Vigilance in worship

It takes effort, consistency, and sacrifice to worship God in a way that he desires.

It takes effort, consistency, and sacrifice to worship God in a way that he desires.

Worship today has come to mean many different things to different people. For most, worship is what happens every Sunday at the local church building from 10:30 am to noon. The style of worship varies; some prefer traditional hymns in a quiet, classical style from the European Middle Ages; for others, it is a celebratory party-like atmosphere with flashy performances and contemporary, upbeat tunes. In yet other congregations, it is complete silence, waiting for God’s Spirit to move upon someone to speak and provide insights from God’s holy perspective.

In the Bible, we see that worship encompassed many of these different expressions. The priesthood of Israel had specific and intentional responsibilities within the service of the Temple that had grown and morphed over time. While their primary sacrificial duties were laid down by Moses, as the temple was established in the days of David and Solomon, we find that other duties relative to music and singing became established within the realm of the priestly worship.

1 Chronicles 23:1-5 – When David was old and full of days, he installed his son Solomon as king over Israel. Then he gathered all the leaders of Israel, the priests, and the Levites. The Levites thirty years old or more were counted; the total number of men was thirty-eight thousand by headcount. “Of these,” David said, “twenty-four thousand are to be in charge of the work on Yahweh’s temple, six thousand are to be officers and judges, four thousand are to be gatekeepers, and four thousand are to praise Yahweh with the instruments that I have made for worship.”

These traditions carried on throughout the years and became part of the Israelite priestly and liturgical environment. However, with the destruction of the second temple in 70 A.D., the earthly priesthood and the liturgy of the temple worship were abolished. There were no more proscribed rites or ceremonies for the people of God in relation to liturgical worship.

Now, don’t think that I am saying it is somehow wrong or misguided to continue to create songs or sing together to honor and praise God; that is not the point. In fact, believers in Messiah have been encouraged by Paul to do so.

Ephesians 5:18-20 – …be filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to Yahweh, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Yeshua Messiah…

Rather, I am describing something that goes beyond any type of liturgical and sometimes mechanical praise toward to God. Even though the second temple was still standing in Paul’s day, God had provided him insights into the future of his Kingdom and the coming age. Paul knew that God was working a spiritual work among his people that would far surpass any physical representation or temple service that God could provide.

When it came to describing the type of worship that was acceptable to God, Paul naturally grabbed hold of a principle taught by Yeshua about what true worship in the service of God looks like:

Romans 12:1 – Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.

The believers who were presenting themselves, body and spirit, to God were the ones who were honoring the true spirit of worship that God desires. Yeshua had taught this same principle.

John 4:23-24 – “But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him. “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.”

Living a life of sacrifice means diligently and consistently laying down our own desires at the feet of God and seeking to accomplish his purpose in our life. This is the path of believers in abiding in him, walking according to his commandments above the demands of the culture around them. To love Yahweh your God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, to truly do this, is to walk a sacrificial path of true worship that honors God and brings glory to his name. The new covenant is a martyr’s covenant; we must die to ourselves in order to live for him.

Matthew 16:24-25 – Then Yeshua said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it.

This is the heart of true worship: becoming a living sacrifice where every thought is captive to Messiah and every action is an action based on the love of God for all of his Creation. This is where true worship lies, not in the halls of music and self-performance, but in the quiet and determined attitude of self-sacrifice.


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 directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com

We always have the choice to do what’s right

If we don’t, then there is no choice to be had.

Psalm 51:5 – Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.

This verse is one of the key passages used to support the hypothetical concept of original sin. The theory of original sin generally states that every person is born sinful, stained with the genetic sin from Adam and Eve. Therefore, according to this theory, every person is born guilty of someone else’s sin and there is no way for anyone to please God because sin is in our very nature.

This premise is further substantiated through a famous passage in the New Testament written by Paul to the Roman congregation.

Romans 5:12 – Therefore, just as through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…

However, what Paul was doing in this passage was symbolically contrasting Adam with Yeshua, and showing how following the paths of either of their lives results in diametric opposites; one to death, and the other to life.

Romans 5:17 – For if by the transgression of the one [Adam], death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Yeshua the Messiah.

The sin of Adam and Eve was eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which represents choosing to make one’s own decisions about what is right and wrong. The tree of life, however, is representative of following the instruction of God, since God knows what is best for us.

There are other passages which illustrate that we are responsible for our own actions, not the actions of others. Most famously in Ezekiel 18.

