The righteousness that originates in the heart

Living by faith in Messiah produces the obedience that God desires.

Living by faith in Messiah produces the obedience that God desires.

In writing to the Roman congregation, the apostle Paul conveys his frustration over the refusal of the majority of his own people, the Jews, to believe in Yeshua as the promised Messiah. They were instead clinging desperately to rules and regulations, not to the law of God exclusively, but to a law they invented around the the law of God. The rules and regulations they came up with had to be followed exactingly or the individual was not considered to be righteous.

Romans 10:2-3 – I can testify about them that they have zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. Since they are ignorant of the righteousness of God and attempted to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness.

Paul brings his argument to its pinnacle by stating the centrality of faith in Yeshua is the ultimate goal of the true law of God, and if they were truly attempting to be obedient to God, they would have accepted the life and example of the Messiah.

Romans 10:4 – For Messiah is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

The Helps word study of the Discovery Bible clarifies the meaning of this Greek word translated as “end” in this verse.

“télos (a neuter noun) – properly, consummation (the end-goal, purpose), such as closure with all its results. [This root (tel-) means “reaching the end (aim).” It is well-illustrated with the old pirate’s telescope, unfolding (extending out) one stage at a time to function at full-strength (capacity effectiveness).]”

The perspective that Paul appears to be arguing for is that Messiah is not the end (or abolishing) of the law, for then he would be contradicting Yeshua directly.

Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”

No, Paul seems to be conveying that Messiah is the end-goal or consummating purpose of the law; Yeshua’s life, his teaching, and his self-sacrificial example are showing us what the fulfillment of the law is all about.

Romans 10:10 For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.

And when we believe the message of the Messiah with our hearts, we then are also living in fulfillment of the law and attain righteousness that God desires: a righteousness that is by faith because it is truly in our hearts and not just a list of rote commands that we follow because that is what we think we are supposed to do.

The law of God, summarized in the Ten Commandments, doesn’t need endless lists of human commands around them to help us keep them. No, when the heart desires to truly keep God’s commands, it causes us to be obedient regardless if we are told to by humans or not.

The Jewish practice of creating hundreds of laws around the law of God, while intended to create more obedience, actually only served to obfuscate the righteous commands of God, and ended up creating a greater burden for the people and they could never get out from underneath it, even to this day.

The clarity that Yeshua brought is that the true place of faith resides in the heart obedience to the truth of God’s revelation, not the outward show of following the endless rules of men. Paul built on this by saying that believing in the life, teaching, and sacrificial example of Messiah as Lord (the guiding principle in our lives) should lead us also to a life of heart-obedience to the plain law of God. This is where righteousness, the concept of acceptable conduct before God, originates: in the heart, not in showy actions that one is only following because they think they are supposed to. When Yeshua is Lord of our lives, we can truly live according to God’s Word from the heart. This is the end-goal and the consummation of the law 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.

Trusting that God knows

God reveals he is close to those who are close to him.

One of the many psychological dangers believers face is to get to a point where, whatever we may be going through, we begin to think we are the only one who is experiencing this challenge. Or, we may begin to think that God no longer hears us. We may lash out wondering why he has not responded to our supplication.

However, Yeshua offers a different perspective, one that reveals how God understands our trials and needs.

Matthew 6:7-8 – “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as those among the nations do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Matthew 6:31-32 – Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For those of the nations seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

David, famous for continually pouring out his heart before God, corroborated this idea a millennium prior to Messiah:

Psalm 38:9 – O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.

For those who are trusting him and seeking to follow his ways, the Bible teaches us that God is present and involved in our lives as we seek to accomplish his will.

However, when God appears to be silent, the Word reveals it is not without good reason. When Israel struggled to hear from him, it was because they had strayed so far from him that he had to pour out his judgment upon them.

Jeremiah 14:10-12 – Thus says Yahweh concerning this people: “They have loved to wander thus; they have not restrained their feet; therefore Yahweh does not accept them; now he will remember their iniquity and punish their sins.” Yahweh said to me: “Do not pray for the welfare of this people. Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.”

Ezekiel also provides the reasoning that God would no longer hear them.

Ezekiel 8:17-18 – Then he said to me, “Have you seen this, O son of man? Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations that they commit here, that they should fill the land with violence and provoke me still further to anger? Behold, they put the branch to their nose. Therefore I will act in wrath. My eye will not spare, nor will I have pity. And though they cry in my ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.”

The blatant and shameless idolatry of Israel and Judah resulted in God pronouncing judgment upon them by having them overthrown by their adversaries: first the Assyrians and then the Babylonians. They were removed from their place of privilege and he refused to listen to them because of their persistent rejection of him by pursuing the gods of the other nations.

