, and the day of Yahweh would be upon them. To those, Yeshua mentioned no amount of knocking would open the door.

Luke 13:24-25 – “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because I tell you, many will try to enter and won’t be able “once the homeowner gets up and shuts the door. Then you will stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up for us! ‘ He will answer you, ‘I don’t know you or where you’re from.'”

The good news is, through the faithful apostles of that generation, the message of the gospel of the kingdom went far and wide throughout the known world, and the remnant of God’s people everywhere heard the message and accepted it with glad hearts. Then, rather than knocking upon the door of God’s chambers for admittance, they instead responded to the knocking of Messiah upon the door of their chambers.

Revelation 3:20 – “See! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

The life of a believer today still consists of an ongoing relationship with God through our diligence in asking, seeking, and knocking. We must remain ever watchful for opportunities to correlate our lives within the context of his kingdom. By doing so, we will find that we receive the direction we need, we find what we have been looking for, and the door is opened to the presence of God each day.


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.

Resisting compromise through passionate faithfulness

A life of integrity is forged in the constant pursuit of righteousness.

Core of the Bible podcast #66 – Resisting compromise through passionate faithfulness

A life of integrity is forged in the constant pursuit of righteousness.

Psalm 86:11 – Teach me your way, O Yahweh, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.

Psalm 143:10 – Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!

The person of integrity is one who intently seeks to know the truth of God. They desire to walk in that way, to conform their lives to what God desires of them. They have made seeking God the passion of their life, hungering to know him more and to know the correct way according to his Word. They will not rest until they have heard a word from God, until he has shown them the next steps on their path.

Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

Psalm 63:1 – “O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my body yearns for You in a dry and weary land without water.”

Psalm 107:9 – “For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”

The Psalms are well-known among believers because they are filled with this type of pleading to God for guidance, for pouring out praise to God and outwardly declaring a desire for righteousness in speech and in action.

As believers, we identify with the passionate expression of these principles, because we are ignited with the same Spirit. The kindred longings and desires of our hearts beat in unison with those faithful who have gone before and expressed their deepest secrets which are immortalized among the pages of Scripture. The integrity that lived and breathed in them inspires us to learn of their ways and mimic their faithfulness.

However, a passionate love for the things of God brings with it a passionate opposition to those who would speak or act in defiance to the one true God. The psalms are also sprinkled with statements of curses against non-believers; those who would decry the authority of God. These imprecatory or cursing psalms stand in stark contrast to the more syrupy, love-filled passages.

Psalm 26:5 – “I hate the company of evildoers, and will not sit with the wicked.”

Psalm 31:6, 17-18 – “I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in Yahweh…Do not let me be put to shame, O Yahweh, for I call on you; let the wicked be put to shame; let them go dumbfounded to Sheol. Let the lying lips be stilled that speak insolently against the righteous with pride and contempt.”

Psalm 68:1 – “Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered; let those who hate him flee before him.”

Psalm 101:3 – “I will not set before my eyes anything that is base. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.”

This passionate aversion to the practices of the wicked is a natural by-product of a passionate love for God. However, we need to recognize that God does not condone outright acts of hatred against the wicked. The fact that these psalms have given voice to the emotional loathing of anyone who stands against God does not carry with it a tacit permission to destroy them.

We are constrained by the teachings of Yeshua to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us, to do only good toward them and to seek their best interest. But that does not mean we have removed all sense of disdain for the wicked practices they may do. It is our responsibility to love without conceding to their immorality, to serve without bitter resolve toward their destructive behavior .

The eleventh chapter of the epistle of Hebrews speaks to a long list of those who demonstrated their faith and integrity through their actions. But when we consider the depth of their commitment to the one true God, our own faith seems to pale by comparison:

Hebrews 11:33-38 – “…who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two,[l] they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.”

This is the spiritual stock of those who would seek after God today. We must seek ways to become the hardy believers like they were, living without compromise in their time. The integrity of their faith led them to uncompromising conflict with the culture around them, and many of them gave their lives in honor of the God of the universe. They represented him against the rebelliousness of their generations.

In what ways do we compromise today?

  1. We try to stand with an incomplete knowledge of the Hebrew culture and social structure, and instead try to interpret the Bible through the lens of our current societal standards.
  2. We fall into the “us-against-them” mentality by subdividing the singular truth of the kingdom into denominations and hierarchies causing unnatural rivalries as to which group is “right.”
  3. We attempt to support the temporal politics of the land when we should instead focus on the eternal kingdom that supersedes any political issue.
  4. We attempt to manage current, popular social issues and conflict as simply being new ways of expression rather than confronting the degradation and erosion of biblical moral values that are eternal.

As an antidote to these compromises, we should seek the opposite in each case.

