613 ways to be holy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Demonstrating sacrificial faith in God

When we reserve retribution to God, we will be honoring him, and he will be attentive to our call.

When we reserve retribution to God, we will be honoring him, and he will be attentive to our call.

Psalm 4:3-5 – “But know that Yahweh has set apart the faithful for himself; Yahweh hears when I call to him. When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in Yahweh.”

This psalm highlights that those who exhibit faith in God have been set apart for himself. With this being set apart comes a responsibility to maintain that trust in God. The believer demonstrates trust in God when they do not allow themselves to take action against personal injustice, but to meditate or ponder the situation in a quiet place such as the bed, and to remain silent.

In this version, the psalm says, “when you are disturbed, do not sin…” The meaning of being disturbed actually broadens to describe when someone becomes angry, or disquieted, or so worked up over some injustice that they begin to shake and become frustrated. When this happens, they are not to not follow through with the outworking of that frustration, but to think it through in that quiet place.

Instead, the psalmist says to have a two-pronged response: to offer right sacrifices and to put one’s trust in Yahweh. What is a correct sacrificial response for believers today?

Romans 12:1 – “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

Hebrews 13:16 – “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

The admonition for believers today is to offer ourselves as ongoing sacrifices, and to not neglect others as we seek to serve God. These are the sacrificial things we need to meditate about and consider as we remain silent on our beds.

Yeshua’s conversation with a scribe brought a similar understanding to him, when he repeated back to the Master his understanding of the whole purpose of man: to love God and to love others.

Mark 12:32-34 – “Then the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.’ When Yeshua saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’”

If we truly offer these “right sacrifices” and maintain our trust that Yahweh will work the situation through in his timing, we will be honoring God and he will be attentive to our call. If we choose to maintain our trust in Yahweh in this way, we can be encouraged through the reassuring words of the apostle Paul:

Romans 8:28 – “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”


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 center strand of the core of the Bible

Yeshua demonstrated the simplest definition of what the Bible is all about.

Matthew 22:36-40 – “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest? ” 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.”

Mark 12:28-31 – One of the scribes approached. When he heard them debating and saw that Yeshua answered them well, he asked him, “Which command is the most important of all? ” Yeshua answered, “The most important is Listen, O Israel! Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one. “Love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. “The second is, Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.”

Luke 10:25-28 – Then an expert in the law stood up to test him, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? ” “What is written in the law? ” he asked him. “How do you read it? ” He answered, “Love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind;” and “your neighbor as yourself.” “You’ve answered correctly,” he told him. “Do this and you will live.”

It is within these very passages that Yeshua summed up the entire Bible in only two commands: Love Yahweh your God with all of your heart, strength, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. Even with this direct reference and simple clarity from Yeshua himself, why do we find this so hard to do?

I believe the biggest challenge lies in us: we need definitions. We need to have clarified for us how to love God, and what it means in practice to love our neighbor.

Loving God has been defined for us by the first five of the Ten Commandments: Put God first in all things, make no images that represent him, do not identify as his child in vain, honor the weekly Sabbath (as a memorial of God’s Creation), and honor your parents (as representative authorities of God). In the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua also said it means seeking God’s kingdom first, vigilantly standing for what’s right, trusting God in all things.

Loving our neighbor has been defined for us in the second five of the Ten Commandments: do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, and don’t covet what belongs to others. Yeshua refined it further as living with integrity and holiness, forgiving others and being compassionate. He captured its essence as doing for others what we would want done for us.

Most significantly, loving God and loving others has been demonstrated most clearly for us by Yeshua himself, placing God’s will above even his own, giving his life willingly on behalf of others.

Through my writings, I am continually attempting to simplify the Bible message as much as possible, boiling it all down to the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. But Yeshua has provided us the simplest summary of the entire Bible for all time: Love God and love others. And then he went and demonstrated it.

If we truly consider ourselves to be his followers, it’s up to us to also live out these directives in each of our lives, to be the examples for others to see. Like Yeshua, it’s up to us to provide the definitions, the living demonstrations, of how that type of love is lived out in practice.


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.