From these examples, in those seasons when God appears to be silent, we should do a self-check to ensure we have not strayed from his calling on our lives, from standing firm on what has been revealed to us up to this point in our walk with him. God has promised to be present among his people when we learn to continually trust in him for all things.

Ezekiel 37:27 – My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.


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.

Bringing faith to completion through perseverance

The trial and proof of your faith are one and the same.

James 1:2-4, 12 – “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. … Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

According to the first verse in this epistle, James is writing to the twelve tribes of Israel in the Dispersion. These are the scattered Israelites who were the descendants of those who had been taken captive during the Assyrian and Babylonian campaigns to overthrow Israel roughly six hundred years previous. Some of them had attempted to maintain their Hebraic identity, but most had been assimilated into the cultures of the nations to which they were taken. James is writing to them as a believer in the Messiah; this is a call to return to the faith of their fathers with the fulfillment of the restoration of Israel through faith in Messiah.

In living among the pagan nations, they experienced many trials in attempting to live as Hebrew believers in the one true God. James addresses this as the primary issue they faced, but he does so in a way to encourage them that these trials actually demonstrate the truth of their faith. Though their faith was being tested, it was also being proven. The word for testing also serves to illustrate the proof of that faith. As they remained vigilant and steadfast in their faith, the quality of their faith was being proven to those around them.

This steadfastness of faith is a term derived from the original Greek which means “to remain under.” It is sometimes translated as endurance or perseverance. It illustrates that their faith was being proven as they remained under the pressure of the trial.

This is a similar characteristic that the apostle Paul mentions in his letter to the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

James takes this endurance a step further by saying that the endurance or perseverance during trials provides a completeness to one’s faith; it’s as if the faith is lacking something until it actually undergoes a trial to see if it is genuine. In doing so, one receives the crown of life, the reward of the victor through conquest. In the culture of the day, the wreath or crown was only awarded to the athlete who endured through the contest of strength and overcame the adversity by persevering above all others. However, in the spiritual contest of the new believers in Messiah, their reward was life itself, not just a wreath to adorn their heads.

We today are in a similar situation as those scattered Israelite descendants of long ago. We have echoes of a spiritual heritage that has become enmeshed with the culture around us. Yet, through the same faith in Messiah, we are tasked with demonstrating a perseverance in that faith which results in a continuation of that same life that has been provided throughout the intervening millennia, “the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”


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

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

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

The holiness of God’s people, then and now

God’s standards of holiness don’t change.

Leviticus 20:26 – You must be holy because I, Yahweh, am holy. I have set you apart from all other people to be my very own.

This admonition to holiness is set amidst the context of the practices of the nations of Canaan that Israel was displacing.

Leviticus 20:23 – “You must not follow the statutes of the nations I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and I abhorred them.

In the context of Leviticus 20, the “things” the nations were guilty of were the contaminations of idolatry (which included spiritism and child sacrifice), sexual immorality, and eating of unclean foods. Avoiding all of “these things” is what would set ancient Israel apart from the other nations; this is what would make them “holy.” This setting apart is the holiness that distinguished Israel as God’s people.

In consistent fashion, the holy Spirit of God led the first recorded council in Jerusalem to similar conclusions. As those among the nations were coming to faith in Messiah along with the scattered Jews and God-fearers in the synagogues, there were idolatrous practices being introduced into the community of believers, such as food offered to idols and cultural promiscuity. Paul and the other apostles deal with some of these issues in their epistles to various groups of believers. But the council, through the guidance of the holy Spirit, had issued a decisive template for the believing congregations to follow that was worded very similarly to the injunction of Moses to the ancient Israelites in remaining holy.

Acts 15:28-29 – “For it was the Holy Spirit’s decision ​– ​and ours ​– ​not to place further burdens on you beyond these requirements: “that you abstain from idolatrous offerings, from blood, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. You will do well if you keep yourselves from these things. Farewell.”

As can be seen by these comparative texts, avoidance of practices associated with idolatry, sexual immorality and unclean foods have always been the earmarks of God’s people that set them apart from the other nations. Therefore, I believe these distinctions should in like fashion remain as the defining characteristics that demonstrate the holiness or set-apartness of God’s people even today.


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.

Did Yeshua teach pacifism?

All interests are subservient to the eternal interests of the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 5:39 – But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

The concept of forgiveness runs strong within the teachings of Yeshua. In order to not retaliate to aggressive behavior or a personal affront requires a measure of self-control and maturity to allow the insult, and sometimes injury, to pass.

