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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s look firstly at Sinai.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

The Anointed One is the exclusive Lord of the Kingdom

Yeshua has a radical message in light of a culture of inclusion.

1 John 2:21-23 – I have not written to you because you don’t know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar, if not the one who denies that Yeshua is the Messiah? This one is the anti-messiah: the one who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; he who confesses the Son has the Father as well.

The apostle John lays out some ground rules for spiritual truth and error. He begins with “no lie comes from the truth.” This statement on its own would do much to identify false teaching we see in the world today if we would simply take it at face value. Anything that is not true cannot be from the truth; simple in its profundity.

But then John takes it a step further by claiming that anyone who denies that Yeshua is the Messiah is a liar. This is strong language in today’s culture of inclusion. But the Bible is not limited by any cultural definitions. It can’t be, or it could not have survived for the millennia of its existence. The Bible rises above all culture because it is eternal.

John then ties faith in Messiah to belief in God as the Father. To deny one is to deny the other. This is how closely Yeshua is identified with the teaching and character of the Father. Yeshua clarified this for us prior to his crucifixion in his conversation with Philip.

John 14:8-11 – “Lord,” said Philip, “show us the Father, and that’s enough for us.” Yeshua said to him, “Have I been among you all this time and you do not know me, Philip? The one who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? “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. “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Otherwise, believe because of the works themselves.”

John goes so far as to say that those who deny Messiah are antichrists, or anti-messiah. This also substantiates another teaching of Messiah.

Matthew 12:30 – “Anyone who is not with me is against me, and anyone who does not gather with me scatters.”

Not recognizing Yeshua as the Messiah results in opposition to the purpose and plan of God for all time. John equates not believing that Yeshua is the Messiah means one does not have God, either.

To believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, or the “Christ,” is to acknowledge that he was anointed by God, for this is what the term itself means. If he was anointed by God to do and to teach the things he did, as he explained to Philip, then he maintained the exclusivity of his relationship with the Father as God. This is why to have one is to have the other, and to deny one is to deny both. This is also validates the Bible, because he only taught what was prophesied in the prophets and Writings (i.e., the Old Testament, or Tanakh).

Luke 18:31- Then he took the Twelve aside and told them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. Everything that is written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished.
Luke 24:25, 27 – He said to them, “How foolish and slow you are to believe all that the prophets have spoken! … Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures.

The Messiah is the Lord of God’s Kingdom. Trust in Yeshua as the Messiah provides stability beyond any cultural variability. This stability carries over into one’s personal life and provides the believer with a solid basis for consistent practice in harmony with God’s will.

And accomplishing God’s will on the earth is what the Kingdom of God is all about.


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 people are identifiable through this one practice

God simply desires his people to be a compassionate people.

Luke 6:31 – Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them.

In one timeless and profound sentence, Yeshua encapsulates everything that God had been repeating to his people time and again through his prophets.

Ezekiel 18:5, 7-9 – “Suppose a man is righteous and does what is just and right: … “He doesn’t oppress anyone but returns his collateral to the debtor. He does not commit robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing. “He doesn’t lend at interest or for profit but keeps his hand from injustice and carries out true justice between men. “He follows my statutes and keeps my ordinances, acting faithfully. Such a person is righteous; he will certainly live.” This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.

Zechariah 7:8-10 – The word of the LORD came to Zechariah: “The LORD of Armies says this: ‘Make fair decisions. Show faithful love and compassion to one another. “Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the resident alien or the poor, and do not plot evil in your hearts against one another.’
Zechariah 8:16-17 – “These are the things you must do: Speak truth to one another; make true and sound decisions within your city gates. “Do not plot evil in your hearts against your neighbor, and do not love perjury, for I hate all this” ​– ​this is the LORD’s declaration.

This is the great social justice that the Law was designed to create among the nation of Israel: people taking care of one another’s needs, demonstrating love to one another in practical ways.

Romans 13:8-10 – Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not covet; and any other commandment, are summed up by this commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.

Love is the fulfillment of the Law; love toward God first and foremost, and love for others. This is the summary of the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount.

In our current day, it appears we, as a society, have strayed from both of these aspects. Love for the God of the Bible may be present in our private beliefs, but is not as evident in our outward actions toward others. If we love God, then we should demonstrate compassion and love to those around us who need it most.

