A royal priesthood of integrity

A faithful tribe created the pattern of intercession, reverent peace, and knowledge to turn others from iniquity.

A faithful tribe created the pattern of intercession, reverent peace, and knowledge to turn others from iniquity.

Malachi 2:5-7 – “My covenant with him [Levi] was one of life and peace, and I gave these to him; it called for reverence, and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth, and nothing wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and integrity and turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should desire instruction from his mouth, because he is the messenger of Yahweh of Armies.”

Out of all of the tribes of ancient Israel, the tribe of Levi was entrusted with the ministry of the priesthood. Moses and Aaron were Levites, and the high priesthood remained within the specific line of Aaron, while the remaining priestly duties were distributed amongst the rest of the Levites.

Many today who are believers in Messiah consider themselves to be a type of priesthood because of a very famous passage written by the apostle Peter.

1 Peter 2:9-10 – But you are a chosen family, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

As always, it’s important to maintain the context and audience relevance of a passage to better understand its meaning. In this case, this passage was written to a specific group (or groups) of people almost two thousand years ago. The people that Peter was writing to are listed as “those chosen, living as exiles dispersed abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient and to be sprinkled with the blood of Yeshua Messiah.”

According to the Cambridge Bible commentary:

“Literally, taking the words in their Greek order, to the elect sojourners of the dispersion. The last word occurs in the New Testament in John 7:35 and James 1:1, and in the Apocrypha in 2 Ma 1:27. It was used as a collective term for the whole aggregate of Jews who, since the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, had been scattered in Asia and elsewhere.”

These were the descendants of Israelites who had been scattered throughout the known world 750 years earlier, when the Assyrians had taken the northern ten tribes captive and intermixed them among all of the people they ruled over at that time. We know this is the case based on Peter’s reference from the prophecy of Hosea. This prophecy of Hosea spoke about how God would reject his people for their disobedience, scatter them among the nations, but then again he would restore them and call them sons of God.

Hosea 1:9-10 – Then Yahweh said: Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not my people, and I will not be your God. Yet the number of the Israelites will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or counted. And in the place where they were told: You are not my people, they will be called: Sons of the living God.

In the minds of the disciples, this prophesied restoration and reunification of the tribes was taking place before their eyes.

1 Peter 2:10 – Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

This is why Peter could call those people a priesthood; they were the descendants of the Israelites who had stood at the foot of Mount Sinai 1500 years earlier.

Exodus 19:1, 5-6 – In the third month from the very day the Israelites left the land of Egypt, they came to the Sinai Wilderness. … “Now if you will carefully listen to me and keep my covenant, you will be my own possession out of all the peoples, although the whole earth is mine, “and you will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation.‘ These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.”

All of the Israelites were not Levites, but the Levites were only representatives of the nation before God, just as the nation was representative of God before the rest of the world.

But this is not a condition of race or ancestry, but one of faith. There were non-Israelites also present at Mount Sinai who were included in that holy nation of the kingdom of priests.

Exodus 12:37-38 – The Israelites traveled from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand able-bodied men on foot, besides their families. A mixed crowd also went up with them, along with a huge number of livestock, both flocks and herds.

God was creating a new thing, a nation out of all nations that would be called to represent him in the world. It was made up of his people chosen out of all the nations. This is why this passage comes to have important meaning to believers in Messiah. Just like those ragged folk standing at the foot of Mount Sinai, God is now calling people from all nations to join the kingdom of God. This is made possible through faith in his Messiah, his representative king. Faith in the Messiah allows believers to participate in a type of priesthood, a representation of God to the rest of the world.

As such, we are commissioned just as Levi was to be a people of integrity. The same qualities that were evident in the ancient tribe of Levi as related by Malachi should be evident in us today.

  • He revered God and stood in awe of his name.
  • True instruction was in his mouth, and nothing wrong was found on his lips.
  • He walked with God in peace and integrity and turned many from iniquity.
  • For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should desire instruction from his mouth, because he is the messenger of Yahweh.

If we are to take our walk with Messiah seriously, we should consider that we represent all that God wants to convey to the world. We can intercede on behalf of others and provide true instruction to all people. Most importantly, we must walk in integrity and peace; this is how others will be turned from iniquity.


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.

A renewed heart will abide within the Kingdom law

The Ten Commandments are intended to be the guidance of our actions through the transforming of our hearts.

Today we will be looking at the topic of the kingdom, and how the commands of the kingdom charter, the Ten Commandments, are intended to be the guidance of our actions through the transforming of our hearts.

Matthew 5:21-22 – “You have heard that it was said to the ancient ones, ‘You shall not murder;’ and ‘Whoever shall murder shall be in danger of the judgment.’ But I tell you, that everyone who is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment; and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council; and whoever shall say, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of the fire of Gehenna.”

Within the natural or physical kingdom of God of ancient Israel, it was necessary to establish rules and safeguards for the population. For a private individual to purposely take the life of another for personal reasons was forbidden, and an offense for which the natural judgment of capital punishment was necessitated for the good of the community.

However, Yeshua uses this basic tenet of the kingdom charter, the Ten Commandments, as a way of elevating the principle to include any intended act of unrighteous anger toward another. In one sense, just as some thought is necessary before an action, any act of murder begins with unrighteous anger towards another. By highlighting and restricting the offense of the emotion, the act will not be carried out. Therefore, to prevent murder, one must eliminate the unrighteous anger behind the action.

Stated another way, as Yeshua points out, the judgment that an individual could face by committing murder could equally be leveled by God against the emotion. The action starts there, so the ultimate judgment would apply there, as well.

This would have been a revolutionary way for Yeshua to be confronting the Jewish leaders with their own practices, and he knew it would have a condemning effect; that was the point. They were so focused on practicing the letter of the law that they were violating just about every intent of it.

For example, Yeshua confronted them many times on the hypocrisy of their actions, and how, as the recognized leaders within the wider Jewish community, they should have been setting the proper standards as leaders of integrity and faithfulness. Instead, they had become corrupted by their positions of authority, and mostly used their influence for personal agendas.

