Set apart remembrances

How the practices of God’s people continue to set them apart from the culture they live in.

How the practices of God’s people continue to set them apart from the culture they live in.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of God’s people is in recognizing a calendar set in place by him. Most Christians today don’t think much about special religious holidays other than Christmas and Easter. Saving an evaluation of those holidays for another post, I would like instead to focus on the days that do set God’s people apart from all other nations.

Since my focus on this site is the message of the Bible reduced to its simplest form in the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, it becomes clear that remembering the Sabbath, the fourth of those Ten Commandments, is one of those set apart times.

But beyond the weekly Sabbath, we find there are other Sabbaths mentioned which should also be remembered: specifically seven of them listed in Leviticus 23. They include the first and last days of Unleavened Bread, Shavuot (Pentecost), Yom Teruah (Day of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), the first day of Sukkot (Tabernacles), and Yom HaShemini (Eighth Day). These are listed as Sabbaths, days of rest from regular work, and days of special offerings.

Now, let me be upfront and say that in a liturgical sense, it is impossible to “keep” these days in a Scriptural fashion due to the fact that they involve sacrifices to be presented at the temple, which no longer exists since all of the temple activities have been fulfilled in Messiah. However, I believe there is benefit in observing them and recognizing their meanings for the lessons they can provide to believers even today. I believe that is the primary point as to why God established them in the first place: to teach his people about their history and place within his overall plan for all people.

Many people believe that God’s calendar is one of a prophetic timeline that outlines his plan for the ages in a linear fashion, and that if we just know where we are in the timeline, we will know what to expect is coming next in God’s plan. However, my opinion is that the calendar is not unfulfilled, but has been completed. It now speaks to an everlasting memorial of how God has worked to deliver a people to himself and establish the kingdom of God almost two thousand years ago. By “observing” this calendar today, we honor God by recounting his faithfulness with his own people, and demonstrating the fulfillment of all things in his Messiah, Yeshua.

The calendar is broken up into two main times: the Spring moedim or appointed times (Passover, Unleavened Bread and Pentecost) and the Fall moedim (Day of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Tabernacles). Each set of appointed times has a one-week festival exactly six months apart (Unleavened Bread in the Spring and Tabernacles in the Fall). The fact that they are spaced equidistantly throughout the year speaks not to a linear progression, but a cycle that is repeated but with a different emphasis. Just as Spring brings new beginnings, the Fall brings plentiful harvest.

For example, the week of Unleavened Bread recounts the miraculous departure from the slavery of Egypt. The week of Tabernacles recounts the wilderness journey where they lived in tents. The first is about deliverance, the second is about provision during their journeys. The first is about separation from worldliness (of Egypt), the second is about preparation for the Promised Land.

In like fashion, the holiday cycles memorialize not only the initiation of the nation of Israel, but its completion. How so? The Spring and Fall holidays also speak to the last days of the nation of ancient Israel.

In approximately AD 30, Yeshua was crucified at Passover, symbolically redeeming God’s “first born” nation. This began a “second Exodus” of the godly remnant coming out of unfaithful Israel in preparation for the Promised Land of God’s spiritual Kingdom. Forty years later, the temple was destroyed as Yeshua had predicted, ending the earthly priesthood once and for all, and ushering in the fullness of God’s Kingdom. The final celebration of Sukkot continues to this day, as more and more believers in each generation join the faithful remnant in the ongoing harvest for God’s Kingdom. The Yom Shemini (Eighth Day) marks the eternal dwelling of believers with God in his Kingdom.

Today I am focusing on one of those seven Sabbath days since the day I am writing this falls on its occurrence in 2022: today is Yom Teruah or the Day of Trumpets. This day memorializes the shouted announcement of the final judgment on that ancient nation.

  • Mark 1:14-15 – After John was arrested, Yeshua went to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news! “
  • Luke 21:20, 22 – “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that its desolation has come near. … “because these are days of vengeance to fulfill all the things that are written.”

It simultaneously marks the joyous celebration of the faithful at the arrival of the Kingdom which Yeshua mentioned in parables:

  • Matthew 21:42-43 – Yeshua said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is what the Lord has done and it is wonderful in our eyes? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you [chief priests and Pharisees] and given to a people producing its fruit [the faithful remnant and all who would join them].”
  • Matthew 25:34 – “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

All of this was announced forty years ahead of its coming to pass. God prepared a people for himself to be his own who would inherit the blessing of Abraham through faith in his seed, Messiah Yeshua. The zera Yisra’el (the seed of Israel), the name of God’s Kingdom, continues to this day. Through observance and recognition of these memorial holidays we can teach and celebrate all that God has faithfully provided for his own people, and how he continues to prepare believers for arrival into his heavenly abode when we each reach the Eighth Day, the day of our eternity.