James 2:15-18 – If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, stay warm, and be well fed,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith by my works.

1 John 2:9-10 – The one who says he is in the light but hates his brother or sister is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother or sister remains in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
1 John 3:10 – This is how God’s children and the devil’s children become obvious. Whoever does not do what is right is not of God, especially the one who does not love his brother or sister.
1 John 4:8-11, 21 – The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. … And we have this command from him: The one who loves God must also love his brother and sister.

Yeshua said he didn’t come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them. If Yeshua fulfilled the Law through love, then we should, also. This is why John states that if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.

With this much prophetic pronouncement and apostolic emphasis on this topic, there is no doubt that this practice of outward compassion should be the primary characteristic of God’s people.

Micah 6:8 – Mankind, he has told each of you what is good and what it is Yahweh requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.

God simply desires his people to be a compassionate people. He has made it abundantly clear that our lives should be examples of love, mercy and compassion. And in the actual doing of this, people will see 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 at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvR_aNEyA7WEZJtF4B8fZ6g

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

The Torah of the kingdom

Yeshua said he did not come to abolish the Law, and we should never think that he did.

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.

In this famous passage, Yeshua ties the Law and the Prophets (the Torah) to the kingdom of God. The essence of the kingdom is being obedient to and maintaining the Torah or instruction of God.

For those of us brought up with Christian theology, this sounds contradictory to our modern ears. We have been taught that the Law was all about works and has passed away because now we are relating to God on the basis of his grace and mercy towards us. Therefore (according to what we have been taught) the Law is done away with, and we no longer need to keep it. Yet Yeshua said he did not come to abolish the Law, and we should never think that he did. In fact, he tied Torah obedience and teaching of Torah to the kingdom, so this cannot be true, that is, if we want to follow Yeshua’s instruction on this topic.

When we review what the Law and the Prophets says about itself, we find that the Torah of God is his instruction, his guidance that is intended for all of mankind. God first revealed it to Israel, and then it would be revealed to the world.

Israel was prophesied to have their hearts changed and to obey the Law from the heart:

Jeremiah 31:33 – “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days” ​– ​the LORD’s declaration. “I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
Ezekiel 11:19-20 – “I will give them integrity of heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh, “so that they will follow my statutes, keep my ordinances, and practice them. They will be my people, and I will be their God.

Beyond the remnant of Israel coming back to the Torah of the heart, the nations would also stream to the instruction of God.

Jeremiah 3:17 – “At that time they will call Jerusalem ‘The Throne of the LORD,’ and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of the LORD; nor will they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart.

The nations would no longer to walk in the stubbornness of their heart because they would also desire to learn of God’s Torah.

Micah 4:1-2 – And it will come about in the last days That the mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains. It will be raised above the hills, And the peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD And to the house of the God of Jacob, That He may teach us about His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For from Zion will go forth the law [Torah], Even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

According to Micah, this was prophesied to come about in the last days of the nation of Israel. Yeshua, as he spoke to two disciples in one of his resurrected appearances, revealed that this prophetic occurrence was unfolding before their eyes, that they were witnessing these things in the first century.

Luke 24:45-48 – Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

If Yeshua, post-resurrection, was attesting to the fulfillment of the Torah of God going forth from Jerusalem to all the nations, then there is no contradiction of his earlier statement that “whoever does and teaches these commands (i.e., Torah) will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

This is why the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount go together as the core of the Bible message. The Ten Commandments are the core of the Law and the Prophets, and the Sermon on the Mount is the core of Yeshua’s New Covenant teaching on the Law. Yeshua taught that although heaven and earth would constantly be passing away, his words would never pass away because they were based on the eternal Torah of God.

Daniel 2:44 – In the days of those kings, the God of the heavens will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, and this kingdom will not be left to another people. It will crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, but will itself endure forever.

If the kingdom of God is an eternal kingdom, then it makes sense that an eternal kingdom requires an eternal charter, an eternal set of guidelines. Taking Yeshua at his word and seeing how the prophets spoke of all of this coming to pass at the passing of the nation of Israel, we should take a closer look at what we have been brought up to believe about the kingdom and the Torah of God. If we are followers of Messiah, we should take him at his word that Torah, the instruction for his kingdom, would never pass away.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvR_aNEyA7WEZJtF4B8fZ6g

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

The modern idolatry of cultural acceptability

We, like our spiritual ancestors, are attempting to worship the one true God in amongst the cultural distractions of our day.

