Keeping to the good paths

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hebrews 12:22-25 – Instead [of the fiery dread of Mount Sinai], you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels, a festive gathering, to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written in heaven, to a Judge, who is God of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect, and to Yeshua, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood which says better things than the blood of Abel. See to it that you do not reject the one who speaks. For if they did not escape when they rejected him who warned them on earth, even less will we if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at

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

Fear of man or trust in Yahweh

Having the correct perspective strengthens believers to boldly stand for the truth of God.

Having the correct perspective strengthens believers to boldly stand for the truth of God.

Proverbs 29:25 – The fear of man is a snare, but the one who trusts in Yahweh is protected.

Reading this verse as a standalone instruction, it is generally considered to be speaking to the believer trusting in Yahweh rather than fearing what evils another man could do them. It could also be considered as an admonition against cowardice as “the fear of man,” that fear which a man has within himself, is also a snare and a trap.

However, the bulk of Scripture would lean toward the first and most common idea that believers should not fear what any evils a man could do to them, but they should always have a strong and vibrant trust in God.

Psalm 118:5-9 – Out of my distress I called on Yahweh; Yahweh answered me and set me free. Yahweh is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? Yahweh is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in Yahweh than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in Yahweh than to trust in princes.

Here the psalmist relates how there is no reason to fear when one takes refuge in Yahweh and calls out to him for help in their time of need. Trusting in God is to be preferred above trusting in man, even in princes, leaders, or an emperor.

1 Peter 2:17 – Honor everyone. Love the brothers and sisters. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

While believers are commanded to show honor and respect for their leaders, it does not follow that they should blindly follow and obey them without any reference to the overarching authority and fear of God. Instead, we should take to heart the words of the apostle Peter when met with resistance by the religious authorities of his day:

Acts 5:27-29 – And when they had brought them, they set them before the council [the chief priests and leaders of Israel]. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name [the name of Yeshua], yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Peter here was simply following the example of his Master who taught about the supremacy of God’s authority over the authority of men:

Matthew 10:21-22, 26-28 – Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. … “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.”

Yeshua encouraged his followers by ensuring they had a correct view and understanding of the true order of authority. It was this same type of mindset, fearless of the evils of men, that motivated believers to stand up for the truth throughout the history of God’s people.

Hebrews 11:35-38 – …Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated– of whom the world was not worthy–wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

These saints of old demonstrated they did not fear what man could do to them, but their trust was placed firmly in the One who would usher them into his presence as they faithfully stood for his truth.

The principle contained in Proverbs 29:25 is succinctly summarized by the commentary of Joseph Benson:

  • The fear of man — Inordinate fear of harm or suffering from men, which is properly opposed to trust in God, because it arises from a distrust of God’s promises and providence;
  • bringeth a snare — Is an occasion of many sins, and consequently of punishments from God:
  • but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord — Walks in God’s ways, and securely relies upon him, to protect him from the designs and malice of wicked men;
  • shall be safe — Shall be preserved from all real evil, through God’s watchful providence over 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

A purposeful faith in the Creator

Believers today are challenged with believing in ancient wisdom or modern speculation.

Believers today are challenged with believing in ancient wisdom or modern speculation.

Revelation 4:11 – “Our Lord and God, you are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because you have created all things, and by your will they exist and were created.”

Amidst the visions that John experienced in the transmission of the book of Revelation to him, he at one point sees a type of throne room in the heavens. The majesty of the scene and the supernatural beings that are present in this vision speak to the glory of the God of the universe. Along with an eldership of human representation, supernatural beings also exclaim, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God, the Almighty, who was, who is, and who is to come,” (Revelation 4:8).

At least some of the aspects we can learn from this scene that the Almighty God, the Father, is eternal (who was, who is, and who is to come) and that he created and sustains all things. The spiritual heavens are described as a place where this acknowledgement and honor is understood, accepted, and maintained by all those who are present in his eternal kingdom.

Yet, that same acknowledgement does not exist on this earth in our present time. Most of the world in our day and age concludes that the entire universe and everything that exists today on the earth, including humans, began somehow from a single point of time and self-established itself into the myriad levels of variety and complexity that we see today.