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

How we can sanctify ourselves for God’s use in any situation

When we refine ourselves in God’s Word, we can continually prepare ourselves to be the most useful to him.

Today we will be looking at the topic of holiness or sanctification, and how our ongoing commitment to God’s word distinguishes us beyond just participating in God’s Kingdom in ways that are more beneficial for God’s overall purposes.

Paul wrote to Timothy:

2 Timothy 2:20-21 – “In a large house there are dishes and bowls of all kinds: some are made of silver and gold, others of wood and clay; some are for special occasions, others for ordinary use. Those who make themselves clean from these things will be used for special purposes, because they are dedicated and useful to their Master, ready to be used for every good deed.”

Holiness is about being sanctified or set apart for God’s specific purposes. In the example that Paul uses here with Timothy, there is also an ongoing refinement that is similar to recognizing the differences between ordinary plates for everyday use and fine china that would be used for special occasions. There is a cleansing or refining process that he mentions: “those who make themselves clean.”

So, let’s take a closer look at this process of sanctification or being set apart. Sanctification is clearly a process that God performs by calling people to himself but is also partly a process that we are responsible for, as well, as we walk in the way that he has called us to.

To help break this down a little further, I’d like to focus on these two aspects in separate sections; the first part of the equation is God’s calling and setting apart his own for himself. The second part is how we continue that process of sanctification as we live out our lives within the Kingdom.

I believe this first part can best be illustrated by reviewing a parable of Yeshua in which he outlines this process of God calling a people to himself. Now, the context of Yeshua’s parable appears to have been given in the house of one of the Pharisees, who had invited many individuals to a banquet at his home.

Luke 14:1 – “One Sabbath, when he went in to eat at the house of one of the leading Pharisees, they were watching him closely.”

When Yeshua then sees how those who were invited chose the best seats, he taught them with a parable on humility.

Luke 14:7 – “He told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they would choose the best places for themselves.”

This parable is summarized in the following verses:

Luke 14:10-11 – “But when you are invited, go and recline in the lowest place, so that when the one who invited you comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ You will then be honored in the presence of all the other guests. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

So this lesson in humility spurred on a further conversation, as he then received a question from one of those at the table:

Luke 14:15 – “When one of those who reclined at the table with him heard these things, he said to him, ‘Blessed is the one who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!'”

At this point, Yeshua spoke to the group in another parable, the parable of the wedding banquet. It appears to have been one of the central teachings of Yeshua as it is also recorded in a parallel passage in Matthew 22. Here is Matthew’s version regarding who is called.

Matthew 22:1-3 – “Once more Yeshua spoke to them in parables: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to summon [call] those invited to the banquet, but they didn’t want to come.'”

This parable, which as we shall see is also a prophecy, neatly outlines the institution of the Kingdom of God at Messiah’s coming. Those who were invited to the banquet were the Jews, and yet most of them refused to recognize him as their Messiah.

Matthew 22:4-6 – “Again, he sent out other servants and said, ‘Tell those who are invited: See, I’ve prepared my dinner; my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ “But they paid no attention and went away, one to his own farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, mistreated them, and killed them.”

This illustrates the period of persecution that was unleashed upon the believers in the first century. Yeshua had warned the religious leaders that they would do these horrendous things, and he also had prepared his followers that this will be done to them.

Matthew 23:34 – “This is why I am sending you [religious leaders] prophets, sages, and scribes. Some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.”

Matthew 24:9 – “Then they will hand you [you followers of mine] over to be persecuted, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name.”

So this parable can be shown to be more than just an illustration of a spiritual truth, but of a coming outworking of God’s purposes, as well. In a declaration of finality, Yeshua then explains the response of the king to those who had refused his call.

Matthew 22:7 – “The king was enraged, and he sent out his troops, killed those murderers, and burned down their city.”

This was the same prophetic foresight that Yeshua predicted in another context.

Luke 21:20 – “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that its desolation has come near.”

This actually did occur within that generation, as the city of Jerusalem was burned down and the temple was destroyed, just as Yeshua had predicted.

Now the completion of the parable is summarized succinctly by Luke in his gospel:

Luke 14:21-24 – “…Then in anger, the master of the house told his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the city, and bring in here the poor, maimed, blind, and lame.’ ” ‘Master,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, and there’s still room.’ Then the master told the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges and make them come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, not one of those people who were invited will enjoy my banquet.’ “

This was an indication that the call of God had to be extended to the Jews first, but when they refused to come, the call or invitation then went out to whomsoever would come.

