God’s children are commandment keepers

Obedience to the King’s rule is fundamental in the kingdom.

Obedience to the King’s rule is fundamental in the kingdom.

In the past I have described the Ten Commandments, or the Ten Words, as the Charter of the Kingdom of God. This means that these commandments are the basic rules that God expects his people to follow.

In legal terms, a charter is “a grant made by the sovereign either to the whole people or to a portion of them, securing to them the enjoyment of certain rights.” To further explain, the legal dictionary explains: “A charter differs from a constitution in this, that the former is granted by the sovereign, while the latter is established by the people themselves : both are the fundamental law of the land.”

As I have stated many times before, I do not believe the Ten Commandments were just for the national people of Israel. They are the only words ever spoken directly by God to a whole mixed community of individuals at once, and they were carved into stone, the most durable of records, by the very finger of God himself. Based even on only these two criteria, there is no other document or record anywhere conveyed directly by God with those to whom he was intending to communicate.

Yeshua verified that he was not doing away with any commands of Torah:

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.”

To recognize the universality of this principle brings one to a more comprehensive understanding of God: his Word, his instruction, his Torah, is eternal. God’s people are those who understand and obey his words.

Further, there is not a single individual in the entire Bible who has ever been condemned for keeping the word of God, his Torah. There are, however, plenty of examples of those who were condemned for NOT keeping his Word:

  • Psalm 119:158 – I have seen the disloyal and feel disgust because they do not keep your word.
  • Nehemiah 1:7 – We have acted corruptly toward you and have not kept the commands, statutes, and ordinances you gave your servant Moses.
  • Amos 2:4 – Yahweh says: I will not relent from punishing Judah for three crimes, even four, because they have rejected the instruction of Yahweh and have not kept his statutes. The lies that their ancestors followed have led them astray.
  • Malachi 3:7 – “Since the days of your fathers, you have turned from my statutes; you have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says Yahweh of Armies.

There are examples of those who were condemned for ADDING unnecessarily to his words by their traditions:

Mark 7:9, 13 – [Yeshua] also said to [the Pharisees and scribes], “You have a fine way of invalidating God’s command in order to set up your tradition! … “You nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other similar things.”

But no one ever is condemned for actually keeping and obeying his words; that’s what his obedient children are known for!

  • Psalm 119:57, 60, 63, 106 – Yahweh is my portion; I have promised to keep your words.  … I hurried, not hesitating to keep your commands.  … I am a friend to all who fear you, to those who keep your precepts.  … I have solemnly sworn to keep your righteous judgments.
  • John 8:29, 47, 55 – “The one who sent me [Yeshua] is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what pleases him.” … “The one who is from God listens to God’s words. This is why you don’t listen, because you are not from God.” … “You do not know him, but I know him. If I were to say I don’t know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him, and I keep his word.
  • Philippians 2:8 – [Yeshua] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death — even to death on a cross.

Those in the Kingdom of God are those who honor God by keeping his commands in humble obedience. The Ten Commandments or Ten Words were kept by Yeshua, and if we consider ourselves his followers, then we should be keeping them, too.


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 obedient kingdom life

The whole of Matthew 7 teaches us about what kingdom living looks like.

The whole of Matthew 7 teaches us about what kingdom living looks like.

Matthew 7:21 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

The kingdom of heaven coming to this earth is not a place but a practice. It is not a destination, but a journey. It is not something to be achieved, but is a fluid reality constantly being lived out by those seeking it.

This is why Yeshua taught that obedience to the will of God is the marker that identifies those who are true followers of him. Many will claim to know him and call him Lord, but their practices will reveal they don’t really know who he is.

The context of Yeshua’s statement above sits squarely at the center of his teaching on the narrowness and exclusivity of the way.

Matthew 7:13-14 – “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.”

He also speaks of the fruit, the evident outworking, of those who can be identified as sincere or false in their doctrine:

Matthew 7:18 – “A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit.”

The entire context of this passage is speaking on how the kingdom is a specific ideal that must be constantly and diligently striven after, and how the actions one does demonstrates their harmony with this ideal. Yeshua captured this thought by warning against hypocrisy:

Matthew 7:3 – “Why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the beam of wood in your own eye?