This article isn’t an argument to unequivocally disprove evolution, but an illustration how the two worldviews, that of a big bang and that of a beneficent Creator being are incompatible with each other. As believers of an ancient religion in a modern society, we live with this tension every day.

Both of these propositions require faith. As humans living within limited lifetimes, we can no more prove that ancient species evolved into the forms we see today than we can prove God split the Red Sea in two for Moses and the Israelites to cross. There are varying evidences for each, but both of these propositions are unrepeatable and by that very fact beyond the reach of the scientific method.

But viewed from a different perspective, is it more reasonable to conclude that everything sprang from nothing and that meaning, purpose, and consciousness arose out of chaos, or that creative acts of a self-existent Being imbued a definite purpose for this creation and the awareness of its beings based on his own nature?

The evidence around us suggests that organic organisms spring from other organic organisms, although slightly different from their progenitor. Does this lead to evolution where complexity increases, or is it a repeated example over and over of the original creative act of life itself: the Creator imbuing that which is created with a less-encompassing measure of himself?

Faith in God is just that: faith. The thing that makes faith in God real is the purpose and meaning that stems from that faith. Believers can know spiritual things are true that are not evident to others because of recognizing and acknowledging the creative acts of a God with a purpose. If one believes that a creator God exists, then a Bible and all of the meaning and purpose that flow from it become a possibility.

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.”

Faith in the God of the Bible provides meaning and context for the lives we live in the short time that we have on this earth. However, faith in the self-establishing universe of evolution deprives everything and everyone of any higher meaning, as all is a result of chance, defect, and death of the less adapted. There is no need for a Bible or any type of spiritual guide because the only purpose is to survive at all costs without any consequence in doing so.

Which alternative provides the most hope for the future of humanity? Is it the selfish instinct for the individual to survive at all costs, or the power of helping others based on a morality from a beneficent Creator? Does the selfish humanity have the greatest chance of survival or the humanity that finds purpose in helping others who are unable to help themselves?

Choose your faith carefully.

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

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

The flexible life of faith

Living here but energized from above.

Hebrews 11:13-16 – “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and embraced them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. If indeed they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had enough time to return. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

Those individuals listed out in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews are all said to have had great faith, and that by their faith they accomplished great things. But one thing their faith did not provide was a receiving of the promises of rest in the land that were made to them and their forefathers. However, the text says they discerned them through the eyes of faith and welcomed them, as it were, from a distance, since they did not receive them themselves.

They confessed to being foreigners and “temporary countrymen” alongside the actual residents on the earth. The passage says because of this faith and declaration of not being permanent residents, it was apparent that they were seeking their own country or residence, a heavenly one.

Most commentators conclude that this passage speaks of an eternal residence “in heaven” taking place after this earthly life, and that is not an incorrect assessment. However, this phrasing does not solely necessitate that the residence actually be in the heavens, just that its source is from there. This is similar to the statement of Yeshua when he was being questioned before Pilate.

John 18:36 Yeshua answered, “My Kingdom is not of this world. If my Kingdom were of this world, then my servants would fight, that I wouldn’t be delivered to the Jews. But now my Kingdom is not from here.”

When Yeshua says his Kingdom is not OF this world, he doesn’t just mean to say that it is ethereal and heavenly and can only be experienced after this physical life. But his phrasing means it does not emanate FROM or OUT OF this world; its source of authority and reign is FROM the heavens, hence it is the kingdom of God or of heaven.

What that implies is that this heavenly country or place could also be experienced here while they lived here temporarily. It’s similar to earthly foreigners living in a country different from their own, yet abiding by the cultural practices of their home country in the foreign land.

A life of faith, then, based on the lifestyle of the patriarchs, is one that is lived here but energized from above. It is a life of interacting with this world but understanding it is only on a temporary basis. It is similar to how a temporary worker or substitute teacher might perform necessary tasks in their respective roles, yet they should just not expect to always be doing those things in the same way with the same group of co-workers or working with the same students every day.