Peter had proclaimed this same message to the religious leaders in Jerusalem.

Acts 3:13, 15, 25-26 – “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his servant Yeshua, whom you handed over and denied before Pilate, though he had decided to release him. … You killed the source of life, whom God raised from the dead; we are witnesses of this. … You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors, saying to Abraham, And all the families of the earth will be blessed through your offspring. God raised up his servant and sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.”

Paul reiterated this principle that was also used on his missionary journeys prior to the destruction of Jerusalem. He would visit a city and first present the kingdom message to the Jews, and then to a wider audience, whoever would listen.

Acts 13:45-48 – “But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what Paul was saying, insulting him. Paul and Barnabas boldly replied, ‘It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first. Since you reject it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we are turning to the Gentiles. For this is what Yahweh has commanded us: “I have made you a light for the Gentiles to bring salvation to the end of the earth.”‘ When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and honored the word of Yahweh, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed.”

Paul also taught the universality of the gospel of the Kingdom message to the Roman congregation.

Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.

The call or invitation of God was to become universal once the Jews had had an opportunity to respond first; if they rejected it, God would reach out to whoever would listen and believe. In the grandest sense, this opportunity of the Jews to respond to God’s mercy was demonstrated to have been completed once the destruction of Jerusalem had occurred. From that point on, all who would then hear with “ears to hear” would then be invited and called into the Kingdom.

In a moment, we will look more closely at how this calling is worked out in the life of a believer once they have responded favorably to God’s invitation.


So with the completion of the call of God going out specifically to his people of that day and age, the Jews, God’s call then moves into a universal sphere of all who will listen to the good news of the gospel of the Kingdom. This is why Paul and the early believers were so anxious to ensure as many as people as possible could hear and understand the gospel message.

Romans 10:14-15 – “How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.”

Once a person has responded to the call of God, God then sets them apart, or sanctifies them by placing them within the body of believers who make up the Kingdom of God.

Ephesians 2:10 – “God has made us what we are. He has created us in Messiah Yeshua to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do.”

According to Paul, believers are “created in Messiah Yeshua.” This demonstrates how one becomes initially set apart by believing in Messiah; when that occurs, there is a “new creation” that takes place.

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 – “From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective. Even if we have known Messiah from a worldly perspective, yet now we no longer know him in this way. Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!”

One becomes born again or born from above, and a new life in a new environment begins. The old worldly perspective no longer applies; all things are made new for the believer.

Additionally, one cannot be a believer without being “in him.” One can say they believe in God and be attached to any religious expression in the world, but one cannot be a believer in the God of the Bible without believing in Yeshua as the Messiah, the one sent by God to free people from bondage to sin.

Okay, now, so far, I realize we have traveled a lot of Scriptural miles today and covered some far-ranging concepts in the process, but let’s return back to the starting point of Paul’s original illustration of dishes and bowls in the large house.

2 Timothy 2:20-21 – “In a large house there are dishes and bowls of all kinds: some are made of silver and gold, others of wood and clay; some are for special occasions, others for ordinary use. Those who make themselves clean from these things will be used for special purposes, because they are dedicated and useful to their Master, ready to be used for every good deed.”

Paul tells Timothy that “In a large house there are dishes and bowls of all kinds…” The “large house” can be viewed as the Kingdom of God. Paul is not here discussing the condition of the world at large, but the conditions that exist among God’s own people. At this point, God has sanctified and set apart those who have responded to his call, as we have seen, and the large house can be viewed as where all the activity of the Kingdom takes place.

But now, Paul begins to make a distinction between that which is everyday from that which is special, and he intimates it is a process initiated by the believer by saying, “those who make themselves clean from these things will be used for special purposes…”

Not to belabor the illustration, but there appear to be distinctions of sanctification among believers as well. This is not outside the bounds of Scriptural precedent, either.

For example, the Levites were all priests, but the sons of Aaron held specific duties within the overall priesthood. In another example, Yeshua had twelve disciples, but we find Peter, James, and John as a kind of “inner circle” of the disciples, whom Paul semi-sarcastically refers to as “pillars of the faith.”

Galatians 2:9 – “When James, Peter, and John ​– ​those recognized as pillars ​– ​acknowledged the grace that had been given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to me and Barnabas, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.”

So once we are made pure by the act of God sanctifying us, we have a need to remain pure because of our ongoing association with the world and its influences. The psalmist also ponders this idea of keeping one’s way pure.

Psalm 119:9 – “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.”

