Maintaining integrity with God’s help

Psalm 141:4 – Incline not my heart to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity; and let me not eat of their delicacies!

Throughout this psalm, the Psalmist pleads with Yahweh to assist him in maintaining the right course of action in his heart and in what he says at all times. He does not want to be swept away by the actions of the wicked and counted among them; in fact, he prays that their own wickedness would find them out!

Psalm 141:8-9 – But my eyes are toward thee, O Yahweh God; in thee I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless! Keep me from the trap which they have laid for me, and from the snares of evildoers!

He pleads that he would not be defenseless against the lure of wickedness, or by any of the traps they may have set in his way. This hunger and passionate desire for integrity should be the heart cry of every believer.

The good news for believers today is that we do have a “defense system” against wickedness when we choose to abide in the Word of God: the holy Spirit of God himself.

1 John 2:26-27 – I write this to you about those who would deceive you; but the anointing which you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that any one should teach you; as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie, just as it has taught you, abide in him.

1 John 3:24 – All who keep his commandments abide in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he has given us.

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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 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

Bonding ourselves to God through compassionate generosity

When we help those in need, it is as if we are binding ourselves together with God himself.

It is well documented within the word that God desires that those who have ability should lend to those in need.

  • Psalm 37:25-26: “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his children begging for bread. All day long he deals graciously, and lends. His [the righteous one’s] offspring is blessed.”
  • Psalm 112:4-5: “Light dawns in the darkness for the upright, gracious, merciful, and righteous. It is well with the man who deals graciously and lends. He will maintain his cause in judgment.”

Notice that in both instances the encouragement is to lend, not to give away. The word comes from the Hebrew root lavah, which means to be joined or twisted together, implying an obligation of a borrower still being joined to the lender until the money is repaid. This idea stems from the Torah command to be committed to assisting those who have either fallen on hard times or who could just use some assistance.

Leviticus 25:35 – “If your brother becomes destitute and cannot sustain himself among you, you are to support him as an alien or temporary resident, so that he can continue to live among you.”

In the foregoing psalms, the concept of lending to those in need leads to blessings and positive outcomes for those who lend to others. In the proverbs, a fine example of this type of lending provides us further insight into why it is that these blessings and favorable outcomes occur.

Proverbs 19:17: “He who has pity on the poor lends to Yahweh; he will reward him.”

Once again, the word for lend here comes from the root lavah. The idea being conveyed with the intent of the original words seems to be that those who extend kindness to the poor are in actuality lending to, that is joining together with, Yahweh himself. Now, it is Yahweh who is then joined together with the lender, which ensures that the lender is “rewarded” (defined more accurately as “made whole.”) It’s as if God is guaranteeing the lender will be made whole in some way, even if the human recipient never repays the kindness bestowed. Based on this type of logic, when we are faithfully and sacrificially helping those in need, it is as if we are binding ourselves together with God himself in a sacred bond that remains in place until it is completed.

This should give a whole different meaning and emphasis to our generosity in helping others. When we provide help in this fashion, we are not only compassionately assisting our fellow human who may need some additional support, but we are working in harmony with the principles of the Creator of the universe who is intertwined in the transaction. He remains committed to ensuring we are made whole in some sense that can result in (according to the psalms) blessing, maintaining of our purpose, and light in the darkness. There is no “giving to get” something in return, but rather lending freely to others with a sense of communing in a relational way with God. Our generosity leads to others’ needs being met and we can then be blessed in ways that can only be understood as coming from the gracious hand of a loving God. When we provide for others from the heart, we are opening ourselves for an opportunity to be twisted together with God within his purpose. The outcome is up to him, but will always be something that we would qualify as a blessing or desirable outcome, even if it isn’t what we might expect. It shows up in ways that can only be defined as a life illuminated by the blessing of God. All of Psalm 112 defines what that looks like.

Psalm 112:1-10 – Praise Yahweh! How joyful are those who fear Yahweh and delight in obeying his commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever. Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous. Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly. Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust Yahweh to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly. They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor. The wicked will see this and be infuriated. They will grind their teeth in anger; they will slink away, their hopes thwarted.

