Which teachings in the Bible should we focus on the most?

God’s word directs us and establishes us in the correct paths that we may remain faithful and fruitful for God’s kingdom.

Core of the Bible podcast #60 – Which teachings in the Bible should we focus on the most?

Today we will be looking at the topic of vigilance, and how the quality of our walk with God will be directly proportionate to the amount of time we spend with God understanding and meditating on his commands. But just which commands are the most fruitful to focus our time and energy on?

In one of the most famous (and the longest) chapter in the Bible, we can gain some understanding of this principle.

Psalm 119:133 – Make my steps secure through your words, and do not let any wrongdoing control me.

Psalm 119:148 – I am awake through each watch of the night to meditate on your words.

If we take the immediate, surface meaning of each verse, we can see that abiding by God’s words makes our steps secure, they are firm and established on right principles. When we take the right steps, we will not be allowing any wrongdoing to control us; our sinful actions will be brought under the authority of the words of God.

Additionally, we can see the vigilance with which the psalmist illustrates the frequency with which we should be associated with the words of God. He states that he is “awake through each watch of the night” to meditate on God’s words.

Now a watch of the night is generally considered to be three hours, such as 6-9 pm; 9-midnight; midnight to 3 am; and 3-6 am. Of course, these are estimates since timekeeping devices were rude and not as accurate as our timepieces today. However, through the use of gravity water clocks or other visual star-based tools, general timekeeping could be maintained throughout the night and defined these various watches.

Regardless of the method, the result is that the psalmist relates how passionate he is to mediate on the commands of God, “through each watch of the night.” That is a commitment that few of us may realize today.

Now beyond the surface meanings which we can take away from these verses, I found an interesting underlying principle in the use of the Hebrew text where the word is translated either as word, or commands, or promise of God. Now, to me, these all have different meanings, so I wanted to try to understand more fully the intent of what is being described here and how it applies to the surface meaning we just discussed.

Now some of the English versions will translate the Hebrew for “words” as “promise,” as in “Make my steps secure through your promise…” However, as the the Keil and Delitzcsh commentary states: “imrah is not merely a “promise” in this instance, but the declared will of God in general.”

Is the “declared will of God” the same as the word of God?

I think we use the term “word of God” a bit loosely in our modern vernacular, meaning anything from the whole Bible, to a specific text, to the name of Messiah, to a personal prophecy one claims to receive. In my own writings, I will typically interchangeably use Word or Word of God with Torah, or the instruction of God. But in this case, I think we need to refine this distinction a little further.

When it comes to good and fruitful Bible study, I find it really helps to define terms and to follow those terms throughout various passages to see how they are applied and what kind of contexts they occur in.  When we simply assume what a phrase means, we can many times inadvertently assign the incorrect meaning to a passage.

Looking at the two verses in Psalm 119 where this term occurs, it is actually a Hebrew phrase (beimratecha) that only occurs in this form in these two verses. The first is how following it keeps us firmly away from wrongdoing, and the second is that if we are passionate about it, we will meditate on it at all times.

Now Hebrew words have base forms that establish a root of a word, and most times we can gain a broader understanding of a word or passage by looking at the root word in different contexts. In this case, the root for beimratecha is imrah. We saw how the Keil and Delitzsch commentary defined this as the “declared will of God.” Yet, when we look at how imrah is used in other contexts, we begin to see a different emphasis. Here are some examples:

Genesis 4:23 – Lamech said to his wives: Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; wives of Lamech, pay attention to my words [imrah]. For I killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me.

Deuteronomy 32:2 – Let my teaching fall like rain and my word [imrah] settle like dew, like gentle rain on new grass and showers on tender plants.

Psalm 17:6 – I call on you, God, because you will answer me; listen closely to me; hear what I say [imrah].

First of all, we can notice how these examples having nothing to do with the word of God per se, but with the spoken words of each of these individuals: Lamech, Moses and David. So this word imrah gives us the idea of speech or spoken words.

Every other instance of this Hebrew root-word imrah relates to to the word or words of God, and almost all occur throughout the psalms.

In one sense, we know that all true prophecy is ultimately from God, however, it was spoken (and written down) by men, even spoken by Yeshua.

2 Peter 1:20-21 – Above all, you know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from the prophet’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Hebrews 1:1-2 – Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, he has spoken to us in his Son…

This fascinates me, and makes me think of what words were specifically spoken by God, what words are the result of God’s actual speaking to his people?

I think you may know where I am going with this, because there are only a few specific instances where it is said God spoke decisively to the assembled group of people at once, where they directly heard the voice of God: Sinai and in the ministry of Yeshua.

Let’s look firstly at Sinai.

Exodus 20:1 – Then God spoke all these words: [and the passage goes on to list the Ten Commandments].

This incredible revelatory event freaked out the people so much that they begged for Moses to receive the instruction from God and relate it to them, but not for God to speak to them any longer.

Exodus 20:19 – “You speak to us, and we will listen,” they said to Moses, “but don’t let God speak to us, or we will die.”

This instance of God speaking directly to the entire congregation has a large emphasis throughout Hebrew thought even to this day. Jewish rabbinic lore even suggests that after every commandment spoken by God, the whole congregation physically died, and God brought them back to life each time. There are also legends that say all the people actually saw the voice or the soundwaves of God’s voice, and that it reverberated through the entirety of their bodies, through every atom or molecule.

While we may view these legends as fanciful embellishments to the story, they nevertheless present a basis for understanding just how significant an event this was in the life of Israel, and indeed, the world. God spoke directly to them, and the words he spoke were the Ten Commandments.

If we now revert to our study of the word imrah and view these passages as focused primarily on the spoken words of God, we find that the “word” that the psalmists focus on as being the primary way of keeping from sin is the spoken instruction of God: the Ten Commandments.

Psalm 12:6 – The words [imrah] of Yahweh are pure words [imrah], like silver refined in an earthen furnace, purified seven times.

Psalm 18:30 – God ​– ​his way is perfect; the word [imrah] of Yahweh is pure. He is a shield to all who take refuge in him.

These instances of God’s spoken word make an interesting study. If we consider that the primary instruction that is spoken of as being the meditation of the righteous and the ensuring of avoiding sin is the Ten Commandments, we can see that an in-depth appreciation and ongoing evaluation of God’s words to his people has much benefit. The Ten Commandments are the basis of all of God’s word to his people, and the path to life that even Yeshua speaks of when asked of a bystander.

Matthew 19:17-19 – “‘… If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.’  ‘Which ones?’ he asked him. Yeshua answered: ‘Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother; and love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Yeshua validates the keeping of the imrah, the spoken words of God that were known to his audience, but what of the other spoken words of God? The gospels reveal some other instances that we can also draw inspiration from.

At the beginning of the public ministry of Yeshua, John the baptizer received a sign that Yeshua was the One whom he had the privilege of revealing to Israel.