But to what extent does the Bible teach that should believers remain non-retaliatory? Should a father protect his family from home intruders? Should a believer be engaged with a national military conflict? These are difficult questions because the Bible speaks to many different types of situations and has been used to support many different positions on this topic.

Even though I am a veteran of the American military, as I have grown in my biblical understanding over the years, I have gravitated toward a more pacifistic stance. From a philosophical standpoint, the idea of believers serving in opposing military forces would mean that believers are essentially killing other believers for the sake of their respective national interest. This would mean that the national interest has taken precedence over the universal spiritual kingdom of God. Under any other circumstance, believers would not be pitted against each other in a fight to the death.

In fairness, though, I must also admit that the passage quoted above about turning the other cheek is contextually about personal responsibility, and is not an absolute morality standard. If we believe love is the primary response for believers, we must remember that Yeshua also taught that the greatest love for others is self-sacrifice. Yeshua used the example of the good shepherd who is willing to lay down his life for the sheep; however, as King David was famous for, that was typically in protecting the sheep from the wild animals, not other humans.

But is that self-sacrifice to be exhibited in acts of aggression toward others? Is it morally defensible from the Bible to kill a human aggressor in order to save others?

1 John 3:16 – By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

Once again, John is not setting up a universal morality standard here, as the context of this passage is in ensuring that believers are diligent in providing for one another’s physical needs. In that sense, we should put the interests of others above ourselves.

1 John 3:15, 17-18 – Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. … But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Paul reiterates this point, as well.

Philippians 2:3-4 – Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

If I was to land upon a more definitive position regarding what might be called biblical messianic pacifism within the Kingdom of God, I would offer the following: in personal quarrels, forgive and do not retaliate. When faced with endangerment of others not able to protect themselves, placing oneself as a non-lethal protector and defender is justifiable and honorable.

Some may argue that God is not against war, as he commanded the Israelites to kill and essentially exterminate the Canaanites. But we must remember the campaign against Canaan was God’s judgment upon those nations for their detestable idolatrous practices, and was not primarily about Israel’s interests. Moses made this abundantly clear as he spoke to the Israelites before they crossed the Jordan to take the land.

Deuteronomy 9:5-6 – “Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations Yahweh your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that Yahweh swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Know, therefore, that Yahweh your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people.”

God’s use of Israel in war was a measure of physical judgment upon the Canaanites that was a metaphorical baseline within the over-arching biblical narrative: God’s enemies would be vanquished and his universal kingdom would be established in their place. However, to presume any war fought today is a righteous and holy war against idolatrous barbarians because of their wickedness and rebellion against God would require mental gymnastics beyond the scope of reason.

How we apply Yeshua’s admonition to turn the other cheek may lead us to differing conclusions regarding personal defense and national interests. But we must remember that even national interests are subservient to the eternal interests of the Kingdom of God. Doing what is biblically “correct” in any situation requires a holistic view of the entire Bible, not just cherry-picking proof-texts to support a personal or public agenda.


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 eternal hegemony of the kingdom of God

Political world domination takes a back seat to the real Authority over the world.

Hegemony is not a word that is often used today, and if it is, it is typically conveyed with a negative connotation. The Oxford Dictionary describes hegemony as: “leadership or dominance, especially by one country or social group over others.” The Merriam-Webster definition is similar: “the social, cultural, ideological, or economic influence exerted by a dominant group.”

The Merriam-Webster definition provides some added background of the word:

“Hegemony was first used in English in the mid-16th century in reference to the control once wielded by the ancient Greek states, and it was reapplied in later centuries as other nations subsequently rose to power. By the 19th century, it had acquired a second sense referring to the social or cultural influence wielded by a dominant member over others of its kind, such as the domination within an industry by a business conglomerate over smaller businesses.”

Synonyms include words like: leadership, dominance, dominion, supremacy, ascendancy, predominance, primacy, authority, mastery, control, power, sway, rule, sovereignty.

Now, in the sense of geopolitical strategies and governmental power over regions of the world, historically there have always been dominant civilizations. The Bible mentions ancient world-stage players such as Babylon, Assyria, Greece, Rome. More modern examples might include the 18-19th century British Empire, or the Nazi expansionism in the early 20th century which sparked the last World War.

Yet, viewed from the lofty perch of our current perspective in time looking back over the millennia, one constant theme emerges: they all pass away. This does not imply that they were or are without significance, but history has shown how one civilization or empire is always succeeded by another.

As believers in the God of the Bible, whether we recognize the specificity of the term or not, we are believers of an eternal hegemony: the kingdom of God. This is easily demonstrated by the terms used to describe his kingdom. In Hebrew, the term for his kingdom is the mamlakah, meaning kingdom, sovereignty, dominion, reign. In Greek the word is basileia, meaning kingdom, sovereignty, royal power.

