The necessary dedication behind discipline

Our walk of faith is one of tireless self-evaluation and training in righteousness.

Our walk of faith is one of tireless self-evaluation and training in righteousness.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27: “Don’t you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run like that, that you may win. Every man who strives in the games exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. I therefore run like that, not aimlessly. I fight like that, not beating the air, but I beat my body and bring it into submission, lest by any means, after I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.”

This admonition of Paul to the Corinthian believers should be a motto placed on the wall of every congregation to this day. Paul would accept absolutely no compromise when it came to matters of obedience or disobedience to Yahweh. He was so intent on keeping his focus on the righteousness of God and he says he would beat his body into submission if his desires outweighed what was right.

The phrase he uses here means to strike under the eye, as if giving someone a black eye. This conjures up imagery of prizefighting, where fighters train their body is so hard so that they may endure the battle in the arena.

If that’s the level of discipline needed to be successful in worldly games with and earthly reward such as a crown or head-wreath of victory, how much more is at stake in our spiritual lives that we should exercise the same vigilance and determination in keeping ourselves pure?

Yeshua put it this way to his disciples:

Matthew 5:29-30: “If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna. If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off, and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna.”

The issue was not the physical chopping off of hands or gouging out of eyes, but having the same level of diligence in making sure our bodies are disciplined according to God’s word. This is the seriousness with which Yeshua commands his followers to be consistent in their walk of righteousness.

Paul carries this idea forward with the concept of putting our flesh to death. There is nothing more final than the concept of death. If the flesh is dead, it can’t continue to rise up in rebellion to the commands of God.

  • Colossians 3:5-6: “Put to death therefore your members which are on the earth: sexual immorality, uncleanness, depraved passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; for which things’ sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience.”
  • Romans 8:13: “For if you live after the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

It’s true, we must die to ourselves in order to live for Messiah. If we are not willing to make that level of commitment in our walk, then perhaps we need to rethink our understanding of just what it is Yeshua taught.

Matthew 10:38-39: “He who doesn’t take his cross and follow after me, isn’t worthy of me. He who seeks his life will lose it; and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. “


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

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

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

The undeniable distinction of God’s people

As believers, we should check how much we blend into the background of this world.

As believers, we should check how much we blend into the background of this world.

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.”

This act of God setting his people apart from all other nations was decisive and clear cut. There was not any ambiguity about the requirements that he was establishing for his people. He provided them clarity on many of the main cultural characteristics which were prevalent in that day, as well as today. There was to be an avoidance of idolatry, which was an avoidance of essentially all of the mainstream religions of the day. They were to maintain distinctions based on the food they were to eat, their sexuality, and the types of clothing they would wear, and the calendar they would keep. All of these things played into how God was setting a standard that was in no uncertain terms to distinguish his people from all others.

To illustrate this, the word that is used to describe how they have been set apart is the same Hebrew word that was used in the act of Creation itself, and how God separated and distinguished some things from other things.

  • Genesis 1:4 – God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
  • Genesis 1:6-7 – Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” God made the expanse, and separated the waters that were below the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse; and it was so.
  • Genesis 1:14-15 – Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and they shall serve as signs and for seasons, and for days and years; and they shall serve as lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.
  • Genesis 1:16-18 – God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; [He made] the stars also. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good.

I don’t think anyone would have a problem telling the differences between the night and the day, or darkness and light. This is the level of distinction (i.e., holiness) that should be evident in God’s people of any generation, even unto this day.

God still calls us to be holy and set apart, not to walk in the compromised ways of the nations where we find ourselves. We should be attentive to the commands and rules that God has set in place since, as our Creator, he knows what’s best for us and what is also in his best interest and purpose.

1 Peter 1:14-16 – “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written: ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.'”


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

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

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

Bonding ourselves to God through compassionate generosity

When we help those in need, it is as if we are binding ourselves together with God himself.

It is well documented within the word that God desires that those who have ability should lend to those in need.