Throughout its history, the prophets of Israel had to continually contend with a nation that was distracted with practices other than those that God had provided for them. They were perpetually seduced by the culturally acceptable practices of the nations around them, the very thing that Moses had warned them against when they became a nation.

Deuteronomy 8:19: “It shall be, if you shall forget Yahweh your God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish.”

Deuteronomy 12:29-31: “When Yahweh your God shall cut off the nations from before you, where you go in to dispossess them, and you dispossess them, and dwell in their land; take heed to yourself that you not be ensnared to follow them, after that they are destroyed from before you; and that you not inquire after their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? I will do likewise.” You shall not do so to Yahweh your God: for every abomination to Yahweh, which he hates, have they done to their gods…”

By the time of the prophet Jeremiah, the country had become so corrupt that they were openly worshiping the local gods (the “queen of the sky”) in blatant defiance to the word of God that had originally been given them by Moses along with the urgent warnings of the prophet Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 44:16-17: “As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of Yahweh, we will not listen to you. But we will certainly perform every word that is gone forth out of our mouth, to burn incense to the queen of the sky, and to pour out drink offerings to her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem; for then had we plenty of food, and were well, and saw no evil.”

The logic of the people in that day was that their rebellious practices actually provided a bountiful economy for their people, so they had no intention of changing their practices. This was a fateful choice that led to the destruction of the nation.

It’s easy to view these ancient examples and point the finger at the unfaithfulness of the people of that time. But how we are like our faithless spiritual ancestors! We attempt to worship the one true God in amongst the cultural distractions of our day, claiming a similar necessity to maintain the status quo within our society.

This culture today, at least in my corner of America, is infected with the philosophies and practices of many different idolatries: polytheism, gender rebellion, environmental authoritarianism and self-directed hyper-tolerance. These are only some of the prevalent new gods of this age.

We must be vigilant in maintaining our devotion to the one true God in the face of these culturally acceptable norms that are diverting this generation, and succeeding ones, away from God.

These idols, and many others like these, have arisen due to our lack of vigilance in successfully implanting our faith in our children. We have allowed the seductive nature of unregulated online communication and social media to easily capture their attention, exposing them to unhealthy spiritual alternatives which quickly take root among the fertile soil of immature spirits.

While there are many positive aspects to digital communication in this age, we must actively engage in helping them discern what is true and right, not only what is flashy and trendy. We must continually ask for God’s help in alerting this generation to the social errors they are repeating within the cycle of worshiping false gods of cultural acceptance that they are not even aware of. Our vigilance must be firmly placed in God’s Word as we seek to help them to recognize the truth of who God is and to be cognizant and respectful of his sovereignty in this world.


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

The eternal Torah of the Kingdom of God

Torah, because it has been issued from an eternal God who exists beyond this earthly creation, is likewise eternal. It is not tied to this earthly realm. It lasts forever and will never pass away.

Core of the Bible Podcast #16 – The eternal Torah of the Kingdom of God

In this episode we will be exploring the topic of the Kingdom, and how the instructions about how to live in God’s kingdom, or God’s torah, is eternal.

Yeshua stated it this way:

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others [to do] the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches [them,] he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-19

In order for us to have a clearer understanding of this teaching, it would be best to break this down into at least a couple of parts. Now I just want to give you all a heads up that we will be covering a lot of ground today, so you may want to have a Bible or Bible app handy for reference from time to time and pause the podcast if you need to reference something that I’m talking about here.

So, with that caveat out of the way, let’s jump in to our topic today. First, what is the Law and Prophets and commandments that Yeshua talks about here, and secondly, when are these “all accomplished”?

What is Torah?

So let’s start with the first part concerning the Law and the Prophets and commandments. Without going into a whole review of texts and manuscripts, in essence, what is known today as the “Old Testament” in our Christian bibles was known in Yeshua’s day as the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. The Law or Torah included the five books of Moses, the Prophets included the major and minor prophetical works, and the Writings included the wisdom and historical portions.

This group of writings collectively became known as the Tenakh based on the acronym for the Hebrew consonants: T, N, and K. T stands for Torah, N stands for Nevi’im (the prophets) and K stands for Ketuvim (the Writings). Together the T-N-K is pronounced Tenakh for simplification. In Christian circles today this group of writings is called the Old Testament, but the more accurate term is the Tenakh.

