The woman of noble character

Our collective resolve to pursue the goals of the kingdom demonstrates our character as God’s people.

Core of the Bible podcast #67 – The woman of noble character

Today we will be looking at the topic of vigilance, and how our collective resolve to pursue the goals of the kingdom demonstrates our character as God’s people.

If Proverbs 31 is viewed as the ideal for all of God’s people, we can be encouraged to collectively attain its lofty ambitions.

The thirty-first chapter of Proverbs contains a famous passage providing the characteristics of a “noble” or “virtuous” woman. Many a wife has reviewed this passage with trepidation, as the ideal set forth in these verses can indeed be intimidating.

However, instead of describing the ideal woman and holding wives to an unreachable standard, this passage can be viewed from a different, and perhaps more attainable, perspective that aligns with the middle eastern propensity to couch word pictures and ideas in parabolic language. When viewed as a metaphor for the people of God, a whole new set of ideals come into focus.

Especially in the prophets, God has revealed himself as desiring his people as a husband desires the pure love of a faithful bride. However, he is bitterly disappointed when that love is not returned to him, but is instead wasted on the idolatry of the nations around them.

Hosea 6:4 – “’O Israel and Judah, what should I do with you?’ asks Yahweh. ‘For your love vanishes like the morning mist and disappears like dew in the sunlight.'”

But he holds out the promise of renewed faithfulness and marital fidelity for the people of Zion.

Isaiah 62:4-5 – “Never again will [Jerusalem] be called ‘The Forsaken City’ or ‘The Desolate Land.’ Your new name will be ‘The City of God’s Delight’ and ‘The Bride of God,’ for Yahweh delights in you and will claim you as his bride. Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem, just as a young man commits himself to his bride. Then God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.”

This theme is echoed all the way into the New Testament in the book of Revelation:

Revelation 21:2-3 – “And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.'”

If this noble woman in Proverbs is viewed as the ideal for all of God’s people as his metaphorical and prophetic bride, then it begins to make sense of the overall passage which lines out the expectations God has for his people, not just a list of unattainable objectives for wives.

One of the notable characteristics God expects of his people is the vigilance with which this woman watches over her family, that nothing is outside of her purview.

Proverbs 31:15, 18, 27 “She rises while it is still night and provides food for her household and tasks for her servant-girls. … She sees that her gain is good, and her lamp is not extinguished at night. … She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.”

This woman of the Proverbs carefully looks ahead to the needs of her family, identifying dangers ahead of time, like a watchman on the walls of a city. She works with diligence throughout the day and even into the night. She ensures her family is fed and cared for, and all of the servants have appropriate tasks for the work at hand.

The vigilance that she exhibits is contrasted with laziness, or more literally the eating of “the bread of idleness,” as one who sits idle, concerned only with their own appetite and nothing else. In today’s terminology, this individual might be labeled a deadbeat or a slacker. However, as we have the opportunity to view the passage in its entirety of what God expects of his people, we can then become aware that his goal for us is not to remain trapped in the idleness of our own selfish passions, but to be ever watchful, caring for the welfare of those of our “family.”

Proverbs 31:25 “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.”

She is represented by both strength and dignity. If there are two words that I would long for how believers should be perceived in this day and age, it would be that we are strong and dignified. Yet, that is currently far from the case. Most non-believers, at least in America today, look on believers with a sense of scorn and derision for what has been labeled “backward thinking” and “antiquated morality.” Yet they are quick to forget that the antiquated morality of believers is the glue that has held Western society together for millennia. It is only in recent decades that it has become in danger of being expunged for the sake of the more politically correct, culturally-driven designations of tolerance and understanding regarding self-appointed marginalized groups.

In regards to this woman of Proverbs, it is also stated that she “laughs at the time to come.” This beautiful sentiment of being care-free from the challenges of this world is unfortunately woefully lacking among most believers today. Congregations instead fret unnecessarily over the divisive condition of the world, rather than seeing the larger picture of how God wants to use his people to modify the world for good, and to unify a people for himself. To laugh at the time to come means that we should become so impervious to the negative cycle of sensationalism in our social and media platforms that we can only see the good growing out of the increase of the kingdom in this world. We should be able to laugh at the time to come because we are prepared for any earthly eventuality, not in the sense of prepping for apocalyptic demise, but in relegating our physical life and belongings as expendable for the cause of God’s greater purpose. It is only when we begin to loosen our grip on material things that we can be freed up for the will of God to be accomplished in our lives, and with this freedom comes a sense of joy.