  • Psalm 37:25-26: “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his children begging for bread. All day long he deals graciously, and lends. His [the righteous one’s] offspring is blessed.”
  • Psalm 112:4-5: “Light dawns in the darkness for the upright, gracious, merciful, and righteous. It is well with the man who deals graciously and lends. He will maintain his cause in judgment.”

Notice that in both instances the encouragement is to lend, not to give away. The word comes from the Hebrew root lavah, which means to be joined or twisted together, implying an obligation of a borrower still being joined to the lender until the money is repaid. This idea stems from the Torah command to be committed to assisting those who have either fallen on hard times or who could just use some assistance.

Leviticus 25:35 – “If your brother becomes destitute and cannot sustain himself among you, you are to support him as an alien or temporary resident, so that he can continue to live among you.”

In the foregoing psalms, the concept of lending to those in need leads to blessings and positive outcomes for those who lend to others. In the proverbs, a fine example of this type of lending provides us further insight into why it is that these blessings and favorable outcomes occur.

Proverbs 19:17: “He who has pity on the poor lends to Yahweh; he will reward him.”

Once again, the word for lend here comes from the root lavah. The idea being conveyed with the intent of the original words seems to be that those who extend kindness to the poor are in actuality lending to, that is joining together with, Yahweh himself. Now, it is Yahweh who is then joined together with the lender, which ensures that the lender is “rewarded” (defined more accurately as “made whole.”) It’s as if God is guaranteeing the lender will be made whole in some way, even if the human recipient never repays the kindness bestowed. Based on this type of logic, when we are faithfully and sacrificially helping those in need, it is as if we are binding ourselves together with God himself in a sacred bond that remains in place until it is completed.

This should give a whole different meaning and emphasis to our generosity in helping others. When we provide help in this fashion, we are not only compassionately assisting our fellow human who may need some additional support, but we are working in harmony with the principles of the Creator of the universe who is intertwined in the transaction. He remains committed to ensuring we are made whole in some sense that can result in (according to the psalms) blessing, maintaining of our purpose, and light in the darkness. There is no “giving to get” something in return, but rather lending freely to others with a sense of communing in a relational way with God. Our generosity leads to others’ needs being met and we can then be blessed in ways that can only be understood as coming from the gracious hand of a loving God. When we provide for others from the heart, we are opening ourselves for an opportunity to be twisted together with God within his purpose. The outcome is up to him, but will always be something that we would qualify as a blessing or desirable outcome, even if it isn’t what we might expect. It shows up in ways that can only be defined as a life illuminated by the blessing of God. All of Psalm 112 defines what that looks like.

Psalm 112:1-10 – Praise Yahweh! How joyful are those who fear Yahweh and delight in obeying his commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever. Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous. Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly. Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust Yahweh to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly. They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor. The wicked will see this and be infuriated. They will grind their teeth in anger; they will slink away, their hopes thwarted.

Will the compassionate person of generosity experience all of these blessings? Perhaps, perhaps not; perhaps others not listed here. That’s not the point. The point is that when we are obedient to God’s word from the heart because we believe it is the right thing to do, he is faithful to honor that genuine obedience in any way he chooses; that’s his prerogative, because we have bound ourselves together with him.


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

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

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

Separation through the Word

Obedience to God’s Word is essential to a holy life.

Obedience to God’s Word is essential to a holy life.

Psalm 119:101-102 – “I hold back my feet from every evil way in order to keep your word. I do not turn away from your ordinances, for you have taught me.”

Believers cannot live holy lives unless they know the Word of God. It is the instruction of God that teaches us what is right and what is wrong.

Psalm 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.”

Left only to our own understanding, we can’t know what the evil way is because typically every way can look equally beneficial.

Proverbs 16:25 – “There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death.”