John 1:32-34 – And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and he rested on him. “I didn’t know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The one you see the Spirit descending and resting on ​– ​he is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ “I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”

The text is not clear that everyone else also saw the Spirit of God descending on him, but Matthew, Mark and Luke make it clear that God did make a spoken announcement at the same time to ensure everyone knew of the significance of Yeshua.

Matthew 3:16-17 – When Yeshua was baptized, he went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And a voice from heaven said: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased.”

Mark 1:10-11 – As soon as he came up out of the water, he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.”

Luke 3:21-22 – When all the people were baptized, Yeshua also was baptized. As he was praying, heaven opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in a physical appearance like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.”

So, these examples are from the beginning of Yeshua’s ministry and establish validity for the works and teaching of Yeshua over the course of the next three and a half years.

There still remains another instance where the spoken word of God is mentioned, and that is at the conclusion of Yeshua’s ministry.

John 12:26-30 – “If anyone serves me, he must follow me. Where I am, there my servant also will be. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.  “Now my soul is troubled. What should I say ​– ​Father, save me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour. “Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”  The crowd standing there heard it and said it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”  Yeshua responded, “This voice came, not for me, but for you.”

If the voice from heaven in these instances was indeed the voice of God heard by the assembled people, then it brings great significance to both the beginning of Yeshua’s ministry and the conclusion of it, validating who Yeshua was and also foretelling the glory that would be realized through his soon-coming crucifixion and resurrection.

This imrah or spoken words of God regarding his Son Yeshua presents a strong witness to the ministry of Yeshua and gives great weight to his teachings. In fact, Yeshua himself said repeatedly that he only taught whatever the Father instructed him to say.

John 12:49-50 – “For I have not spoken on my own, but the Father himself who sent me has given me a command to say everything I have said. “I know that his command is eternal life. So the things that I speak, I speak just as the Father has told me.”

John 14:10, 24 – “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who lives in me does his works. … “The one who doesn’t love me will not keep my words. The word that you hear is not mine but is from the Father who sent me.

If we agree that the teaching of Yeshua is the teaching of the Father, then I submit that the greatest summary of the Father’s teaching that Yeshua provides us is in the Sermon on the Mount. In the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua admonished his hearers that all stumbling-blocks to righteousness must be removed from their lives with extreme diligence. He uses the powerful imagery of going to the extent of cutting off body parts to maintaining purity and vigilance in obedience to the commands of God if necessary (Matthew 5:29-30).

This level of vigilance now brings us full-circle to the meditation on the imrah or spoken words of God throughout the watches of the night, as the psalmist suggests. Vigilance involves extreme dedication exemplified by staying up all night to study and meditate, or to remove body parts that are used in sinful activities. It’s not that these are actual physical things that we could realistically do, but it’s having the same sense of tenacity and passion for the spoken words of God to do so in striving for obedience to God in all things.

This is why I conclude that the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount are the core of the Bible message; these are the two primary sources of the purest instruction from God that we have recorded for us in the Bible.

The principal ideas conveyed in these passages is that the word of God establishes our way, makes a firm place for us to walk when we are struggling with the vanity of our own efforts. It implies that, left to our own ways, we will ultimately exhaust ourselves, panting breathlessly with those things that have the sum value of zero in the end.

By contrast, God’s word through the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount protects us, directs us, establishes us in the correct paths that we may remain faithful and fruitful for God’s kingdom. Let’s remember the surface teachings of the two primary verses in Psalm 119: When we take the right steps, we will not be allowing any wrongdoing to control us; our sinful actions will be brought under the authority of the words of God. By aligning our lives by the admonition of God through these passages, we can experience the life that God has designed for mankind since the beginning of time, and so his Kingdom can be realized in real time 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 holiness of God’s people, then and now

God’s standards of holiness don’t change.

Leviticus 20:26 – You must be holy because I, Yahweh, am holy. I have set you apart from all other people to be my very own.

This admonition to holiness is set amidst the context of the practices of the nations of Canaan that Israel was displacing.

Leviticus 20:23 – “You must not follow the statutes of the nations I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and I abhorred them.

In the context of Leviticus 20, the “things” the nations were guilty of were the contaminations of idolatry (which included spiritism and child sacrifice), sexual immorality, and eating of unclean foods. Avoiding all of “these things” is what would set ancient Israel apart from the other nations; this is what would make them “holy.” This setting apart is the holiness that distinguished Israel as God’s people.

In consistent fashion, the holy Spirit of God led the first recorded council in Jerusalem to similar conclusions. As those among the nations were coming to faith in Messiah along with the scattered Jews and God-fearers in the synagogues, there were idolatrous practices being introduced into the community of believers, such as food offered to idols and cultural promiscuity. Paul and the other apostles deal with some of these issues in their epistles to various groups of believers. But the council, through the guidance of the holy Spirit, had issued a decisive template for the believing congregations to follow that was worded very similarly to the injunction of Moses to the ancient Israelites in remaining holy.

Acts 15:28-29 – “For it was the Holy Spirit’s decision ​– ​and ours ​– ​not to place further burdens on you beyond these requirements: “that you abstain from idolatrous offerings, from blood, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. You will do well if you keep yourselves from these things. Farewell.”

As can be seen by these comparative texts, avoidance of practices associated with idolatry, sexual immorality and unclean foods have always been the earmarks of God’s people that set them apart from the other nations. Therefore, I believe these distinctions should in like fashion remain as the defining characteristics that demonstrate the holiness or set-apartness of God’s people even today.

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.

Teaching the Word to instill trust and faith in God

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

Proverbs 22:17-19 – Listen closely, pay attention to the words of the wise, and apply your mind to my knowledge. For it is pleasing if you keep them within you and if they are constantly on your lips. I have instructed you today ​– ​even you — so that your confidence may be in Yahweh.

Solomon’s goal in providing the written instruction within the proverbs he was writing had the primary purpose of instilling confidence in Yahweh to the hearer or reader. The wisdom that God had provided a great measure of wisdom to Solomon and demonstrated that teaching in this manner is the basis of faith and confidence in God.

When God revealed himself on Sinai, it was with the purpose and intent that this event would be taught to successive generations so that they would learn to fear him and follow his ways. Moses explained this to the people before they crossed the Jordan.

Deuteronomy 4:7-10 – “For what great nation is there that has a god near to it as Yahweh our God is to us whenever we call to him? And what great nation has righteous statutes and ordinances like this entire law I set before you today? Only be on your guard and diligently watch yourselves, so that you don’t forget the things your eyes have seen and so that they don’t slip from your mind as long as you live. Teach them to your children and your grandchildren. The day you stood before Yahweh your God at Horeb, Yahweh said to me, ‘Assemble the people before me, and I will let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days they live on the earth and may instruct their children.’

God’s method of creating faith and trust in his people is through the recounting of these stories through his Word. This is why teaching is such a great responsibility, to ensure one is not leading others astray.