Will the compassionate person of generosity experience all of these blessings? Perhaps, perhaps not; perhaps others not listed here. That’s not the point. The point is that when we are obedient to God’s word from the heart because we believe it is the right thing to do, he is faithful to honor that genuine obedience in any way he chooses; that’s his prerogative, because we have bound ourselves together with him.


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

God’s faithfulness should inspire faith toward him within us

God has provided abundant evidence that he is faithful to his people.

God has provided abundant evidence that he is faithful to his people.

For the ancient Israelites in Yeshua’s day, trust in Yahweh was based on tangible traditions that were built into the fabric of their culture and society. As they participated in the annual feasts of the biblical calendar, they were reminded of all that God had done for them and how he was always willing to forgive and protect them.

For example, at Passover and Unleavened Bread, they would rehearse all of the wonderful things Yahweh did for them in setting them free from their former bondage to Egypt. At Shavuot, this early summer harvest festival became associated with the giving of the Torah at Sinai, and how God himself had pronounced the Ten Commandments from that fiery summit.

As autumn approached, the beginning of the festival season was announced with the blowing of the shofar or rams horn on Yom Teruah, or Day of Trumpets. As this led up to Yom Kippur or the the Day of Atonement, the first week and a half was a call to repentance and renewal that would be provided through the scapegoat ceremony at the temple on Yom Kippur. Afterwards, preparations were made for building shelters for the week-long festival of Sukkot or Tabernacles, representing the journey in the wilderness after leaving Egypt.

And finally, as the week of Sukkot came to its conclusion the seven-day festival was extended by one day celebrating Eighth Day which came to be known as Shemini Atzeret, or the Eighth Day of the Assembly. On this day, thanks were provided for the abundance of that fall harvest that had just been celebrated, along with a prayers for abundant rains and provision into the next year. This would also be the final day of the water ceremony, referencing abundant provision and the holy Spirit.

With all of this reference to the history of their people and the constant provision of God, not only for their physical needs, but for the provision of forgiveness of their wrongdoing, it is amazing to me that it had not just been normal for every Israelite to trust in Yahweh and in his provision for the faithful.

Yet we find Yeshua having to spell out the provision of God, and how they had no need to be anxious for any of their needs; God already knew what their needs were.

Matthew 6:25-26, 28, 30, 34 – “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? … And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. … If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you–you of little faith? … Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Using examples from God’s own Creation, Yeshua mentions God’s provision of food to all birds, and the beauty of flowers, even though they are transient in nature. If God could manage his Creation, how was it that they could not trust in him to manage their needs, as well?

The beauty of Yeshua’s instruction is that he takes the aspects of the mighty national God down to the level of the individual. If God was continually represented in the annual festivals which called to mind all of his oversight and protection for them as a nation, how could they not allow for his provision of their personal needs, as well?

In our modern expression of our faith, we may not observe all of the festivals of the Torah, although I believe there is much benefit in doing so, even if they are to be considered only object lessons to what I have represented here. However, as we review these aspects of God’s word and the outworking of his provision throughout the history of Israel, we are faced with a similar challenge: can we not trust him to meet our individual needs, since he has clearly demonstrated himself as abundantly faithful with his own people throughout all of history?


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

Imitating God

This is how we cultivate peace.

This is how we cultivate peace.

As Paul was writing to the Ephesian congregation, he was nearing the end of his life. Although he was in prison when he wrote this, he recognized that whether or not he would be freed, he was near to completing what God had called him to do.

The entire epistle reads like a farewell letter, like a parent trying to convey as much as possible to ensure their children have everything they need to lead a successful and fruitful life. This is why it is so rich with spiritual direction and drawn from so regularly by teachers of God’s Word today.

One of its core themes can be summed up by the first verse in the fourth chapter:

Ephesians 4:1 – Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received…

To live a life worthy of the calling received; this should be the goal of every believer. Paul then goes on to list characteristics like humility, bearing one another’s burdens, unity, having a renewed mind, speaking the truth, encouraging one another, removing anger and bitterness. And then he lists a quality that is partly hidden by a chapter break in our modern Bibles.

Ephesians 4:32-5:2 – And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Messiah. Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love…

As his children, we are urged to imitate God; the word literally means to mimic him. The characteristic that should most define us as his children is the forgiveness we show to one another, rooted in love.