Notice, each of these different concepts work together to create a picture of the kingdom being a demonstration of a life lived in sincere obedience to the will of God. This can be shown by stating the reverse, and viewing who Yeshua says is NOT in the kingdom. Hypocrites are not in the kingdom. Trees with bad fruit are not in the kingdom. Those who do not accomplish the will of God are not in the kingdom.

The kingdom kind of life is a life that is constantly open to learning from God, seeking how to best honor him. In doing so honestly and sincerely, one will be granted access to that which they desire.

Matthew 7:7-8 – “Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

When one walks with God in this way, not with the dogmatism of human assertion and the inconsistency of hypocrisy, but with humility and openness to understand the behaviors and practices God desires, then the kingdom becomes manifest through that individual. Living in obedience and harmony with God’s will is what the kingdom is all about, and what God desires for all mankind.


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 unique prayer life of God’s children

We have work to do, not stuff to get.

We have work to do, not stuff to get.

Matthew 6:9 “Pray then in this way:…”

People pray in many different ways to many different gods. Prayer is so ubiquitous that it appears to be a practice that is hard-wired into the human psyche.

What sets believers in Messiah apart from all others is not just that we pray, but that we should be praying to the one true God in a certain way with a certain focus and understanding that others do not have. When asked of his disciples for teaching on prayer, Yeshua’s answer provides a rich storehouse of wisdom in practice.

Yeshua understood that people of all nations pray but are typically using many empty words to no purpose, other than, I suppose, making themselves feel better. However, he encourages a specific way of praying that has purpose and direction. He provides a model prayer that demonstrates simplicity and humility.

First, where and how we pray are both important: our place of prayer should be a place of privacy apart from others to demonstrate sincerity in speaking only with God, and not for the sake of appearing over-righteous to others.

Prayer should be offered directly to God, addressing him as a loving Father, not as some vengeful deity who needs to be appeased. We need to recognize that even though God exists beyond this reality, he is still accessible and active here, as well. He is set apart from all other gods and his character illustrates his uniqueness.

Our primary focus in prayer should be for God’s reign to be recognized by all upon this earth, and in so doing, his will would come to pass in this reality in the same way it is accomplished in the heavenly realm. This is the unique nature of the prayer practice of those who would consider themselves Yeshua’s disciples. Everything in our lives should center around God’s kingdom, not ours.

Even when praying for our own needs that arise each day, Yeshua reminds us our focus should still be on others, forgiving those who have wronged us, just as we have committed wrongs against our heavenly Father. If we expect him to forgive us of our shortcomings, we need to have the same level of concern for others.

Our prayers for personal desires should be primarily intent on the avoidance of being led astray and succumbing to the desires of this world above the needs of the kingdom. Praying just for things we want is not always in the best interest of the kingdom.

When we pray in this way, our lives become set apart from others because we are not just praying for stuff and things, but for God’s glory and honor to be manifest in this place and time, and to recognize his will is more important than ours. When this becomes our guiding purpose, then his will can and will be accomplished on this earth through us.


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 kingdom of God’s provision

A continual heavenly focus will guide our actions to doing what’s right, and our needs will be met.

Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

A continual heavenly focus will guide our actions to doing what’s right, and our needs will be met.

This teaching of Yeshua was intended as an encouragement to keep one’s focus on the kingdom of God first and foremost above all worldly concerns, and the worldly concerns would take care of themselves. Which worldly cares? Specifically the items he mentioned previously.

Matthew 6:31 – “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?'”

Having enough food to eat has been a constant struggle throughout history, and in Yeshua’s day was no exception. People had to depend on their own efforts or the efforts of their farming neighbors, the weather, and the political stability of their region to ensure they would have food to eat.

To have enough to drink or to have appropriate clothing for whatever season was at hand were equally ongoing concerns, especially for the lowest classes of people. There were no local clothing stores, and even drinking water was dependent on the condition of local communal wells.

These were real and legitimate concerns that could become all consuming. Knowing where the next meal was coming from, if one would have enough water or clothing to wear were a source of constant anxiety for the majority of the people. This created a work ethic that demanded constant attention to finding and attaining these needs.

In our modern industrialized societies we are so blessed with the common availability of these things that we take them for granted, as if they are some sort of inherent right. Yet, we still abuse this privilege by being consumed with seeking the best food, the highest quality drinks and the most trendy clothing and latest fashions. If you are not convinced of this, just scroll through your social media feed.