James 3:1 – Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

This is also why the apostle Paul encourages Timothy ensure that those to whom he is committing his message are faithful men.

2 Timothy 2:2 – What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

All of this Bible teaching and recounting of the glories of the past events and workings of Yahweh is for the purpose of instilling faith and trust in people of all nations. This is the ongoing fulfillment of prophetic Zion, the New Jerusalem.

Isaiah 2:2-3 – “In the last days the mountain of Yahweh’s house will be established at the top of the mountains and will be raised above the hills. All nations will stream to it, and many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us about his ways so that we may walk in his paths.” For instruction will go out of Zion and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem.”

As we faithfully recount God’s Word in each generation, we are instilling faith in those whom God is calling to participate in his kingdom. The stories of Israel, the house of Jacob, are designed to give glory to God, so that all people may “walk in [God’s] paths.”

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 King who liberates from all worldliness

Understanding our King helps us live effectively in the kingdom.

Core of the Bible podcast #51 – The King who liberates from all worldliness

Today we will be exploring the topic of the kingdom. Sometimes, in our day, we become so enamored with trying to understand what the kingdom is all about that we lose sight of the King. If the primary motivation for all we do does not stem from a recognition of the power and authority of the King, then perhaps we need to reevaluate our participation in his kingdom. So, for us to have a better understanding of the importance of the kingdom, it can be helpful to review the rightful authority of the King.

Let’s start with revisiting the kingdom that God was establishing at Sinai. When God was forming an earthly kingdom for himself by bringing the Israelites out of Egypt, he set this redemptive action at the head of his commands for the newly formed nation.

Exodus 20:2 – I am the God who redeemed you out of slavery, therefore you shall have no other gods before me.

For Israel to become the kingdom of God on earth, they were admonished to always remember why God was worthy of their allegiance: he had redeemed them out of their bondage in Egypt. This is so central to the entire Bible narrative that it cannot be overstated. It is of such primary importance that it is memorialized for all time as the first of the Ten Commandments.

The Hebraic and Christian traditions differ on whether this statement of Yahweh is the first commandment, or if this statement is just an introduction, and the first commandment is the verse that follows: “You shall have no gods before me,” (Exodus 20:3).

Part of this misunderstanding arises from our use of the word “commandment” in this passage. In reality, the Hebrew text speaks of the Ten “Words” of God, not necessarily commandments. There are other Hebrew designations that designate specific aspects of commandments, statutes, and requirements. But here, what we call the commandments should really be considered the Ten Words, sayings, or statements of God.

Because verses 3 and 4 of Exodus 20 are linked together with speaking of other gods and their representations (idols), the Hebraic understanding of isolating the “introduction” in verse 2 as the first of these Words makes sense. This is consistent with the overarching view that there has been revealed to them only one God who deserves complete allegiance. This would be the primary focus of further Mosaic instruction.

Deuteronomy 6:5 – Love Yahweh your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind.

This was also the view of Yeshua, as he simply reiterated Moses’ instruction to those who were questioning him as to the greatest of the commandments.

Matthew 22:36-38 – “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.”

Because the Israelites viewed God’s revelation of himself in this manner provided a solid basis for every commandment that follows. The motivation for abiding by any or all of the commandments rested in the realization of why there was any reason to listen to God at all: because he had redeemed them from slavery. This was a miraculous and undeniable testimony as to why he was worthy of their worship over any of the gods that existed in the “superpower” nation of Egypt, or anywhere else, for that matter. Therefore, they were motivated to love him with all of the hearts, souls, and minds.

Why should anyone follow a king who has not liberated them? Or why should anyone obey a king’s commandment if they do not believe he is all-powerful?

The King of the kingdom that was being formed in that desert wilderness of Sinai deserved to be king because he had demonstrated himself faithful to the promises that had been made to the forefathers. He had exhibited real, demonstrable power in breaking them free from their yoke of slavery that had overcome them. There was no greater exhibition of power than that which had not only removed them from their oppressors, but destroyed those former masters completely so they could now worship and obey Yahweh in that freedom which he had obtained for them. This is one of the greatest themes of the entire Bible: believers are set free from slavery to sin and have the freedom to worship and obey Yahweh in truth.

A true king establishes and maintains the freedom of his people, and is therefore worthy of all allegiance. This is the motivation that should drive us to “seek first the kingdom,” because we, as believers in Messiah, also have been set free from slavery, slavery to sin.

John 8:31-36 – Then Yeshua said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you continue in my word, you really are my disciples. “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” “We are descendants of Abraham,” they answered him, “and we have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will become free’? ” Yeshua responded, “Truly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. “A slave does not remain in the household forever, but a son does remain forever. “So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.

In a similar metaphor of slavery, the apostle Paul, in writing to the congregation in Galatia, describes the man-made traditions of the Jews of that day as a yoke of slavery. Paul uses two women of Scripture, Hagar and Sarah, both wives of Abraham, as a metaphor for those who follow the letter of the law over the spirit of the law.

Galatians 4:24-26, 5:1 – These things are being taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai and bears children into slavery ​– ​this is Hagar. Now Hagar represents Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For freedom, Messiah set us free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.

So this is a different type of slavery that Messiah had set believers free from: the slavery of man-made tradition. Paul is cautioning believers that if they submit to circumcision as a means of being a member of traditional Judaism, they will be bound to all of the man-made laws and traditions that go along with it. This is the very thing Yeshua had scolded the religious leaders for.

Matthew 23:13, 15, 23-24 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you don’t go in, and you don’t allow those entering to go in. … “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to make one convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as fit for hell as you are! … “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!

So from these few passages, we can see that believers have been set free from slavery to man-made traditions, and from slavery to sin. The great theme of the Bible, redemption from slavery, continues to be fulfilled in the kingdom of God that Yeshua firmly established.

Now, I imagine some of you may be thinking, “Wait a second, isn’t Yeshua the king of the kingdom? Hasn’t all authority and power been granted to him?” Yes, this is true, but here is where believers in Messiah can get into a bit of sticky theology, so bear with me as I present some concepts that may be new to you, but that I believe provide a holistic understanding of kingdom rulership.

Isaiah 45:22-24 – “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is no other. “By myself I have sworn; truth has gone from my mouth, a word that will not be revoked: Every knee will bow to me, every tongue will swear allegiance. “It will be said about me, ‘Righteousness and strength are found only in Yahweh.’ ” All who are enraged against him will come to him and be put to shame.

Romans 14:10-12 – But you, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, As I live, says Yahweh, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will give praise to God. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Clearly, in both the Old and New Testaments, God the Father, Yahweh, is viewed as the ultimate authority before whom all are accountable. However, some of this same language is applied to the risen Yeshua, and is representative of his exalted state to which God has appointed him.