Therefore, when looked at as a list of objectives for individual wives, Proverbs 31 can be intimidating and unattainable. However, viewed as an ideal for all believers, a collective attainment of its lofty ambitions suddenly becomes more applicable and practical.

John Gill writes, “her price is far above rubies; showing …the esteem she is had in by him; who reckons her as his portion and inheritance; as preferable to the purest gold, and choicest silver; as his peculiar treasure; as his jewels, and more valuable than the most precious stones.” We would do well to imbue our lives with her character of vigilance for her family in respect and honor of the one who holds us in such high esteem as his very own.


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

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

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

The kingdom ruling over all nations

The Creator of all is in charge of all, whether he is recognized as such or not.

Psalm 22 is remembered as being on the lips of Yeshua as he hung on the cross. The famous phrase, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is the opening phrase in an all-consuming psalm that cascades into the larger view of God’s ultimate rulership over all people.

Psalm 22:27-31 – All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to Yahweh. All the families of the nations will bow down before you, for kingship belongs to Yahweh; he rules the nations. All who prosper on earth will eat and bow down; all those who go down to the dust will kneel before him — even the one who cannot preserve his life. Their descendants will serve him; the next generation will be told about the Lord. They will come and declare his righteousness; to a people yet to be born they will declare what he has done.

It’s as if Yeshua is making it clear that his symbolic death was prophesied by David as representing and opening a way for those among the nations to be brought to God. The phrase, “All the families of the nations will bow down before you” is also an echo of the prophecy provided even earlier to Abraham: “in you shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”

I find it interesting the psalm says, “all the ends of the earth will remember and turn to Yahweh.” This implies that there may be some type of spiritual amnesia that has descended upon the nations that inhibits their ability to acknowledge God as the Creator of all.

Paul writes about it this way:

Romans 1:21-22 – “For though they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became worthless, and their senseless hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools…”

When did all people besides Israel know God? Clearly, God revealed himself to his own people at Sinai and throughout their history, and their rejection of him to serve idols has become a timeless object lesson for all the nations. But Paul mentions a sort of universal revelation that has been evident to all people, even if they choose to ignore it.

Romans 1:20 – For his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse.

Paul says their thinking became darkened when they did not glorify God as God or show gratitude to him. This, then, is the natural result of rejecting the authority of God: a descent into further darkness and apostasy.

If, however, people are without excuse before God, then it is up to us as believers to continue to highlight God’s authority over all nations. Declaring that there is one God ruling in a universal kingdom, a God who has created all things, is the primary way of sparking some innate understanding, some lost understanding, in those among whom we live and work on a daily basis. David, Yeshua, and Paul testify to an awakening, a remembrance, that will cause them to repent of their wickedness and turn to him.

We can rejoice in the ongoing fulfillment of this prophetic reality as we continue to spread the gospel of the kingdom throughout each generation.

Psalm 22:27-28 – “All the families of the nations will bow down before you, for kingship belongs to Yahweh; he rules the nations.”


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.

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.

Zion, the eternal monument

The transformation of an earthly icon into a spiritual witness for all eternity.

When we encounter the name Zion in the Bible, we are immediately drawn to the city of David, Jerusalem.

2 Samuel 5:7 – “Yet David did capture the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David.”

Throughout the historical pages of Scripture, Zion is equated with the city of Jerusalem, and the sacred place where God dwells within his temple. The name itself appears to be derived from a form of a Hebrew word meaning a conspicuous sign, or a monument like a pillar or signpost. Certainly, Jerusalem has been that throughout the pages of history.

However, as we move into the writings of the prophets, the picture of Zion becomes a bit more ethereal, more hazy in time and space, and becomes transformed into an ideal. Zion becomes equated with concepts like Eden and eternity; it comes to represent the source of God’s presence on the earth throughout time.