We read about this eternal dominion of God in our Bibles, and even sing about it in our hymns and psalms. Here is just a small representative sampling:

Psalm 33:8 – Let all the earth fear Yahweh; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
Psalm 47:2, 7 – For Yahweh, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth. … For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!
Psalm 57:11 – Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!

Psalm 83 even goes so far as to urge the overthrow of the surrounding nations to Israel in defence of God’s own glory and protection of his people.

Psalm 83:1-2, 17-18 – O God, do not keep silence; do not hold your peace or be still, O God! For behold, your enemies make an uproar; those who hate you have raised their heads. … Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever; let them perish in disgrace, that they may know that you alone, whose name is Yahweh, are the Most High over all the earth.

This is the kingdom that Yeshua ushered in to the reality of this world two thousand years ago.

Matthew 4:17 – From that time Yeshua began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Matthew 24:14 – And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

The world’s most famous prayer, the Lord’s prayer, even contains the revolutionary concept of God’s kingdom coming to earth with His will, not the will of the nations, being accomplished in its fulfillment.

Matthew 6:10 – Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

But this is not a kingdom we fight flesh and blood to establish. Our warfare is not defined by the weapons of this world, but it is just as difficult a struggle, if not more so, than the occupation of a foreign army in a land not their own. Paul conveyed some of the struggles the apostles fought in their establishment of various congregations, and revealed their weapons were not those of hardened steel, but of righteous actions and overpowering wisdom of God.

2 Corinthians 6:4, 7 – but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, … by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left…

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 – For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Messiah…

Yeshua himself conveyed how the kingdom of God was not something that would be fought for on the battlefields of this earth, but it was a real and enduring kingdom nonetheless.

John 18:36 – Yeshua answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

While the kingdom may not be physically originating from this world, it is no less encompassing than any world-dominating empire of the past. However, this kingdom will not pass away like the civilizations of the past. The prophet Yeshua said it was like the mustard seed that would grow “larger than all the other garden plants.”

Matthew 13:31-32 – “He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

Daniel was so bold to pronounce that this kingdom would grow to fill the earth and not only last forever but put to rest all other kingdoms of this world; that is the very definition of hegemony.

Daniel 2:44 – “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever…”

Hegemony may have a negative connotation today, but remember that we serve a world-dominating King and look forward with anticipation to his dominion and rule over the hearts of men of all nations, where swords are beat into plowshares, and his peace reigns supreme over all.


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.

Forgiveness to all as the fulfillment of prophecy

The gospel is not just good news but GREAT news!

Acts 26:16-18 – “But get up and stand on your feet. For I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your people and from the nations. I am sending you to them to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

As Paul makes his defense before King Agrippa, he reveals the purpose for which Messiah had called him. He was to be a witness and a catalyst of deliverance for both Jews and the nations.

There has been much ink spilled over the centuries in Christian theological circles regarding how the “Gentiles” were to receive salvation through the preaching of Paul. But if we understand the overall context of Paul’s mission, I believe those of us who are non-Jews will have a deeper understanding and respect for our position in Messiah.

Those to whom Paul was sent were not just “Gentiles” anywhere and everywhere he could get to. Paul was specifically sent to reach out to both the Jews (those of the tribe of Judah and Benjamin) along with the ten tribes that had been scattered throughout the known world by that time. This is why he would always begin in the synagogue in the community, and only afterwards reach out to others in the area. When it says Paul was commissioned to the nations, these are the ones he is commissioned to call to Messiah: the former ten tribes who had become assimilated into the surrounding nations and absorbed into the wider Roman empire of Paul’s day.

This was the “good news” that Paul was bringing! Even though they had been lost to the nations, God was calling them back to be re-grafted into the original “holy root” of the forefathers through the work of Messiah!

Romans 11:16-18 – Now if the firstfruits are holy, so is the whole batch. And if the root is holy, so are the branches. Now if some of the branches were broken off, and you, though a wild olive branch, were grafted in among them and have come to share in the rich root of the cultivated olive tree, do not boast that you are better than those branches…

This is why the gospel had to be of faith and not of blood lineage anymore, because their bloodlines had become mixed among the nations and they had, from the strict Jewish orthodoxy perspective of the day, become “Gentiles.” This is also why the Jews who heard the message of the gospel were so enraged at Paul’s teaching, because they feared that their self-identification as God’s “chosen people” was being cheapened in offering it to those whom they did not consider worthy.