Philippians 2:8-11 – he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death — even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Yeshua every knee will bow — in heaven and on earth and under the earth — and every tongue will confess that Yeshua Messiah is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

So, will every knee bow before God the Father, or the risen and exalted Yeshua? The answer is yes to both. How can that be?

In the ancient Hebrew biblical worldview, a representative is equated with the one whom he represents. This is known as the law of “agency.” An agent, or representative, is considered the exact representation with the full authority of the one who sent him. Whatever is said to the representative is said to the sender. Whatever the agent represents in a situation is to be considered as if the sender himself said those exact words.

A weaker, but close equivalent in our day and age might be considered the legal power of attorney. A person allows an attorney, as their representative, to make all decisions regarding legal matters just as if they were the ones making those decisions.

This biblical idea of agency is what allows the risen Messiah to be granted all of the same honor that can be directed to the Father, Yahweh. Yahweh had granted him agency, the power of attorney, to act and speak with authority in all matters concerning himself and his kingdom. Yeshua mentioned this time and time again.

John 5:20-23 – “For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing, and he will show him greater works than these so that you will be amazed. “And just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son also gives life to whom he wants. “The Father, in fact, judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, “so that all people may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

John 8:28 – So Yeshua said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own. But just as the Father taught me, I say these things.

John 12:49 – “For I have not spoken on my own, but the Father himself who sent me has given me a command to say everything I have said.

In the same sense, Yahweh gave all power and authority to Yeshua as the representative king over the kingdom, even though he himself is the ultimate authority.

Matthew 28:18 – Yeshua came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.

Given to him by whom? Well, by God the Father, of course, the source of all power and authority, as even Paul testifies to Timothy.

1 Timothy 6:15-16 – God … is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see, to him be honor and eternal power. Amen.

Now some may say, Yeshua is also given the title king of kings and lord of lords in Revelation, doesn’t that mean that the kingdom is his?

Revelation 17:14 – “These will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings. Those with him are called, chosen, and faithful.”

Revelation 19:11-16 – Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True, and he judges and makes war with justice. His eyes were like a fiery flame, and many crowns were on his head. He had a name written that no one knows except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called the Word of God. The armies that were in heaven followed him on white horses, wearing pure white linen. A sharp sword came from his mouth, so that he might strike the nations with it. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty. And he has a name written on his robe and on his thigh: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

While some may conclude that Yeshua is the ultimate King from this terminology, what we have seen about the law of agency would say that Yeshua is granted the role of operating as the King of kings in the plan of Yahweh.

Many may not know that this king of kings title has also been granted to other earthly rulers as well, even attested to by Yahweh himself and his prophets.

Ezra 7:12 – Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, an expert in the law of the God of the heavens: Greetings.

Ezekiel 26:7 – For this is what Yahweh GOD says: “See, I am about to bring King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, king of kings, against Tyre from the north with horses, chariots, cavalry, and a huge assembly of troops.

Daniel 2:37-38 – “Your Majesty [Nebuchadnezzar], you are king of kings. The God of the heavens has given you sovereignty, power, strength, and glory. “Wherever people live ​– ​or wild animals, or birds of the sky ​– ​he has handed them over to you and made you ruler over them all. You are the head of gold.

Ultimately, we need to recognize that Yahweh God, the Father, is the ultimate source of all authority in heaven and earth, and he can provide any measure of that authority to whomever he chooses. He chose to have Artaxerxes and Nebuchadnezzar carry the title of king of kings for a temporary time in history to accomplish his purposes among the nations. In a similar way, he also designated his Son, Yeshua, to be that representative of his universal and spiritual kingdom until all his enemies are made his footstool; that is, until all of his enemies have been conquered.

1 Corinthians 15:22-26 – For just as in Adam all die, so also in Messiah all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Messiah, the firstfruits; afterward, at his coming, those who belong to Messiah. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he abolishes all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until he puts all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be abolished is death.

See, there is a point where Messiah hands over the kingdom authority back to God the Father, the true King of all, since Yahweh is “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.”

If we take to heart the great theme of the Bible of how God the Father, Yahweh, has revealed himself as the God who redeems out of slavery and worldliness, we can be reminded of why we have been drawn to follow him in the first place.

Just as Yahweh liberated ancient Israel from physical bondage and slavery in Egypt, so too he provided his Son Yeshua to liberate them from bondage and slavery to sin and the traditions of men. In so doing, he opened the door of faith to all people of all nations to come and worship him in spirit and in truth through Messiah Yeshua.

The principle of the first commandment, or the first of the Ten Words of God, can be paraphrased for believers today as: There is only one God, Yahweh, eternally existent, who liberates from worldliness, and separates a people for himself. No one and nothing else must rival or supersede God’s importance in life.

Through his Son, Messiah Yeshua, the God of the universe has provided us a way out of our blind and unthinking bondage to worldliness, whether traditions of men or of our own sinful and rebellious actions. In this new freedom, we have been liberated to worship him in spirit and truth and we are motivated and enabled to abide by his instruction.

This aspect of complete liberation is designed to make him central to all of our thoughts and actions each day. When we gratefully recognize our complete deliverance, we demonstrate we are his people, and that we are seeking his kingdom first by honoring him as he truly deserves to be, as our gracious, liberating, and all-powerful King.

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

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

The Torah of God done away?

Many of the same aspects still exist to this day among his people.

Ancient Israel had the privilege of being set apart from all other nations by a very significant factor, the Torah, or instruction, of God.

Deuteronomy 4:7-8: “For what great nation is there, that has a god so near to them, as Yahweh our God is whenever we call on him? What great nation is there, that has statutes and ordinances so righteous as all this law, which I set before you today?”

In the 20th chapter of Leviticus, Moses is continuing to present specifics of God’s instruction to the people. In the midst of laws on sexual purity, food purity, and spiritual purity, God relates why these restrictions were significant.

Leviticus 20:26: “You shall be holy to me; for I, Yahweh, am holy, and have set you apart from the peoples, that you should be mine.”

These purity laws, recognized as the wisdom of God, would be the things that set God’s people apart from the other nations.

Today, most believers consider these laws “done away,” and that believers in Messiah are no longer are required to follow them. But by doing so, they are removing the very thing that makes them holy, or set apart, from the surrounding nations.

Additionally, I find it odd that if you go to almost any traditional Christian congregation today, you will find that even if they maintain that the law was “done away,” their congregational culture is still based on some of these same conservative imperatives of sexual purity, healthy eating, and spiritual purity.

Things like purity rings are endorsed for teens and singles, along with encouraging couples to maintain the sanctity of their marriages. Divorce is still to be avoided through various types of marriage counseling. Many congregations also promote food and healthy eating programs, whether vegetarian, vegan, or other similar dietary plans. And these same congregations would also maintain that believers should avoid any involvement in the occult. It would seem that even when men attempt to define godly behavior, it typically includes these same types of restrictions that God provided in his Torah 3,300 years ago.

So remind me again why these things are considered done away?