Isaiah 51:3, 11 – “For Yahweh will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of Yahweh. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and melodious song. … And the redeemed of Yahweh will return and come to Zion with singing, crowned with unending joy. Joy and gladness will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee.”
Micah 4:5-7 – “Though all the peoples each walk in the name of their gods, we will walk in the name of Yahweh our God forever and ever. On that day — this is Yahweh’s declaration — I will assemble the lame and gather the scattered, those I have injured. I will make the lame into a remnant, those far removed into a strong nation. Then Yahweh will reign over them in Mount Zion from this time on and forever.”

We find that this prophetic Zion becomes defined more clearly as we move to the culmination of God’s revelation in the New Testament. The writer of Hebrews pulls the prophetic Zion imagery into the present reality of the work that God was doing among his people at that time.

Hebrews 12:22-23 – “Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels, a festive gathering, to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written in heaven, to a Judge, who is God of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect…”

This imagery of the heavenly Jerusalem, a spiritual Mount Zion, is further expressed in the closing pages of the book of Revelation.

Revelation 21:2, 10 – “I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. … He then carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God…”

Here, the New Jerusalem is identified with a high mountain like Zion, and is named Jerusalem like Zion. However, it is NEW, it is no longer the earthly mountain or city; it is something different, something that had become an eternal, iconic representation of God and his people.

It is possible that Yeshua was even referencing this imagery when he defined the “city on a hill” that could not be hidden, whose light would be visible everywhere by its conspicuousness.

Matthew 5:14 – “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.”

In the fullness of the revelation of God’s word, we find Zion, the monument and signpost city, represents the presence of the heavenly kingdom, the Kingdom of God on this earth, now and for eternity. It is the “kingdom which cannot be shaken,” (Hebrews 12:28), and it will never fade nor diminish in its power or influence (i.e., its light), but only continue to grow until it covers the earth.

Revelation 21:23-26 – The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never close by day because it will never be night there. They will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.


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 contrast of confidence in trusting God

We can choose where we set down our “roots” of faith.

Jeremiah 17:5-8 – “This is what Yahweh says: Cursed is the person who trusts in mankind. He makes human flesh his strength, and his heart turns from Yahweh. He will be like a shrub in the desert; he cannot see when good comes but dwells in the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land where no one lives. The person who trusts in Yahweh, whose confidence indeed is Yahweh, is blessed. He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit.”

The Bible is all about contrasts: light and dark; summer and winter; good and evil. These contrasts serve to illustrate the characteristics of the created world and the balance of equity in God’s hand.

One of the most famous passages to illustrate this type of literary device is from the book of Ecclesiates:

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 – “There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven: a time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing; a time to search and a time to count as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time to tear and a time to sew; a time to be silent and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.”

In the passage we are reviewing today in Jeremiah 17, the tribe of Judah is being accused by God of having become unfaithful to him and pursuing idolatry as opposed to remaining loyal and faithful to him. To illustrate their sinfulness, the prophet Jeremiah is inspired to provide them a series of contrasts:

  • Trust in mankind – trust in Yahweh
  • Curse – blessing
  • Heart turned from Yahweh – confidence in Yahweh
  • Desert shrub – well-watered tree
  • Lack of vision – no anxiety

What I find interesting in this imagery is not only the contrasts, but the one constant: the drought or heat. Both the shrub in the wilderness and the tree near the water experience the heat of the drought conditions; however, only the tree planted by the water is described as having rich foliage and producing fruit.

Jeremiah had made his point well in chastising Judah for their idolatry and unfaithfulness. Yet, I think there are also some lessons we can take away from this word picture, as well.

We all experience droughts of adversity in this life, yet there is a real and qualitative difference between the shrub of the desert and the tree planted near the water. While trees can only sprout where the seeds have landed, as people we can choose where we “set down roots” of faith. Where we do so can result in a curse or a blessing; a heart of isolation on our own or a heart of confidence in God; a lack of vision or removal of anxiety. Trusting in our own limited understanding can result in short-sighted consequences, while trusting in the God of the universe can result in lasting confidence through adversity.

Left to our own devices, we may think all trees experience the same conditions; however, trusting in Yahweh helps clarify the contrasts between good and bad.

Yeshua confirms these contrasts are real and truly do exist; and yet, like Jeremiah, he also reassures his hearers of the blessing and provision afforded to the faithful.