As an antidote to this worldly focus, Yeshua states that if one prioritizes God’s kingdom above these things, these things will be provided anyway without all of the stress and striving after them. That is the context of his teaching.

Matthew 6:34 – “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”

There will always be some concern that can draw our attention away from the things of God to where that concern becomes all-consuming. But Yeshua’s “kingdom first” ideal is the overriding principle that should guide our thoughts. By replacing our anxiety over worldly needs (or exaggerations of those needs) with a dedicated and committed focus on God’s kingdom and the righteous actions that result from that focus, we can be free from this endless striving. Those things begin to pale in comparison within the more expansive and eternal perspective of the kingdom of God.

Of course we all need to eat and drink and have appropriate clothing, but when those things consume our waking thoughts above doing what’s right according to God’s standards, then our lives are out of balance. This is another way of stating that it is more important to God for us to act in right ways than the basic living of life itself. If this is not how we view our faith, then our lives are out of balance. This heavenly focus must guide all of our decisions, not just the religious ideals we hold. The promise of Yeshua is that enacting the principles of the kingdom in our daily lives will ensure that our physical needs (not necessarily our desires, but our needs) are met, as well.

Likewise, he set the example for us to follow. If Yeshua believed in this principle enough to put the kingdom of God first in all of his life and teaching, then as his followers, we also should do so.


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.

Living the new life of compassion

Believers have a godly responsibility to actively seek out and meet the needs of others.

Believers have a godly responsibility to actively seek out and meet the needs of others.

In the letter written to the congregation at Colosse, the apostle Paul has reached the heart of what it means to be a believer in the Messiah.

Colossians 2:6-7 – “As therefore you received Messiah Yeshua as Lord, so live in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

Paul encourages the believers that if they have received Messiah and truly accept him as their Master and Teacher, then they should “live in him.” The next several chapters go on to describe what that life that is lived in him should look like.

One of the primary emphases that he focuses on is the believer’s disassociation with worldly entanglements. He creates an analogy of life and death, and how a commitment to the Messiah is the equivalent of dying to this world, and being lived as a new life in him.

Colossians 2:13 – “And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses…”

This new life of living in him should now take our focus off of the negative entrapments of the worldliness around us, and cause us to look “above,” to heavenly ideals.

Colossians 3:1-3 – “If then you have been raised with Messiah, seek the things that are above, where Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Messiah in God.

Colossians 3:9, 12 – … seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices … Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, hearts of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience…

All of these qualities that believers should represent stem from the ideal that we have died to our old life lived in disobedience to God and now are living a new life according to God’s Word with the goals and ideals of the Messiah.

Paul mentions one of the first qualities of this new life as a heart of compassion. The underlying Greek word conveys the idea of deep feelings of sympathy with a person’s difficulties or misfortunes. Compassion is one of the defining characteristics of God, so it is no wonder it should be one of the primary qualities of his children.

When we feel compassionless, it may be that we have lost sight of whose we are, and where our focus should be. Paul clearly says we should seek “those things that are above,” that is, the things of the heavenly kingdom of God. When we can step back and realize that there is an authority and an ideal that reigns above the struggles and injustice of the world system, we should be energized by God to have compassion on those who have not yet come this realization. Having this godly type of compassion causes us to elevate the needs of others above our own, and helps us to begin to bear fruit for God in the darkness around us.

Being dead to this world but alive to God means that we have a great responsibility; a responsibility to respond to the needs around us in godly ways. When we choose to follow the instruction of God’s Word, we become one with the life and teaching of his Messiah and should represent him in honorable and practical ways in the lives of those around us. Exhibiting his compassion is a primary way that we can share the truth of that heavenly kingdom, that there is more to this life than just cold, hard living: that in Messiah there is hope, and life, and peace.


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 kingdom of God’s children

Humility is the quality of child-like faith that God requires.

Humility is the quality of child-like faith that God requires.

Matthew 18:3 – “Truly I tell you,” he said, “unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Here in the account of Matthew, the disciples had posed the question to Yeshua, asking who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. However, in Luke and Mark’s accounts, the question arose due to the fact that the disciples had been arguing about who among them was the greatest. Regardless if these were the same or different occasions, the root lesson that Yeshua provides is the same: one must become like a child.