Through faith in the true Messiah of Israel, the scattered ten tribes were to be reunited with their believing brothers and sisters in Judah and Benjamin, fulfilling the ancient prophecies that all of the tribes of Israel would be reunited.

Ezekiel 37:19, 21-24 – “tell them, ‘This is what the Lord GOD says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel associated with him, and put them together with the stick of Judah. I will make them into a single stick so that they become one in my hand.’ … “tell them, ‘This is what the Lord GOD says: I am going to take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them into their own land. “I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel, and one king will rule over all of them. They will no longer be two nations and will no longer be divided into two kingdoms. “They will not defile themselves anymore with their idols, their abhorrent things, and all their transgressions. I will save them from all their apostasies by which they sinned, and I will cleanse them. Then they will be my people, and I will be their God. “My servant David will be king over them, and there will be one shepherd for all of them. They will follow my ordinances, and keep my statutes and obey them.

And this was the key to God reaching out to the rest of the world, and how he would get past the nation of Israel alone being his chosen people. By making the condition of the New Covenant by faith in Messiah, then ANYONE who believed in the Messiah of Israel would also be brough into the commonwealth of Israel, even if they had no genealogical connection whatsoever! This is not only good news, but GREAT news for everyone else in the world who would come to recognize Yahweh as the God of all creation. God’s forgiveness would be available through repentance to anyone in the world who would come to him, and so it is to this day.

This is the GREAT news of the gospel: forgiveness is available to all who repent of their rebellious ways. Those of us called by his grace and mercy can now and always “have a share among those who are sanctified” by faith in Messiah Yeshua.


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.

God’s historical resume of faithfulness

God has demonstrated himself as being faithful and completely trustworthy through his actions with Israel.

Core of the Bible podcast #48 – God’s historical resume of faithfulness

Today we will be exploring the topic of trust, and how God has demonstrated himself as being faithful and completely trustworthy through his actions with Israel as revealed in the Bible. The story of Israel is a story about God’s faithfulness. He has demonstrated himself as worthy of trust because whatever he has committed to his people has come to pass. Time and time again he has proven himself as fulfilling what he has promised, whether in blessing or in judgment. In essence, the Bible story of Israel is a type of historical resume that God has provided us.

From a quick online search of definitions, we find that a resume can be defined as “a formal document that provides an overview of your professional qualifications, including your relevant work experience, skills, education, and notable accomplishments.” Now let me quickly add that it certainly isn’t necessary for God to provide us all of that information, since, well, he’s God and can do whatever he wants. It’s not as if he is encouraging us to hire him to be our God from among the choices of other gods that are out there. But isn’t that kind of how we look at this information contained in the Bible? We evaluate it critically against the claims of other beliefs and religious systems out there to see if it is a reasonable system of faith.

Since God certainly has nothing to prove, and yet we still need some sort of understanding of who he is, how does the Bible stack up as a demonstration of God’s “skills and notable accomplishments”?

Well, if we review the story of Israel as related in the Bible books, we find a consistent narrative that has a logical beginning, middle, and ending that has been borne out in time. We can see that there is a flow and a lasting evidence to how God has worked with the nation of Israel within history to help us understand who he is.

The story of Israel begins most notably with the events in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as related in the book of Genesis. After Abraham leaves the Ur of the Chaldees to go to a special place in which God is calling him, his son and grandson, Isaac and Jacob, carry the story forward to the twelve sons of Jacob. In the course of time, they needed to temporarily leave the area that God had called them to due to severe famine. However, God had promised that they would be returning in fulfillment of what he had promised them.

Genesis 28:15 – “Look, I am with you, and I will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

In this vision that Jacob experiences, God recounts the promises made to his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac. He promised that they would receive the land, that his descendants would be as numerous as the dust of the earth, and that all the tribes of the earth would be blessed through him and his descendants.

Genesis 28:13-14  – “I will give you and your offspring the land on which you are lying. “Your offspring will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out toward the west, the east, the north, and the south. All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.”

Of course, the story reveals that in traveling to Egypt for salvation from the famine, they became a numerous people that began to be a threat to the Egyptians, so they were forced into slavery. God then sent Moses to deliver them, and separate them to himself as his own people.

After the events of the Exodus and the receiving of the Ten Commandments at Sinai, they are relegated to the wilderness in preparation for returning to the land that God had promised them.

As Moses and Aaron pass from the scene, God raises up Joshua to be their leader in purging the land from its pagan atrocities so the land can prosper under the auspices of the torah of God.