Matthew 6:31-34 – “So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat? ‘ or ‘What will we drink? ‘ or ‘What will we wear? ‘ For the nations eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”


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 water of life flowing everywhere

It is now available for all who are thirsty.

John 4:13-14 – Yeshua said, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. “But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life.”

When Yeshua met with the woman at Jacob’s well in Samaria, he was revealing to this woman more than she understood. When offered living water, she instead thought of natural water that would not require her to come to the well every day to draw it out. However, Yeshua was not speaking to her of water to physically drink, but of a type of water that would bring spiritual life to those who partook of it.

Since the Samaritans did not accept the prophetic writings as Scripture but just the five books of Moses, it is likely she did not recognize that the reference Yeshua makes is to a passage in Ezekiel. This is where the spiritual temple that Ezekiel describes in great detail concludes with a description of a river which flows from the temple.

Ezekiel 47:1, 9 – Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple and there was water flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the temple faced east. The water was coming down from under the south side of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. … “Every kind of living creature that swarms will live wherever the river flows, and there will be a huge number of fish because this water goes there. Since the water will become fresh, there will be life everywhere the river goes.

The life-giving water in the prophecy of Ezekiel is described as growing in depth, from ankle-deep, to waist-deep, to a river that cannot be crossed as it flows. While this river may have at one point been confined to the temple and to the nation of Israel, the picture Ezekiel paints is one where the holiness or set-apartness of the life-giving water would be spread far beyond its banks.

Throughout the Bible, life is said to flow from the fear and respect of Yahweh, and from wisdom and understanding that come from him.

Psalm 111:10 – The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his instructions have good insight. His praise endures forever.
Proverbs 14:27 – The fear of Yahweh is a fountain of life, turning people away from the snares of death.
Proverbs 9:10 – “The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Proverbs 3:13, 18 – Happy is a man who finds wisdom and who acquires understanding, … She is a tree of life to those who embrace her, and those who hold on to her are happy.
2 Peter 1:3 – His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Ezekiel’s picture of the river of life concludes with trees along the banks of the river that bear continual fruit and the leaves of the trees being used for medicine.

Ezekiel 47:12 – “All kinds of trees providing food will grow along both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. Each month they will bear fresh fruit because the water comes from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be used for food and their leaves for medicine.”

This is a direct correlation with the consummation of the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation:

Revelation 22:1-2 – Then he showed me the river of the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the city’s main street. The tree of life was on each side of the river, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations…

The good news is that this water that was once set-apart and holy as only for one people is now flowing freely everywhere and is available to all who are thirsty. This is not a physical thirst, but a thirst for spiritual wisdom and understanding that only God can provide. This is the knowledge of him who fills all things and makes all things new. This is the medicine that is now for the healing of the nations.

Revelation 21:6 – Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will freely give to the thirsty from the spring of the water of life.
Revelation 22:17 – Both the Spirit and the bride say, “Come! ” Let anyone who hears, say, “Come! ” Let the one who is thirsty come. Let the one who desires take the water of life freely.


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 city in two places at once

The place where only God can truly be “all in all.”

A few months ago, I did a podcast episode (#44) on the topic of the kingdom of God being a present reality and a future certainty. In this article I am looking at some other terms that apply to the heavenly reality of godly existence: Mount Zion, the city of God, and the heavenly Jerusalem.

In the books of Hebrews and Revelation, the terms are used interchangeably. Here are passages from each next to another, underlining the key terms to show the comparison:

Hebrews 12:22 – “Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem)…”
Revelation 21:10 – “He then carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain [Zion] and showed me the holy city [city of God], Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven [heavenly Jerusalem] from God…”

Zion has been associated with Jerusalem all throughout the Bible. Yet, when that name is used for Jerusalem, or the mountain upon which it sits, it typically has a prophetic and symbolic meaning. Consider the following:

Psalm 2:6 – “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

This verse is almost universally accepted as being a Messianic verse applying to Yeshua.

Psalm 48:1-3 – “Great is Yahweh and greatly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King. Within her citadels God has made himself known as a fortress.”

This could be a psalm about the might of the earthly Jerusalem in the time it was written, but it does have overtones of a more expansive and symbolic location (in the far north).

Psalm 50:2 – “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.”

Again, this is a psalm speaking of the eternal judgment of God reaching beyond just the sacrificial system of physical Jerusalem (“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!,” v. 23).

