613 ways to be holy

God’s law is more achievable than we may think.

God’s law is more achievable than we may think.

The details of the biblical commandments have been a source of study for millennia. Reading through the five books of Moses (Genesis-Deuteronomy) covers a wide range of information, from God’s creation of all things, to early history of the Israelite people, to their wilderness journeys and preparation to enter the promised land.

Most significantly, an event is related to us where God revealed himself to the entire nation at once at Mount Sinai. It was here that the people heard the voice of God for themselves, and it is here that Moses received the details of God’s law. This law was to set them apart from all other nations on the earth because of its wisdom and practices.

  • Deuteronomy 4:5-8 – “Look, I have taught you statutes and ordinances as Yahweh my God has commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to possess. “Carefully follow them, for this will show your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the peoples. When they hear about all these statutes, they will say, ‘This great nation is indeed a wise and understanding people.’ “For what great nation is there that has a god near to it as Yahweh our God is to us whenever we call to him? “And what great nation has righteous statutes and ordinances like this entire law I set before you today?

This law was to be the distinguishing aspect of God’s people. There are laws that regulate all aspects of the life of an ancient Israelite. From food and sanitation, to marital and sexual relations, to priestly activities, to worship and sacrificial activities, to civil disputes and criminal punishments, and to war. A quick internet search on 613 commandments will provide the entire list, typically broken out into various categories as listed above.

What is interesting to note is that not all of the commandments apply to everyone, and some are only specific to certain activities at certain times of the year. Some apply only to women, and some apply only to priests.Some are focused only on the biblical holidays, others focus on conflicts that may only arise from time to time. Some are positive commands requiring action, others are prohibitions restricting behaviors. The more one looks at the overall collection of commands and prohibitions, it becomes apparent that not all of them applied to everyone equally at all times. However, there are general similarities and overarching principles that can be derived from reviewing all of them with regularity.

Most modern believers might say that, while that is all well and good, there is little need to focus our time and energy on this outdated law because it has been done away with and no longer applies. They might say that Messiah fulfilled all of the law so we don’t have to. But is that really true? Did Messiah fulfill all of the law so we don’t have to pay any attention to it?

  • Psalm 119:142 – Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and your law [torah] is true.
  • Psalm 119:89 – Yahweh, your word is forever; it is firmly fixed in heaven.
  • Psalm 119:160 – The entirety of your word is truth, each of your righteous judgments endures forever.
  • Isaiah 40:8- The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God remains forever.

Even Yeshua mentioned the nature of God’s eternal instruction.

  • Matthew 5:17-19 – “Don’t think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass away from the law until all things are accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

What we need to realize in our day is that Messiah did not abolish the law, but he did fulfill the law. Specifically, as the symbolic Lamb of God, he fulfilled everything related to the temple, sacrifices, and priestly worship, and they are no longer needed in earthly practice. This was evidenced by the destruction of the temple. However, as the beginning of the new creation, he elevated the law to its rightful place as a regulator of eternal spiritual principles. As his people, he expects us to also fulfill the law in his name.

  • Galatians 6:2 – Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Messiah.
  • James 2:8 – Indeed, if you fulfill the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well.
  • 1 John 2:3-6 – This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commands. The one who says, “I have come to know him,” and yet doesn’t keep his commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, truly in him the love of God is made complete. This is how we know we are in him: The one who says he remains in him should walk just as he walked.

Even though we may not be temple priests and not all of us are women, not all of us are civil rulers and not all of us have families of our own, we are still governed by the principles of God’s eternal torah or law. We all, as part of God’s new creation and spiritual kingdom, are expected to abide by its principles as they apply in the various aspects of our lives.

When asked about the law, Yeshua stated it this way:

  • Matthew 22:35-40 – And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test him: “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest? ” He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

In Yeshua’s teaching, all of the torah or law of God can be summed up in these two commands: love God and love your neighbor. These two commands are explained in more detail in the Ten Commandments; the first five apply to God and his authority and the second five apply to our relations with others. The Ten Commandments are the basis and foundation upon which all of the other commands in the law of Moses are based.

So, if everything in the 613 commands of the law makes God’s people holy and distinct, and everything in the law is explained in the Ten Commandments, and everything the Ten Commandments is, according to Yeshua, summarized in the Two Great Commandments, then how hard is it for us to be holy as God expects and for us to follow his eternal law today?


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 at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

A royal priesthood of integrity

A faithful tribe created the pattern of intercession, reverent peace, and knowledge to turn others from iniquity.