Matthew 23:23-24 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, and yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law ​– ​justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These things should have been done without neglecting the others. Blind guides! You strain out a gnat, but gulp down a camel!”

In a parallel passage in the gospel of Luke, Yeshua continues his rant against the religious establishment.

Luke 11:46, 52 – Then he said: “Woe also to you experts in the law! You load people with burdens that are hard to carry, and yet you yourselves don’t touch these burdens with one of your fingers. … Woe to you experts in the law! You have taken away the key to knowledge. You didn’t go in yourselves, and you hindered those who were trying to go in.”

These are only excerpts from the denunciations that Yeshua levels against the leaders. However, these hypocritical actions highlighted by Yeshua can be summarized within one specific charge that he expresses by using two successive examples for repeated emphasis.

Matthew 23:25-28 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside of it may also become clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of the bones of the dead and every kind of impurity. In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

In the context of all that Yeshua condemned the leaders for, this primary condemnation has to do with the appearance on outside versus the reality on the inside. They had been focused on the outward cleanliness of the cup and dish, but the insides were still dirty. Tombs can look beautiful on the outside, but the reality on the inside is that they are full of corrupted bodies and bones. This is the same principle we have been exploring from his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 5: 21-22 – “You have heard that it was said to the ancient ones, ‘You shall not murder;’ and ‘Whoever shall murder shall be in danger of the judgment.’ But I tell you, that everyone who is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…”

According to Yeshua here, the true intent of the command not to murder is to reach to the emotion underlying the act. By condemning the inner emotion, the outward act is eliminated, and the command is enhanced. In essence, Yeshua is saying, “While everyone knows that murder subjects you to judgment, I tell you, in God’s eyes, the same applies to unchecked emotions. Therefore, do not call someone a fool or an idiot or be unrighteously angry with anyone.”

While this teaching may have seemed revolutionary at the time, it would only have been so because of the leaders’ disregard of the full instruction of Torah or God’s Word on this matter. This principle was taught in the Psalms and Proverbs.

  • Psalm 37:8 – Cease from anger and abandon wrath; Do not get upset; it leads only to evildoing.
  • Proverbs 14:16-17 – A wise person is cautious and turns from evil, but a fool is easily angered and is careless. A quick-tempered person acts foolishly, and one who schemes is hated.

As the teachings of Yeshua were passed on to his disciples and the message of God’s kingdom spread, the disciples carried with them the teaching of God’s Word as exemplified by the teachings of Messiah. John captured this same principle in his first epistle.

  • 1 John 2:9, 11 – “The one who says he is in the light but hates his brother or sister is in the darkness until now. … But the one who hates his brother or sister is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and doesn’t know where he’s going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
  • 1 John 3:15 – “Everyone who hates his brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.”
  • 1 John 4:20 – “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

John speaks to this issue by pointing to the consequences of inner hatred of others: darkness, murder, lying, not demonstrating love of God. These are all the negative aspects of a life that is lived with only an outward appearance of religiosity but not being sincerely lived from the heart motives underneath. This is what Yeshua condemned the Jewish leaders for, and what we stand condemned of if we also are hypocritical in our faith. The final result of these actions and motives is only judgment and death.

So far, we have looked at the judgment not only of actions but of the motives behind those actions. In a moment, we will look at the opposite of judgment and death, the life and blessings that can be the result of the renewed heart in the life of a believer.


If judgment is the result of the combination of the emotion and the action, then conversely, a blessing can be inferred from the inverse emotion and action combination. For example, if the command is to not murder or even be angry with anyone, and if we do the opposite by not being unrighteously angry with anyone at any time and instead safeguard the lives and interests of others, this will result in a blessing both for them and for us. The action flows from the intention and inner emotion, and when the inner intent is good, the actions will be good. This is how Yeshua taught that a tree (its inner goodness or badness) will be known (demonstrated) by its fruit (its actions).

Paul goes a little deeper into this process and provides the reasoning why inner bitterness should not be a part of the believer’s life.

Ephesians 4:31-32 – “Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Messiah.”

If we have truly been forgiven in Messiah, then our hearts should reflect that newness because of the recognition of God’s forgiveness in our lives. Paul refers to this characteristic as the “new man” or the “new self.”

  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, they are a new creature: old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
  • Ephesians 4:20-24 – “But that is not how you came to know Messiah, assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Yeshua, to take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.”
  • Colossians 3:8-10 – “But now, put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator.”

When the inner desires and motive are captive to God’s will, it is then that the true intent of God’s commands will be fulfilled in our outward actions, resulting in blessing, not judgment. This was the whole goal of the new covenant of the kingdom that was spoken about by the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

  • 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 36:26-27 – “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 new living heart of flesh has been God’s plan all along, and had only become corrupted into a heart of stone when the letter of the law was put above the spirit of it. The apostle Paul teaches this principle to the Corinthian congregation.

2 Corinthians 3:6 – “He has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

Paul then goes on to list the supremacy of the law of the spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:7-8 – “Now if the ministry that brought death, engraved in letters on stones, came with glory, so that the Israelites were not able to gaze steadily at Moses’s face because of its glory, which faded, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?”

The Ten Commandments were engraved by the finger of God in stone. In Paul’s line of reasoning throughout his epistles, the commands themselves, while holy and good, stir up within us the opposite intent by inciting us to the very thing they are intended to avoid.

Romans 7:10-13 – “The commandment that was meant for life resulted in death for me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good. Therefore, did what is good become death to me? Absolutely not! On the contrary, sin, in order to be recognized as sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that through the commandment, sin might become sinful beyond measure.”

The violation of any of the commands results in a type of death. We cannot truly serve God through only the letter of the law; this is what the Pharisees and scribes were guilty of. We saw this earlier in the passage in Matthew’s gospel.

Matthew 23:23-24 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, and yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law ​– ​justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These things should have been done without neglecting the others.”

They were so intent on being obedient to the physical law of tithing that they focused on the physical minutia and were oblivious to the larger intent behind those laws resulting in justice, mercy, and faithfulness. Instead of their obedience to the law resulting in life, their outward conformity without inward spiritual motivation resulted in only death.