And the most quoted prophecy in the NT (seven times in all) alluding to the rulership of Messiah over God’s kingdom:

Psalm 110:1-2 – “A Psalm of David. Yahweh says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” Yahweh sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies!”

To my way of thinking, the term Zion in the OT represents in foreshadow what begins coming to pass in reality during the ministry of Yeshua, and then comes to be an ongoing spiritual reality in the consummation of that age when the temple is ultimately destroyed once and for all.

Notice some of the “pre-consummation” instances how the city is still “in heaven.”

Hebrews 12:22 – “Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem)…”
Galatians 4:24-26 – “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.”

But then, when we arrive at the Revelation language, it appears the city is now shifted to the action of “coming down” out of heaven:

Revelation 3:12 – “The one who conquers I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never go out again. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God ​– ​the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God ​– ​and my new name.”
Revelation 21:2 – “I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.”

While I would not necessarily be dogmatic on the issue, I think it is a fascinating study of some of the terms and how they are used relating to the symbolic and representative focal point of all Creation. I believe this once again demonstrates a strong continuity between the prophecy of the past in the Tanakh (OT) and the prophetic writings demonstrating fulfillment during the NT times.

What I take away is that the city of God, Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, is a present reality (continually coming down) and also a future habitation of the just for all eternity. The city that lives in two realities at once is the ultimate place of God’s presence, reconciling all things to himself in one. It is in this place that God truly can be “all in all,” (1 Corinthians 15:28; Ephesians 1:23).


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.

Remaining in the Way

The heritage of believers is a thread winding its way from Genesis to Messiah and beyond.

Core of the Bible podcast #54 – Remaining in the Way

Today we will be looking at the topic of holiness, and how the path of holiness, or the Way of holiness, is an intentional and purposeful path to walk.

Isaiah 35:8 – And there will be a highway called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not travel it—only those who walk in the Way—and fools will not stray onto it.

In the time that these words were written, what was called a highway was what we would consider today a well-trodden trail. Even thought it was little more than a wilderness trail, it was a definitive path that left no doubt as to the right way to go. Being on this trail brought with it a sense of confidence: all one had to do was to follow the trail to reach their destination.

The path of holiness is here called the Way. When one is on this path, one is separated from the rest of humanity that is choosing to follow its own way or its own desires.

Even today Jews are well acquainted with this Way of holiness that Isaiah spoke of. To them it is known as the Derech Hashem, the Way of the Lord, or the Way of Yahweh. Of course, no Jew would pronounce the name of God, so they have substituted instead the word Hashem which means the Name. The Derech Hashem is such a powerful metaphor, that Jewish literature abounds with this concept.

In the early 1700’s, a well-known rabbi by the name of Moshe Chayim Luzzatto penned a compilation of ideas as a type of systematic theology known as the Way of God, or the Derech Hashem. This has become a classic book in Jewish literature, much like Pilgrim’s Progress might be to Christians today. The Derech Hashem covers the nature of God, the nature of man, prophecy, the purpose and role of man and how one should conduct themself as a faithful Jew. This book also goes into detail regarding many man-made Jewish traditions and superstitious practices, some originating from the studies of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism. However, it is nonetheless a compelling and vital insight into Jewish thought and tradition and how they came about.

Now reviewing this concept in the Bible, the Way is well-attested throughout, from the earliest beginnings in Genesis all the way through the NT writings. The Way of Yahweh is variously described as the way to the tree of life, the way of wisdom, the way of righteousness, and sometimes simply the Way.

Genesis 3:23-24 – So Yahweh God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove the man out and stationed the cherubim and the flaming, whirling sword east of the garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life.

Exodus 18:19-20 – “Now listen to me [Jethro speaking to Moses]; I will give you some advice, and God be with you. You be the one to represent the people before God and bring their cases to him. “Instruct them about the statutes and laws, and teach them in the way they must walk to live and what they must do.

Exodus 32:7-8 – Yahweh spoke to Moses: “Go down at once! For your people you brought up from the land of Egypt have acted corruptly. “They have quickly turned from the way I commanded them; they have made for themselves an image of a calf. They have bowed down to it, sacrificed to it, and said, ‘Israel, these are your gods, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.’ “

Deuteronomy 13:4-5 – “You must follow Yahweh your God and fear him. You must keep his commands and listen to him; you must worship him and remain faithful to him. “That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he has urged rebellion against Yahweh your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the place of slavery, to turn you from the way Yahweh your God has commanded you to walk. You must purge the evil from you.