Sometimes we go along with what everyone around us is doing because it seems like the right thing to do. But when we shine the light of the Word of God onto it, it can change its appearance to end up being the very thing that is leading people astray. Many campaigns and movements seem to be beneficial, but they end up causing greater issues than expected. As humans, our foresight is limited, and we can’t always see the ramifications of all of our choices.

This is why we, as believers, need to choose a different path, one that is separate from the way of the world. We may appear to others to be the one fish that is swimming upstream while all the others are heading in the other direction. But this is only because we have chosen to follow One who has perfect knowledge and is not just following statistics. We are the ones who are looking for the narrow entrance while all the others are continuing on through the broad road.

Matthew 7:13 – “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to destruction is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.”

We have received God’s Word as the gracious gift that it is. Just as Yahweh set apart Israel in the wilderness by giving them his commandments, we have been set apart by this same instruction of God.

Titus 2:11-12 – “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age…”

Those of us who are seeking to be followers of Messiah and children of Yahweh must operate under different principles than the rest of those who are only out for themselves and what they can obtain on their own. Seeking to be image-bearers of God in this world, we are not only instructed to be on a different path, but we are obligated to.

Psalm 34:12-14 – “Who is someone who desires life, loving a long life to enjoy what is good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceitful speech. Turn away from evil and do what is good; seek peace and pursue it.”

The way of holiness is a way that is separate and distinct for a reason. It is not only a protection and benefit for those who are obedient, but it is also a light to those in the darkness, that they may be drawn to its wisdom and thereby drawn closer to God.


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

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

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

Honoring of parents respects God’s kingdom authority on earth

A believing father and mother, as God’s agents, can provide the best guidance and direction leading to well-being for the children who are obedient to their instruction.

Core of the Bible podcast #79 – Honoring of parents respects God’s kingdom authority on earth

Today we will be looking at the topic of the fifth commandment about honoring one’s father and mother, and how a believing father and mother, as God’s agents, can provide the best kingdom guidance and direction leading to well-being for the children who are obedient to their instruction.

Exodus 20:12 – Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which Yahweh your God gives you.

As God conveyed his Torah, or instruction to Moses, he made it clear that within the kingdom of God, there would be many roles requiring to be fulfilled. While most people today look to define and embrace roles like prophets, priests, teachers, helpers, there are no roles as basic and impactful as the roles within each family: husband and wife, mother and father.

In today’s culture this has become a controversial stance, but I firmly believe that the significance of man and woman in the kingdom is a basic building block upon which everything else is built. The male and female component is inherent within the DNA of the kingdom, right back to its origins in Genesis, in the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 1:27-28 – So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

The very first royal edict of the kingdom had to do with man and woman reigning and having dominion over God’s Creation. So, in Hebrew culture, the father and the mother are therefore figures representing divine authority over the family. They are the representatives of God’s authority because they have been made in his image, and to be respected as possessing and implementing the wisdom of God. In fact, the genealogies that take up roughly 5% of the Bible are based on a deference to authority in the sense of familial descent which is only possible through the recording of historical male-female heritage. This honoring of one’s parents or ancestry also spilled over into the ancient Hebraic view of the afterlife. Upon death, one was considered to be “gathered unto the fathers.”

Genesis 49:29 – Then [Jacob] commanded [his sons] and said to them, “I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite…

Judges 2:8, 10 – And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Yahweh, died at the age of 110 years. … And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers…

2 Kings 22:20 – Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace…

Within the conduct of individuals during this life, however, we can see how this understanding of paternal and maternal influence along with marital fidelity carried over into metaphors of God’s care for his people, as well.

Exodus 4:21-22 – And Yahweh told Moses, “When you arrive back in Egypt, go to Pharaoh and perform all the miracles I have empowered you to do. But I will harden his heart so he will refuse to let the people go. Then you will tell him, ‘This is what Yahweh says: Israel is my firstborn son.

Isaiah 43:3, 6 – For I am Yahweh, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place. … I will say to the north and south, ‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel from the distant corners of the earth.

Isaiah 46:3 – “Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born.