A faithful tribe created the pattern of intercession, reverent peace, and knowledge to turn others from iniquity.

Malachi 2:5-7 – “My covenant with him [Levi] was one of life and peace, and I gave these to him; it called for reverence, and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth, and nothing wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and integrity and turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should desire instruction from his mouth, because he is the messenger of Yahweh of Armies.”

Out of all of the tribes of ancient Israel, the tribe of Levi was entrusted with the ministry of the priesthood. Moses and Aaron were Levites, and the high priesthood remained within the specific line of Aaron, while the remaining priestly duties were distributed amongst the rest of the Levites.

Many today who are believers in Messiah consider themselves to be a type of priesthood because of a very famous passage written by the apostle Peter.

1 Peter 2:9-10 – But you are a chosen family, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

As always, it’s important to maintain the context and audience relevance of a passage to better understand its meaning. In this case, this passage was written to a specific group (or groups) of people almost two thousand years ago. The people that Peter was writing to are listed as “those chosen, living as exiles dispersed abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient and to be sprinkled with the blood of Yeshua Messiah.”

According to the Cambridge Bible commentary:

“Literally, taking the words in their Greek order, to the elect sojourners of the dispersion. The last word occurs in the New Testament in John 7:35 and James 1:1, and in the Apocrypha in 2 Ma 1:27. It was used as a collective term for the whole aggregate of Jews who, since the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, had been scattered in Asia and elsewhere.”

These were the descendants of Israelites who had been scattered throughout the known world 750 years earlier, when the Assyrians had taken the northern ten tribes captive and intermixed them among all of the people they ruled over at that time. We know this is the case based on Peter’s reference from the prophecy of Hosea. This prophecy of Hosea spoke about how God would reject his people for their disobedience, scatter them among the nations, but then again he would restore them and call them sons of God.

Hosea 1:9-10 – Then Yahweh said: Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not my people, and I will not be your God. Yet the number of the Israelites will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or counted. And in the place where they were told: You are not my people, they will be called: Sons of the living God.

In the minds of the disciples, this prophesied restoration and reunification of the tribes was taking place before their eyes.

1 Peter 2:10 – Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

This is why Peter could call those people a priesthood; they were the descendants of the Israelites who had stood at the foot of Mount Sinai 1500 years earlier.

Exodus 19:1, 5-6 – In the third month from the very day the Israelites left the land of Egypt, they came to the Sinai Wilderness. … “Now if you will carefully listen to me and keep my covenant, you will be my own possession out of all the peoples, although the whole earth is mine, “and you will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation.‘ These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.”

All of the Israelites were not Levites, but the Levites were only representatives of the nation before God, just as the nation was representative of God before the rest of the world.

But this is not a condition of race or ancestry, but one of faith. There were non-Israelites also present at Mount Sinai who were included in that holy nation of the kingdom of priests.

Exodus 12:37-38 – The Israelites traveled from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand able-bodied men on foot, besides their families. A mixed crowd also went up with them, along with a huge number of livestock, both flocks and herds.

God was creating a new thing, a nation out of all nations that would be called to represent him in the world. It was made up of his people chosen out of all the nations. This is why this passage comes to have important meaning to believers in Messiah. Just like those ragged folk standing at the foot of Mount Sinai, God is now calling people from all nations to join the kingdom of God. This is made possible through faith in his Messiah, his representative king. Faith in the Messiah allows believers to participate in a type of priesthood, a representation of God to the rest of the world.

As such, we are commissioned just as Levi was to be a people of integrity. The same qualities that were evident in the ancient tribe of Levi as related by Malachi should be evident in us today.

  • He revered God and stood in awe of his name.
  • True instruction was in his mouth, and nothing wrong was found on his lips.
  • He walked with God in peace and integrity and turned many from iniquity.
  • For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should desire instruction from his mouth, because he is the messenger of Yahweh.

If we are to take our walk with Messiah seriously, we should consider that we represent all that God wants to convey to the world. We can intercede on behalf of others and provide true instruction to all people. Most importantly, we must walk in integrity and peace; this is how others will be turned from iniquity.


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 at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Sincere compassion opens the way for God’s provision

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Faith is being receptive to the abundance of God’s Instruction

For anyone to trust in Yahweh, there must be a trust in his Word.

For anyone to trust in Yahweh, there must be a trust in his Word.