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

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

The significance of the Ten Commandments in the kingdom

The everlasting memorial of God’s instruction.

The kingdom of God is based on the people of God following the Ten Commandments of Yahweh. This was dramatically demonstrated in Exodus 19-20 as God was preparing to reveal himself to the assembled congregation.

Exodus 19:4-6 – “‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. “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.”

God was urging the people to listen to what he had to say and then to keep these commands as his covenant. If they did so, they would be his kingdom of priests and his holy, set apart nation.

Exodus 20:1 CSB – Then God spoke all these words: [the ten commandments]

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

The people only had to listen to God (the Words he had pronounced as the Ten Commandments) and then to keep them as his covenant in order to be his kingdom of set apart people.

The Ten Commandments had at least three distinguishing characteristics:

  1. They were spoken directly by God to millions of people at once. Everyone assembled at the foot of Sinai heard the voice of God for themselves. He spoke the commandments to them directly so there would be no mistaking what he intended to say. This group included not only Israelites but a “mixed multitude” that also came up with them from Egypt. This was not an exclusively Israelite covenant, but for everyone there who would listen and obey.
  2. They were written in stone as an everlasting memorial. The ten commandments were not written on parchment like the rest of the law of Moses, but were carved into stone to demonstrate the permanence of their nature. Even when Moses broke the first set, God had him make two more stone tablets which he then engraved a second time with his commandments.
  3. They were written by God himself. God’s own finger inscribed the tablets with the commandments; this was not the mere writings or philosophy of men.

I can think of no other way for God to ensure that he is making clear the permanent nature of some instruction: he spoke it himself to masses of individuals at once, and wrote it himself in stone.

This is why the Ten Commandments are so critical to the gospel of the kingdom. It remained only for Yeshua to emphasize the attitude of the heart in truly keeping the ten commandments. Not only was it wrong to kill, but no one should think evilly of another. Not only was it wrong to commit adultery, but no one should even consider lusting after others.

This is why the Sermon on the Mount and the Ten Commandments are tied together. God’s unchanging standards for his kingdom were brought to life by Yeshua demonstrating how the heart attitude should be toward keeping them. The good news of the kingdom was that the instruction of God was now able to be kept from the heart through the indwelling Spirit of 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! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

Moses’ practical steps for community faithfulness

Vigilance requires constant focus.

Deuteronomy 11:16 – “Keep careful guard that you are not enticed to turn aside, serve, and bow in worship to other gods.”

As the nation of Israel was nearing the end of its wilderness journeys, Moses cautioned them to ensure they remain faithful to all that they have received, so they could have success in their new homeland. He cautioned them against the primary sin of the idolatry of the nations that were inhabiting the land.

As a method of remaining faithful, Moses provided an outline of some practical steps to ensure that they were guarding their souls and protecting their little ones so the next generation would not forget what they have experienced, and how God desired them to act in righteousness amidst the idolatry of their surroundings.

In Hebrew practice even to this day, Jews all over the world recite these several passages as a daily statement of faith, known as the Shema.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 – “Listen, Israel: Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one. “Love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. “These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. “Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. “Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. “Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.”

There are other passages included in the Shema recitation, however, if we break apart this passage we may gain some understanding for maintaining our own faithfulness as well.

“Love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” This is a prerequisite to any form of diligent faithfulness. The sole motivation for believers should not be a hope of future reward, but simple and sincere love of Yahweh that consumes every aspect of our being.

“These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart.” When we memorize portions of Scripture, we gain the ability to recall in an instant an appropriate instruction that can assist us throughout the trials of each day.

Psalm 119:9-11 – How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping your word. I have sought you with all my heart; don’t let me wander from your commands. I have treasured your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you.

“Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” To instill our biblical values in our children, we need to repeat them to our children in a variety of ways. When we are sitting in our house or walking or driving along the road with them, we should be drawing out spiritual understanding from these life experiences. Evening and morning prayers are valuable to model for them so they can learn how to pray and recite important passages as they grow.

“Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead.” This practice is viewed literally by most orthodox Jews by physically tying phylacteries, scripture boxes, to their arms and heads. However, in other contexts where this same type of language is used, it can be taken metaphorically to represent that the hands should always be about the work of the kingdom, and the mind (between the eyes) should always be focused on God’s commands.

Finally, Moses commands them to, “Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.” This is the practice of affixing a mezuzah, a small scripture box, to the door frame of the home, and also ensuring that each city or village entrance identifies the commands of God in a visible statement. These visible reminders at the point of entrance provide touchpoints amidst the daily travels.

These practices, while intended primarily for the Israelites as they were about to be moving into a new form of living in the land of Canaan, still provide relevance for us today. God’s instruction, his torah, should be such a practical focus of our lives each day that we cannot stray from God’s commands. These types of practices provide physical reminders to us and help our children navigate the mazes of temptation and spiritual distractions of their generation, as well. Through memorization, recitation, and practical obedience, we can be continually reminded to stay focused on God’s purpose and be better prepared to successfully pass the faith to the next generation.

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

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

Intentionally bound to holiness from the heart

Everyone serves a master, whether sin or righteousness.

Core of the Bible podcast #47 – Intentionally bound to holiness from the heart

Today we will be exploring the topic of holiness, and how achieving and maintaining holiness, or being set apart, is an intentional and voluntary result of doing what is right from the heart.

The apostle Paul spoke about it in this way:

Romans 6:16-19 – Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching to which you have been entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing lawlessness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.

There is so much in this passage I would like to take some time to isolate a few different aspects for closer inspection.

First we see how Paul uses the imagery of slavery: he says they were slaves to sin, but now have been set free from sin, only to now be slaves of righteousness.

This idea of slavery may seem harsh to our modern sensitivities, but Paul says he is using an example from “everyday life.” Slaves were common in Paul’s day and in the Roman realm. When we think of slaves today, we typically think of the unwilling souls who were kidnapped and sold against their will into a life of hard labor and physical abuse. While that was certainly a reality in Paul’s day, there was also another type of slavery that was much less severe, yet just as binding on the individual: indentured servitude. In this type of slavery, it was not uncommon for someone to intentionally and voluntarily bind or sell themselves to an estate as a way of working off debt. While they were in servitude, the master provided for their needs while they worked off their debt. Once the debt was paid or their obligation honored, they could go free. Many times, at least among the Jews, they were treated well and sometimes desired to stay on with the family because they had become attached to that familial group.

To give you an idea of this type of servitude, here is just a brief excerpt from the Law regarding slaves:

Exodus 21:2-6 – When you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for six years; then in the seventh he is to leave as a free man without paying anything. “If he arrives alone, he is to leave alone; if he arrives with a wife, his wife is to leave with him. “If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children belong to her master, and the man must leave alone. “But if the slave declares, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I do not want to leave as a free man,’ “his master is to bring him to the judges and then bring him to the door or doorpost. His master will pierce his ear with an awl, and he will serve his master for life.