Jeremiah 3:20 – But you have been unfaithful to me, you people of Israel! You have been like a faithless wife who leaves her husband. I, Yahweh, have spoken.”

Individual references cannot convey the depth with which the entire narrative of the Bible is imbued with this type of familial imagery; it is interwoven throughout every page. That parents were to be respected is brought out in the biblical stories conveyed throughout the Tanakh or Old Testament, but is most prominently evident in the Proverbs.

Proverbs 1:8-9 – Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction, and do not forsake the teaching of your mother. For they are a garland of grace on your head and a pendant around your neck.

Proverbs 23:22 – Listen to your father, who gave you life, and don’t despise your mother when she is old.

Proverbs 15:20 – Sensible children bring joy to their father; foolish children despise their mother.

However, children who are disobedient to this most basic sense of authority are also shown the end that results from choosing their own way.

Proverbs 19:26 – Children who mistreat their father or chase away their mother are an embarrassment and a public disgrace.

Proverbs 20:20 – If you insult your father or mother, your light will be snuffed out in total darkness.

Proverbs 28:24 – Anyone who steals from his father and mother and says, “What’s wrong with that?” is no better than a murderer.

Proverbs 30:17 – The eye that mocks a father and despises a mother’s instructions will be plucked out by ravens of the valley and eaten by vultures.

In these passages this sense of structural authority within the family unit provides a powerful basis for wisdom and right actions. It is here that the roots of the kingdom are set deep into the soil so that each generation can continue to rise to the greatest heights in a demonstration of God’s power and glory over his Creation.

In a moment, we will see how this principle of parental authority is also built on by Yeshua and the apostles within the writings of the New Testament.


The God-given authority of the father and mother was an ongoing kingdom principle for the early Messiah believers, also. Before we look at the apostolic writings, though, we can see this principle exemplified most clearly by Messiah himself.

Luke 2:41-51 – Every year Yeshua’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. When Yeshua was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Yeshua stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.” “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they didn’t understand what he meant. Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart.

This wonderful passage gives us a rare glimpse into the childhood of Yeshua, and how he viewed his own role in relation to his parents. The typical evaluation of this passage explains how at such an early age, Yeshua understood the uniqueness of his role and how he recognized Yahweh God as his father. Yet, the nugget in the story for our purposes today is that final verse that says, “he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.” To me, this speaks volumes on Yeshua’s recognition of the established order of parental authority. Even though he was spiritually maturing at an accelerated pace, he chose to remain obedient to his parents in conformity with the overall plan of God’s kingdom. He honored his mother and his father.

He also taught this as an adult as he reiterated the validity of the Ten Commandments. When answering questions from an inquirer about eternal life, Yeshua responded with the necessity of recognizing the authority of the torah, or instruction of God.

Matthew 19:16-19 – Someone came to Yeshua with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” “Why ask me about what is good?” Yeshua replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question–if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” the man asked. And Yeshua replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Yeshua firmly taught the Ten Commandments as a basis for the kingdom, sometimes used as a synonymous phrase for the principle of eternal life.

Moving to the writings of Yeshua’s apostles, we can see how they continued to emphasize the role of parental authority within the early believing congregations.

Colossians 3:20 – Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases Yahweh.

One of the characteristics required of leaders within the congregation was to be exemplifying this authoritative structure within one’s own family.

1 Timothy 3:1, 4-5 – This is a trustworthy saying: “If someone aspires to be an elder, he desires an honorable position.” … He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s congregation?

In this passage, Paul encourages Timothy in a basic and underlying premise of the kingdom: authority rests within the parental structure. If that structure is not present in the family, Paul argues, then how can it be present within the congregation? Besides a recitation of the Ten Commandments, to my way of thinking this is one of the most precise indications of the necessity for parental authority for the success of the kingdom in the entire New Testament.

Additionally, just like in the writings of the prophets in the Tanakh, the metaphors for God’s parental authority are present within the apostolic writings, as well.