In what way should a believer mimic children? Depending on the age of child being discussed, children can be mean or they can be self-centered and stubborn. Clearly these are not characteristics of being the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

The only clue we have from the text suggests this was a small child who was at least able to stand, as Yeshua had the child stand among them. When children are very young, they are in a constant state of learning; learning how to behave, how to interact with others, and how to do basic skills that they will need for the rest of their lives. No one looks to a young child to be an expert in anything because they just haven’t had the time and practice necessary to become skilled at anything. It is this aspect that Yeshua hones in on, the idea is that the greatest in the kingdom of heaven is the one who is in a constant state of learning.

This actually hearkens back to Yeshua’s discussion with Nicodemus in which he says in order to see the kingdom of God, one must be born again. The passage there in the third chapter of John clarifies that Yeshua was not talking about being physically re-born, as if that were possible. And the emphasis here is the same: if being born means to come into a new environment with a new set of eyes, then becoming a child means seeking how to operate within a new environment of living. Yeshua was highlighting how the disciples would need to be giving up pre-conceived ideas to experience the fresh things that God was about to do. The kingdom was not about greatness among men, it was about humility in God’s eyes.

The emphasis Yeshua makes in both cases is a sense of humility that is required to be a faithful disciple. Yeshua is not suggesting believers should be immature and self-centered as many children can be, but they should be innocent to evil and willing to learn new things in new ways that God wants to convey. There is an element of repenting, as Yeshua says one must “turn” to become like a little child. Therefore, our growth within the kingdom should never be a source of pride or lifting oneself up above others, but an opportunity to reach out to others in love so they can be helped along the way, as well.

If we can learn to remain humble and of service to others while we travel the path of the kingdom in this world, then God has the opportunity to lift us up and use us as he sees fit for his purpose.

Matthew 18:4 – “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child ​– ​this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”


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 gospel of the kingdom

Believers today have an obligation to tell the good news about God’s rule.

Luke 4:43 – But Yeshua said to them, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.”

There are many ideas today about what the kingdom of God is all about, such as how and when it is to be established. However, I would like to present some thoughts as to why the kingdom is already a present and eternal reality, even if it is not recognized as such just yet.

The kingdom is not a physical place, but an ideal.

Luke 17:20-21 – Once Yeshua was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God does not come with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”

The Pharisees, like many believers today, were looking for signs of when the kingdom was going to be established. They believed a physical king would rule over Israel and subdue all nations to himself. However, Yeshua corrected them and let them know that it was something more than a physical kingdom. A physical kingdom can be observed or identified on a map. But Yeshua taught the kingdom of God was in their midst, among them in that present time. The Pharisees were unable to see it only because they were blinded to the ideal due to their desire for earthly power and prestige. Therefore, it eluded them, even though it was a present reality.

The kingdom does not have a single location but is universal.

Psalm 22:27-28 – All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to Yahweh; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him. For dominion belongs to Yahweh, and he rules over the nations.

The rule of God already extends over all people throughout the earth, and always has. While in the past God had selected Israel as a people for himself out of all the nations, it was for the purpose of demonstrating an object lesson, a way for him to express who he is so the world could see how he chooses to interact with all of humanity. But his rule is not limited to one city or nation above all others, he rules over all nations at all times.

The kingdom is not past or future but is present and eternal.

Psalm 145:10-13 – All your works shall give thanks to you, O Yahweh, and all your faithful shall bless you. They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom, and tell of your power, to make known to all people your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

Just because individuals may not recognize the rule and authority of God here and now does not mean it does not exist. Like a ruler of old who ascended to a throne, until the message had spread throughout the empire, there was no knowledge of a new emperor or king. This is the role of believers today, to “speak of the glory of [his] kingdom, to tell of [his] power, to make known to all people [his] mighty deeds and the glorious splendor of [his] kingdom.”

This is the message I bring to you today. This is the message, the good news, the gospel of the kingdom.


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 compassionate commandments

Yeshua taught the true intent of the ten commandments.

Yeshua taught the true intent of the ten commandments.

As we view the ten commandments delivered on Sinai at the revelation of God to his people, we find that within the ministry of Yeshua he emphasized the expanded intent behind the commandments that had gotten lost within the oral Torah of the Jews.

For example, some of the Jewish leaders had done the bare minimum in taking care of their parents, claiming that the support that they would have provided to their parents was instead a service that was rendered to God in other ways.