In an overall sense, God has set us apart by drawing us to faith in Messiah so that we may do the good things he has prepared for us to do, according to his word. But by continuing to sharpen our obedience to God’s word, we also distinguish ourselves from those in God’s household who are content to remain simply with their sanctification from the world.

In Paul’s example, these are the plates used for ordinary purposes, for the basics of eating and drinking, for the rough and tumble of everyday existence. These are the plates and bowls that have chips and cracks, that have rough edges, blemishes and marks from use. They are serviceable in the uses they are designed for, but they all carry evidence of that use, and are not as likely to be used for special occasions.

By contrast, the gold and silver plates and cups are those which would be used for specific events that are noteworthy: the holiday gatherings with friends and family, or the formal dinners with respected individuals and guests. Paul is implying that, apart from God’s sanctification from the rest of the world, believers can “cleanse themselves” further from rough, ordinary use into something that is more useful to God in special ways. But this has to be an intentional purpose on their part, something that is chosen to do by disciplining themselves in his word to create and maintain the luster and polish required of the fine china.

This is not to be a point of disagreement or schism within the body as if some are “more spiritual” than others, but only a distinction of growth, learning, and application. After all, an acorn is not yet an oak tree, but it contains within it every aspect of the mighty oak. Small seedlings may have sprouted, but they have not yet achieved the heights of the mature oak tree. In this sense, all of us “former acorns” are in various stages of our spiritual development within the Kingdom of God, and we need to support and encourage one another along the way, so that every believer grows to their fullest potential in the time given to us.

Ephesians 4:1-3 – “Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

The context of the passage with the dishes, plates, and cups helps us frame a reference for this concept of living worthy of the calling, as Paul had just mentioned it to Timothy a few verses earlier.

2 Timothy 2:15 – “Make every effort to present yourself approved to God, an unashamed workman who accurately handles the word of truth.”

This is the same principle that he goes into further detail with the believers in Ephesus, encouraging them to make intentional choices and effort in living the new life, as he puts it, in the “putting on of the new man” or the new self.

Ephesians 4:17-24 – “Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their thoughts. They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more. But that is not how you came to know Messiah, assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Yeshua, to take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.”

The making of the effort to present ourselves unashamedly to God demonstrates our willingness to manifest the great gifts that God has given us. Of course, God can use any vessel for his purpose, fine china or regular plates, but the fine china is designed for the most special of occasions to bear the finest foods. If this is the case, why shouldn’t we seek to improve the opportunities for God to use us by setting ourselves apart in ways that allow him to use us in any situation that he sees fit?

Let me hasten to add this is not in any way a justification for some who would try to intentionally set themselves above others just for the purpose of being considered better or more valuable to God than other believers. If this is the case, then Yeshua’s parable on humility has lost its footing. Instead, we should seek to continually sanctify ourselves not for our glory but for God’s. In this way, we can continually prepare ourselves to be the most useful to him and provide him the greatest amount of “special dishes” to use as he sets the banquet wide for any and all to come to 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

No longer common or unclean

What did Peter really learn from his vision in Acts 10?

Core of the Bible podcast #81 – No longer common or unclean

What did Peter really learn from his vision in Acts 10?

Today we will be looking at the topic of vigilance, and how, when we receive instruction from God, we must be faithful in keeping it at all costs and without hesitation. Along the way, we will investigate the meaning of what was considered a common thing, and what was considered unclean. These designations were critical to the Hebraic understanding of how they were expected to interact with others in the world.

Acts 10:10-14 – [Peter] became hungry and wanted to eat, but while they were preparing something, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and an object that resembled a large sheet coming down, being lowered by its four corners to the earth. In it were all the four-footed animals and reptiles of the earth, and the birds of the sky. A voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” “No, Lord!” Peter said. “For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”

This story of Peter’s vision is typically used as a way of teaching that God was declaring all foods “clean” or acceptable to eat. However, looking more closely at the context and outcome, we can learn more about its true meaning, along with some aspects of vigilance in our walk with God.

During Peter’s vision, when he heard a voice commanding him to kill and eat any of the animals in the vision, Peter immediately responded with: “No, Lord!” Peter said. “For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”

The response from the voice was: “What God has cleansed, do not call common.” After three repeated occurrences, the sheet and the animals were taken back up into heaven.

Now, what’s interesting to note here is that in the original text, two different Greek words are used to describe the status of the animals. Peter says that he never had eaten anything common (koinou) nor had he eaten anything ritually unclean (akatharton). Now there is wisdom in understanding the difference between that which is common and that which is unclean, so let’s take a look at how these topics were covered throughout the Tanakh, or Old Testament.