Hebrews 12:7-8 – As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.

1 Peter 1:14 – So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then.

1 John 2:29 – Since we know that Christ is righteous, we also know that all who do what is right are God’s children.

And finally, Paul writes to the Ephesian congregation about the promise of faithful obedience to parental authority.

Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents because you belong to Yahweh, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”

Paul writes here that this commandment to honor father and mother is the first command that is not only the right thing to do, but it carries within it a promise for well-being and long life. The idea is that a believing father and mother, as God’s agents, can provide the best guidance and direction that would lead to those things for the children who are obedient to their instruction.

In conclusion, we can see how the respect and honor of father and mother is therefore part of the eternal torah, or instruction, of God for all time. As the mother and father “rule” righteously over the kingdom of their family, they are fulfilling a role that is embedded within the Creation itself, a role that hearkens back through ancestral lines all the way to the original parents in the Garden. The Garden imagery of Paradise (the idealized kingdom) is therefore brought to life for each generation through every faithful father and mother. As believing parents recognize this awesome responsibility of the authority they carry, the Kingdom of God can continue to grow in righteousness, honoring the original parents whom God set over all Creation in the beginning.


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.

A kingdom of sincere obedience

God does not desire forced subjection, but willing faithfulness.

God does not desire forced subjection, but willing faithfulness.

1 Chronicles 28:5, 7, 9 – “And out of all my sons ​– ​for Yahweh has given me many sons ​– ​he has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of Yahweh’s kingdom over Israel. … “I will establish his kingdom forever if he perseveres in keeping my commands and my ordinances as he is doing today.’ … “As for you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father, and serve him wholeheartedly and with a willing mind, for Yahweh searches every heart and understands the intention of every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you abandon him, he will reject you forever.

As David was bringing to conclusion his life’s activities, one of his greatest desires was to build a magnificent temple for Yahweh as a permanent replacement for the Mishkan or tent of the Tabernacle. However, Yahweh had refused him this privilege due to his warrior background, but would allow David’s son Solomon to continue and finish the task. In this grand speech recorded for us at the close of 1 Chronicles, David transfers the kingdom and authority to Solomon, along with tasking him with the building of the temple.

More importantly, he charges Solomon with the keeping of the commandments of God, since a grand temple means nothing without sincere hearts of the faithful. In this instruction, we find that the real foundation of the temple was not all of the stone and gold and silver that David had set aside for the task; no, the real foundation was to be based on the sincere faithfulness of Solomon and all of the people.

David charged Solomon with the lofty ideals of a true heart that seeks out an obedient lifestyle in the presence of God: “know the God of your father, and serve him wholeheartedly and with a willing mind, for Yahweh searches every heart and understands the intention of every thought.”

A thousand years later, the writer to the Hebrews would convey the same convicting sense of God’s immanence to his readers.

Hebrews 4:12-13 – For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. No creature is hidden from him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.

It is upon this recognition of God’s individual attention to every person that the kingdom of God is built. To become part of his kingdom, the individual opens his or her heart to the ultimate scrutiny of an all-knowing Creator. There is nothing outside of God’s gaze in his kingdom; not even what we would consider the hidden recesses of our individual hearts.

The permanent dynasty that David was seeking to establish for God’s glory was based on heart obedience. The message of the kingdom did not change over a thousand years. Even today, a further two thousand years removed from the writing to the Hebrew congregation, God’s kingdom is still based on heart obedience.

And to ensure that we have the ability to remain faithful, he still desires believers to hold each other accountable to the truth of his word so that all may be able to overcome the deceptive nature of sin.

Hebrews 3:12-13 – Watch out, brothers and sisters, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.


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.

Facing certain death with the integrity of defiant obedience to God

An ancient story challenges our own commitment to the principles of integrity taught by Messiah.

An ancient story challenges our own commitment to the principles of integrity taught by Messiah.