Matthew 15:3-7 – “…And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ But you say that whoever tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is given to God,’ then that person need not honor the father. So, for the sake of your tradition, you make void the word of God. You hypocrites!…”

This hypocritical practice negated the command of honoring parents, which is the whole point of the fifth commandment: to support them and take care of them when they can no longer care for themselves. Yeshua emphasized that by trying to get by on a technicality with the commandment, they were essentially making the word of God void of any meaning. Instead, they should have been respecting the God-given authority of their fathers and mothers, being helpful to them, that they would all live long and productive lives.

The eighth commandment is a prohibition against stealing. Clearly, the command states that we should never secretly take anything that does not belong to us. Here, too, Yeshua expands on the idea that not only should believers not steal, but we should be willing always to do the opposite: to give generously of all our resources.

Luke 6:38 – “…give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

The tenth commandment is an admonition to avoid coveting. Some rabbinical minds over the years have come to the conclusion that the prohibition against coveting is a kind of summary of all of the other commandments on the two tablets, a proposal not without merit.

For example, if we are not covetous, we are less likely to kill, commit adultery, steal, or lie. All of these actions related in the second table can be traced back to covetousness.

Also if we are not covetous, we are not likely to seek out other gods for help, serve images, associate with God’s people in vain, work through the sabbath to try to get ahead, or deny assistance to our parents; all of the commandments from the first tablet.

Instead of coveting, Yeshua encourages the very opposite: to provide generously of all that God has given you.

Matthew 6:19-21 – “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Yeshua encourages his followers to fill their minds with gratefulness and take pleasure in all that God has graciously given them. They are to share the blessings they have received freely with others.

By emphasizing the positive compassionate actions behind these commandments, Yeshua sums up everything in the Golden Rule:

Matthew 7:12 – “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.”

This is why Yeshua could state that breaking the commandments was an offense that was still active within the kingdom of God. By negating or trying to get around the commandments on technicalities, those individuals would be missing the intent of the commands in the first place and removing themselves from the work that God intends to accomplish through his people.

Matthew 5:19-20 – “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Seeking out and performing the compassionate positive actions behind the commandments should be the common practice of all believers. By taking the “thou shalt nots” and re-stating the opposite of each as a positive command, we can find that Yeshua was teaching the true compassion contained within each of the commandments revealed at Sinai.


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.

In this kingdom we bear the name and character of God

This is what the third commandment is all about.

Core of the Bible podcast #65 – In this kingdom we bear the name and character of God

Today we will be looking at the topic of the Kingdom of God, and how by being in the kingdom, we carry God’s name. Because of this, our words and actions should match his.

Exodus 20:7 – “You do not take up the name of your God Yahweh for a vain thing, for Yahweh does not acquit him who takes up His name for a vain thing.”

As one of the Ten Commandments or Ten “Words” which I believe are the charter instructions for the kingdom of God, I wanted to take some time to explore the nature of what this commandment is really all about.

This verse has classically been used throughout generations for the purpose of not abusing or misusing the revealed name of God, in the sense of using his name as a curse word, or speaking it casually in conversation outside of an appropriate worship setting, or reading it within the text of the Bible.

But as we explore this verse today I think we’ll see that these caricatures miss the intent of what God is attempting to teach us here and throughout the whole Bible. The real sense of the passage is less about misusing God’s name carelessly, and more about our character in claiming to be believers or followers of him.

To begin with, let’s look at how the verse is expressed in some of its original Hebrew key words to gain some depth of what exactly is being discussed.

To “take up” God’s name means to lift or carry; it conveys the idea of raising or bearing a load or burden; it can also mean to accept. To “take” his name is to take up, or carry his name as identifying who we are, or rather, whose we are.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the word for name. The word for “name” in Hebrew is shem. The idea of avoiding pronouncing the sacred name of God (which I refer to as Yahweh) comes from a long tradition among the Jews, who wanted to substitute another word, “adonai,” whenever Yahweh appeared in the text to avoid speaking the sacred name casually or without respect. This word translates into the English as “lord” and is usually printed in all capitals in the Old Testament to identify that verse as containing the sacred name of God.