Job 28:23 – But God understands the way to wisdom, and he knows its location.

Psalm 25:8-9 – Yahweh is good and upright; therefore he shows sinners the way. He leads the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

Proverbs 2:20 – So follow the way of the good, and keep to the paths of the righteous.

Isaiah 48:17 – This is what Yahweh, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says: I am Yahweh your God, who teaches you for your benefit, who leads you in the way you should go.

Isaiah 40:3 – A voice of one crying out: Prepare the way of Yahweh [derech Yahweh] in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert

This famous verse, of course, is where the charting of the way of God crosses over into the NT writings, and one which we will follow more closely in just a moment.


As we began to explore, the “voice of one crying in the wilderness” was John the baptizer’s own evaluation of himself and his ministry in the wilderness when he was questioned by the Jewish officials from Jerusalem.

John 1:22-23 – “Who are you, then? ” they asked. “We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What can you tell us about yourself? ” He [John] said, “I am a voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Make straight the way of Yahweh ​– ​just as Isaiah the prophet said.”

The ministry of John the baptizer had also been foretold by the prophet Malachi, one of the last prophets to speak to the Jews of second temple Judaism.

Malachi 3:1 – “See, I am going to send my messenger, and he will clear the way before me. Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to his temple, the Messenger of the covenant you delight in ​– ​see, he is coming,” says Yahweh of Armies.

The way was to be cleared, and this was John’s role: to warn and compel, to condemn and to provide deliverance to those who would be obedient to this Way. Therefore, Yeshua himself had also become to be identified with this Way that John had spoken of.

Matthew 22:15-16 – Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to trap him by what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are truthful and teach truthfully the way of God. You don’t care what anyone thinks nor do you show partiality.”

Even beyond the ministry of Yeshua and early in its growth among the Jewish believers of the first century, the believers in Messiah were identified with this growing sect of Judaism which became known as the Way. This was more likely conveyed as an ironic reference that was used of their detractors as a way of suggesting that these believers felt their way was the only true way to God. This could be similar to how we might use air quotes today around a phrase to mock someone’s pompous statement about themself. “Those believers of Yeshua who are part of ‘the Way’ think they have the true understanding of God’s Word.”

The true irony is that these believers actually were the continuation of the Way, the Derech Hashem, that had threaded itself all throughout the Scriptures, as we have seen. Their belief in the Messiah was the catalyst that caused the Remnant people of God to be separated for God’s purpose and ultimately spared from the judgment that was about to fall upon Jerusalem and the whole Judaic system of religious elitism and traditionalism.

That these early believers were called members of the Way is well documented throughout the book of Acts.

Acts 9:1-2 – Now Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. He went to the high priest and requested letters from him to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem.

Acts 18:24-25 – Now a Jew named Apollos, a native Alexandrian, an eloquent man who was competent in the use of the Scriptures, arrived in Ephesus. He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately about Yeshua, although he knew only John’s baptism.

Acts 19:9, 23 – But when some became hardened and would not believe, slandering the Way in front of the crowd, he withdrew from them, taking the disciples, and conducted discussions every day in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. … About that time there was a major disturbance about the Way.

Acts 24:14, 22 – “But I admit this to you: I worship the God of my ancestors according to the Way, which they call a sect, believing everything that is in accordance with the law and written in the prophets. … Since Felix was well informed about the Way, he adjourned the hearing, saying, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will decide your case.”

So it can be seen that these early believers were being identified with this concept of the Way. To be honest, and maybe this is just me, I think it is a more meaningful moniker than the name “Christian” would be, since it demonstrates the continuity of the faith that has come down to us through the millennia since God originally called Abraham.

One of the most compelling reasons that believers became associated with this Way is that Yeshua, in no uncertain terms, promoted himself (that is, his teaching and his life) as the only Way to God the Father.