Deuteronomy 9:5  – “You are not going to take possession of their land because of your righteousness or your integrity. Instead, Yahweh your God will drive out these nations before you because of their wickedness, in order to fulfill the promise he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

After the battle campaigns, we find that everything had come to pass just as God had promised. On his deathbed, Joshua recounts God’s faithfulness:

Joshua 23:14 – “Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know with all your heart and soul that not one of the good promises Yahweh your God made to you has failed. Everything was fulfilled for you; not one promise has failed.”

So we can see, at least as far as Joshua was concerned, God had demonstrated himself worthy of faith based on everything that he had promised to their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.


In reviewing God’s resume in relation to the Israelites, we find another historical aspect that has been borne out in time, and still exists to this day. Just prior to the nation entering and taking the land of Canaan, God had set some pretty strict covenantal standards in place. You may recall the blessings and the curses that were pronounced upon them if they were to keep the conditions of the covenant, or if they were to fail in doing so.

Deuteronomy 28:1, 15, 63-65  – “Now if you faithfully obey Yahweh your God and are careful to follow all his commands I am giving you today, Yahweh your God will put you far above all the nations of the earth. … “But if you do not obey Yahweh your God by carefully following all his commands and statutes I am giving you today, all these curses will come and overtake you:  … “Just as Yahweh was glad to cause you to prosper and to multiply you, so he will also be glad to cause you to perish and to destroy you. You will be ripped out of the land you are entering to possess. “Then Yahweh will scatter you among all peoples from one end of the earth to the other, and there you will worship other gods, of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known. You will find no peace among those nations, and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot. There Yahweh will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and a despondent spirit.”

Again, we find that both of these examples, the blessings and the curses, have come to pass in the life of the nation.

As they demonstrated faithfulness and maintained worship of the one true God, the nation rose to power in the ancient world, coming to a pinnacle in the lives of David and Solomon. At that time, Israel was not only bountiful within the borders of its own land, but David had also won the peace of surrounding nations who became subservient to Israel, from Egypt all the way to the Euphrates river. This was a monumental territory that was a fulfillment of all that God had promised to Abraham.

Genesis 15:18  – “On that day Yahweh made a covenant with Abram, saying, “I give this land to your offspring, from the brook of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates River…”

Solomon lived to enjoy the fulfillment of that promise.

1 Kings 4:21  – “Solomon ruled all the kingdoms from the Euphrates River to the land of the Philistines and as far as the border of Egypt. They offered tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.”

Sadly, Solomon also lived to see the beginning of the curses of the covenant fall upon the nation, as he himself was the catalyst of events that would lead to the removal of Israel from their territory that God had promised them.

1 Kings 11:4, 6  – “When Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away to follow other gods. He was not wholeheartedly devoted to Yahweh his God, as his father David had been. … Solomon did what was evil in Yahweh’s sight, and unlike his father David, he did not remain loyal to Yahweh.”

In his later years, his heart went after foreign women and their gods. He began to compromise with the religions of the surrounding nations, and due to his unfaithfulness he triggered the activation of the covenant curses, beginning with his own son.

Upon his death, Solomon’s son Rehoboam inherited the kingdom and infuriated the people with his obstinance. As a result, Jeroboam, a servant of Solomon, rebelled and began to rule over ten of the tribes, leaving Judah and Benjamin to Rehoboam. A civil war was to commence that would never be physically healed.

Over the next several hundred years, the country would degrade further into idolatry and rebellion against God, until the ten tribes were finally overpowered by Assyria and removed from the land. Less than two centuries later, Babylon would rise to power and remove Judah and Benjamin from the land. The prophecy that Moses had given to their forefathers came to pass in horrifying reality.

Deuteronomy 28:63-64  – “…You will be ripped out of the land you are entering to possess. Then Yahweh will scatter you among all peoples from one end of the earth to the other, and there you will worship other gods, of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known.”

Assyria invaded in 721 BC and Babylon in 586 BC. The Israelites were indeed “scattered among all peoples from one end of the earth to the other.” Even when the Jews in Babylon were allowed to return to Jerusalem 70 years later, many of them chose to remain in Babylon. The ten northern tribes that had been taken by the Assyrians were so widely spread and co-mingled with the nations that they also never fully returned.

Once again, the truth of God and his faithfulness to his word were demonstrated with Israel. Yet there remained a significant and enduring promise that was still to come to pass.


Long after the physical blessings and curses of the covenant had come to pass, there was still a work that God had committed would happen. Beyond the physical promises of a land and numerous people stood God’s promise to the forefathers of Israel that all the families or tribes of the earth would be blessed through their descendants. God had brought a small remnant of his people back to the land to ensure that the final stage of his drama with Israel could still be fulfilled.

One of the other major prophecies that God had declared to Moses was that of a prophet who was to come, who would faithfully speak God’s words within his generation.

