Keeping God’s commands from the heart

This is the stated goal that God has for all people everywhere.

1 Kings 8:61 – “Therefore let your heart be whole and complete to Yahweh our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.”

As Solomon was dedicating the newly built First Temple, he offered a long and detailed prayer to God that it would be a beacon to Israel and the rest of the world of God’s faithfulness. He prays for righteous judgment and forgiveness for Israel, for overcoming drought and famine, for victory over Israel’s enemies, and even for the foreigners who prayed God to also have their prayers answered.

As he concludes his oration by blessing the assembly before him, he issues the admonition quoted above, that they would remain whole-heartedly faithful to God by keeping his commandments.

1 Kings 8:57-58 – “Yahweh our God be with us, as he was with our ancestors; may he not leave us or abandon us, but incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his ordinances, which he commanded our ancestors.”

Key within Solomon’s admonitions to the assembly are two things: following God’s commands, and doing so with whole-hearts that are inclined toward God. This is also the hope and prediction of the prophets throughout the rest of Israel’s history:

Psalm 119:10-11 – I have sought you with all my heart; don’t let me wander from your commands. I have treasured your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you.

Jeremiah 31:33 – “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days” ​– ​Yahweh’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.

The new covenant is all about keeping God’s commands from the heart. According to Yeshua, there are two commandments which are the summation of everything taught in the entire Law and Prophets, or the Tanakh, what we call the Old Testament.

Matthew 22:37-40 – “He said to him, ‘Love Yahweh 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.'”

If, as Solomon prayed, God’s people (even those who would have been considered foreigners to them) would simply keep God’s commands from the heart, they would be faithfully “walking in his ways.” This is the goal of all of the entirety of the Biblical narrative: that people walk in God’s ways sincerely and from the heart.

Micah 6:8 – Mankind, he has told each of you what is good and what it is Yahweh requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 – When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is the whole duty of humanity.

This is what integrity looks like: it is the fulfillment of all that Solomon prayed for, the promise that the prophets predicted, and the consummation of what Yeshua accomplished. Now it is up to us to go and live it out among our generation.


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.

Vigilance in self-monitoring our righteous behavior

Our heart is the strength of our walk.

The proverbs of Solomon carry so much practical and helpful information, I find it is extremely fruitful to glean its depths for ongoing inspiration and godly motivation. My personal practice is to continually review its content each month. Since there are thirty one chapters, it’s easy to review a chapter a day, doubling up as needed on months with less than thirty one days.

In our ongoing topic of vigilance and watchfulness in righteous actions, this passage toward the end of the fourth chapter (Proverbs 4:24-27) provides some helpful admonitions to ensure we are staying on the right path.

“Don’t let your mouth speak dishonestly, and don’t let your lips talk deviously.”

This wise advice from Solomon is easily nested as a further description of the ninth commandment, to not bear false witness against anyone. We should always be ensuring that our speech remains truthful and honest at all times.

“Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead.”

When we are distracted from our main focus, it is easy to get led astray. Instead, as we keep our eyes on the goal before us, we will be much less likely to deviate from the purpose that God has called us to.

Philippians 3:12-14 – “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Messiah Yeshua first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Messiah Yeshua, is calling us.”

“Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established.”

Many times, where we run into problems in our walk is that we move forward impulsively without due consideration or prayer ahead of time. In those times we can find ourselves quickly removed from the path that God has called us. Better to take our time and carefully consider our options and responses ahead of time. Doing so provides the confidence that we are continually moving in the right direction in the way God has established.

“Don’t turn to the right or to the left; keep your feet away from evil.”

Similar to the admonition to keep our gaze fixed straight ahead is the further prompting to ensure our actual progress stays on track, even if we may be temporarily distracted in our focus. Whatever may gain our immediate attention “off-path,” we should be sure our steps remain “on-path,” and to not mindlessly drift toward evil actions.

Overall, each of these actions requires a sense of vigilance and discipline regarding the monitoring of our own behaviors. At the beginning of the passage, Solomon provides a specific key that helps us maintain this sense of vigilance.

Proverbs 4:20-21 – “My son, pay attention to my words; listen closely to my sayings. Don’t lose sight of them; keep them within your heart.”

Just as Solomon encouraged his son to follow his wisdom, we can do so with the wisdom of our Father if we also don’t lose sight of his instruction, his torah, by keeping it within our heart. This is, after all, the goal and fulfillment of the New Covenant.

Jeremiah 31:33 – “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days” ​– Yahweh’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.

God’s people are those who have his teaching, his torah, within their hearts. This is how we are enabled to remain on the path he has laid out for us, when we are vigilant in guarding that which he has graciously provided. Only then can his purpose be established in each generation.


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.

Living as a new person

His Spirit can renew our hearts for him.