This way of living comes with its own challenges, but also with its own freedoms: the ability to have a fresh start on a regular basis; to experience a variety of locations or establishments to work in, along with a variety of co-workers to interact with on a regular basis. While there may not be the permanency of one’s own workspace or classroom, there also is no ongoing maintenance of that space or facility.

Similar to renting an apartment is contrasted with owning a home, a renter has more ability to move on into new ventures or locations, while the homeowner must take the time to sell the home and possessions and is less likely to move around as much.

Regardless of one’s choice of work or residence, the life of faith is one of non-attachment to things. If one has a permanent job and home, they should not become so attached as to think it could never be affected by change. Likewise, if one has more temporary workstyle and living conditions, one should not always expect to simply move on if more permanent opportunities or needs arise. In all situations, believers should maintain a sense of transiency and flexibility in all things.

The key is to live for the King and his Kingdom in this place, and to be prepared to be available for whatever may be needed within that reality while we are living in this one. This is the life of faith.

Matthew 6:19-21, 33 – “Don’t lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don’t break through and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also … But seek first God’s Kingdom and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well.”

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.

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Biblical faith is never blind faith

Biblical faith is obedient action based on confident assurance and conviction.

Core of the Bible podcast #55 – Biblical faith is never blind faith

Today we will be looking at the topic of trust or faith, and how biblical faith is never expected to be a blind faith. Believers have chosen a worldview that is consistent with God’s revelation of himself in his word, and he has demonstrated that he is worthy of our trust.

The life of a believer is just that: a life of faith. But to understand more about faith, we may need to lay down some definitions. Now a quick internet search on the definition of faith yields the following results:

complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion
a strongly held belief or theory

From Wikipedia, their definition of faith begins with the following:

Faith, derived from Latin fides and Old French feid, is confidence or trust in a person, thing, or concept. In the context of religion, one can define faith as “belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion”. Religious people often think of faith as confidence based on a perceived degree of warrant, while others who are more skeptical of religion tend to think of faith as simply belief without evidence.

That is the contrast that I want to highlight: faith based on evidence (what Wikipedia calls “a perceived degree of warrant), and blind faith, or faith with no evidence at all.

To believe in God is to be confident that God exists. While many people may say that is all there is to faith, in truth, most people have confidence in God because of some other reassurance they have received that he indeed exists, whether this reassurance was public or private. Perhaps it was a “miraculous” healing or rescue from a harmful situation (like a car accident), or a near-death experience with a spiritual vision of some kind. Perhaps it was some inspired preaching other type of learning experience.

For myself, I can say that I have faith in God because I believe that God has revealed himself in history through the Bible and the historical example of Israel. For me, this historical reassurance provides a foundation upon which a living faith can emerge. This living faith is a demonstration of knowledge and practices that are rooted in principles of the Bible. This is not just an expression of personal beliefs with no basis, but an expression of a specific worldview that springs from a repository of knowledge and spiritual understanding handed down through the ages.

All people operate within a specific worldview; that’s just how we are wired. The specifics of that worldview are shaped by how one interprets knowledge and understanding that one has been exposed to. For believers, these various interpretations of biblical knowledge and understanding are why we have different religious traditions all saying they are based on the Bible. Each of the various traditions emphasizes different aspects of that body of information. Some traditions focus on liturgy; others focus on social justice, while yet others focus on separation from society. Those of us who claim to believe in God have all made and are making choices about the expression of our faith that are influenced by culture, tradition, and familial upbringing.

While all of this may just sound like just a big hot mess of philosophical opinion, allow me to demonstrate from the Bible how a biblical faith is not a blind faith, but a worldview that is based on evidential experience and knowledge. To do so, we need to look no further than the examples of Gideon and Abraham. Let’s start by looking at Gideon, who is recognized as one of the great examples of faith who is memorialized for us in the eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 11:6, 32-34 – “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.  … And what more can I say? Time is too short for me to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the raging of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength in weakness, became mighty in battle, and put foreign armies to flight.”

Now, if we review some of the accomplishments of Gideon, we may find there is more to them than simply trusting without question what God was asking of him. Gideon’s trust that God would do what he said was based on evidential reassurances that God had provided him. This was demonstrated all along in his journey to becoming a savior of Israel from the oppression of the Midianites.