Ezekiel 18:20-21 – “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself. “But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die.

The whole chapter goes into much more detail regarding personal accountability, and I encourage you to read the entire context.

Additionally, if Paul actually believed in the concept of original sin, then he contradicts himself in his letter to the Corinthian congregation.

2 Corinthians 5:10 – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Messiah, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

The reason that making this distinction about original sin is important is because we are urged by Yeshua to live lives of integrity. He directs each one of us to be a person of our word and not be hypocritical. Being born from above is representative of the new perspective that we can live according to the instruction of God, the tree of life, from the heart. We are no longer to just coast through life’s circumstances at the whim of our own best judgment; that is the path of Adam that leads to death.

If we are inherently sinful from birth, then there is nothing that can be done about our sinful actions, and we are destined to die in our sin. This also makes God an unjust judge by unfairly assigning blame to us for something we had no control over.

Matthew 16:24 – Then Yeshua said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.

By contrast, Yeshua, through his sacrificial example, taught and demonstrated that we can choose to follow him and abide in the instruction of God by the Spirit of God working in and through us. Every admonition of Yeshua for people to follow and abide in him is hollow if they have no real choice in the matter.

We lead lives of integrity when we do what’s right, as defined by God, not by us. This involves us having the ability to choose to do so.

Matthew 5:20 – “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees [that is, doing what’s right from the heart, not from legal obligation], you will not enter 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.

Jacob’s vision of the kingdom

Disciples would be made of all nations through faith in the seed of Abraham, that is, Messiah.

Genesis 28:10-14 – Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. He reached a certain place and spent the night there because the sun had set. He took one of the stones from the place, put it there at his head, and lay down in that place. And he dreamed: A stairway was set on the ground with its top reaching the sky, and God’s angels were going up and down on it. Yahweh was standing there beside him, saying, “I am Yahweh, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. 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.

There is an ancient Jewish tradition that what Jacob viewed in this vision was a representation of the kingdom of God. This “ladder” (or stairway or ramp) was connecting the lofty realm of God with the earth. Through Jacob and his offspring, somehow there would be a connection between the realm of God in heaven and the earth, and it would extend to all people. The promise that was given to Abraham (Genesis 12:3) was reiterated to his son Isaac (Genesis 26:4), and here with Jacob, “All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.”

Interestingly, we find a reference to this story of Jacob’s dream issuing from none other than the Messiah himself.

John 1:49-51 – “Rabbi,” Nathanael replied, “You are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel! ” Jesus responded to him, “Do you believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” Then he said, “Truly I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

This is a clear reference to the story of Jacob’s dream where Yeshua is now further illuminating the text by stating that the connection between heaven and earth, the ladder, stairway, or ramp, is attained through himself!

If we are to look at other references within the book of Matthew where Yeshua refers to himself as the Son of Man and speaks of angels, we find some interesting verses.

Matthew 13:41 – “The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom all who cause sin and those guilty of lawlessness.
Matthew 16:27 – “For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will reward each according to what he has done.
Matthew 25:31 – “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.

These references of angels with the Son of Man all have to do with consequence and reward within the kingdom of God. These sayings allude to the spiritual truth of the authority of the kingdom of God, and the consequences of rejection or belief in him. Notice the summary of each of the Son of Man passages above concludes with unambiguous references to the kingdom of God.

Matthew 13:43 – “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Let anyone who has ears listen.
Matthew 16:28 – “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Matthew 25:32, 34 – “All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. … “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

We know that this paradigm of the kingdom is already in place, as after his resurrection, Messiah was quoted as saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:18-19)

This is the fulfillment of the promise of the kingdom made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! Disciples would be made of all nations through faith in the seed of Abraham, that is, Messiah.

The apostle Paul recognized this connection as well, when he wrote that the Messiah was the promised seed to whom this blessing would come.

Galatians 3:14, 16 – The purpose was that the blessing of Abraham would come to the nations by Messiah Yeshua, so that we could receive the promised Spirit through faith. … Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say “and to seeds,” as though referring to many, but referring to one, and to your seed, who is Messiah.

In Messiah Yeshua, the kingdom of God has its fulfillment. As the promised seed of Abraham, he is the bridge between heaven and earth. All who believe in him, that is, who are “in” the seed, have access to the throne of heaven through faith. The ancient Jewish tradition of Jacob having a vision of God’s kingdom is substantiated through the revelation of the Messiah as the Son of Man through which God’s kingdom is come to 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 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.