1 Samuel 10:6, 9 – …and the Spirit of Yahweh will come mightily on you, and you shall prophesy with them, and shall be turned into another man … When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day.

The Spirit of God has the ability to transform believers. Saul, as the first king of Israel, was mightily anointed by God for the task, so much so, that he effectively became another person. The text says that God when the Spirit of God came upon him, God “gave him another heart.”

God’s desired goal with individuals is that when they encounter him in a personal way, they are effectively changed from the inside out.

God had told Ezekiel that the whole nation of Israel was going to be able to receive his influence in their lives. This was to provide them the strength and wisdom to obey his commands.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 – I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances.

This was God’s plan for them all along: to become a new people, set apart from all others, and to be obedient examples to the rest of the world. They were to be a nation following his torah, his instruction for all to see. This obedience would not be one of rote compulsion, but one of freedom and joy 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.

The only way this could effectively be accomplished was by transforming the individual’s heart to understand and to desire to follow God.

Hebrews 10:22 – let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.

Just as God had promised Israel that he would cleanse them from all of their impurities and their idols, he promised that believers in Messiah could draw near to him as they received cleansing for their rebellious deeds of conscience and body.

John 3:3, 5 – Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” … Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

To live as a believer in God and his Messiah is to live as a new person with lives of integrity and righteousness. This is the goal that God has for every individual who comes to him in sincerity and truth, and he can make it so.

Many people come to congregations seeking to change their own lives, as if somehow they can learn enough or do the right “church things” they can mold and shape themselves into who they think God wants them to be. However, all of these passages speak to the changing of the heart to be an act of God, not a twelve-step plan to becoming a better person.

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

It doesn’t take a program of study to experience God’s presence in our lives, but it does take a sincere approach that lays down all personal objectives and known transgressions against a holy and righteous God. A true seeker must be willing to die to self, for the call of the true believer is the call of the martyr.

Just like Saul of long ago, God is still willing to transform. Once we have surrendered all to God, then he can mold and shape us into whom he desires us to be for 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 at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The Kingdom of God has a name

One of the most famous passages of the Bible provides the answer.

In one of the most famous passages of the Bible, we learn that the Kingdom of God, which is the main theme of the Bible, has a name. Here is the context of the passage:

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Jeremiah 31:31-34

This passage of course is extremely familiar to believers. This promise is specifically addressed to Israel and Judah that a new covenant would be made with them by God, not by them. The demonstration of this new covenant would be that his law or Torah would be within them, and they would all personally have an intimate relationship with him. This was to be the economy of the kingdom: an internal reality governing the lives of its people, not just an outward set of laws as their forefathers had received at Sinai.

Now, it is actually the next passage in Jeremiah that identifies the name of this kingdom.

Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name: “If this fixed order departs From before Me,” declares the LORD, “Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever.” Thus says the LORD, “If the heavens above can be measured And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done,” declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 31:35-37

The eternal nature of this kingdom is defined in these verses. As long as the order of the moon, stars, and sun and essentially the whole natural order of things exists, the offspring of Israel will remain. And that is who this group is, the members of this kingdom: the offspring, or seed, of Israel.

The Hebrew calls them the zera Yisrael, the seed of Israel. The zera or seed is extremely symbolic throughout the Bible and has layers of meanings, as seeds do. A seed can be related to plants or human descendants. A seed carries the potential for new life of its genus into the future indefinitely. Seed can refer to a singular future descendant or a group.

As this applies to believers, the Bible is clear that Yeshua was the zera or seed promised from the days of Abraham, who was the father (technically, the grandfather) of Israel.

Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as [referring] to many, but [rather] to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.

Galatians 3:16

The apostle Paul makes the point that the scripture in this case points to an individual seed, Yeshua, as the recipient of Abraham’s blessing and that through him Abraham, the father of Israel, would be the father of many nations.

And herein lies one of the deepest layers of meaning, and the root of the good news of the gospel message of the kingdom: if we are believers in Messiah, the Bible says we are “in him,” meaning, we are in the zera, the seed, just as Yeshua taught.

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
2 Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
Colossians 2:6-7, 10 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, [so] walk in Him, having been firmly rooted [and now] being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, [and] overflowing with gratitude. … and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;
1 John 2:6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
1 John 3:9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
1 John 4:13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

If we are in the seed, and he in us, then we are participants in the zera Yisrael, the seed of Israel; hence, the kingdom. This kingdom will never end, and the seed will continue to perpetuate forever until it fills the earth.

“And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and [men of every] language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.

Daniel 7:14

This is the promise of God and the hope that we have. The zera Yisrael is the name of the everlasting Kingdom of God. As we faithfully walk in the ways of Yeshua, we are co-laboring with God to plant seed for future generations of believers, until his kingdom fills the earth.

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