God set the example by providing a way of forgiveness through Messiah. If we are to imitate him, we should find ways to forgive those around us with whom we disagree, or with those who have been hurtful us in some way. This should be as central to our attitudes toward others as the role that God’s forgiveness in Messiah plays in our own relationship with him.

If we are to be his children, we should be seeking peace with others as he has sought peace with us. Then we will see its fruit borne out in the growing expanse of the Kingdom.

James 3:17-18 – But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.


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 hard work of reconciliation and forgiveness

Are we commanded to forgive unconditionally?

Are we commanded to forgive unconditionally? Well, Yeshua’s admonition to forgive others is unmistakable:

Matthew 6:12, 14-15 – “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. … “For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. “But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your offenses.

Therefore, as believers, we should just forgive everyone no matter what, correct? Well, if we dive a little deeper into Yeshua’s concept of forgiveness, we find that he lays out some parameters that can help guide us through some of these interpersonal relationships, and it may seem a little different than you may expect.

Luke 17:3-4 – “Be on your guard. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. “And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

Firstly, we can see that we must be alert or “on our guard,” as he relates here. Forgiveness is not something that should just be offered to everyone regardless of circumstance. If we are preparing to be forgiving, then we must be alert and use some critical thinking, as well.

Yeshua says “if he repents” you must forgive him. That is the qualifier. Even if someone comes up to you after repeatedly offending you in some way but asks for forgiveness, you must not withhold it.

But what do we do in a situation where someone provides an offense against us but does not repent or ask forgiveness? Are we obligated to forgive them? Well, Yeshua lays out an instance where that also may come into play. It begins by confronting the individual who has wronged another.

Matthew 18:15 – “If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother.”

In this case, an offense of some sort has been caused by a close friend or relative yet they have not asked for forgiveness. Interestingly, Yeshua lays the responsibility to restore the relationship on the one has been wronged. It would appear that one of Yeshua’s primary principles is restoration of relationships, not avoidance. This is also intimated in another teaching where he relates those relationships should be restored prior to worshiping God.

Matthew 5:22-24 – “But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Whoever insults his brother or sister, will be subject to the court. Whoever says, ‘You fool! ‘ will be subject to fire of Gehenna. So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.”

The reconciliation begins with us for those with whom we might be angry for some reason. If we go and speak with them about it and they recognize the error, then, as Yeshua says, “you have won your brother.” However, what do we do if they don’t repent or ask for forgiveness? This process is also lined out by Yeshua.

Matthew 18:16-17 “But if he won’t listen, take one or two others with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. If he doesn’t pay attention to them, tell the congregation. If he doesn’t pay attention even to the congregation, let him be like a Gentile and a tax collector to you.”

Only in the most bitterest of contentions must we remain separated from those who have wronged us. Yet, how many of us have actually cared enough to take the initiative in doing the hard work in restoring those failed relationships? Forgiveness may be real and lasting but it is not cheap. It comes at a price, and it has boundaries.

Yeshua then concludes this teaching with a phrase that has challenged commentators and believers over the years, but I believe is not as difficult to understand as it sounds.

Matthew 18:18 – Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven.

This binding and loosing principle can be understood in the light of what God has commanded. Whatever God (heaven) has bound, is bound or restricted. Whatever God (heaven) has loosed or allowed, is allowable. This is a basic understanding of all of God’s Torah or instruction, beginning with Adam and Eve in the Garden. This is also why we find Yeshua referring to the Torah principle of additional witnesses found in Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 19:15 – A lone witness is not sufficient to establish any wrongdoing or sin against a man, regardless of what offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

As believers, we are bound to what God’s Word or Torah says, but whatever it allows, we are also free or “loosed” to do. So when we follow the admonition of the Torah injunction in ensuring facts of a matter before we jump to conclusions about someone’s intent, we honor God and relationships can be restored.

In his teaching on forgiveness, Yeshua simply provides clarification on the fact that if someone repents, we are obligated to forgive them. However, if they are unrepentant and we have fully involved others to verify the injustice, then and only then are we justified in avoiding them.


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

Enabled for holy living by God

God has provided the way for believers to accurately and faithfully represent him in this world.