Going back to Paul’s analogy with Moses and the Ten Commandments is that if the stone commandments were powerful enough to cause Moses’ face to physically shine with glory, albeit only temporarily, how much more will the application of the inner spiritual motives of those commands cause believers to shine even more gloriously for all eternity? This is the whole point of the law: to lead us to the new covenant of the kingdom in Messiah, in whom the fullness of the law through the Spirit of God, enabling those inner motives to truly conform to his will, is revealed. The law is not done away; as Paul writes, it is “holy and just and good.” But what I believe he is trying to convey is that the letter of the law, empty of the power of the Spirit of God, is what has faded away. In its place, through Messiah, is a renewed heart that is enabled to keep that same law through the empowerment of God’s Spirit. This is the message of Jeremiah and Ezekiel; this is the gospel of the kingdom!

We do well to keep in mind that the physical kingdom of ancient Israel was the template, the basis, for the universal and spiritual kingdom of God. As such, the principles in place then, such as the command not to murder, are still in force in the universal kingdom.

However, through the instruction of Yeshua within the gospel of the kingdom, he highlighted how they are enhanced further. This was the meaning and the promise of the law being placed on the heart of the believer within the universal kingdom. If the heart has been renewed, then no law will be violated. In effect, if all of the actions come from a renewed heart of righteousness, then the law will be kept perfectly.

This is the goal that Yeshua came to express. This was the intent of the gospel of the kingdom, and why it was considered good news! As believers, we have been freed from the condemnation and death of the natural law without the Spirit, because the law placed on our heart and empowered by the Spirit ensures we are acting with true motives and abiding within the instruction of God for all time.


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.

Following our God of compassion

God honors those who seek him with their whole heart. Perhaps so should we.

God honors those who seek him with their whole heart. Perhaps so should we.

Being a believer in the God of the Bible presents a primary challenge that has eluded the Body of Messiah over the centuries since he walked this earth: unity. Those who claim to believe in Messiah and abide within the dictates of the Bible have been marginalized in society, and yet splintered and at war with each other at times.

Our struggles among ourselves are typically centered on issues of doctrine: what is considered orthodoxy and what is considered heretical. This is nothing new, as the Bible is filled with examples of individuals and groups who have separated and fought with each other within the overall Hebraic worldview and the Judaic roots of our faith.

In the days of Yeshua and the early believers, there were many factions of the faith, notably between the Samaritans and the Jews of Judea. When Yeshua met the woman at the well, she stated one of those doctrinal differences evident at that time:

John 4:20 – “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”

Additionally, famous within the “orthodox” Judaism of the day, another difference was demonstrated by the beliefs of the Sadducees and Pharisees. The apostle Paul even used these differences in a ploy to defend himself before their tribunal.

Acts 23:6-8 – When Paul realized that one part of them were Sadducees and the other part were Pharisees, he cried out in the Sanhedrin, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. I am being judged because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead! ” When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees say there is no resurrection, and neither angel nor spirit, but the Pharisees affirm them all.

Paul repeatedly urged for unity and oneness among the faithful congregations to who he wrote his epistles:

  • Ephesians 4:1-4 – Therefore I, the prisoner in Yahweh, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit ​– ​just as you were called to one hope at your calling ​– ​
  • Colossians 3:12-15 – Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as Yahweh has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful.

So why is this so hard to achieve? How is it that those who claim to believe in Messiah are still so fractured and splintered among thousands of denominations today? I suggest it may have to do largely with a lack of compassion. In recently reading a section of Israel’s history, I was struck by one sentiment that was expressed by the writer of 2 Chronicles in relation to the following of the Torah.

2 Chronicles 30:16-20 – [The priests] stood at their prescribed posts, according to the law of Moses, the man of God. The priests splattered the blood received from the Levites, for there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves, and so the Levites were in charge of slaughtering the Passover lambs for every unclean person to consecrate the lambs to Yahweh. A large number of the people ​– ​many from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun ​– ​were ritually unclean, yet they had eaten the Passover contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah had interceded for them, saying, “May the good Yahweh provide atonement on behalf of whoever sets his whole heart on seeking God, Yahweh, the God of his ancestors, even though not according to the purification rules of the sanctuary.” So Yahweh heard Hezekiah and healed the people.

The people had failed to obey every little detail of the Torah in relation to the purification rite, but Hezekiah recognized that their hearts were in the right place, and they were acting with the best of intentions, so he interceded for them. And the text says that God heard that prayer and healed or reconciled the people to himself.

Perhaps if, like Hezekiah, we did less judgment and more intercession on behalf of those whose doctrine may not line up 100% with our own, we may provide more occasions for oneness and unity as believers in the one God of the Bible. This is due to the fact that intercession on behalf of others stems from a heart of compassion, and compassion and mercy are the defining characteristics of Yahweh himself.

Exodus 34:6 – Yahweh passed in front of [Moses] and proclaimed: Yahweh ​– ​Yahweh is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth,

When we exhibit compassion towards all others, not just in the context of helping the downtrodden and poor of society but extending compassion towards others who believe in the Bible but still may not agree with us, we open up opportunities for communication and dialogue, dialogue that can enlighten and enrich. Perhaps we can ask God for hearts like Priscila and Aquila.

Acts 18:24-26 – Now a Jew named Apollos, a native Alexandrian, an eloquent man who was competent in the use of the Scriptures, arrived in Ephesus. He had been instructed in the way of Yahweh; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately about Yeshua, although he knew only John’s baptism. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately.

Recognizing that Apollos’ heart was in the right place, Priscilla and Aquila were moved to openly discuss doctrine with Apollos to help him understand “the way of God more accurately.” Of course, we all may think we have the most accurate understanding of God’s word. But if we are truly humble and realize that none of us have all the answers, we should keep at least a small door open to improving our own understanding of God’s word “more accurately.” Perhaps, when we focus less on the letter of the law and more on the hearts that are truly seeking the God of the Bible, we may be more successful in attuning ourselves to that same passion and building bridges to unity in the process.


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.

All believers should be worthy of trust

Integrity is not only a quality for those in leadership.