Deuteronomy 18:18-19  – “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. I will hold accountable whoever does not listen to my words that he speaks in my name.”

Additionally, God had yet to fulfill a prior prophetic commitment that he had made to Abraham.

Genesis 18:18  – “Abraham is to become a great and powerful nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him.”

The good news of the Bible is that God fulfilled these promises in the person of Yeshua. As God’s Son, the anointed One, he spoke the words of the Father to his generation of brothers and was appointed the judge who was to hold them accountable to the truth of God’s torah.

John 12:49  – “For I have not spoken on my own, but the Father himself who sent me has given me a command to say everything I have said.”

John 8:16  – “And if I do judge, my judgment is true, because it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me.”

Additionally, as a true descendant of Abraham’s lineage, he fulfilled every promise and prophecy for the nation, and became the springboard of faith to the rest of the world.

Genesis 21:12  – But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed about the boy and about your slave. Whatever Sarah says to you, listen to her, because your seed will be traced through Isaac…

Galatians 3:28-29 – “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua. And if you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.”

Just as Isaac was a miraculous son of promise, so Yeshua was a miraculous son of promise. We see the fulfillment of these promises made to Abraham and to Israel through Moses that came to pass in the days of Yeshua. The early believers recognized these promises being fulfilled, and came to faith in Messiah.

Additionally, in recognition of these fulfillments, the apostle Paul reached out to the Israelites everywhere who were still scattered among the nations with the hopes that they would be restored to the one true God, and that as lost sheep they would be restored to the fold. Many did return to the faith of God, thereby fulfilling the torah by becoming a faithful remnant through whom God would reach out to all nations. In the process of these lost and scattered Israelites coming to faith in Messiah, many others of the nations did so also, demonstrating how all nations would be blessed through him.

Every faithful life needs a narrative, otherwise the Bible merely becomes a collection of stories and platitudes. The Bible stands as God’s resume of faithfulness, a narrative corroborated through the annals of history. Through this brief recounting of God’s faithfulness with the nation of Israel, we can see how God has provided us a resume of his accomplishments within the history of his people. We know historically that they were brought dramatically out of Egypt, how they flourished in the land that God had promised them, and yet were ultimately scattered among all nations, even down to this day.  We see through these inner workings that God has done all things in wisdom by caring for his people, yet holding them accountable to their covenant. All of this was so that his glory would be made known to the whole world, and that all nations would be able to recognize him for who he is.

Like Paul, we can hold all of this in amazement when we realize the intricate care and detail in how God works all things to his own glory:

Romans 11:33, 36  – “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways!  … For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.”

The promises that were made to Abraham and Moses were recognized by the earliest believers in Messiah as coming to fulfillment in Yeshua. They have continued to come to pass up to our day, multiplying believers in the one true God and blessing all of the tribes within each generation of the earth into the future. As we honor God by trusting in him and his Messiah, we demonstrate we are participating in the ongoing consummation of his faithfulness to all people.


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.

Understanding God’s purpose can empower forgiveness

God is always working out larger purposes than we may be able to see.

Genesis 45:4-5, 7-8 – Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please, come near me,” and they came near. “I am Joseph, your brother,” he said, “the one you sold into Egypt. “And now don’t be grieved or angry with yourselves for selling me here, because God sent me ahead of you to preserve life. … “God sent me ahead of you to establish you as a remnant within the land and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. “Therefore it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

If anyone in the Bible had a good reason to hold a grudge, it was Joseph. Hated by his brothers, left in an underground cavern in the wilderness, consciously sold by them into slavery, he would have every right to not want to see them ever again, or to punish them if he ever got the opportunity.

Yet, as time would prove, all of this occurred for a much larger reason, a purpose beyond what any of them could see. What had started as a severe case of sibling rivalry ended up as one of the most momentous humanitarian events in the ancient nation of Egypt and the middle East.

Because of their hate for him, through a series of events Joseph ended up in the presence of Pharaoh and was used of God to interpret dreams that were given to him. God was warning Pharaoh that a long famine was coming, and by being prepared for it, Egypt would become an even stronger power in the known world. In saving Egypt, God was saving his own people, the family of Jacob, and providing the catalyst for a series of events that would ultimately create the nation of Israel.

When the brothers realized that the second in command in Egypt was their brother Joseph, they thought all of their rough treatment of him would now be countered with Joseph’s new position of authority over them. Due to the fact that their father Jacob, the authority of the family, had died, they schemed to prevent Joseph from treating them harshly.