Psalm 19:7-11 – The Instruction of Yahweh is perfect and complete, refreshing and bringing back the soul [to him]; the decree of Yahweh is trustworthy, wisdom for the simple. The precepts of Yahweh are upright, joy for the heart; the commandment of Yahweh is clear, light for the eyes. The fear of Yahweh is pure, lasting for ever; the judgments of Yahweh are true, righteous, every one, more desirable than gold, even than the finest gold; his words are sweeter than honey, even than honey that drips from the comb. Thus your servant is warned by them [as by a shining light], observance brings great reward.

All of the ancient writings of the biblical texts speak with a unified voice on the reward of keeping the Torah, the Law or Instruction, of God, just as it is mentioned here in the nineteenth psalm. Wisdom is crowned as the ultimate prize, and it is depicted as residing within God’s Instruction.

  • Psalm 111:10 – The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his instructions have good insight. His praise endures forever.
  • Proverbs 2:6 – For Yahweh gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
  • Proverbs 3:13 – Happy is a man who finds wisdom and who acquires understanding,
  • Proverbs 4:7 – Wisdom is supreme ​– ​so get wisdom. And whatever else you get, get understanding.

As the apostle Paul is crafting his argument to the congregation in Rome, he quotes from this very psalm as he isolates the source of faith in Yahweh:

Romans 10:17-18 – so then the faith is by hearing a report, and the report is through the Word of God, but I say, Did they not hear? yes, indeed — ‘to all the earth their voice went forth, and to the ends of the habitable world their sayings.’

Paul is here quoting Psalm 19 where it speaks about the witness of God in his creation, specifically the wonder of the heavens:

Psalm 19:1-4 – The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse proclaims the work of his hands. Day after day they pour out speech; night after night they communicate knowledge. There is no speech; there are no words; their voice is not heard. [Yet] their message has gone out to the whole earth, and their words to the ends of the world…

This corroborates what he has previously mentioned in his opening statements to the Roman believers:

Romans 1:19-20 – …what can be known about God is evident among them [those who don’t know him], because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse.

When one is drawn to the God of the universe through his Creation and begins to look for further insight, his Word, his Instruction is found to contain his wisdom and understanding.

Psalm 19:7 – The Instruction of Yahweh is perfect and complete, refreshing and bringing back the soul [to him]; the decree of Yahweh is trustworthy, wisdom for the simple.

Living in this world one is placed in a paradigm of God’s crafting: a world and universe that is a living illustration of his power and majesty, and a book of Instruction that can guide one into a living relationship with him. Faith in the God of the Bible would be inevitable if it were not for the stubbornness of our own hearts in wanting to be independent and self-sufficient, drawing our own conclusions about our worldview rather than obeying the wisdom of his abundant Instruction.

The Psalmist encourages us that “observance [of God’s Instruction] brings great reward.” The reward is self-contained within the keeping of it and is available to all! According to this passage, it brings joy, clear perception of truth, and warning from dangerous error. If these are only some of the primary benefits of faith in God, why would we instead persist in choosing our own way?


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.

Meditating deeply on God’s word sets believers apart

Holiness is not accomplished in 30-second or one-minute devotions.

Joshua 1:8 – “This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to meditate on it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do.”

In our current age of instant information we many times are guilty of seeking to understand God on our own limited terms, not his. Browsing recently through a bookstore I noticed a title that was called the One Minute Bible. I had the sense that this was oddly irreverant; I mean, what can we really learn about God in one minute? Then to my dismay was a title a few shelves away called the Thirty Second Bible. Thirty seconds, really?

Those who would be set apart for the purposes of God must meditate deeply on the things of God. This is not a thirty-second or one-minute proposition by any means. A believer’s life is a lifetime of deep consideration and thoughtful contemplation. What sets believers apart is an ongoing desire to be in God’s word, to understand it, and to apply it in all situations.

Psalm 1:1-3 – “How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers! Instead, his delight is in Yahweh’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams that bears its fruit in its season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”

God’s torah, his instruction, sets believers apart by its very nature. Yeshua mentioned that the words of the Father that he had faithfully represented to his disciples helped them recognize who he was.

John 17:7-8, 17 – “Now they know that everything you have given is from you, “because I have given them the words you gave me. They have received them and have known for certain that I came from you. They have believed that you sent me. … “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”

The truth of God’s word sets believers apart from the rest of the world. This is not being set apart to become the world’s judges, but to plead with them for the sanctity of God’s word and encourage others to come to him by leading with righteous example.