In the third chapter of Daniel, the story is told of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who were three Hebrew captives during the Babylonian captivity. Recognition of their names has come down to us in this day and age because of their staunch refusal to worship an idolatrous statue that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Enraged at their disobedience to the the royal command, the king confronted these three rebellious subjects.

Daniel 3:14, 16-18 – Nebuchadnezzar asked them, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, is it true that you don’t serve my gods or worship the gold statue I have set up?” … Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if he does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”

The magnitude of their defiance to the idolatrous command of the king reverberates through the millennia to our day. Interestingly, the actions of these three young men were completely aligned with the principles of integrity that Yeshua was to teach hundreds of years later.

  • Matthew 5:6 – “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
  • Matthew 5:10 – “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
  • Matthew 5:16 – “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
  • Matthew 5:19 – “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

There is a Hebraic tradition that during their time in the fiery furnace, that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego worshiped and praised Yahweh for all of his acts of Creation. In the depths of their most severe trial they chose to honor and praise the God for whom they were being sentenced to the cruellest of deaths.

The qualities of integrity demonstrated by these three young men illustrate for us how consistent the Torah or Instruction of God is. The same principles of integrity that guided these three men have been the guiding light of God’s people throughout the biblical record and the history of believers. They defiantly stood for the principles of an eternal kingdom in the face of certain death, just as we should stand for the same principles and the same kingdom today.

The writer to the Hebrews captures the motivation that should guide our actions in our current age of cultural idolatry and blatant disobedience to the principles of God’s kingdom. After listing the deeds of the righteous ancestors of the faith, he concludes this remembrance of their faithfulness and integrity in the face of the bitterest persecution provides the promptings necessary for our own battles.

Hebrews 11:39-40; 12:1 – All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us. Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us…

Even though they were willing to give their lives, God protected Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego through the fiery furnace, a miraculous occurrence which caused the king himself to worship the God of Israel.

Daniel 3:28-29 – Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel and rescued his servants who trusted in him. They violated the king’s command and risked their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I issue a decree that anyone of any people, nation, or language who says anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be torn limb from limb and his house made a garbage dump. For there is no other god who is able to deliver like this.”

If this story stands for anything today, it should remind us that whether or not God delivers us from our own fiery trials, to honor and obey him above the dictates of our culture should be our guiding principle. Through his teaching and exemplary sacrifice, Yeshua corroborated the same principles of integrity that these Hebrew men demonstrated in the face of their greatest persecution. We can honor their commitment to the truth of God and the teaching of our Lord and Messiah by likewise being defiantly obedient to 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.

Vigilant obedience to Torah

Demonstrating obedience to God’s Word takes resolve and commitment.

Demonstrating obedience to God’s Word takes resolve and commitment.

Nehemiah 13:1-3 – At that time the book of Moses was read publicly to the people. The command was found written in it that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God, because they did not meet the Israelites with food and water. Instead, they hired Balaam against them to curse them, but our God turned the curse into a blessing. When they heard the law, they separated all those of mixed descent from Israel.

At first reading, this type of action by Nehemiah and his reformers can seem harsh and unjustified. Separating people from the assembly of Israel due only to their racial descent grates against our modern perspective on race and inclusion. Was it true that someone could be excluded from the civil life of Israel simply because of their ethnicity?

First, we have to realize that Israel was to be a pure, holy, and set apart people. They were to be distinct from all others and could only maintain that distinction if they did not intermarry with other nations. This was a direct command of God through Moses that had been forsaken in the days of Nehemiah:

Deuteronomy 7:1, 3-4, 6 – “When Yahweh your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess, and he drives out many nations before you​ … You must not intermarry with them, and you must not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, because they will turn your sons away from me to worship other gods. Then Yahweh’s anger will burn against you, and he will swiftly destroy you. … “For you are a holy people belonging to Yahweh your God. Yahweh your God has chosen you to be his own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth.”