Leviticus 10:10-11 – “You must distinguish between the holy and the common, and the clean and the unclean, and teach the Israelites all the statutes that Yahweh has given to them through Moses.”

Here we find the importance in distinguishing between four Hebrew words describing four different conditions: qodesh (holy), chol (common), tame (unclean), and tahor (clean or pure).

So is this designation of holy/common, clean/unclean just a repetition of the same two qualities or is it describing four different categories? Let’s look at some other example verses to see if we can gain clarity.

Before there were ever any official commandments at Sinai, we see that there was a recognition of clean (tahor) and unclean (tame) animals:

Genesis 7:1-2 – “Then Yahweh said to Noah, ‘Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate, and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate…'”

So the first mention of tahor/clean is in regard to animals, distinguishing those that are clean from those that are not tahor.

We next move to the wilderness after Israel came out of Egypt and learn the distinctions that were set down within the written Torah conveyed to them in the desert.

Leviticus 11:46-47 – This is the law about beast and bird and every living creature that moves through the waters and every creature that swarms on the ground, to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten.

So, clean/tahor and unclean/tame animals are here defined in God’s Torah.

Now as we look to define that which is holy versus that which is common, we can look at some passages from the writings of the Prophets, starting with Ezekiel. In Ezekiel’s vision of the temple and its surroundings, he conveys how some areas of the temple complex were distinguished from others.

Ezekiel 42:20 – He measured the temple complex on all four sides. It had a wall all around it … to separate the holy [qodesh] from the common [chol].

Here there is no mention of clean and unclean, just how a wall separated the holy and common areas. The one area of the temple complex was holy, restricted only to priests and God’s people, and the other area was common, available to anyone else. A similar example of this is brought out in the land allotments that Ezekiel conveyed from his vision.

Ezekiel 48:13-15 – And alongside the territory of the priests, the Levites shall have an allotment …They shall not sell or exchange any of it. They shall not alienate this choice portion of the land, for it is holy to Yahweh. “The remainder … shall be for common use for the city, for dwellings and for open country. In the midst of it shall be the city…

Here, part of the land is holy or qodesh for specific use by the priests, and the other part for use by the rest of the city is common or chol.

So from these passages, we can learn that the distinction between holy and common appears to be one of purpose: that which is holy is set apart for a specific use by priests or God’s people only and that which is common is for everyday use by anyone. By contrast, that which is clean or unclean appears to be inherent in the thing itself, for example, those animals which were approved for eating versus those which were not approved for eating, likely due to the risk of contracting illness or disease.

Now here is a really interesting contrast brought out in the book of Haggai when he was asking the priests to give a ruling in a matter of holiness versus uncleanness, a contrast spanning both groups:

Haggai 2:12-14 – “If a man is carrying consecrated [holy/qodesh] meat in the fold of his garment, and it touches bread, stew, wine, oil, or any other food, does [that food] become holy? ” The priests answered, “No.”  Then Haggai asked, “If someone unclean [tame] by contact with a corpse touches any of these, does it become defiled? ” The priests answered, “It becomes defiled.”  Then Haggai replied, “So is this people, and so is this nation before me — this is Yahweh’s declaration. And so is every work of their hands; even what they offer there is defiled.”

Haggai is here using this example to show the priests how they were not accomplishing their God-given purpose of being a light of holiness to the world; instead, they had become so corrupt they had become unclean and were defiling everything they touched.

So here we have a cross comparison of these two categories: holy-common and clean-unclean. When we sift through all of this information, we can begin to see how this description helps us understand the categories a little better. From Haggai’s example, it is determined that something that is holy can’t make something holy just by contacting it; like Ezekiel, he is confirming the holiness is in the purpose of the thing, not its physical qualities. By contrast, something that is unclean CAN defile something else; once the unclean thing touches something, it also becomes unclean.

So how does all this apply to Peter’s vision and our discussion at hand? Well, we need to remember through this discussion that common means “for common use, that which is not set apart as holy.” And in Peter’s vision, God claims to have cleansed that which is considered common (i.e., the non-Jews who seek after him).

In a moment, we will explore this cleansing process as it was understood by the traditional Jews of the day, and why it is so significant to this discussion.


In Yeshua’s and Peter’s day, something that may have been considered “common” was a term that had come into use within the lexicon of the Pharisees and their fastidious over-compensation in matters that were not clearly marked out in Torah.