Genesis 50:15-21 – When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said to one another, “If Joseph is holding a grudge against us, he will certainly repay us for all the suffering we caused him.” So they sent this message to Joseph, “Before he died your father gave a command: “‘Say this to Joseph: Please forgive your brothers’ transgression and their sin ​– ​the suffering they caused you.’ Therefore, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when their message came to him. His brothers also came to him, bowed down before him, and said, “We are your slaves! ” But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result ​– ​the survival of many people. “Therefore don’t be afraid. I will take care of you and your children.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

However, we can see that Joseph had forgiven them when he told them not to be afraid, and that he would take care of them and their families. Joseph’s forgiveness was based on the fact that he related all of the events to the planning of God who was ultimately working out a larger purpose than their family dysfunctions.

Joseph replies with a question that applies to all of us who are unforgiving of others: “Am I in the place of God?” By asking this question, Joseph conveys his humility and deference to the justice of God. Joseph realized he was not put into a position of authority to selfishly punish his brothers, but to save many people. This type of humility in forgiveness allows God to be God and for us to move past the harms of the past.

When we don’t forgive others, we think we know better than God how somebody should be treated. This is what Joseph’s brothers were guilty of. However, when we forgive others, we allow God to be God. We can usually find strength to forgive when we can see that God always has a larger purpose in mind than any personal injustice we may have experienced. Keeping our focus on the purpose of God allows us the ability to forgive, and when forgiveness occurs, relationships can be restored and larger good things can happen.


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 Torah of the kingdom

Yeshua said he did not come to abolish the Law, and we should never think that he did.

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.

In this famous passage, Yeshua ties the Law and the Prophets (the Torah) to the kingdom of God. The essence of the kingdom is being obedient to and maintaining the Torah or instruction of God.

For those of us brought up with Christian theology, this sounds contradictory to our modern ears. We have been taught that the Law was all about works and has passed away because now we are relating to God on the basis of his grace and mercy towards us. Therefore (according to what we have been taught) the Law is done away with, and we no longer need to keep it. Yet Yeshua said he did not come to abolish the Law, and we should never think that he did. In fact, he tied Torah obedience and teaching of Torah to the kingdom, so this cannot be true, that is, if we want to follow Yeshua’s instruction on this topic.

When we review what the Law and the Prophets says about itself, we find that the Torah of God is his instruction, his guidance that is intended for all of mankind. God first revealed it to Israel, and then it would be revealed to the world.

Israel was prophesied to have their hearts changed and to obey the Law from the heart:

Jeremiah 31:33 – “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days” ​– ​the LORD’s declaration. “I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
Ezekiel 11:19-20 – “I will give them integrity of heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh, “so that they will follow my statutes, keep my ordinances, and practice them. They will be my people, and I will be their God.

Beyond the remnant of Israel coming back to the Torah of the heart, the nations would also stream to the instruction of God.

Jeremiah 3:17 – “At that time they will call Jerusalem ‘The Throne of the LORD,’ and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of the LORD; nor will they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart.

The nations would no longer to walk in the stubbornness of their heart because they would also desire to learn of God’s Torah.

Micah 4:1-2 – And it will come about in the last days That the mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains. It will be raised above the hills, And the peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD And to the house of the God of Jacob, That He may teach us about His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For from Zion will go forth the law [Torah], Even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

According to Micah, this was prophesied to come about in the last days of the nation of Israel. Yeshua, as he spoke to two disciples in one of his resurrected appearances, revealed that this prophetic occurrence was unfolding before their eyes, that they were witnessing these things in the first century.

Luke 24:45-48 – Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

If Yeshua, post-resurrection, was attesting to the fulfillment of the Torah of God going forth from Jerusalem to all the nations, then there is no contradiction of his earlier statement that “whoever does and teaches these commands (i.e., Torah) will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

This is why the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount go together as the core of the Bible message. The Ten Commandments are the core of the Law and the Prophets, and the Sermon on the Mount is the core of Yeshua’s New Covenant teaching on the Law. Yeshua taught that although heaven and earth would constantly be passing away, his words would never pass away because they were based on the eternal Torah of God.

Daniel 2:44 – In the days of those kings, the God of the heavens will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, and this kingdom will not be left to another people. It will crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, but will itself endure forever.

If the kingdom of God is an eternal kingdom, then it makes sense that an eternal kingdom requires an eternal charter, an eternal set of guidelines. Taking Yeshua at his word and seeing how the prophets spoke of all of this coming to pass at the passing of the nation of Israel, we should take a closer look at what we have been brought up to believe about the kingdom and the Torah of God. If we are followers of Messiah, we should take him at his word that Torah, the instruction for his kingdom, would never pass away.


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 at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ 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: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvR_aNEyA7WEZJtF4B8fZ6g

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