Judges 6:11-12 – The angel of Yahweh came, and he sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash, the Abiezrite. His son Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress in order to hide it from the Midianites. Then the angel of Yahweh appeared to him and said: “Yahweh is with you, valiant warrior.”

When Gideon was first called by God through an angel, Gideon asked for a sign to confirm this was truly God’s plan.

Judges 6:17, 20-23 – Then he [Gideon] said to him, “If I have found favor with you, give me a sign that you are speaking with me. … The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat with the unleavened bread, put it on this stone, and pour the broth on it.” So he did that. The angel of Yahweh extended the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread. Fire came up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the angel of Yahweh vanished from his sight. When Gideon realized that he was the angel of Yahweh, he said, “Oh no, Lord Yahweh! I have seen the angel of Yahweh face to face! ” But Yahweh said to him, “Peace to you. Don’t be afraid, for you will not die.”

So Gideon’s first evidential sign was demonstrated by a dramatic acceptance of his sacrificial offering. Immediately after this, God instructed him to tear down his father’s idolatrous altar.

Judges 6:25 – “On that very night Yahweh said to him, “Take your father’s young bull and a second bull seven years old. Then tear down the altar of Baal that belongs to your father and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”

Gideon acted in faith, but it was faith based on the evidential sign he had previously received.

Soon after, when he was instructed by God to attack the Midianite armies, Gideon asked God for a sign by placing a fleece of wool on the ground overnight. If the fleece demonstrated wetness or dryness opposite to the normal dew patterns, he would know that it was really God who was asking this of him.

Judges 6:36-40 – “Then Gideon said to God, “If you will deliver Israel by my hand, as you said, “I will put a wool fleece here on the threshing floor. If dew is only on the fleece, and all the ground is dry, I will know that you will deliver Israel by my strength, as you said.” And that is what happened. When he got up early in the morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung dew out of it, filling a bowl with water. Gideon then said to God, “Don’t be angry with me; let me speak one more time. Please allow me to make one more test with the fleece. Let it remain dry, and the dew be all over the ground.” That night God did as Gideon requested: only the fleece was dry, and dew was all over the ground.”

Once this evidential sign was confirmed, Gideon rallied his troops for battle.

Judges 7:1-2 – “Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the troops who were with him, got up early and camped beside the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them, below the hill of Moreh, in the valley. Yahweh said to Gideon, “You have too many troops for me to hand the Midianites over to them, or else Israel might elevate themselves over me and say, ‘My own strength saved me.'”

As a final act of trust, God asked him to reduce his forces to just 300 men. When he did so, he was still fearful that they would potentially be overwhelmed by the Midianite forces.

Judges 7:9-11 – That night Yahweh said to him, “Get up and attack the camp, for I have handed it over to you. “But if you are afraid to attack the camp, go down with Purah your servant. “Listen to what they say, and then you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” So he went down with Purah his servant to the outpost of the troops who were in the camp.”

God still provided him reassurance as he and his servant spied on the enemy camp and overheard their fear based on a dream that Gideon was going to overtake their army.

Judges 7:13-15 – “When Gideon arrived, there was a man telling his friend about a dream. He said, “Listen, I had a dream: a loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp, struck a tent, and it fell. The loaf turned the tent upside down so that it collapsed.” His friend answered: “This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has handed the entire Midianite camp over to him.” When Gideon heard the account of the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship. He returned to Israel’s camp and said, “Get up, for Yahweh has handed the Midianite camp over to you.”

Of course, the famous story is that Gideon and his 300 troops were able to put an “innumerable” host of Midianite aggressors to flight along with their allies.

Judges 7:20-22 – “The three companies blew their trumpets and shattered their pitchers. They held their torches in their left hands, their trumpets in their right hands, and shouted, “A sword for Yahweh and for Gideon! ” Each Israelite took his position around the camp, and the entire Midianite army began to run, and they cried out as they fled. When Gideon’s men blew their three hundred trumpets, Yahweh caused the men in the whole army to turn on each other with their swords. They fled to Acacia House in the direction of Zererah as far as the border of Abel-meholah near Tabbath.”