In the Hebraic understanding, to mention one or two portions of the above was generally to speak of the whole thing. To speak of Torah can be used of the first five books of Moses, or of the Tenakh as a whole.  When you get right down to it, torah is simply the Hebrew word for instruction. Therefore, we should not be put off by the idea that God’s torah, his instruction, is eternal. 

Anytime God commands or gives direction to something or someone, torah exists. Torah is not just the ten commandments and the giving of the law at Sinai. Torah is through every fiber of the Bible, from the first page of Genesis all the way through the Revelation.

For example, God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and rule over the earth; this is torah.

Genesis 1:27-28 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Noah had the direct commands of God; this is torah.

Genesis 7:1-3 Then the LORD said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you [alone] I have seen [to be] righteous before Me in this time. “You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female; also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth.

Isaac was told that Abraham had and kept the commands and statutes of God; this is torah.

Genesis 26:4-5 “I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws [torah].”

In fact, all of Creation itself is based on the torah of God. In the Creation narrative of Genesis 1, every time God spoke and something happened, it means that what he commanded was fulfilled within the Creation itself. Creation itself came into being through the commands and instruction (torah) of God.

Genesis 1:3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. … 

Genesis 1:9 Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. … 

Genesis 1:11 Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, [and] fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them”; and it was so. … 

It is no wonder, then, that the whole Bible is based on torah, or instruction, from God.

We have an understanding of torah first and foremost from the books of Moses, whose narrative describes the Creation of the world through Israel preparing to enter the land of Canaan. Those principles established in that root story are repeated and expanded through the Prophets and the Writings of the Tenakh (OT), along with the writings of the Messianic Believers (NT). 

The regulating principle of God’s torah: How does God keep things in check?

The torah of God has a simple self-regulating principle: anything not conforming with torah originally related by God to Moses is not considered valid. The torah of God given to Moses is the standard of all subsequent scripture.

Deuteronomy 4:2 “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

Deuteronomy 12:32 “Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.

Proverbs 30:5-6 Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words Or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar.

Ecclesiastes 3:14 I also know that whatever God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken away from it. God has made it this way, so that men will fear him.

Therefore, if some new doctrine or teaching comes along that does not fit the principles, patterns, and standards of torah as previously revealed, then it cannot be considered a legitimate spiritual teaching from God, and should not be added.

This same principle carries over into the writings of the NT. Since Yeshua did not add or take away from God’s torah, we must be careful to ensure we also do not do the same with his teachings.

2 John 1:9 Anyone who does not remain in Christ’s teaching but goes beyond it does not have God. The one who remains in that teaching, this one has both the Father and the Son.

The guiding principles of torah as revealed to Moses also ensure we don’t take anything away from God’s torah. Taking away something that has been previously revealed is equally as destructive as adding something that does not belong. Yeshua was careful to demonstrate he was not advocating taking anything away from God’s torah.

Matthew 5:17-19 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law [torah] or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law [torah] until all is accomplished. “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others [to do] the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches [them,] he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

According to Yeshua, the kingdom of God is directly connected to his instruction, and his instruction is directly connected to his kingdom. Yeshua ties the keeping of torah (or God’s instruction) to greatness in the kingdom of God, and the anullment of torah (or God’s instruction) to being least in the kingdom. 

This idea of adding or taking away from torah is to be corroborated with the principle of testing. Moses warned and wrote about a method for testing false prophets, or those who would teach something contrary to the torah of God:

Deuteronomy 18:20-22 ‘But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ “You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ “When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.

Yeshua also warned about testing false prophets in a similar way. Just as Moses instructed that the results of a prophet’s prediction will prove him right or wrong, Yeshua explained the same principle using the fruits that are produced by those who have false teachings as an indicator of their falsehood.

Matthew 7:15-17, 20 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn [bushes] nor figs from thistles, are they? “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. … “So then, you will know them by their fruits.

In this way, Yeshua demonstrated that his teaching on the testing of prophets was established upon the same principles of God’s torah as revealed to Moses. 

The early believers in Messiah were also commanded to carry on this same practice of testing false teachers.