So we can see that this type of slavery, sometimes listed as a bond-servant, was a formal contract that bound the individual to the master or the estate until the obligation was fulfilled, and sometimes the servant would want to stay with the family permanently.

In the biblical sense, a slave is someone who does not have any ownership rights of their own for the time they are in bondage; they belong to another. Paul takes this common understanding and then applies it to believers in the context of obedience. Everyone serves a master, he says, whether sin or righteousness. As believers in Messiah they were encouraged to follow righteousness that would ultimately set them apart, or make them holy.

Secondly, notice the type of terms that Paul repeatedly emphasizes in this passage besides the concept of slavery. His overall premise is that sin leads to death, but obedience leads to righteousness, and then righteousness leads to holiness. So the contrast he is drawing is between sin and obedience.

If sin is the opposite of obedience, then it can be said that sin is simply disobedience. But disobedience to what?

In relation to obedience, he says the obedience is based in “the pattern of teaching to which you were entrusted.” This is an interesting word here that is used for a specific type of teaching. Paul calls it a pattern of teaching, but the underlying language expands on that meaning. The word typon can mean an example, pattern, or model. But it also includes the idea of an imprint, as in a die that is stamped into something, revealing as consistent a pattern as the original.

Obedience to this “stamp of teaching,” he says, is considered righteousness, which then leads to holiness. Therefore disobedience to the pattern of teaching is sin, which leads to impurity and ever-increasing lawlessness.

What is this pattern or “stamp”of teaching?

In one sense, we learn from the apostle John that sin is disobedience to the law:

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

Lawlessness is anything that is against the law. In relation to the type of law that is used throughout the writings of Paul and the apostles, the law, nomos, is typically associated with the law of Moses, summarized in the Ten Commandments.

Paul says to the Roman believers, “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching to which you have been entrusted.” The pattern of teaching that the Jews had been entrusted to was the Law of Moses. When it is obeyed from the heart, that is an indication of the New Covenant:

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

Notice the prophet says God’s teaching would be “within them, on their hearts.” The teaching he is speaking of here is the torah, the law of God. I believe this is the same teaching that Paul is speaking of in Romans 6. But he doesn’t simply call it the law, because the law is a static thing that is written in stone and has no power to make anyone comply with its demands. However, using the New Covenant imagery, when the law is upon the heart, it has the ability to transform actions from the inside out. Obedience is therefore voluntary and desired. This leads to righteous actions and ultimately to holiness.

2 Corinthians 3:6-9 – 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. Now if the ministry that brought death, chiseled in letters on stones [could this be an allusion to the “imprint” or the “stamp” language Paul used earlier], came with glory, so that the Israelites were not able to gaze steadily at Moses’s face because of its glory which was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry that brought condemnation had glory, the ministry that brings righteousness overflows with even more glory.

Paul writing to the congregation in Corinth expands on this idea a little further by saying the letter of the law kills, because it is an unflinching and permanent standard that cannot be abrogated. However, when the Spirit applies the law to the heart (through the teaching of the anointed Yeshua), the law chiseled in stone can no longer condemn because the actions that would bring death have been changed into actions of righteousness! Therefore the “ministry of the Spirit” is more glorious than the stone law because the ministry or law of the Spirit actually produces the desired result in those who are obedient to it!

This is why Paul can confirm the same thing with the Roman believers when he writes:

Romans 8:13-15 – But if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. You did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead, you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father! “

Beyond the spirit of slavery he mentioned in chapter six, Paul says to the believers that they don’t only have to be a slave for life in the house of God, they have become adopted into his family!

In one primary respect, the life of a believer is simply an honest recognition that the life they are living is not their own. Paul uses this type of illustration with the Corinthian congregation.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 –  Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.

The life they were living should have been voluntarily offered back to the One who provided it to them in the first place. This is so simplistic, it is almost inconceivable that it has been lost among the masses of believers today. Unfortunately, we are so used to viewing our lives as belonging to ourselves that we easily fall back into old practices of doing whatever we want with them. We many times unwittingly go back to serving impurity and lawlessness simply out of habit.

However, a believer, once freed from sinfulness, must by default accept another intentional yoke upon themselves. But this is a yoke that is bearable and easy.

Matthew 11:29-30 – “Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

This yoke is easy is because it is a life being lived as the Designer has created it to be: a life separated to Him according to his law obeyed from the heart. This is a life of holiness.

Holiness is not some sort of mystical state of existence, but a continual practice of doing what is right, or righteous actions. We can only know what is right or wrong in God’s eyes because of the revelation of his law.

Acts 10:34-35 – Peter began to speak: “Now I truly understand that God doesn’t show favoritism, “but in every nation the person who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

So this is why God is holy, not just because he is magnificent and removed far above all he has created, but because he always, always does what is right. He can never be convicted of wrongdoing or injustice.

Isaiah 5:16 – But the Yahweh of Armies is exalted by his justice, and the holy God shows that he is holy through his righteousness.

Romans 9:14 – What should we say then? Is there injustice with God? Absolutely not!

As believers we recognize that all life flows from God and we are simply yielding ourselves to live righteously within the parameters of the life that he has given us.

Genesis 2:7 – Then the Yahweh God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.

Job 33:4 – The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

Paul cautions the Corinthian believers to purposely maintain their righteous lifestyle through the fear of God which leads to holiness.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18, 7:1 – Don’t become partners with those who do not believe. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? What agreement does Messiah have with Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? And what agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, as God said: I will dwell and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Yahweh; do not touch any unclean thing, and I will welcome you. And I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to me, says the Yahweh Almighty. So then, dear friends, since we have these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

A life that is set apart in holiness is separated because it is constantly being renewed in the image of the One who made it.

1 Thessalonians 4:7 – For God has not called us to impurity but to live in holiness.

Our mindfulness in remaining intentionally and purposefully bound to this life of righteousness, that is, doing what is right from the heart, is what causes us to become holy and set apart for use by 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! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

Faith in God is a righteous act

Righteousness is not a complicated theological ideal.

We hear much in Christian circles today speaking of righteousness as a state which one has achieved or been placed into through the completed work of Messiah. There is a distinction between the state of the righteous and the state of the unrighteous. This righteous state, they say, is available only through faith in Messiah.

…righteousness is the God-given quality imputed to man upon believing in Christ.

Christianity.com, “What is Righteousness?”

Righteousness is the state of moral perfection required by God to enter heaven…believers receive righteousness from Christ. This doctrine is called imputation. Christ’s perfect righteousness is applied to imperfect humans.

learnreligions.com, “Righteousness”

While partially true, this lofty theological ideal does not convey the essential root of Paul’s argument in Romans 4, as he speaks about the righteousness of Abraham.