While avoiding contamination from idolatrous worship was the primary reason for their separation, in the present case, Nehemiah was quoting another portion of the law of Moses where they were directed to exclude the Moabites and Ammonites specifically from ever joining in the civil life of the community, due to those tribes’ resistance to assist Israel in their wilderness journeys.

Deuteronomy 23:3-4, 6 – “No Ammonite or Moabite may enter Yahweh’s assembly; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, may ever enter Yahweh’s assembly. “This is because they did not meet you with food and water on the journey after you came out of Egypt, and because Balaam son of Beor from Pethor in Aram-naharaim was hired to curse you. … “Never pursue their welfare or prosperity as long as you live.

So it appears that ethnic descent could bar someone from participating in the civil life of an Israelite. But so could having a physical deformation or being born outside of marriage.

Deuteronomy 23:1-2 – “No man whose testicles have been crushed or whose penis has been cut off may enter Yahweh’s assembly. “No one of illegitimate birth may enter Yahweh’s assembly; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, may enter Yahweh’s assembly.”

The command to be excluded from the assembly has been variously interpreted to mean marriage, to participating in the leadership of the Israelite community, or to mean total and complete excommunication. But the word used here means to separate, or to set apart as distinct. It is also used of God separating light from darkness, the Levites being set apart from the rest of the Israelites, the veil separating the ark in the holy of holies from the rest of the temple, the cities of refuge being set apart from the rest of the towns of Israel, and Israel themselves being set apart from all other nations.

I find it interesting that all of the conditions of separation have nothing to do with the free will choice of the individual in question; therefore they could not be held spiritually accountable for a condition which they had no control of, such as the conditions surrounding the marital status of their parents at birth, their physical deformities, or their racial heritage. Being identified as distinct from the assembly of Yahweh was a condition of separation only for temporary time within the nation of Israel’s history for the sake of teaching an eternal lesson about purity, holiness, and vigilance.

As we have seen, the Bible is filled with distinctions being made between all types of places and individuals, and this appears to me to be another one of those instances. To me, the command does not appear so much a punishment on those who were to be excluded, but a test for the faithful to see if they would abide by God’s command.

Consider the vigilance needed to physically remove individuals from the core life of the community who had families, jobs, and responsibilities within the congregation of Israel. This would require a deep commitment to honoring the Torah of God above those relationships. This is akin to the level of commitment that Yeshua spoke of when it comes to removing the mechanisms of sin from within one’s own life.

Matthew 5:29-30 – “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into Gehenna. “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into Gehenna.

Ultimately, all who would demonstrate sincere worship of Yahweh would be honored by him. Isaiah spoke of the time of the Messianic kingdom when anyone truly seeking Yahweh would have the ability and freedom to do so, specifically mentioning foreigners and eunuchs who were formerly to be separated.

Isaiah 56:3-8 – No foreigner who has joined himself to Yahweh should say, “Yahweh will exclude me from his people,” and the eunuch should not say, “Look, I am a dried-up tree.” For Yahweh says this: “For the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, and choose what pleases me, and hold firmly to my covenant, “I will give them, in my house and within my walls, a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters. I will give each of them an everlasting name that will never be cut off. “As for the foreigners who join themselves to Yahweh to minister to him, to love the name of Yahweh, and to become his servants — all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold firmly to my covenant — “I will bring them to my holy mountain and let them rejoice in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” This is the declaration of Yahweh GOD, who gathers the dispersed of Israel: “I will gather to them still others besides those already gathered.”

The Israelites had to practice “tough love” and vigilance of separation in order to abide by the Torah that applied to them in their day. God was preserving the purity of the congregation until the kingdom of Messiah would arrive, and once that occurred, the physical lineages and distinctions would no longer retain the same significance.

Galatians 3:28 – There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.

For anyone in Messiah, the barriers would be broken down and all would be honored in him. But those spiritual lessons regarding vigilance and purity would remain for eternity.


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.

God’s children are commandment keepers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

The obedient kingdom life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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