Integrity is not only a quality for those in leadership.

When Moses began leading the Israelites through the wilderness, he was quickly becoming overwhelmed with the administration of justice among the vast number of people. To assist with this, his father in law Jethro provided him the following advice:

Exodus 18:21 – But you should select from all the people able men, God-fearing, trustworthy, and hating dishonest profit. Place them over the people as commanders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens.

The logic was to divide up the responsibility of oversight of the community to many others to help spread out the workload. But in order for this to be effective, the ones being placed in positions of oversight had to be trustworthy individuals. In the text, these individuals are described as being able, God-fearing, trustworthy, and hating dishonest profit.

To select those who were able meant to identify those who have a wealth of efficiency and strength or stamina. Those who were God-fearing were those who respected and honored God, recognizing his sovereignty over people. Trustworthy men were simply men of truth; they did not deal in falsehoods. And those who were hating dishonest profit meant to select men to whom unjust gain or profit gained by violence was abhorrent.

In short, these were to be men of integrity; they could be trusted to faithfully provide guidance and oversight of the community.

The apostle Paul continued this legacy as he instructed the early Messianic leaders in oversight of the fledgling communities of believers.

  • Titus 1:6-9 – An elder must be blameless: the husband of one wife, with faithful children who are not accused of wildness or rebellion. As an overseer of God’s household, he must be blameless: not arrogant, not hot-tempered, not an excessive drinker, not a bully, not greedy for money, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled, holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it.
  • 1 Timothy 3:8 – Deacons, likewise, should be worthy of respect, not hypocritical, not drinking a lot of wine, not greedy for money…

While these are sound principles of leadership, all believers should be people of integrity.

  • 1 Timothy 3:11 – Wives, too, must be worthy of respect, not slanderers, self-controlled, faithful in everything.
  • Titus 2:2 – Older men are to be self-controlled, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love, and endurance.
  • Ephesians 6:1-3, 5-9 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, because this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land. … Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as you would Messiah. Don’t work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but as slaves of Messiah, do God’s will from your heart. Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to people, knowing that whatever good each one does, slave or free, he will receive this back from the Lord. And masters, treat your slaves the same way, without threatening them, because you know that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

Integrity is a hallmark of all believers, no matter their age, gender, or social status. All of us should be worthy of being good stewards over God’s Creation, even if we don’t have a specific leadership role designated for us among God’s people. We all have a responsibility to faithfully honor our Creator, and to carry his name with the respect it deserves.


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.

True holiness is God’s presence through his Word in our hearts

Those who live and abide by God’s precepts are doing so because it makes up the very essence of who they are.

Core of the Bible podcast #75 – True holiness is God’s presence through his Word in our hearts

Today we will be looking at the topic of holiness, and how those who live and abide by God’s precepts are doing so because it makes up the very essence of who they are. These ongoing actions of obedience cause believers to be holy and set apart from all others.

We begin in Jeremiah 46:28 – Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant, for I am with you,” says Yahweh.

The one thing that set ancient Israel apart from their neighboring tribes and countries was that their God was present with them. While other kingdoms and countries had their gods, their idols, and their temples, Israel actually had the very presence of the God of the universe with them. God allowed himself to be physically present somehow within their Mishkan, the tabernacle, or the portable sanctuary that traveled with them. His presence resided in that Most Holy Place, by all accounts hovering above and within the ark of the covenant which contained the tablets of the Ten Words, or what we call the Ten Commandments.

This covenant, these Ten Words, are what separated Israel from their neighbors. This is what made them holy. They had been instructed to abide by the actual commands of God, written with his own finger, etched eternally into stone.

A Jewish site called Chabad which explains various aspects of the Hasidic Jewish traditions, conveys what happened at Matan Torah, the Giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai.

“Of the 613 biblical commandments, G‑d selected these ten commandments for special attention. He directly communicated them to the Jews without using Moses as an intermediary, and inscribed them on the tablets which were placed in the Holy Ark within the Holy of Holies. It is evident that although all the mitzvot [commands] are vital, the five carved into the first tablet were chosen because they form the basis of our relationship with the Creator, while the latter five serve as the foundation of our relationship with fellow people.” What happened at Matan Torah?

Even according to their own teachings, to Jews the Ten Commandments form the basis of all of the rest of the instruction of God. This ironically echoes the teaching of Messiah where he also relates the importance of the most important commandments:

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.”

Since the first five of the Ten Commandments apply to the Creator, and the second five apply to our fellow people, we see how the teaching of Yeshua validates obedience to the Ten Commandments.

Now, the giving of the Ten Commandments at Sinai was not a private event that would simply be related thousands of years after the fact. There was no fanciful prophetic vision or private revelation; these words had been conveyed to the entire assembly of Israel at once as God himself spoke these words from Sinai. Everyone heard his voice, everyone felt the weight of his presence and struggled with the fear, real fear, at hearing the resounding and penetrating voice of God. Scripture tells us:

Exodus 19:16 – On the morning of the third day, thunder roared and lightning flashed, and a dense cloud came down on the mountain. There was a long, loud blast from a ram’s horn, and all the people trembled.

Hebrews 12:19-21 – For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking. They staggered back under God’s command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, “I am terrified and trembling.”

Even to this day, Jews recount the awful dread at the unique event that had overtaken that vast community of wilderness dwellers. From the Jewish News of Northern California, an article discusses what happened when God spoke at Sinai:

“For example, the rabbis have said that each of the commandments was said simultaneously in 70 languages and that the Torah was written with black fire on white fire. Another midrash [traditional legend] suggests that each individual heard revelation differently, according to their capacity, just as the manna tasted different to different people.” When God spoke at Sinai

Sefaria, a Jewish site that presents and evaluates the Hebrew text of the Tanakh conveys the following in an article titled “What really happened at Sinai?”:

“What did they see? The Torah was given through seven voices. And the people saw the Master of the Universe revealed in every one of these voices. That’s the meaning of the verse ‘All the people saw the the voices.’ (Exodus 20:15) These voices were accompanied by sparks of fire and flashes of lightening that were in the shape of the letters of the ten commandments. They saw the fiery word pouring out from the mouth of the Almighty and watched as they were inscribed on the stone tablets, as it says, ‘The voice of God inscribes flames of fire’ (Ps 29:4). And when the people actually saw The-One-Who-Speaks-the-World-into-Being, they fainted away. Some say that their spirits left their bodies, while others say that they entered a prophetic trance. These visions brought them to trembling and shaking and a blackout of the senses.” (Midrash Exodus Rabbah) What really happened at Sinai?