Romans 4:3-5 – For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness…

To Paul, faith in God is in itself an act of righteousness. Abraham simply believed God, and this was counted by God as a righteous act. This was controversial to the Jewish ear because they understood righteousness was demonstrated only by being obedient to the law; and technically they were not mistaken.

Deuteronomy 6:25 – “Righteousness will be ours if we are careful to follow every one of these commands before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.’

If someone dutifully followed the law, according to Moses, God considered them righteous. They were then doing righteous things because they were following God’s instruction. By doing righteous things, they demonstrate that they are righteous. This is not an incorrect understanding.

However, where the religious leaders of Yeshua’s day went off the rails was by becoming proud in their hearts; they considered themselves so obedient to the letter of the law that they were better than others who did not follow the law as closely as they thought they were doing. However, Yeshua knew their hearts were not right, even though they were technically doing “right” things. This is what led to the hypocrisy that Yeshua denounces.

Matthew 23:23 – “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.

What Paul was trying to convey was that believing God (and by extension, his servant, Messiah Yeshua) was in and of itself an act of righteousness equal to or better than all of the deeds of the law combined. Faith in God was the sum and goal of the law; to generate a heartfelt and sincere trust in God in all things. To Paul, this belief that what God was saying (through Messiah) was true constituted an act of righteousness that was “apart” from the law of Moses (that is, it was not a command in itself), but it was still evidenced within the Tanakh, or the Law and the Prophets, the Old Testament.

Romans 3:21 – But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been revealed, attested by the Law and the Prophets.

There was no law in the Torah of Moses that said simply “believe God.” Instead, the Israelites were commanded to have no other gods before him, to make no images, not to defame his reputation; all of these base commandments are predicated on a belief in God; faith in God must be assumed for these laws to make any sense.

Abraham exhibited faith by simply believing what God said; it had nothing to do what he did or did not do according to some instruction; he merely believed that God was trustworthy. Paul’s argument is that Abraham’s simple expression of faith in God was the supreme act of righteousness. This act of righteousness had nothing to do with any law, it was a genuine and unadorned, honest response of the heart toward God.

This is the response that God desires of all people everywhere; not to grudgingly follow some list of commands to get to heaven, but to honestly from the heart desire to follow him in all things.

Yeshua courts us to believe in him, as he represented the one true God in all things.

John 14:1 – “Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

This godly faith in Messiah, Paul says, is demonstrated by all who believe.

Romans 3:22 – The righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe…

Righteousness is not a complicated theological ideal. It is simply believing God from the heart demonstrated by believing his Messiah.

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Biblical meekness that inherits the earth

The biblical definition of meekness provides the basis of integrity

Core of the Bible Podcast #38 – Biblical meekness that inherits the earth

Today we will be exploring the topic of integrity, and how integrity is vividly illustrated in the concept of biblical meekness.

Yeshua stated it this way:

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5

What I would like to do today is to look at the two main aspects of this principle of Yeshua: what the Bible says this meekness or gentleness is, and then to review what inheriting the earth is all about.

Looking at some modern definitions of the word “meek” present us with ideas like “easily imposed on” or “overly submissive.” Words like “weak, timid, soft, and yielding” are also considered modern synonyms.

Yet, if you were to look a little further into some of the archaic definitions, you would find “gentle” and “kind.”

As is typically the case, in shifting between languages throughout time certain meanings are lost and others are gained. Looking at definitions derived from the original Hebrew and Greek of the Bible we come up with some definitions that provide a different emphasis.

For example, the Easton Bible dictionary says that meekness is “a calm temper of mind, not easily provoked.”

Friberg Lexicon says that meekness is as “a mild and friendly disposition, gentle, kind, considerate.”

Bauer’s Lexicon says meekness is when a person is “not being overly impressed by a sense of one’s self-importance, gentle, humble, considerate.”

What Yeshua is expressing here when he says the meek shall inherit the earth is certainly not timidity or weakness, but rather strength that is under complete control, having the ability to demonstrate great power without harshness. This is a vital ingredient in the make up of the integrity of a believer.

This is a non-intuitive way of viewing power in general, as we typically associate power with directness and abruptness of absolute authority or influence. However, the quality spoken of here is one of constancy of purpose and direction, yet having the ability to convey that definitive purpose in a way that is steady and unyielding but without being severe.

I had recently come across an article from Llewelyn Martin, writing over at Pilgrim Ministries, that conveys a sense of this nature of Moses and how we should view his actions and behavior along with those of Yeshua.

“Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3). Vine’s defines meekness like this: “It is an inwrought grace of the soul; and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God.” It is the attitude of accepting God’s work in our lives without disputing or resisting what He brings our way. It is the ability to see everything that comes along as something that God allows and wants to use to strengthen and purify our character. Whether it is circumstances that are contrary to our plan or people that insult or injure us, we realize that God has allowed it to purify us. It is complete reliance on God in what He asks of us or brings to us.

We tend to view meekness as weakness or mildness; however, in reality, meekness is strength. We know that Jesus was meek, but He was not weak. It took strength to meekly accept God’s lot for His life without using all the resources at His disposal to avoid it. He instead laid that all aside to follow through with God’s plan for Him. Meekness is the ability to use God’s power to fulfill His will when we have the power and ability to follow our own plan or defend ourselves. It is not being at the end of our rope and then needing to rely on God. It is having rope left but choosing instead to accept God’s plan. Therefore, meekness is the opposite of self-assertiveness or self-interest. It is the calmness of spirit that is neither self-exulting nor self-degrading; it is not preoccupied with self at all. Meekness can only be realized through the Holy Spirit empowering our lives.

-Llewellyn Martin, Moses the Meekest Man

Moses The Meekest Man | Pilgrim Ministry

That biblically meek men can be influential leaders was also brought into focus by an article I found at Perspective Digest. This excerpt highlights the driving force behind biblical meekness which is a patient yet firm conviction of God’s will.

Review of the biblical use of the term translated as “meek” pertaining to Moses (Num. 12:3), provides good insight into Old Testament significance of this quality. Though at times synonymous (and even confused) with the related word translated “poor” or “afflicted,” the term’s 18 most certain occurrences never represent high social standing or popular esteem. …

For meekness as leadership principle is neither dependent on popular permission, nor on personal whim and preference. It is controlled neither by social status nor by personal will. It is the simple conviction that this is what God, unique and supreme Authority, has required and would will. It is doing what God says to do regardless. Patience with human perversity is part and parcel of such leadership, for the crowds do eventually follow, however reluctantly. But however unwilling the multitude may prove to be, God will still lead, and His meek human agent will lead by following Him (Ps. 25:9). Such single-minded, shame-despising commitment was and is the leadership of Jesus (Heb. 12:2), and of His servant Moses.

  • Lael Caesar, Moses’ Meek Leadership

Perspective Digest : Moses’ Meek Leadership

Believers are encouraged to have this quality of great strength and capability within humble and steady control, coupled with respect and kindness for others.