Meditating deeply on God’s word includes the idea of groaning and muttering, as one who ponders the depths of truth, reciting to oneself the concepts and ideals under consideration. I liken this to the apostle Paul’s description of one who is praying within the Spirit of God.

Romans 8:26-27 – “In the same way the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

A meditative life in the word is one in which the deep groanings of God percolate to the surface in times of trial and weakness. In strength, the groanings of God illustrate a consuming passion for God’s torah, helping us maintain a righteous life amidst the darkness of each generation.

These are indications of being set apart, of being truly holy. We would shun ideas of one-minute or thirty-second encounters with God and strive to be in his presence always. In holiness, we could join with the psalmist when he writes:

Psalm 84:2, 4 – “I long and yearn for the courts of Yahweh; my heart and flesh cry out for the living God. … How happy are those who reside in your house, who praise you continually.”


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! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

The thief who must become an example of generosity

God’s solution for discouraging theft is its exact opposite: a type of forced generosity. They must give abundantly or they must give themselves.

You shall not steal.

Exodus 20:15

Within the founding charter of the kingdom of God, the Ten Commandments, theft is forbidden. Within the entire Biblical narrative, theft is never looked upon as a positive characteristic. To be a thief is to knowingly take something from someone else, usually associated with violent acts or even murder.

Anyone who steals from his father and mother and says, “What’s wrong with that?” is no better than a murderer.

Proverbs 28:24

The thief upsets the system of civilized conduct because they feel that the same rules that govern others do not apply to them. Whatever their justification is for taking something that belongs to someone else is to consider their reason more important than obeying the command to not steal and the rights of others to enjoy their own possessions. Theft is dangerous because it mocks the integrity of civil order in any society, and must be punished in order to maintain the economic integrity and security of the community.

However, interestingly, the torah or instruction of God reveals that theft is not punishable by death. Instead, a thief must face a fate that could be worse than death for them: they must pay restitution. At a minimum, they must pay double what they stole (if the goods are recovered). But if what has been stolen has been sold or, in the case of a stolen animal, killed, then he must pay up to four or five times the amount. If they are unable to pay, then they must go into forced servitude to pay off the debt.

So it turns out that God’s solution for discouraging theft is its exact opposite: a type of forced generosity. They must give abundantly or they must give themselves.

Yeshua also taught that not only should believers not steal, they should be generous.

Matthew 10:8 Freely you received, freely give.

Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

In answering the questions of a wealthy young man, Yeshua also mentions a similar “restitution of generosity” for covetousness, which makes sense since extreme coveting can also lead to theft.

Jesus said, “Never murder. Never commit adultery. Never steal. Never give false testimony. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” The young man replied, “I have obeyed all these commandments. What else do I need to do?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, sell what you own. Give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then follow me!” When the young man heard this, he went away sad because he owned a lot of property.

Matthew 19: 18-22

In keeping with the torah or instruction of God within his kingdom, and as a follower of Yeshua, we should never secretly take anything that does not belong to us. Instead, we should always be willing to give generously of all resources that have been entrusted to us. And because the life he has given us is a debt we can never repay, the remainder of our existence should become an offering of servitude to the one who has provided us this immeasurable gift of life.

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The Eternal Torah of the Kingdom

As Torah is fulfilled in our lives it will bear fruit for the continued growth of God’s kingdom.

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others [to do] the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches [them,] he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:17-19

Do not relax even the smallest standards of Torah for yourself and others; do it and teach it. 

Torah is the Hebrew word for instruction. The kingdom of God is directly connected to his instruction, and his instruction is directly connected to his kingdom. If the kingdom began in the days of Yeshua and is a kingdom that would never end, then it makes sense that the instruction of God is also eternal and will not pass away unless it is fulfilled in every individual.

Many are of the opinion that Torah has passed away with the death of Messiah. To the contrary, his death was exactly what Torah predicted would happen. Like a seed planted in the ground, the Torah principles taught by Yeshua are continuing to grow into a mighty tree of life as they are practiced by those who follow him.

Clearly, Torah has not been fully accomplished, as we still have murder, adultery, and any other number of commandments from God’s instruction which remain unfulfilled in the lives of people today.

Since God has provided instruction for mankind in his word, we should be faithful in keeping it (i.e., obeying it) and sharing it with others who will listen. Only as it is fulfilled in our lives will it bear fruit for the continued growth of God’s kingdom.