For example, in Mark 7, some of these practices are described:

Mark 7:1-3 – The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around [Yeshua]. They observed that some of his disciples were eating bread with common — that is, unwashed — hands [right here we have the distinction clarified for us within the narrative: common=unwashed]. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, keeping the tradition of the elders [Note: this is not a Torah instruction, but a tradition of the elders].

So, with the koinos meaning of common defined as “unwashed” for us here in Mark, we can then see how this applies in the vision that Peter had in Acts 10.

Acts 10:15 – Again, a second time, the voice said to him, “What God has cleansed, do not call common.”

This shows that God had cleansed that which, through their tradition, was considered common or unwashed. In that time, non-Jews were looked upon as common, like dirty hands that needed to be washed. The traditional Jewish thinking was that they were to be avoided because through contact with their unwashed condition they thought they would become contaminated, as well. However, we know from the passage in Haggai that holiness has to do with purpose and has nothing whatsoever to do with physical contact. Besides, Peter’s vision said that God had cleansed those “dirty hands” when they came to him in faith, and they were therefore no longer to be considered separate from the believing congregation.

This is the exact meaning that Peter pulled from the vision when he met with Cornelius and his group.

Acts 10:28 – Peter said to them, “You know it’s forbidden for a Jewish man to associate with or visit a foreigner [again, this is based on tradition, not Torah], but God has shown me that I must not call any PERSON common or unclean.”

Peter had taken away from the vision, not that all FOODS were now clean, but that all MEN who earnestly were striving after God were to be considered on an even par with the Jewish believers.

Acts 10:34-35 – Peter began to speak: “Now I truly understand that God doesn’t show favoritism, but in every nation the PERSON who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”

Peter had taken the real meaning of the vision to mean that God was breaking down the barriers between men of different nations, and that the door of faith in Messiah would be opened to all who were willing to come. This was even confirmed to be the correct interpretation as the foreign men were visibly affected by receiving the Spirit of God (10:44-45).

It is impressive to see how Peter had maintained his ritual purity throughout his life. He claims to have strictly followed the dietary laws of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 without fail. In his day and age, there were many opportunities to eat the wrong foods, due to the foods that were sold in the common marketplaces. Peter demonstrates that he was always vigilant to ensure he never violated the commands of God by eating foods outside of the restrictions of Torah. This, in itself, should be an indication that the vision was not about clean and unclean foods, but about something else, something God was beginning to do among all nations.

Additionally, Peter intimated that he had not only kept the dietary commands of the Torah, but of the religious tradition, as well. This would imply he also did not associate with non-Jews, since they were considered koinos or common by Jewish tradition. We know this is the case because the apostle Paul had to confront Peter when he had held to this traditional Jewish thinking among the believers in Antioch.

Galatians 2:11-13 – “But when Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he stood condemned. For he regularly ate with the Gentiles before certain men came from James. However, when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, because he feared those from the circumcision party. Then the rest of the Jews joined his hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.”

While there are no time markers in the text, it would make sense that this argument between Paul and Peter occurred prior to Peter’s vision, and that after that vision, he was well-grounded in the in the understanding of the purpose of the Kingdom, and how God would not show favoritism to anyone but was accepting all who would come to him through faith in Messiah. But regardless of the timing of this event, as the growing Messianic movement spread, it was inevitable that non-Jews would be mixing with Jewish believers and there would need to be a recognition of equality among all people.

The apostle Paul confirms this also in several of his epistles, how God was growing the Kingdom with many different nationalities and statuses within the strata of society:

Romans 10:11-13 – “For the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on him will not be put to shame, since there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord of all richly blesses all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh will be saved.”

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

Colossians 3:11 – “In Messiah there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Messiah is all and in all.”

Ultimately, vigilance in our walk before God comes in many forms, whether our own personal commitment to holiness, or our obedience to the things that God may reveal to us along the way. Peter exemplifies for us a measure of personal vigilance that we can learn from and follow in our own lives. He held tightly to the understanding of Judaism and maintained those traditions faithfully, believing that he was honoring God in doing so. Yet, when God revealed something radical within his current worldview, he was still willing to follow this new understanding wholeheartedly and unreservedly.

When we receive instruction from God, whether through his word or through personal insight, we also must be faithful in keeping it at all costs and without hesitation.


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

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

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

Separation through the Word

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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.

——-

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.
Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.
Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com

The simple mindset that brings light

Believers have been set apart to witness to the truth of God in this world.

Believers have been set apart to witness to the truth of God in this world.

Luke 11:34-35: “The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore when your eye is good, your whole body is also full of light; but when it is evil, your body also is full of darkness. Therefore see whether the light that is in you isn’t darkness. “

One of the strengths of the Hebraic worldview is that it always paints things in the light of contrast: good and evil, light and dark, life and death. It’s this contrast that allows for the mind to distinguish between right and wrong, and that which is holy and that which is unclean or wicked.