John 14:3-6 – “If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also. “You know the way to where I am going.” “Lord,” Thomas said, “we don’t know where you’re going. How can we know the way? ” Yeshua told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

This exclusivity of the Way of the Messiah has been troubling to those from other faiths over the millennia, and is flat-out unnerving to the modern society where it is thought that “all paths lead to God.” Today it is sincerity to one’s own personal beliefs that is considered the only reasonable understanding of spirituality. However, this type of feral universalism is the very thing that the entire message of the Bible, not just this statement of Yeshua, rallies against.

Isaiah 45:5-6 – “I am Yahweh, and there is no other; there is no God but me. I will strengthen you, though you do not know me, “so that all may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is no one but me. I am Yahweh, and there is no other.

Nehemiah 9:6 – You, Yahweh, are the only God. You created the heavens, the highest heavens with all their stars, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them, and all the stars of heaven worship you.

1 Corinthians 8:5-6 – For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth ​– ​as there are many “gods” and many “lords” ​– ​ yet for us there is one God, the Father. All things are from him, and we exist for him. And there is one Lord, Yeshua Messiah. All things are through him, and we exist through him.

Ephesians 4:4-6 – There is one body and one Spirit ​– ​just as you were called to one hope at your calling ​– ​ one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

1 Timothy 2:5 – For there is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, the man Messiah Yeshua,

All throughout the Bible there is only one God, and all others are to be rejected. Therefore it makes perfect sense that there would be only one logical path that the Anointed One of that God, the Messiah, would direct us toward. Understanding this concept is one of the over-arching themes within the narrative of the Bible, and a reality that allows the kingdom of God to come alive within each generation since that time. Every believer in the Messiah is a demonstration that the kingdom of the one God is continuing to expand over time, with the goal that it will be fully realized among all the nations of the world.


Now that we have charted a brief history and context for the phrase “the Way” through the Old Testament, the ministries of John and Yeshua, and the early believers, let’s review the original verse in Isaiah that started us down this road once again to hopefully draw out some helpful conclusions for application.

Isaiah 35:8 – And there will be a highway called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not travel it—only those who walk in the Way—and fools will not stray onto it.

We have seen how historically this Way of Holiness has played out through faithful believers all through biblical history. But Isaiah focuses here on the holiness of this Way, the fact that it is set apart from all other ways that might also be out there.

The teaching of Messiah on the Narrow Way echoes this statement of Isaiah.

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.

Once again, Yeshua defines the exclusivity of this Way, which points to its set-apartness from the routine paths and highways of the world. Those who travel this path are uniquely set apart for a specific purpose, the purpose of God in establishing his kingdom in this world.

Depending on which version of the Bible you may read, the last part of the verse in Isaiah 35:8 where it says “fools will not stray onto it” can be viewed in a couple of meaningful ways. In some versions, like the Berean Study Bible I have quoted here, it gives the impressions that the fool will not accidentally stray onto it. This would imply that the Way is intentional; one chooses to be on it and does not fall upon it by whim or chance. Psalm 25, as we have seen, states that one has to be shown, taught, or guided to the right Way, and does not stumble upon it on their own or by their own wisdom.

Psalm 25:8-9 – “Yahweh is good and upright; therefore he shows sinners the way. He leads the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”

This implies that being on the path is not something that we can take credit for ourselves, as if by our own volition, wisdom, and cunning we have somehow figured out the meaning of life.

There are also English versions of Isaiah 35:8 that provide a different shade of meaning to “fools will not stray onto it.” These renderings will say something along the lines of “even a fool will not stray from it.” This provides a different sense of meaning that the Way is so clearly defined that even if one is foolish they have the ability to remain on the path. This is also echoed in the teachings of Yeshua where he states that one can only enter the kingdom in the simplicity and humility of a child.

Matthew 18:3-4 – “Truly I tell you,” he said, “unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child ​– ​this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

If even a child can be shown the Way and be considered great within the kingdom, this carries the idea that once we are on that path, we have all the ability needed to remain faithfully traveling its length for the duration of our lives here on earth.

In either view, the Way is something that is distinct from where the rest of the world travels. As we have seen, this Way has a long and winding legacy through the faithful believers of the distant past, right down to our present day belief in the true God of the Bible through his Messiah, Yeshua. Being on this Way of holiness means that one is traveling within a way of life that is intentionally set apart for God’s purposes, and this Way can keep even our foolish inclinations in check.