I suppose the idea behind this practice has been to honor God’s name; however, it has not always been this way, even among God’s people. Hundreds of years before Messiah, it was still a common practice to greet one another with the blessings of Yahweh; it was not until after the return from their captivity that they adopted the practice of not pronouncing the name of God. To this day, God is typically referenced among Jews as HaShem, a title which literally means, the Name.

There is nothing really wrong in continuing this practice out of respect for God, but it is important to recognize there is nothing within the Bible itself that requires this avoidance of pronouncing the name of God, Yahweh. In fact, it could be argued from the Bible that God actually encourages and expects us to use his name, which is why he told it to Moses in the first place:

Exodus 3:15 – “God also said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘Yahweh, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: This is my name forever,

and this my title for all generations.'”

The reason this has significance is because the word shem or name also conveys some meanings about what it represents. It is associated with the fame or glory of an individual, indicative of their character. From a Hebraic perspective, to utter someone’s name is to call out their character.

This is one of the main reasons I prefer to use the name Yeshua instead of Jesus when speaking of the Messiah, because the word Yeshua in Hebrew conveys the idea of salvation, that which the Messiah came to provide.

Now as a representative name applies to Yahweh, Amos exemplifies this type of use of the word when he says:

Amos 5:8 – “The one who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns darkness into dawn and darkens day into night, who summons the water of the sea and pours it out over the surface of the earth — Yahweh is his name.”

This verse shows how God’s ability or nature as the Creator is contained within his “name” or his character. To recognize and honor his name is to recognize him as the Creator and sustainer of all.

It is also representative of a memorial of that character or essence.

Isaiah 66:22 – “For just as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, will remain before me” — this is Yahweh’s declaration — “so your offspring and your name will remain.”

The idea that Isaiah conveys here is that the Israelites’ name, that which embodies who they are, would remain with their future generations.

So from this brief look at a few of the words and phrases more closely, we can see that to take the name of God is to lift, carry, or honor his name (as in raising it up). That which is being lifted, carried and honored is his character, his reputation. Therefore, those who belong to the kingdom of God should be honoring the name, or character, of God with their thoughts, speech, and conduct.

As one of the Ten Commandments within the charter of the kingdom of God, this then implies that honoring the name through living out its values is appropriate and expected kingdom behavior.


So far we have seen that the admonition here is not about the abuse of God’s name, but it’s about when we are identifying as belonging to him, we do not dishonor or defame his name or character by our careless conduct. When someone comes to the knowledge of God and wants to be his follower, then they take his name, identifying with his character. By this participation in the kingdom of God, as his children, we carry his name and his character in this world.

To “take God’s name in vain” is not expressly to use his name flippantly (although that certainly is included). The fact that the commandment urges us to not take the name “in vain” could be paraphrased as “You shall not take my name lightly or for no purpose.”

Our desire to follow his ways should not be rooted in our own selfish ambition or schemes. We should not join the kingdom impetuously, without any real thought for the responsibility we bear. Unfortunately, I have witnessed many “altar calls” for people to become believers based on transient emotions, getting swept away in the moment by some moving stories or demonstrative worship experience.

These type of theatrics were not how Yeshua practiced ministry; he never “worked” the crowds to cause people to come to him. In fact, if anything, his teaching was so polarizing and hotly debated that sometimes people left by droves.

John 6:60-61, 66 “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’ But Yeshua, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, ‘Does this offend you?’ … Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.”

Coming to faith in the God of the Bible is not a matter of spiritual feelings or some worshipful experience based on emotion; it should be a willing desire based on a knowledge and understanding of what being a disciple, a member of God’s kingdom, means.

Luke 14:27-30 – “Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’”

Sadly, I have seen many sincere people begin to build a tower that they could not finish, and I believe it was because their foundation was not based on a knowledge of the Holy One, but on feelings and emotions that faded when the reality of the daily participation in the kingdom was realized. Essayist and poet G.K. Chesterton has been famously quoted as saying: “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and left untried.”

The carrying of one’s cross implies that in some respects the life of a disciple is one of carrying a sacrificial burden, one that involves the reduction of self in all things. Carrying the name of God is such a burden, as it is a diminishment of ourselves and a lifting up of his honor and character. Within the kingdom of God, we should be sincere in our desires to live for him and to bring honor and glory to his name. When we carry his name, our actions and our words should match his.

Yeshua demonstrated this so completely that it was impossible to distinguish between him and his Father.

John 5:19 – “So Yeshua said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.'”