God has provided the way for believers to accurately and faithfully represent him in this world.

Luke 1:74-75 – We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.
Ephesians 4:24 – Put on your new nature, created to be like God–truly righteous and holy.

There is a word here in the original text that only appears in these two verses, and it has to do with holiness or piety. The word has to do with that which is sanctioned or approved by God. It is the application of what God approves of, that is, a living faith that is exhibiting the characteristics that God desires of his people.

The passage in Ephesians is actually the fulfillment of the earlier passage in Luke. In his gospel narrative, Luke is relating how Zechariah, under the influence of the holy Spirit, is prophesying how his child John’s ministry would result in God’s people being enabled to live in the way that God truly desires. Of course, throughout the gospel message, we learn how the baptizing ministry of John paved the way for Messiah, and the Messiah brought new life through faith in himself. This chain of events inevitably led to the establishment of God’s kingdom on the earth.

All of this history and consequence brought the reality of a living faith to God’s people. No longer would they be constrained only by the ceremonial actions of a representative priest; they would now be able to live as new creatures in a new Creation within the context of a New Jerusalem. The holiness and righteousness that would stem from faith in Messiah would be the working out of God’s kingdom on the earth throughout history, until it filled the earth with the wisdom of God and his glory.

As long as we live, prophesied Zechariah, we would have the ability to serve God without fear. Why is this? Because, according to the apostle John, fear has to do with punishment.

1 John 4:18 – There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears is not complete in love.

If, as Paul directs the Ephesian believers, we “put on” the new nature by ” let[ting] the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes” (Ephesians 4:23), we can now faithfully walk in the righteous way that God expects, and we can do so without fear of punishment because we will be doing the things God expects of us. This means we will be walking in love, and in holiness, being set apart from the lives of others by our faithful carrying out of the will of God in this world.

Such an amazing and practical love that is derived from one little Greek phrase! We see in these passages that it has always been God’s desire to have his people walk in the way that he desires, and he would enable them to do so! This is the heritage we, as believers today, can fulfill when we also renew our minds with the spirit of God according to his Word.

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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

Love, prayer, and forgiveness

To conquer evil, believers must do good and pray for others, and then forgive when repentance occurs.

To conquer evil, believers must do good and pray for others, and then forgive when repentance occurs.

Matthew 5:44-45 – “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

When it comes to those who are enemies or who are contrary to us, we have two commands from Yeshua: love them and pray for them. In this way, he says we will be children of our Father in heaven.

In the examples he provides, Yeshua’s definition of love is something along the lines of: to do good to someone else even if they don’t deserve it. He uses the example of God shining his sun and sending the watering rains on everyone, regardless if they acknowledge him or not. This serves two purposes: it illustrates God as the Creator over all, and it highlights his equal care for those he has created, whether they return his care and concern or not. When we treat others in this fashion, says Yeshua, we are acting like our Father in heaven, and can rightly be called his children.

When it comes to forgiveness, we are instructed by Yeshua to forgive others only when they come to us asking for it. Forgiveness by us is required when someone has wronged us and is repentant, asking for our forgiveness. It is then that we must not withhold our forgiveness, even though we may be hurt and wounded by the offense. If they come to us seeking forgiveness, no matter how many times, we must do so.

Matthew 18:21-22 – Then Peter approached him and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? As many as seven times? ” “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven.”

Forgiveness is not something that is offered when there is no repentance; even God does not provide that. In those instances, we are to continue to love (do undeserved good things) and pray for them. However, when someone sincerely comes to us in recognition of the error of their ways against us, we must forgive regardless of the offense. This is the way God forgives, and his forgiveness is complete.

It is easy to get all of these terms mixed up in our heads and to think we are required to provide forgiveness to enemies who are unrepentant, since we are to love our enemies. No, we are to love our enemies by doing good to them and praying for them even though we may not feel they deserve it, but we must do so sincerely with the desire to see them repent. In this way, we are acting as God does toward all people.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 – First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

After loving others by doing good things for them and sincerely praying for them, it should prompt them to repent.

Proverbs 25:21-22 – If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap burning coals on his head, and Yahweh will reward you.

The “burning coals on his head” is the ashamedness that someone would feel when you have returned good for their evil. In fact, the apostle Paul quotes this same proverb and then adds:

Romans 12:21 – Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.