All of these examples in the life of Gideon point to an interesting facet of trusting God: if we are sincere in wanting to accomplish God’s will, God can provide reassurances when he asks for our trustful actions. In these examples, these were not outward signs to all of Israel, but were private and personal reassurances that gave Gideon the confirmation that God was communicating with him, and that he would come through for Gideon if Gideon would act in faith by trusting in what he asked of him.

Now, at one point in my journey of faith, when I came across this concept, I determined that I would seek God’s direction in my life in a similar fashion as Gideon, asking for verification of what I thought I was hearing by seeking specific signs and indications ahead of time. If the indication occurred, then that would serve as the confirmation needed to take action. Sounds good, right?

Well, if you thought that didn’t sound right, you would be correct. What ended up happening is I began crafting a whole process for ascertaining what I thought would be God’s will in any big life decision I was facing. I kept a journal for things I was praying about, and if the indication came to pass or not. Based on the indication I would take the appropriate action “in faith.” However, I began to ask for indications or signs on anything, not just what God may have been trying to communicate to me, and this is where I believe the whole thing went off the rails. I began to use this journal as a “magic 8-ball” of sorts to determine important things.

For those of you not familiar with the magic 8-ball, just Google it. It was a party game where you would ask a question of the 8-ball, shake it up, and then a generic “answer” to your question would show up in a liquid-filled window on the 8-ball. The answer might go beyond just yes or no to something like “not at this time,” or “outlook not good.” Essentially, I was conducting my faith-life like a party game on whether or not a junior-high crush liked me or not.

Needless to say, I did not continue with this method of determining God’s will, even after making some hefty life decisions with it which, fortunately, I believe God still worked out in spite of my own ignorance. But I will say, one of the positive aspects of this concept is that my awareness of God’s communication with me was heightened throughout the day. I was literally looking for these indications to occur, just like Gideon might have been looking to see if the fleece was wet or not. The problem was that I was not asking for confirmation of something I thought God was trying to communicate to me; instead, I was basically telling God to provide me an answer to a question of my own choosing. That is a radically different thing all together, expecting God to be the genie to magically answer any question that I might pose to him. Gideon did not do this; Gideon was simply seeking confirmation of something God had already revealed to him that he wanted to be sure was legitimately God speaking to him. I hope you can see the difference between those two things, because for a very long time, I did not.

If I was to contemporize Gideon’s experience, it might go something like this: It starts with hearing something from God. Today, we have God’s word to inspire and encourage us to obedient actions. Perhaps it is an admonition from a sermon or bible study, or more typically, a spark of inspiration from personal meditation in God’s word. Then, we respond by reaching out to him in prayer to make sure we understand clearly what we think we heard. This can be done by verifying with other scripture passages to ensure we are being contextually faithful, or it can also be a recognition of some internal confirmation that still lines up with Scripture. If we are sincere and attentive, we will likely find God responding to us in a way that only we can know, a way that has his “fingerprints” all over it but may not be recognizable to others.

In our lives today, we may not have visions of angels or miraculous fleeces to provide us confirmation of God’s direction. However, if we are attentive and serious about understanding what we believe we have heard from God, we receive confirmations that are private and personal to us. Perhaps it may be a saying on a billboard which you pass on the freeway that resonates in answer to prayer, or a song that comes up in your playlist with encouraging lyrics that match what you believe God is conveying to you.

This is the relationship God wishes to have with us: an active, living relationship based on trust. And for trust to take place, there has to be back and forth communication between both parties to establish that trust on which our actions are based.

Even Abraham did not respond in blind faith to God when he famously accepted the understanding that God would make him the “father of many nations.” While it may have been presented to us that way when it says “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness,” the apostle Paul goes into greater detail on Abraham’s experience, and reveals a little closer look into the mechanics of Abraham’s faith.