John 7:16 – “So Yeshua answered them, ‘My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.'”

John 12:49 – “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment–what to say and what to speak.”

John 14:8-9 – “Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’ Yeshua said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?'”

When we consider following the Messiah, we are accepting that he was sent from the Father, and carried the name of God so completely that he was essentially indistinguishable from the Father. If we are to become more and more like Messiah, then this same characteristic should be evident in our lives. When people see or hear us, they should be seeing what the Father would want to do or say in that situation.

Does this sound like a heavy responsibility? Of course, which is why we should not take his name lightly or for no purpose, which is the whole point of the third commandment. As we have seen already, we are admonished by Yeshua to count the cost of kingdom living (Luke 14:25-33), but in so doing, to accept it willingly and gladly.

The kingdom is a place of great joy and fulfillment, but it is also a participation in a lifestyle of discipline and self-control. As one of the gifts of God’s Spirit, we should demonstrate self-control so that we do not defame the name that we bear. As we reflect his glory and honor in our words in our actions, we can be sure that we are providing every opportunity for others to be drawn to him, and for the kingdom to become a little bit larger in 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.

The gospel of the present and eternal kingdom

God reigns supreme.

1 Corinthians 15:20-28 – But now Messiah has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Messiah all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Messiah the first fruits, after that those who are Messiah’s at His coming, then — the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet; the last enemy being abolished — death. For “he has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.

There is so much going on in this passage that many different ideas can be the subject of long discussions and theological treatises. However, the reason I am highlighting this passage is to discuss an unusual perspective that I have come to hold in recent years, and it has to do with the timing of these things.

When speaking of the resurrection, or being made alive, the timing has to do with Messiah’s coming. According to the timeline Paul is laying out here, he says “then — the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father…” From this, it appears that the handing over of the kingdom to the Father happens right after his coming and the resurrection of “those who are Messiah’s.” Most believers would agree with this timeline up to this point.

However, where I diverge from mainstream beliefs is that I believe that this has already happened, and that Messiah has already handed the kingdom over to the Father, and all things, including Messiah, are subject to God. All authority and power over all kingdoms belongs to God the Father and he is supreme over all even now.

Of course this raises the natural questions such as: when did this happen? Have believers already been resurrected? I think we can understand this by reviewing how he only needed to reign until his enemies were to be made “a footstool for his feet.” Who were Messiah’s enemies according to the Bible?

Luke 19:12, 14, 27 – So He said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and [then] return. … “But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ … “But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.”

This parable, Yeshua explains that the “nobleman’s citizens” who did not want him to reign over them were designated enemies. This parable is clearly about the Jews who refused to accept his Messiahship.

A second indicator is Paul’s discussion of the natural vs. wild branches of the olive tree:

Romans 11:14, 23, 28 – if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them … From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of [God’s] choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers;

Here, Paul even says his own countrymen, the Jews, had become enemies “from the standpoint of the gospel.” The good news of Messiah reigning as God’s king was not accepted by them, and they made themselves enemies of Messiah.

So, during the time of the early believers, from Messiah’s resurrection until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, Yeshua was reigning as king over his chosen people, those whom were called out from the Israelites and from the “lost” tribes among the nations. HIs enemies were those who did not believe in him, and did not want him to reign over them: the non-believing Jews.

Then came the Roman war, and judgment was enacted upon the city of Jerusalem. All of the signs Yeshua had foretold came to pass within that generation, as he had prophesied. This event destroyed Jerusalem and the temple was gone forever. His enemies were vanquished.

If his enemies were vanquished at that time, it then also means that believing saints had been resurrected just prior to the destruction of the temple. The early living believers, as Paul predicted, were “changed, – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye…” The perishable had put on the imperishable, the mortal had put on immortality (1 Corinthians 15:52-54).

Therefore, Messiah having had retrieved his own and his enemies being put “under his feet,” that means the kingdom has been handed over to the Father and God, even now, is “all in all.” His eternal reign was and is a forever reality that people today need to become aware of and abide within. As the principles of his kingdom and his will are enacted on this earth, his kingdom “comes.” This is what Yeshua prayed for! This happens generation after generation and will continue for all time. Believers today live the kingdom here, and upon death (that Yeshua has conquered) spend eternity with him.

This is the gospel, the good news, of the present and eternal kingdom!


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.