When we do good and pray that repentance occurs, then we are to offer forgiveness based on their repentance. Love and prayer come first, then forgiveness comes when repentance is demonstrated. In this way, we act like our Father in heaven and honor the way of living that brings glory to his Name.


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.

Two faithful kings with differing outcomes

Believers are called to be faithful, but how that faithfulness is recognized by God remains within his Providence.

Believers are called to be faithful, but how that faithfulness is recognized by God remains within his Providence.

2 Kings 18:5-7 – Hezekiah relied on Yahweh God of Israel; not one of the kings of Judah was like him, either before him or after him. He remained faithful to Yahweh and did not turn from following him but kept the commands Yahweh had commanded Moses. Yahweh was with him, and wherever he went he prospered…

Hezekiah is a great example of faithfulness rewarded. His reforms throughout Israel an the removal of idolatry throughout the land served to demonstrate his faithfulness to Yahweh. He is recorded as having maintained the commands of Moses and not having turned at all from Yahweh. His faithful pleading before Yahweh spared the city of Jerusalem from an Assyrian invasion.

Years later, we come to the reign of Hezekiah’s great-grandson Josiah, a king who also is known for his faithfulness to Yahweh and his sweeping reforms throughout the land, removing idolatry and pagan practices from all aspects of the life of Israel that had arisen during the time of his grandfather, Manasseh. Yet, we find a differing result of his faithfulness than was exhibited towards Hezekiah.

2 Kings 23:25-27 – Before [Josiah] there was no king like him who turned to Yahweh with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength according to all the law of Moses, and no one like him arose after him. In spite of all that, Yahweh did not turn from the fury of his intense burning anger, which burned against Judah because of all the affronts with which Manasseh had angered him. For Yahweh had said, “I will also remove Judah from my presence just as I have removed Israel. I will reject this city Jerusalem, that I have chosen, and the temple about which I said, ‘My name will be there.’ “

The wickedness of the previous king, his grandfather Manasseh, had been so great that God had determined that judgment was necessary upon the nation. Is this an indication that the faithfulness of Josiah was to no avail? Did Josiah conduct all of those great reforms only to have God ignore all of his faithful efforts? We may find an answer in the response of Yahweh to Josiah that he had received through the prophetess Huldah.

2 Kings 22:18-20 – “Say this to the king of Judah who sent you to inquire of Yahweh: ‘This is what Yahweh God of Israel says: As for the words that you heard, “because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before Yahweh when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become a desolation and a curse, and because you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I myself have heard’ ​– ​this is Yahweh’s declaration. “‘Therefore, I will indeed gather you to your fathers, and you will be gathered to your grave in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster that I am bringing on this place.’ ” Then they reported to the king.

God knew that Josiah’s heart was right, so he himself was blessed with peace during his lifetime. However, God also knew that the people’s hearts were not right, because they kept falling back into the idolatry that they had been commanded to avoid at all costs, even by Moses himself. No matter how faithful the king was in abiding by the law of Moses, God knew the heart of the people had not been changed.

Deuteronomy 18:9-12 – “When you enter the land Yahweh your God is giving you, do not imitate the detestable customs of those nations. “No one among you is to sacrifice his son or daughter in the fire, practice divination, tell fortunes, interpret omens, practice sorcery, “cast spells, consult a medium or a spiritist, or inquire of the dead. “Everyone who does these acts is detestable to Yahweh, and Yahweh your God is driving out the nations before you because of these detestable acts.

The people were receiving the judgment they deserved because of their continued refusal to follow the torah or the instruction of God, and instead continued to abide by the wicked practices of the pagan nations that had been driven out before them. Josiah was spared because he had demonstrated himself faithful. He had done everything he could to ensure that, as much as possible, he had afforded the people an opportunity for repentance and faithfulness, as well. Had they whole-heartedly repented, there is the possibility that the destruction of the city could have been avoided, and they could have remained in the land.

From this, we may be able to take away an understanding that we, as believers in Messiah, are tasked with being faithful to God. The rest of society may not agree with our stance on issues that are based on pagan propositions, just like the idolatry that ancient Israel faced. But that does not mean we should lose hope, or fall from our faithful stance.