In this passage speaking of light and darkness, Yeshua is carrying on a tradition of demonstrating how righteousness is light, and unrighteousness is darkness.

Proverbs 4:18-19: “But the path of the righteous is like the dawning light, that shines more and more until the perfect day. The way of the wicked is like darkness. They don’t know what they stumble over.”

In the Bible, light is associated with wisdom and understanding, and darkness is related to wickedness, pride, and selfishness.

  • Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path.”
  • Isaiah 5:20-21: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”

So, the imagery that Yeshua is using as he speaks of the lamp of the eye is not a new or novel concept to his hearers. This type of thinking is how the Hebrew world is codified. Yeshua is speaking to the singleness of purpose that should be the guiding principle of all believers: to love Yahweh our God with all our heart soul and strength.

Mark 12:29-30 – Yeshua answered, “The most important of all the commands is: Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

That single principle provides the basis and foundation of all that sets believers apart from the rest of the world. It is not only the underlying principle of personal belief, but it is the very cornerstone of the kingdom of God. This is what makes us holy: when we can operate from the strength of this simple mindset of loving God with all that we are. All else comes into focus and clarifies the muddy waters of compromise with this world system.

Luke 11:36: “If therefore your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly full of light, as when the lamp with its bright shining gives you light.”

More than providing light only for ourselves, this singleness of purpose will also allow our righteous actions to be a light to others, that they may see the light through us.

Luke 11:33: “No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, that those who come in may see the light.”


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.

Worshiping the King through obedience to his Word

The ninety-ninth psalm is a majestic call to worship the God of the universe right here and now on this earth.

The ninety-ninth psalm is a majestic call to worship, a call to worship and serve the God who is exalted above all people.

Psalm 99:2 – Yahweh is great in Zion; he is exalted above all the peoples.

In the context of ancient Israel, this psalm illustrates where God allowed his Presence to dwell: within the sanctuary of the temple. The first verse says, “He is enthroned between the cherubim.” The cherubim were two massive, winged angelic beings that dominated the Holy of Holies, the perfectly cube-shaped room at the center of the temple into which the High Priest entered only once a year on the Day of Atonement.

The psalmist urges the hearers to “worship at his footstool” or at the place of his feet. In the symbolism of the temple, if Yahweh was enthroned between the wings of the cherubim, then his feet would have rested at the Ark of the Covenant, the place of the Ten Commandments.

Psalm 99:4 – The mighty King loves justice. You have established fairness; you have administered justice and righteousness in Jacob.

Within this cascading symbolism, prostrating oneself at the footstool of God is a recognition of the justice of God through his commands. To bow at his footstool is to submit oneself to the administration of his justice through the observance of his commands.

As Yahweh is the King, it stands to reason that the foundation of his kingdom is based on righteousness, fairness, and justice. These, the psalm says, have been administered “in Jacob.” The whole history of Jacob or Israel is an example for the rest of the world to see how fairly God has dealt with his people. In viewing this example, we can understand how God desires to interact with his people.

Isaiah 55:3-4 – “Pay attention and come to me; listen, so that you will live. I will make a permanent covenant with you on the basis of the faithful kindnesses of David. Since I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples…”

In other places, the heavens are considered the throne of God and the entire earth is considered the footstool of Yahweh. This is referenced by Isaiah who is quoted even by Yeshua himself.

  • Isaiah 66:1 – This is what Yahweh says: Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool. Where could you possibly build a house for me? And where would my resting place be?
  • Matthew 5:34-35 – But I tell you, don’t take an oath at all: either by heaven, because it is God’s throne; or by the earth, because it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King.

Ultimately, Yahweh says, as the Creator of all, there is no one place that could contain his Presence, but as the King of all he will honor the individual who humbly submits to his word.

Isaiah 66:2 – “My hand made all these things, and so they all came into being. This is Yahweh’s declaration. I will look favorably on this kind of person: one who is humble, submissive in spirit, and trembles at my word.”

All of this imagery combines to demonstrate the majestic holiness of the God of the universe. He cannot be contained within a temple, or even the earth itself, since it can only represent his footstool. His majesty is so great that it fills the universe, and yet he reveals to us, through his dealings with “Jacob” and with “David” that he respects those who honor his word. His word is the foundation of all justice and fairness that was symbolically kept within the footstool of his Presence in the temple, within the Ark of the Covenant.