Romans 4:3, 17-22 – “For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness.’ … As it is written: ‘I have made you the father of many nations.’ He is our father in God’s sight, in whom Abraham believed ​– ​the God who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist. He [Abraham] believed, hoping against hope, so that he became the father of many nations according to what had been spoken: ‘So will your descendants be.’

“He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body to be already dead (since he was about a hundred years old) and also the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, because he was fully convinced that what God had promised, he was also able to do. Therefore, it was credited to him for righteousness.”

Abraham could only demonstrate faith in God because he already believed in God. The text says he did not weaken or waver in the faith he already had, simply because his reason was telling him he and Sarah were both way too old to have a child. He continued to maintain his existing faith in God and merely accepted that what God said would come to pass somehow.

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.”

If we accept this as a principle of faith, then we can understand Abraham already had a faith in God in order to even be hearing from him about being the father of many nations. While we don’t have specifics in Scripture, we can see a glimmer of the establishment of that faith in Genesis chapter 11.

Genesis 11:31-32 – “Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot (Haran’s son), and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they set out together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there. Terah lived 205 years and died in Haran.”

Why was Terah heading out to the land of Canaan? The text doesn’t say, but immediately following this passage in the first verses of chapter 12 we read the following:

Genesis 12:1, 4-5 – Yahweh said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. … So Abram went, as Yahweh had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated, and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan…”

Is it possible that Abraham’s father Terah had already heard from God about taking his family to Canaan and simply got waylaid in Haran on their way? Perhaps he became ill on the journey and they had to settle there hoping for his recovery, but then died. Then Abraham, hearing and recognizing the call of the God he already believed in, picked up where his father had left off to continue the family’s journey to Canaan as originally intended. If so, this could indicate that Abraham already had a familial understanding of Yahweh as the one true God, and he could then obey in faith based on an understanding of how God had already protected their family from Ur to Haran (which was a huge journey in and of itself).

While this may be speculative based on the lack of detail in the text, it is not entirely unfounded based on the pattern of faith in the Bible. The writer of Hebrews says that to have faith in God, one must believe he exists. To think that a God exists means one must have heard of him somehow, and must believe that account of God is reasonable. For anyone to be able to call on Yahweh in the first place, Paul writes:

Romans 10:14 – How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? …

Somehow Abraham had come to know Yahweh, whether in Ur or Haran, or perhaps through his father Terah, or by straight-up self-revelation of God directly to Abraham. However it occurred, I believe it is very likely that Abraham had reason to recognize that God was trustworthy in order to place his faith in him and to become the father of a multitude of nations.

What this means is that when Abraham believed God that he would be the father of many nations, he did not need to look for evidence of this, even though he knew that both he and Sarah were typically too old to have children. Abraham knew God was trustworthy and simply believed without trying to figure out how it could be accomplished, and that type of faith was what God honored and considered righteous.

So, to summarize all of the distance we have covered today, I believe it can be shown that faith is something that is based on a multitude of factors that we have been exposed to in our lives. Whether by tradition or society, the individual interpretation of that information will lead to a specific worldview. Within the biblical worldview, we can receive personal guidance if we sincerely seek God’s direction, which may be known to us but unseen by others, and this direction will be in harmony with God’s revealed will in his word.

Gideon acted in faith even though he had received confirmations or indications from Yahweh before he took action. This does not necessarily mean his faith is any less worthy or valid, as is demonstrated by the fact that he is included in the “Hall of Faith” of Hebrews 11. However, it does indicate to us that even though God may ask his people to do unusual things at times, it is still a demonstration of courageous faith to recognize a personal indication that may be received and then to act on that direction from God. Obeying direction from God is still obedience.

It is my belief that the Bible knows nothing of a blind faith, only a trust and confidence in what may be unseen to others but known to be real to us.

Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the conviction of things not being seen.”

Biblical faith, then, is obedient action based on confident assurance and conviction. This confident assurance may simply be an individual recognition of specific direction that agrees with the revealed principles in the Bible.

Another way to say this is we can trust God today for what he has revealed to us yesterday. And we can trust God for tomorrow and beyond when we trust him for today. Acting on that unseen conviction is how we demonstrate our faith in God and fulfill his purposes in this world.

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