Once again going back to the previous Chabad article on the Matan Torah:

“This was no simple handing over of a book of lore; G‑d gave us His Divine laws for us to study and follow. This was a transitional moment in our history—a moment known as Matan Torah (the Giving of the Torah.) No longer were we merely the descendants of a great man named Abraham, or simply a Middle-Eastern people known as the Israelites. We had now become G‑d’s people, chosen to learn His Torah and keep its laws. It’s a moment we celebrate every year on the festival of Shavuot.”

Israel was born of revelation of God himself, a revelation of his expectations of conduct that were conveyed to an entire people at once. To Christians, the term “the Revelation” references the last book of the Bible, where the risen and glorified Yeshua reveals an outline of the outworking of the Day of the Lord, the culmination of the age. To Jews, the Revelation always references Sinai, where Yahweh revealed himself to the entire nation at once. It is THE watershed event in all of Jewish tradition and their sacred history, and rightly so. This revelation of God is what set them apart as holy and distinct from all other nations. The ten commandments born of this Revelation of Yahweh were placed into the heart of their most sacred place (the ark of the covenant) and they carried them within this central sanctuary throughout their wilderness journeys and into the land promised to them.

So, if this revelation of God is so central to the history of God’s people, it makes sense that it would also still be central to the ongoing history of God’s people today.


To this day, what sets God’s people apart is this same covenant, the Ten Words. There is no equal among the religious communities of the world.

The illustration for believers today comes through what is pictured in the wilderness journeys of Israel: just as God resided in that Most Holy Place within and above the ark of this covenant, God’s very presence resides within these Ten Words, the Ten Commandments. Just as the Ten Commandments were placed into the “heart” of the tabernacle within the ark of the covenant, God’s commands are placed in the heart of every believer through the renewal of the holy Spirit. As we seek to fulfill these commands placed in our heart, then we are truly following in the footsteps of our Lord, the Messiah Yeshua.

Matthew 5:17-19 – “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

According to Yeshua, the Kingdom of Heaven is populated by those who abide by the commandments of God. This is the everlasting covenant that remains forever. Most people don’t realize that the Ten Commandments ARE this everlasting covenant, therefore it can never go away.

Exodus 34:28 – Moses was there with Yahweh forty days and forty nights; he did not eat food or drink water. He wrote the Ten Commandments, the words of the covenant, on the tablets.

Deuteronomy 4:13 – “He declared his covenant to you. He commanded you to follow the Ten Commandments, which he wrote on two stone tablets.

This is why they were written in stone, by the very finger of God himself. In what other way could God ever illustrate the importance and everlasting nature of these commands?

By contrast, the “new” covenant ushered in through the ministry, life, and death of Yeshua is a martyr’s covenant. It is a covenant of dying to self so that the words of the everlasting covenant, the Ten Commandments, can actually be lived through us in this life.

The apostle Paul writes about it this way

Romans 6:6-7,11-12 – “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be rendered powerless so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, since a person who has died is freed from sin … So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Messiah Yeshua. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires.”

Through faith in Messiah, this everlasting covenant is placed in the hearts of those who would receive them, those who are called by his Name and who live and abide by its precepts because it makes up the very essence of who they are.

Jeremiah 31:33 – “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says Yahweh. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

Through faith in Yeshua, the holy Spirit of God resides within believers to cause them to abide by the universal principles of God’s commands. This is related by the apostle John:

1 John 3:7-9 – “Children, let no one deceive you. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who commits sin is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the devil’s works. Everyone who has been born of God does not sin, because his seed remains in him; he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God.”

This is a difficult passage for most Christians, because they are taught all people are sinners due to a fallen nature and they can never escape the clutches of sinfulness until after physical death. But the Bible doesn’t teach this. In fact, John says that “everyone who has been born of God does not sin.” This type of language causes Christians to stumble; however, it is not meant in the absolute sense, but in the practical sense. Why do believers not sin, according to John? Because, having died to themselves, the commands of God that have been placed in their hearts can be truly lived out. He describes it as “his seed [that is, God’s seed] remains in him.” As Proverbs tells us:

Proverbs 4:23 – Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.

The heart is the seat of all emotion and the wellspring of actions, so if the heart is good, the actions are good. If the seed is good, the tree is good. And as Yeshua said, if the tree is good, the fruit is good.

Matthew 12:33 – “Either make the tree good and its fruit will be good, or make the tree bad and its fruit will be bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.”

Therefore, as believers abide by the commands of God placed in their heart through the holy Spirit within them, they do not sin, because sin, by definition, is the breaking of God’s commands, or his law.

1 John 3:4 – “Everyone who commits sin practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.”

However, if, as God spoke through Jeremiah when he said, “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts,” then the passage in 1 John makes sense because it says, “whoever has been born of God does not sin, because his seed remains in him; he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God.”

God has not done away with this old covenant, the Ten Commandments. In fact, according to Jeremiah and Yeshua, the commandments of God are the very heart of the new covenant in Messiah.

Here’s something else to consider: Paul wrote that the faith of the early Messiah believers depended on the fact of the resurrection of Messiah.

1 Corinthians 15:17, 19 – And if Messiah has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. … If we have put our hope in Messiah for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.

The resurrection of Yeshua was the validation of everything he taught and lived; that is why it has such priceless value to believers today. And, just as the Ten Commandments were revealed to a large group of people, the resurrected Messiah was also revealed to multiples of individuals, eyewitness who could be consulted by those living at that time, as Paul relates:

1 Corinthians 15:5-8 – … he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers and sisters at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one born at the wrong time, he also appeared to me.”