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 eternal hegemony of the kingdom of God

Political world domination takes a back seat to the real Authority over the world.

Hegemony is not a word that is often used today, and if it is, it is typically conveyed with a negative connotation. The Oxford Dictionary describes hegemony as: “leadership or dominance, especially by one country or social group over others.” The Merriam-Webster definition is similar: “the social, cultural, ideological, or economic influence exerted by a dominant group.”

The Merriam-Webster definition provides some added background of the word:

“Hegemony was first used in English in the mid-16th century in reference to the control once wielded by the ancient Greek states, and it was reapplied in later centuries as other nations subsequently rose to power. By the 19th century, it had acquired a second sense referring to the social or cultural influence wielded by a dominant member over others of its kind, such as the domination within an industry by a business conglomerate over smaller businesses.”

Synonyms include words like: leadership, dominance, dominion, supremacy, ascendancy, predominance, primacy, authority, mastery, control, power, sway, rule, sovereignty.

Now, in the sense of geopolitical strategies and governmental power over regions of the world, historically there have always been dominant civilizations. The Bible mentions ancient world-stage players such as Babylon, Assyria, Greece, Rome. More modern examples might include the 18-19th century British Empire, or the Nazi expansionism in the early 20th century which sparked the last World War.

Yet, viewed from the lofty perch of our current perspective in time looking back over the millennia, one constant theme emerges: they all pass away. This does not imply that they were or are without significance, but history has shown how one civilization or empire is always succeeded by another.

As believers in the God of the Bible, whether we recognize the specificity of the term or not, we are believers of an eternal hegemony: the kingdom of God. This is easily demonstrated by the terms used to describe his kingdom. In Hebrew, the term for his kingdom is the mamlakah, meaning kingdom, sovereignty, dominion, reign. In Greek the word is basileia, meaning kingdom, sovereignty, royal power.

We read about this eternal dominion of God in our Bibles, and even sing about it in our hymns and psalms. Here is just a small representative sampling:

Psalm 33:8 – Let all the earth fear Yahweh; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
Psalm 47:2, 7 – For Yahweh, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth. … For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!
Psalm 57:11 – Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!

Psalm 83 even goes so far as to urge the overthrow of the surrounding nations to Israel in defence of God’s own glory and protection of his people.

Psalm 83:1-2, 17-18 – O God, do not keep silence; do not hold your peace or be still, O God! For behold, your enemies make an uproar; those who hate you have raised their heads. … Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever; let them perish in disgrace, that they may know that you alone, whose name is Yahweh, are the Most High over all the earth.

This is the kingdom that Yeshua ushered in to the reality of this world two thousand years ago.

Matthew 4:17 – From that time Yeshua began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Matthew 24:14 – And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

The world’s most famous prayer, the Lord’s prayer, even contains the revolutionary concept of God’s kingdom coming to earth with His will, not the will of the nations, being accomplished in its fulfillment.

Matthew 6:10 – Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

But this is not a kingdom we fight flesh and blood to establish. Our warfare is not defined by the weapons of this world, but it is just as difficult a struggle, if not more so, than the occupation of a foreign army in a land not their own. Paul conveyed some of the struggles the apostles fought in their establishment of various congregations, and revealed their weapons were not those of hardened steel, but of righteous actions and overpowering wisdom of God.

2 Corinthians 6:4, 7 – but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, … by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left…

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 – For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Messiah…

Yeshua himself conveyed how the kingdom of God was not something that would be fought for on the battlefields of this earth, but it was a real and enduring kingdom nonetheless.

John 18:36 – Yeshua answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

While the kingdom may not be physically originating from this world, it is no less encompassing than any world-dominating empire of the past. However, this kingdom will not pass away like the civilizations of the past. The prophet Yeshua said it was like the mustard seed that would grow “larger than all the other garden plants.”

Matthew 13:31-32 – “He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

Daniel was so bold to pronounce that this kingdom would grow to fill the earth and not only last forever but put to rest all other kingdoms of this world; that is the very definition of hegemony.

Daniel 2:44 – “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever…”

Hegemony may have a negative connotation today, but remember that we serve a world-dominating King and look forward with anticipation to his dominion and rule over the hearts of men of all nations, where swords are beat into plowshares, and his peace reigns supreme over all.


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.