If we are to worship at his footstool, and the entire earth is his footstool as both Isaiah and Yeshua reference, then it behooves all people to worship him on this earth by submitting to his timeless word represented by his commands. This is how we worship the God of the universe; not only by lifting holy hands in prayer or song, but by living out his commands in all we think, do and say.

Colossians 1:9-10 – “… we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God…”


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

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

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

The solitude of intimate prayer

Regular times of private prayer are where we can have the closest communion with Yahweh.

Regular times of private prayer are where we can have the closest communion with Yahweh.

Yeshua encouraged his followers to practice times of quiet prayer to God. This seems to have been to encourage an intimacy where religiosity had been responsible for conveying something different. We can learn what those religious practices were by the admonition of Messiah to do the opposite.

For example, it appears to have been the practice of the pagan religious leaders to prepare lengthy prayers with the hopes of convincing their gods to pay attention to their petitions.

Matthew 6:7-8 – “When you pray, don’t babble like the Gentiles, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask him.”

It must also have been the practice of the Jewish religious leaders to enjoy praying publicly in a measure of show to the crowds that they were righteous. Yeshua names these religious leaders as hypocrites, a Greek word which means “actor, stage player, pretender.”

Matthew 6:5 – “Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward.”

These are not the types of prayers that God desires of his people. No, Yeshua mentions how heart-followers of Yahweh should have a private and intimate relationship with him that is not dependent on long, showy prayers. This is the type of prayer that Yeshua himself practiced. In times of great challenge or decision-making, he sought the will of the Father in solitude.

Matthew 14:23 – After dismissing the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. Well into the night, he was there alone.
Mark 6:45-46 – Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After he said good-bye to them, he went away to the mountain to pray.
Luke 6:12 – During those days he went out to the mountain to pray and spent all night in prayer to God.

Of course, Yeshua taught his followers how they should pray by outlining what types of things they should pray for in his model prayer, what we have come to know as the Lord’s Prayer, in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4. But it was verse six in which he taught where they should pray:

Matthew 6:6 – “But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

The prayer of the righteous individual is one of the heart. The heart is private and sincere. It must be sought out in solitude, as it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) in any way rely on the approval of others. For believers, the only one we should be seeking approval of is Yahweh, and ensuring that our lives are ones that honor him. This is how we are set apart, this is what makes us holy.


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.

Abiding in God’s presence produces holiness 

When we are outside of the commands of God, we cannot bear fruit for him.

When we are outside of the commands of God, we cannot bear fruit for him. 

A life of holiness is one in which the believer is purposefully and continually set apart from others. In the book of Haggai, the prophet confronts the priests with some of their practices and poses a question that illustrates how purity is something that must be maintained by the individual. 

Haggai 2:11-14 – “This is what Yahweh of Armies says: Ask the priests for a ruling. “If a man is carrying consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and it touches bread, stew, wine, oil, or any other food, does it become holy? ” The priests answered, “No.”  Then Haggai asked, “If someone defiled by contact with a corpse touches any of these, does it become defiled? ” The priests answered, “It becomes defiled.”  Then Haggai replied, “So is this people, and so is this nation before me — this is Yahweh’s declaration. And so is every work of their hands; even what they offer there is defiled. 

In this instance, God is confronting the nation with their impurities. They were going about reestablishing themselves in the land after their captivity, yet they were not giving the due respect and honor to the temple of Yahweh. They had assumed that because they were God’s people, that they were somehow automatically holy. But there is no such thing. 

In the example provided by Haggai, the meat that had been consecrated had only become consecrated because it was in the presence of Yahweh. It was meat that had become dedicated to the purpose of Yahweh by the offerer, however the meat itself did not contain the ability to make anything else holy. On the contrary, defilement easily spreads from object to object and place to place when something becomes corrupted. Through this example, Haggai shows how closely a believer needs to remain in the presence of Yahweh in order to remain sanctified and holy.  

This principle was carried over even into the teachings of Yeshua. He explained that the keeping of his commands and his teaching would allow believers to remain in God’s presence, which would be evidenced by the holy Spirit of God living within them.  

John 14:15-17 – “If you love me, you will keep my commands. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. “He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and will be in you. 

John 15:4-6, 8, 10 – “Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. “If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. … “My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.  … “If you keep my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 

The application of this principle becomes clearer when we recognize that we, as believers, do not have the ability to create holiness by our own efforts. We become holy only when we are imbued with that which is holy. The holy Spirit of God is most evident within us when we abide by the commands of God and teachings of Yeshua. In this way, we have the ability to bear fruit for God which honors him and grows the Kingdom of God. 


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

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

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