So, if the resurrection never happened, Paul reasons, then our faith is in vain. In like fashion I would add that if the Ten Commandments have been done away with, then all faith is worthless, because those words are the very heart of the eternal covenant. The Ten Commandments are the central foundation of the Kingdom of God that Yeshua ushered in, both in this life and beyond. To be set apart for the purpose of God is to be obedient to him and his ways, here on earth now and into eternity.

This is holiness, being set apart for the purposes of God. He is present within the words of his covenant, and as the covenanted words are in our heart, he is present within us. God is present: this sets us apart; this makes us whole. This holiness through obedience to his words in our heart is the very essence of his kingdom on 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 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 smallest of kindnesses can have influential results

We may never see the positive end results of our simplest compassionate actions.

We may never see the positive end results of our simplest compassionate actions.

Exodus 2:5-6 – Pharaoh’s daughter went down to bathe at the Nile while her servant girls walked along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds, sent her slave girl, took it, opened it, and saw him, the child ​– ​and there he was, a little boy, crying. She felt sorry for him and said, “This is one of the Hebrew boys.”

It was an act of compassion which began the people of Israel as an independent nation. Rescued from abandonment in the the Nile River, Moses was brought up in Pharaoh’s household only to become the deliverer of God’s people.

We may never understand the scope of our compassionate actions, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem to us at that time that we help someone else. Knowing the history of how the Hebrew male babies were being killed during their enslavement in Egypt, it may have seemed pointless to rescue one child when so many other hundreds or thousands were routinely being killed. Yet from this smallest of caring deeds by Pharaoh’s daughter the history of a nation, and ultimately the world, was forever changed.

Boaz, a prominent man of Israel showed simple compassion to Ruth, the daughter of a distant relative, Naomi. In the process of showing a kindness to her, he ended up acquiring her as a wife.

Ruth 4:9-10 – Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today that I am buying from Naomi everything that belonged to Elimelech, Chilion, and Mahlon. “I have also acquired Ruth the Moabitess, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, to perpetuate the deceased man’s name on his property, so that his name will not disappear among his relatives or from the gate of his hometown. You are witnesses today.”

Through this act of compassion and obedience to Torah, Boaz became the immortalized as a great-grandfather in the lineage of one of the most famous of ancient Israelites, King David.

Ruth 4:21-22 – Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed, Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.

Yeshua encouraged compassion among believers, even something as simple as giving a cup of cold water to the thirsty.

Matthew 10:40-42 – “The one who welcomes you welcomes me, and the one who welcomes me welcomes him who sent me. Anyone who welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward. And anyone who welcomes a righteous person because he’s righteous will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, truly I tell you, he will never lose his reward.”

Our actions, good or bad, radiate into the unknown recesses of influence much like ripples in a pond when an object breaks the surface of the water. While we may not personally see or become aware of the end results, God can use those positive and caring actions to bring about his good purpose in his timing.

As believers, we have been gifted with his Spirit, imbued with his very presence in order to allow that influence of kindness to flow through us to others in ways that honor him.

Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.

Colossians 3:12-13 – Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another.

Since these characteristics of kindness and compassion are hard-wired into the DNA of the believer, we should exemplify those caring attitudes at every opportunity. God has shown us that even the smallest of compassionate actions can have unforeseen results that will ultimately glorify him and accomplish his purpose on 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 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.

Striving after the passionate faithfulness of past generations

A constant pursuit of righteousness provides a context for our own personal and collective spiritual exodus.

Core of the Bible podcast #73 – Striving after the faithfulness of past generations

Today we will be looking at the topic of integrity, and how the passionate faithfulness of past generations during their exodus experiences can lead us to a life of integrity.  Striving after their constant pursuit of righteousness provides a context for our own personal and collective spiritual exodus in our generation.

Psalm 86:11 – Teach me your way, O Yahweh, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.

Psalm 143:10 – Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!

The person of integrity is one who intently seeks to know the truth of God. They desire to walk in that way, to conform their lives to what God desires of them. They have made seeking God the passion of their life, hungering to know him more and to know the correct way. They will not rest until they have heard a word from God, until he has shown them the next steps on their path.

Yeshua taught:

Matthew 5:6 – “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

In one sense, this teaching of Yeshua is a fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah.

Isaiah 49:8-12 – Thus says Yahweh: “In a time of favor I have answered you; in a day of salvation I have helped you; I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages, saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’ They shall feed along the ways; on all bare heights shall be their pasture; they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them. And I will make all my mountains a road, and my highways shall be raised up. Behold, these shall come from afar, and behold, these from the north and from the west, and these from the land of Syene.”

It is also a reference to the wanderings in the wilderness which Israel experienced, and how God provided for them. They neither hungered nor thirsted, they were protected from the scorching sun by the cloud that covered them, and he had pity on them and led them by springs of water. In a physical way, they were experiencing what would ultimately be fulfilled within the spiritual kingdom of God, when believers would “come from afar,” as Isaiah predicts, even “from the north and from the west.”

This is a recurring theme throughout the Bible, a theme of exodus. While we may recognize the word exodus as the name of the second book of Moses, the word itself was attached to the book as a descriptor of the main topic of the book.

Now, in the original Hebrew, the name of the book is not Exodus but Shemot, meaning “names.” The Hebrew convention of book naming was through using the first words of a book as its title, and the book of Exodus begins with a list of the names of the tribal leaders, the sons of Jacob, who went to Egypt.

Exodus 1:1 – “These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household…”

But the name Exodus was assigned to the book in later years when the Greek and Latin manuscripts were produced. Exodus comes from a combination of the Greek prefix exo, meaning “out of,” and hodos, meaning “way;” it literally means “the way out.” While the names of the books are not necessarily inspired text, this is an apt description of the main topic of the book, the exodus of the people of Israel out of Egyptian slavery and through the wilderness to the land that God promised them. This event is the pivotal event in the history of Israel and is recounted and referenced time and time again.