Hebrews 11:6 – Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

God is a rewarder of the faithful, but it may not be in the form or ideas that we have about what that may look like. He may choose to save and deliver from the results of unfaithfulness, or he may choose to allow judgment to fall around us on those who remain resistant to the truth of God’s Word. However, we can be sure that, regardless if we receive any perceived benefit at all, our individual faithfulness will not go unnoticed by him.


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.

Sincere compassion opens the way for God’s provision

A heart that truly cares for the needs of others has the ability to receive the resources necessary to meet those needs.

Core of the Bible podcast #78 – Sincere compassion opens the way for God’s provision

A heart that truly cares for the needs of others has the ability to receive the resources necessary to meet those needs.

Today we will be looking at the topic of compassion, and how God provides what others need when we act sincerely from the heart. Additionally, instructing others in the way of God is in itself an act of compassion toward those who are willing to hear.

These principles were demonstrated by Yeshua as his popularity had begun to grow in Israel, and large crowds had begun to follow him looking for miracles and instruction from Yahweh. They were hungry for physical healings and spiritual guidance.

Mark 6:34 – Yeshua came out, saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.

Yeshua’s compassion here is expressed through a recognition of the general population of Israel’s lack of correct doctrine, and their eagerness to learn. The context of this verse is set as Yeshua and his disciples have been tirelessly ministering and are now attempting to find a secluded place to be refreshed. Yet, hundreds of people find out where they are going across the lake of Galilee and end up waiting for them on the shore when they arrive. Seeing these crowds, Yeshua is moved with compassion, and decides to continue to provide instruction.

It is interesting here to note that whenever a text mentions Yeshua has compassion on someone, he immediately does something to help them. Here are some examples:

Matthew 14:14 – Yeshua saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Matthew 15:32 – Then Yeshua called his disciples and told them, “I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry, or they will faint along the way.”

Matthew 20:34 – Yeshua felt sorry for them and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see! Then they followed him.

Mark 1:41 – Moved with compassion, Yeshua reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!”

In the case of our subject passage in the sixth chapter of Mark, Yeshua’s compassionate response to the crowds who had rushed ahead of them to meet them is to continue to provide them instruction, even though he and his disciples had been worn out from the constant interactions with everyone at the previous location. They were simply trying to find a quiet place to rest and be refreshed, and could easily have said something like, “Please let us get some rest. If you come back tomorrow morning we can continue to provide some instruction and healings.”

Instead, the text says Yeshua saw that they were like sheep without a shepherd. A good shepherd won’t leave the sheep to wander on their own; they cannot provide for themselves. Left to their own devices, sheep tend to get injured or lost and cannot feed themselves because they don’t know where to find the pasture.

This was how Yeshua viewed the condition of the crowds. In a spiritual sense, they had been scattered and left behind by the religious leaders of the day who were more interested in upholding man-made traditions than providing the people the spiritual guidance they needed from the Torah. For the most part, the leaders were corrupt and sought only to serve themselves and their own purposes by trying to appear holier than everyone else, and they held everyone to impossible standards according to their traditions.

The leaders were fulfilling the prophetic picture that Yahweh, through his prophet Jeremiah, had lamented regarding the the status of their disarray:

Jeremiah 50:6 – My people were lost sheep; their shepherds led them astray, guiding them the wrong way in the mountains. They wandered from mountain to hill; they forgot their resting place.

Recognizing this, Yeshua railed against the leaders for their failure to live up to the true purpose of Torah and to properly serve the people the spiritual instruction they needed.

Matthew 23:13, 15 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you don’t go in, and you don’t allow those entering to go in. … “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to make one convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as fit for hell as you are!”

In the balance of the twenty-third chapter of Matthew, Yeshua goes into great detail regarding the specific failings of the ruling elite in Israel. They were essentially holding people to the letter of the law while they themselves circumvented it through loophole justifications. Their hypocrisy and corruption was known to all but rarely, if ever, challenged.

It was within this larger context that Yeshua sought to provide instruction, real instruction from the Torah, to the people. When they heard his words and saw they great works that validated his teaching, they were amazed and excited that a true teacher had arisen within Israel, and they didn’t want to miss any opportunity to hear him.