Titus 3:1-2 – Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

Some other words from other versions of verse 2 use language like, “they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone,” or “to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.

Biblical meekness is powerful because it is also one of the visible fruits of God’s holy Spirit working within us:

Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

This Biblical meekness or strength that is under humble control can be likened to a forest stream as it winds its way down a mountain in the wilderness. The power of the water is steady and unyielding, yet it doesn’t flow in a straight line from the top of the mountain to the sea into which it empties itself. It flows over and around rocks and obstacles as it makes its journey, softening the edges of hard rock and scooping bits of soil and pebbles in its path and carrying them away. Over time, its effects become more prominent as the channel for the stream becomes deeper and more defined. While, from one perspective, the water can be thought of as yielding to the hard rocks along the way, it is actually molding, shaping, and moving the mountain as it flows over and around the rocks and pebbles in its path.

Matthew 11:29 – Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Yeshua encourages us to learn of this biblical meekness from him. When we take it to heart and actually practice this with those around us, our strength that is under control can positively influence the hardened and sharpened opinions of the world around us.

Now that we have a broader understanding of biblical meekness and how we should exercise this same quality that Yeshua had, how is it that this quality allows believers to inherit the earth? Well, we can begin to understand this better when we recognize that when Yeshua was saying that the meek shall inherit the earth, he was actually referencing a quote from one of the Psalms.

Psalm 37:11 – But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

However, in Psalm 37, the contextual reference is to the land as an eternal inheritance, not the earth as a whole. The Hebrew word for earth (eretz) can be translated as either “earth” meaning the whole globe, or “land” as in the land of Israel. It is up to the translator to choose the usage.

We can see the land referenced throughout this Psalm:

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. …

9 For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land. …

11 But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. …

22 for those blessed by the LORD shall inherit the land, but those cursed by him shall be cut off. …

29 The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell upon it forever. …

34 Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

The reason that using the word land instead of earth in these passages is preferred is that this same type of language of inheriting the land is all through the Old Covenant. This was the promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and his descendants.

Genesis 12:7 – Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

Genesis 13:17 – Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.”

Genesis 15:18 – On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates…”

In that last passage, the land is even physically described as being bordered by Egypt to the Euphrates, the physical land of Israel.

To Isaac, God said, “Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father,” (Genesis 26:3).

To Jacob he said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring,” (Genesis 28:13).

So to inherit the land was the result of faithfulness and obedience to God. Conversely, to not enter or to be cut off from the land was language that defined the consequences of unbelief.

Numbers 32:11 – ‘Surely none of the men who came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, because they have not wholly followed me…

Deuteronomy 28:58, 63-66 – “If you are not careful to observe all the words of this law which are written in this book, to fear this honored and awesome name, the LORD your God, … “It shall come about … you will be torn from the land where you are entering to possess it. Moreover, the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known. Among those nations you shall find no rest, and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot; but there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing of eyes, and despair of soul. So your life shall hang in doubt before you; and you will be in dread night and day, and shall have no assurance of your life.

This is the state of the wicked and unrepentant: to be cut off from the land.

God told Solomon: 1 Kings 9:6-7 – “But if you or your sons indeed turn away from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them, and the house which I have consecrated for My name, I will cast out of My sight. So Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples.

So we see that the land was instrumental to the promises and purpose of God for national Israel. These promises then reached their fulfillment within the spiritual kingdom of God.

When Yeshua said the meek shall inherit the earth, I believe he used this phrase of inheriting the land metaphorically, applying it directly to the kingdom that emanates from heaven. This can be demonstrated by looking at the immediate context of the teaching of meekness within the Sermon on the Mount:

Mat 5:3, 5, 10 3 Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. … 5 Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth [land]. … 10 Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Therefore, if Yeshua used references to the land inheritance to metaphorically stand for the Kingdom, then I believe we can also. God gave national Israel (physical descendants of Abraham) the Land; he gives believers (spiritual descendants of Abraham) the Kingdom.

Luke 12:32 – “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

Therefore, we now come to the final aspect of this land question. If the land was to be given to Israel forever, then why did this not come to pass, as they were removed through several different scatterings through the ancient empires of Assyria, Babylon and Rome?

I believe this has to do with the nature of the eternal promise, and its fulfillment in the kingdom of God.

We know that nothing on this earth is eternal. The apostle Paul even taught that everything which can be seen is temporary.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 – For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

By that logic, the land is something that can be seen and is therefore not an eternal possession in and of itself. I believe these references to an eternal land are foreshadowing the everlasting kingdom, the New Jerusalem, the kingdom of heaven.

The prophetic Zion is mentioned as having everlasting qualities.

Psalm 125:1 – Those who trust in the LORD Are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever.

Psalm 146:10 – The LORD will reign forever, Your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!

Micah 4:7 – “I will make the lame a remnant And the outcasts a strong nation, And the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion From now on and forever.

This is also as the writer to the Hebrews relates when he ties all of this imagery together:

Hebrews 12:22 – But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…

He even carries forward the promise of the land that was made to Abraham as a promise that even Abraham knew was something larger, more permanent, and a future possession:

Hebrews 11:9-10, 13-14, 16 – By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign [land,] dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. … All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. … But as it is, they desire a better [country,] that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

Psalm 125:1 reads: Those who trust in the LORD Are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever.” In an allusion back to this passage, the writer of Hebrews also mentions how the kingdom of God cannot be shaken.

Hebrews 12:27-28 – This [expression,] “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;

This kingdom which cannot be shaken is the New Jerusalem, Mount Zion, representative of the kingdom of heaven. Just as the physically faithful inherited the physical land, then the spiritually faithful inherit the spiritual kingdom. This is the kingdom that was prophesied to spread to all kingdoms, and last forever.

Daniel 2:44 – “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and [that] kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.

Daniel 7:13-14 – “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. “And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and [men of every] language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.

As this kingdom is to be spread over the entire earth, then in a very real way, the meek shall indeed inherit the earth, with the caveat that it will be so when the realization of the heavenly kingdom is over all the earth.

So to summarize a lot of broad-ranging information today, we can see that Yeshua’s saying that “the meek shall inherit the earth” is indeed a reality that is underway and growing to fulfillment with each passing day.

The concept of biblical meekness or gentleness is strength under control, flexible but unyielding, having a powerful purpose but adapting to its environment while accomplishing its ends.

This is the force that overcomes the mighty and powerful, beating swords into plowshares, replacing the kingdoms of men with the kingdom of God, as believers remain firm on the principles of God’s kingdom. We, as the biblical meek, are the stream cascading down the mountain of God, smoothing the rough stones and scooping up the willing along its way into the vast ocean of eternity.

As believers are diligent in bringing about this integrity of gentleness in expressing God’s powerful purpose around them, anything is possible. The world of rebellious men becomes the possession of God as willing hearts turn to him. To him every knee shall bow, and to him every knee shall confess. This is the type of power that truly inherits the earth.