It is the very beginning of the Ten Commandments:

Exodus 20:2 – “I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exod 20:2)

Other references include:

Numbers 20:14-16 – Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom: “Thus says your brother Israel: You know all the hardship that we have met: how our fathers went down to Egypt, and we lived in Egypt a long time. And the Egyptians dealt harshly with us and our fathers. And when we cried to Yahweh, he heard our voice and sent an angel and brought us out of Egypt. And here we are in Kadesh, a city on the edge of your territory.

Joshua 24:17 – for it is Yahweh our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed.

Psalm 78:13-16  – He divided the sea and let them pass through it, and made the waters stand like a heap. In the daytime he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a fiery light. He split rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep. He made streams come out of the rock and caused waters to flow down like rivers.

Micah 6:3-4  – “O my people, what have I done to you? How have I wearied you? Answer me! For I brought you up from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.

As Stephen was making his defense before the Sanhedrin, he also provides a detailed retelling of these events to bolster his position of how God was the architect and overseer of the Exodus event:

Acts 7:35-36 – “This Moses, whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’–this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years.

The apostle Paul also connects with Exodus imagery:

1 Corinthians 10:1-4 – For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Messiah.

This exodus event is when God proved himself as a protector and provider of his people. This is how the Israelites could be assured that Yahweh is the one true God. This is the essence of Hebraic thought, woven into all of their storytelling and tradition. It is the theme of the Passover recounted in the Haggadah, or the “Telling” of this story, to each generation, year after year. They have done this for thousands of years since the original events took place, because the story is so powerful and pervasive as a main theme in the Bible. If you’ve ever seen the movie, “The Prince of Egypt,” you have experienced the power of this Exodus narrative.

In a moment, we will take a look at how some of the New Testament writers drew from this well of the exodus story to illustrate the power of the gospel of the Kingdom and how a life of integrity is illustrated by the desire to come out of slavery and darkness into freedom and light.


Based on this consistent theme of the exodus story, we can see how the biblical writers drew from this resource time and again to provide spiritual application of the exodus story in other contexts. In these passages, this theme of providing a way out is constantly recycled; an exodus from darkness to light, from slavery to freedom.

John 8:34, 36 – Yeshua answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. … So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Titus 3:3-6  – For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Yeshua Messiah our Savior…

Isaiah 9:2  –  The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.

Isaiah 42:16  – And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.

Ephesians 5:8  – for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

1 Peter 2:9  – But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

This exodus theme is representative of how God calls a person or people to himself, they seek him out and desire to follow him through wilderness experiences, and he provides for them along the way. In this way, the way out, it is represented as a life of integrity, of seeking after the one true God. As we have just seen, it is demonstrated over and over to teach us how to apply these simple principles in our own lives.

Unfortunately, we tend to complicate this powerful theme by over-religiousizing the Exodus text, to coin a phrase. We try so hard to discern the micro-application of tiny details and rules and regulations that were given to the Israelites during their wilderness journeys that we lose sight of the bigger picture of what God was doing with them holistically, as a people called out for his purpose. This is not in any way to diminish those rules or Torah of God, but to say that to truly understand how they should be applied, we need to see and understand the larger context of the biblical theme.

Additionally, throughout the biblical narrative, the ancestors or fathers are referenced as having experienced the intimacy with God through their own exodus journeys, an intimacy that was to be further carried on by each successive generation.

Genesis 48:15-16  – And he blessed Joseph and said, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

1 Kings 3:14  – And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”

Even Paul refers to his faithful forbears:

Acts 24:14  – But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets…

This desire to do what is right and to follow the right paths that God has laid out are exemplified in the deepest expressions of the people of God. The Psalms are especially filled with this type of pleading to God for guidance, for pouring out praise to God and outwardly declaring a desire for righteousness in speech and in actions.

Psalm 5:1-3, 7-8 – Give ear to my words, O Yahweh; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O Yahweh, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. … But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you. Lead me, O Yahweh, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.

Psalm 25:4-5, 8-10, 12 – Make me to know your ways, O Yahweh; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. … Good and upright is Yahweh; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of Yahweh are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. … Who is the man who fears Yahweh? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.

Psalm 51:6, 10-12 – Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. … Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Psalm 119:24, 27-29 – Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors. … Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works. My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!

As believers, we identify with the passionate expression of these principles of our faithful spiritual ancestors because we are ignited with the same Spirit. We desire to share in the exodus experience that they have given voice to over the centuries and millennia as these words were collected and compiled into our Bibles. The kindred longings and desires of our hearts beat in unison with those faithful who have gone before and expressed their deepest secrets which are immortalized among the pages of Scripture. The integrity that lived and breathed in them inspires us to learn of their ways and mimic their faithfulness.

Like the writer of Hebrews, we have the privileged opportunity to step back and view the entirety of the faithful ancestors who followed God and learn to copy their exemplary lives:

Hebrews 12:1 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before 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 as a way of life

Entering the Kingdom is not just something that happens to believers at the end of their life.

Entering the Kingdom is not just something that happens to believers at the end of their life.

Deuteronomy 28:6 – “You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

In speaking of those who would be faithful to the Torah, or instruction, of God, Moses wrote that they would be blessed upon “coming in and going out.” This is a Hebraic phrase that indicates the whole of how one lives their life. In Thayer’s lexicon, it is described as, “usually denot[ing] one’s whole mode of living and acting, … [it] is used of familiar contact with one.”

This same idea was expressed by the Philistine king Achish, when David was hiding from Saul by living among them.

1 Samuel 29:6 – “So Achish summoned David and told him, ‘As Yahweh lives, you are an honorable man. It was good in my eyes to have you going out and coming in in this unit with me, because I have found no fault in you from the day you came to me until today…'”

The military unit that David was involved with would go out on “sortie” missions and raids, and each day they would “go out” to raid villages, and then “come in” at the end of the day back to their main camp. This type of language implied that this was their routine, how they conducted themselves on a regular basis.

Yeshua used this similar type of expression when he spoke about the goal of the believer’s life.

John 10:9 – “I am the gate. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture.

This going in and out doesn’t mean that one goes in to receive salvation or protection and then leaves that place of security. It speaks of anyone coming under the protection of the Good Shepherd must do so through the one gate, through the guidance and commitment to Yeshua as the controlling authority of one’s life. Then one can go about living, i.e., coming in and going out, under the protection of the Good Shepherd.