Matthew 15:29-31 – … Yeshua passed along the Sea of Galilee. He went up on a mountain and sat there, and large crowds came to him, including the lame, the blind, the crippled, those unable to speak, and many others. They put them at his feet, and he healed them. So the crowd was amazed when they saw those unable to speak talking, the crippled restored, the lame walking, and the blind seeing, and they gave glory to the God of Israel.

This was Yeshua’s mission: gathering together the lost sheep of Israel, those who had been wandering due to a lack of direction and guidance from the very Torah or instruction that God had provided them to keep them on the right path. He was to begin instructing his disciples in the same mission:

Matthew 10:6-7 – “… go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.'”

So when Yeshua saw the eagerness of the crowds that met them at the shore of the sea, and how they were anxious to learn and be healed, he couldn’t help but have compassion on them. He intentionally set aside continued time to instruct them in the truth and to provide physical restoration to those who diligently pursued him.

In a moment, we will see how the entire context of this scene actually serves as a metaphor for spiritual guidance and instruction, and how we can be inspired to provide the same level of compassionate guidance to others.


As we continue in the narrative of the sixth chapter of Mark, we find an object lesson is presented to the disciples that we also can be challenged by today.

Mark 6:35-37 – When it grew late, his disciples approached him and said, “This place is deserted, and it is already late. “Send them away so that they can go into the surrounding countryside and villages to buy themselves something to eat.” “You give them something to eat,” he responded…

I am a firm believer that nothing is presented within Scripture that lacks meaning, and certainly not within the carefully constructed narratives of the gospel accounts. We can see in the parallel passage in Matthew 14 that the same unfolding of events takes place: Yeshua and his disciples seek to find rest, crowds meet them when they come ashore; Yeshua continues to teach them, and they are then challenged to provide food for the people.

What follows in both accounts is the miraculous feeding of the five thousand people.

Mark 6:37-44 – … [The disciples] said to him, “Should we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” When they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he instructed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed and broke the loaves. He kept giving them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. Everyone ate and was satisfied. They picked up twelve baskets full of pieces of bread and fish. Now those who had eaten the loaves were five thousand men.

To me, besides being a bona fide miracle that provided the needs of this great crowd, this is more importantly an object lesson, a continuation of the same principle that Yeshua had just demonstrated to the disciples. In their exhaustion from a full day of ministering to the people, they had no energy left. Yet, the people still needed more. They were hungry for guidance, and they needed healing and help. So Yeshua, as exhausted as he was, continued to give. The compassion he demonstrated allowed for a miraculous provision for the people.

The miracle of the bread and fish simply illustrates the same principle: the people were hungry for spiritual truth, and were supplied by a miraculous provision from God. At the end of the day, the people were not merely physically fed; they were spiritually fed, with “food” left over.

This was the lesson Yeshua wanted the disciples to understand: those who rely on the provision of God will never lack to provide to those who are truly in need. God will always meet the needs that are present when believers step out in faith that he can do so. All that is required is the compassion to want to help others, and God will make the rest happen.

So, these lessons also hold true for us today. First, we can learn that instructing others in the way of God is an act of compassion toward those who are willing to hear. Next, we should also understand that the most willing disciples are those who are hungry to learn. And finally, instead of sending people away because of our own lack, we should learn to rely on God to provide what is needed to meet the needs of others. All we have to do is allow the compassion of God to work through us to reach them.

We should always be mindful that instructing others in the way of God should be motivated by compassion for others who are willing to hear. If we are trying to teach only for the sake of prestige, or wealth, or obligation (or worse yet, only to win arguments), it will rob that form of instruction of its power and purpose.

Although Yeshua and his disciples had limited resources, God provided enough food to satisfy everyone with more left over.

This metaphorically reinforced his act of compassion to begin with: instructing them in the way of God. The crowd’s hunger for truth was not only satisfied, but there was so much more left over; and it continues to bear fruit to this day!

In like fashion, we can be sure that when we act compassionately in faith, whatever our response, God will be faithful to fill that need through us. Instruction in the way of God, when it is coming from a heart of true compassion to meet the needs of others, will be blessed with multiplication and fulfillment.


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.