  1. We need to cultivate teachers who understand the Hebrew culture and can express the New Covenant within the context it was intended. Yeshua was not an American or European; he was not just a philosopher or great moral teacher. He was the Messiah of the Hebrew people, and the spiritual leader of all Israel.
  2. We need to stop creating new congregations founded on differences of minor theological emphasis and instead seek to find ways to reconcile with other believing congregations. We are all one in Messiah, but apparently not on paper.
  3. We need to recognize that politics are fueled by controversy for the sake of argument, and that bringing that mentality into the congregation of believers only causes further strife and division among ourselves. Spirituality and moral behavior are not something that can be legislated.
  4. We need to remain firm in standing against sinful social behavior; yet we need to reach out with love to those who are not believers to help them understand that principles of race, gender and sexuality are settled issues in God’s eyes. Rather than lash out in ignorance, we need to educate ourselves as to how to knowledgeably and lovingly confront the error of defiance toward the authority of God. Of course, we should not be advocates for hate, but we certainly cannot be advocates for sin.

Hebrews 12:1 – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

This race we are in is not a sprint that is over after a burst of effort and energy. No, the lives we live are long-distance endurance rallies, challenging us at every turn with new obstacles attempting to wear us down and cause us not to quit, but to compromise. Once we accept the premise of cultural degradation, our message becomes diluted by non-essentials.

For which social or political principle or ethic would you be willing to be tortured, sawn in two, flogged, stoned or killed? Now consider which theological or spiritual position you would be willing to put your life on the line for? I dare say the integrity and faith of our spiritual forebears tends to quickly bring the essentials into focus.

Our integrity is based on how we pull these disparate concepts together and yet honor God with our speech and our actions. I believe we should find ways to maintain a perspective that recalls the faithfulness of generations before us, and that we should do everything in our power to seek to emulate them.

1 Kings 8:57-58 – “The Lord 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.”


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 faith of the righteous opposes all adversity

As people of integrity, we are obligated to stand firm for what’s right.

Proverbs 11:3 – The integrity of the upright guides them, but the perversity of the treacherous destroys them.

Most of the proverbs of Solomon are stand-alone nuggets of wisdom providing a snapshot of insight into a specific aspect of life. In chapter 11, however, there are several similar proverbs grouped together in the same passage that carry a consistent message. Here are some of those examples.

Proverbs 11:5 – The righteousness of the blameless clears his path, but the wicked person will fall because of his wickedness.
Proverbs 11:6 – The righteousness of the upright rescues them, but the treacherous are trapped by their own desires.
Proverbs 11:23 – The desire of the righteous turns out well, but the hope of the wicked leads to wrath.

All of these proverbs are centered around the actions of the righteous or upright, those exhibiting integrity. The integrity they have is represented as guiding them, clearing a path for them and rescuing them, with the end result being favorable for them.

The same Hebrew word used for integrity is the same word found in only one other book of the Bible: Job. Job was consistent in maintaining his integrity or innocence before God.

Job 2:3, 9-10 – Then Yahweh said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil. He still retains his integrity, even though you incited me against him, to destroy him for no good reason.” … His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die! ” “You speak as a foolish woman speaks,” he told her. “Should we accept only good from God and not adversity? ” Throughout all this Job did not sin in what he said.

Job 27:3-6 – as long as my breath is still in me and the breath from God remains in my nostrils, my lips will not speak unjustly, and my tongue will not utter deceit. I will never affirm that you are right. I will maintain my integrity until I die. I will cling to my righteousness and never let it go. My conscience will not accuse me as long as I live!

Job 31:5-6 – If I have walked in falsehood or my foot has rushed to deceit, let God weigh me on accurate scales, and he will recognize my integrity.

True to the wisdom of the proverbs, Job was ultimately rewarded for his faithfulness. By holding on to his integrity through the worst of circumstances, he was guided on a cleared path through his adversity and rescued out of his troubles. In the end he was blessed more abundantly than before his troubles had begun.

I recognize that most people typically view Job as an example of questioning God when bad things happen to good people. However, I think there is an opportunity to see just how courageous someone has to be to maintain their integrity and blamelessness amidst the harshest of physical circumstances while having extended dialogues with those of contrary opinion.

As believers in Messiah, we should be challenged by Job’s example as to how far we are willing to go to stand for the principles of integrity. Paul wrote to the Romans to remind them of their status before God because of their faith in Messiah:

Romans 5:1 – Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Yeshua Messiah.

Paul also wrote to Titus to encourage his congregation to maintain a righteous and godly life:

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…

We live daily amidst cultural influences which constantly assault our belief in right beliefs and right actions. May we be emboldened to say with Job: “as long as my breath is still in me and the breath from God remains in my nostrils, my lips will not speak unjustly, and my tongue will not utter deceit,” and “I will cling to my righteousness and never let it go. My conscience will not accuse me as long as I live!” If we do so, then according to the wisdom of Solomon, the righteousness and integrity we have by faith will guide us, clear a path for us, and rescue us, allowing God to favor us as he sees fit in this life and into eternity.


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