That entering the Kingdom is represented as a reality of this life, and not just reserved for some eternal existence beyond this reality, Yeshua speaks about the qualifier of those who would participate in the blessings of that existence.

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.

Here, at the culmination of the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua teaches that the one who is entering the kingdom of heaven is the one who actually does the will of the Father, not just those claiming to be disciples of the Messiah. Doing God’s will is something that must be evidenced in this life, and demonstrates who the true believers are. Yeshua had just spent the previous chapters explaining to his disciples what doing God’s will looks like, which is why the Sermon on the Mount has become such a pivotal teaching of Messiah.

Entering the Kingdom, therefore, is not just something that happens to someone upon their physical death; it is a way of life, a mode of living on this earth here and now that is centered around the good news of the Kingdom of God. By faithfully seeking how to apply the teachings of Messiah in our everyday “going out and coming in,” we demonstrate that we are seeking first the Kingdom and that we have come under the protection and security of the Good Shepherd.


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.

Consistent compassion based on love for God

The heart of the Bible lies in the simplicity of its core message.

The heart of the Bible lies in the simplicity of its core message.

There are two great summaries in the Bible of the conduct that
God expects of mankind. To believers in Messiah, one of them comes to the surface of our thinking rather easily.

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 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.”

According to Yeshua, to love God and to love our neighbor is the summary of all of the Law and the Prophets. However, there is another summary in the Old Testament that was spoken to the nation of Israel during one of their most turbulent times in their history.

The second of the great summaries of conduct that God expects of people occurred just prior to the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C. A prophet by the name of Micah was tasked with lining out the sins of the nation as a witness against them of the impending judgment of God. The book of Micah is one long condemnation of their idolatrous and ungodly practices. Yet, even amidst the darkness of their actions, Micah provides a glimmer of insight: they ultimately knew the right thing to do but insisted on their own ways instead. He ironically presents their case as sarcastically asking, “What does God expect of us? Sacrifices of our animals or even the first born of our children?”

Micah 6:6-7 – What should I bring before Yahweh when I come to bow before God on high? Should I come before him with burnt offerings, with year-old calves? Would Yahweh be pleased with thousands of rams or with ten thousand streams of oil? Should I give my firstborn for my transgression, the offspring of my body for my own sin?

To this foolish complaint, the prophet Micah provides the bedrock of God’s just judgment:

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 mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah then states what they already knew but were choosing to ignore. They were simply to perform true justice, to seek after merciful interactions with one another, and to be humble in their godly walk. Is this not saying the same thing as “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself?”

Micah could say that God had shown them what was good and what Yahweh expected of them, because he already had during the time of Moses.

  • Deuteronomy 6:5 – “Love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
  • Deuteronomy 10:12 – “And now, Israel, what does Yahweh your God ask of you except to fear Yahweh your God by walking in all his ways, to love him, and to worship Yahweh your God with all your heart and all your soul?
  • Leviticus 19:15 – “Do not act unjustly when deciding a case. Do not be partial to the poor or give preference to the rich; judge your neighbor fairly.
  • Deuteronomy 5:20-21 – “Do not give dishonest testimony against your neighbor. “Do not covet your neighbor’s wife or desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
  • Leviticus 19:18 – “Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am Yahweh.

When Yeshua stated the greatest commands, he was simply quoting Moses. This then, demonstrates how this simple principle of loving God and loving one’s neighbor is consistent throughout all of Torah: from Moses, to the Prophets, and into the New Testament with the teaching of Yeshua. This is the very basis, and the goal, of all biblical teaching.

If we are truly to love our neighbor, we must act in just ways, doing what is right by them according to God’s Word. We must also love them by demonstrating mercy when it is in our power to do so. And we must act in these ways with humility because of our respect and honor for God as we seek to walk in his ways.

1 John 4:7 – Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.


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

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

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

You become like what you worship

This principle applies to people of all nations.

Within the revelation provided to the apostle John, we get a glimpse of a scene in heaven with the saints extolling the majesty and holiness of the one true God.

Revelation 15:2-4 – And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: “Great and amazing are your deeds, Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, King of the nations! Lord, who will not fear and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your judgments have been revealed.”

In this scene, those who had been brought through the trials of the tribulation predicted by Messiah now stand before the throne of God, worshiping him. They describe him as the one who alone is holy because of his “amazing deeds” and “judgments” which had been revealed.

The outworking of these judgments within the Revelation are a demonstration of God’s holiness, his set-apartness from all other gods. He alone could rightfully carry out the actions that are represented there because it had all come to pass due to the failure of his people to honor him.

There is a principle revealed throughout the Bible that ties the holiness of believers to their worship of the one true God. Just like the saying that relates “you are what you eat,” the biblical principle is “you become like the one you worship.”

1 Kings 11:2 – “Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, You shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods…”

The apostle John admonishes his audience to reject the false gods of this world.

1 John 2:16 – For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

If we worship the false gods of this world, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, we will become consumed with them in our daily lives. This is why the Bible in so many different ways condemns these things, from the Ten Commandments through the Sermon on the Mount. This is why this song in Revelation can be titled “the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb.”

However, if we worship the one true God, since he is holy and set apart, we become holy and set apart. This is not only the result of our worship, but is a commandment which becomes a statement of fact of the reality of our lives:

Leviticus 20:26 – And you shall be holy unto me: for I, Yahweh, am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.

Romans 11:16 – For if the first-fruit is holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root is holy, so are the branches.

Our holiness is a derived holiness from God, it is not something we manufacture or invent within ourselves as if it were some sort of way that we could make up to try to please him. Our holiness becomes evident only when we produce fruit in keeping with his commandments because we are single-mindedly focused on pleasing him. Our devotion to him drives the holiness in our lives.

And the holiness in our lives drives the nations to worship him, also. As they see the separateness of our lives that are devoted to him, they learn of his deeds that he has performed on behalf of his people. We can then say with the saints in heaven, “Just and true are your ways, King of the nations! Lord, who will not fear and glorify your name?”

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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.