1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits [of the teachers] to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything [carefully;] hold fast to that which is good;

Since they didn’t have a “New Testament” to go by, they were instructed to examine everything in light of the only torah that was already established, the Tenakh, which includes the torah originally related by God to Moses, to ensure they would not be led astray. In the process of following the Tenakh by believing in its fulfillment in Messiah, some of them then created the letters and epistles that have become what we call the New Testament writings of today.

Fulfillment of Torah

Let’s look at the other aspect of Yeshua’s instruction: “not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law [or torah] until all is accomplished.”

True torah cannot be added to or diminished, but according to Yeshua, it can be fulfilled or brought to fruition. Yeshua fulfilled the ultimate purpose of the sacrificial aspects of the Torah, but that does not mean there is no longer a need to follow the principles of the Torah. He is our example of how to be obedient to the Father. He clearly states that he did not come to destroy torah, but to fulfill it. If he fulfilled it, so should we.

1 John 2:3-6 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

As we fulfill God’s torah by following its direction, then it accomplishes the intent that God had for it in the first place. This in itself is a principle of torah that the prophet Isaiah spoke of.

Isaiah 55:10-11 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding [in the matter] for which I sent it.

According to the apostle John, the very definition of sin is exemplified as not abiding by torah. 

1 John 3:4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness [literally: torah-lessness].

Therefore, the opposite must also be true: obedience to torah leads to non-sinfulness, that is, to righteous and holy actions. The apostle Paul corroborates this.

Romans 7:12 So then, the Law [torah] is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

We must remember that torah obedience on its own does not totally accomplish freedom from sin because our hearts are still not right in God’s eyes, and ultimately we still desire our own ways. 

Jeremiah 17:9-10 “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.

Zechariah 7:8-12 Then the word of the LORD came to Zechariah saying, “Thus has the LORD of hosts said, ‘Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.’ “But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears from hearing. “They made their hearts [like] flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the LORD of hosts.

Torah can tell us the right things to do, but it can’t make us do the right things with the right attitude and for the right reason. 

Yeshua accused the Jewish leaders of this very thing. They tried to follow the letter of the Torah in scrutinizing detail, even adding their own man-made traditions in an effort to ensure the Torah commands themselves would not be violated. However, they missed the intended goal of torah because their hearts were not right before God.

Matthew 15:7-11 “You hypocrites [the Jewish leaders], rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.'” 

Matthew 23:23, 27-28 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. … “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness [torah-lessness].

The Jewish leaders were guilty of what the apostle Paul calls following “the letter of the law,” but not the spirit of it. This resulted in hypocrisy which led them even further from torah. But Paul taught that following the spirit of the law, and not just the letter of it, is what brings life. 

2 Corinthians 3:5-6 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as [coming] from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate [as] servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

The Jewish leaders were trying so hard to follow all of the rules that they missed the intent or spirit of the rules in the first place. This can be likened to a pedestrian at a busy intersection who wants to cross the street. However, they are focusing so hard on staying within the lines of a crosswalk that they forget to check for traffic.

The letter of Torah alone can be deadly if misapplied. Even though it tells us the right things to do, it cannot bring life on its own.

Galatians 3:21 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law.

The righteousness that Paul is speaking of here is the type that says we have right-standing in God’s eyes. Paul is saying it takes more than just following a set of rules to be exhibiting true faith in God. Faith that honors God is simply believing what God said is true, and then being obedient to it; not the other way around.

Torah as tutor

God continues to teach people about his ways and lead people to Messiah through the symbols and object lessons of all of his torah. But just like graduating from one grade to another does not make all of what you learned vanish, it simply indicates that you have now earned a basic understanding of the rudiments of that grade level, and can now apply and follow those things that you have learned as you continue to grow. 

Galatians 3:23-26 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

This passage is famous for causing confusion, as most Christians take away from it that if believers are no longer under the tutor of the Torah, it is done away with. Since we have already seen that we cannot take away from God’s torah without violating it, we should understand that Paul must be trying to teach something else here.

You can look at it this way: once you graduate from school, the lessons you have learned don’t disappear as if they no longer apply. You are now able to take what you have learned and use it in practical ways all the time, even though you are not in school anymore. Therefore, you no longer require the teacher, because what the teacher taught you is now ingrained in you, and you now do textbook things naturally without always needing to reference the textbooks. The textbooks are still valuable, and you will still abide by the principles in the textbooks, you just don’t need to reference them because you are already understanding and practicing what they teach.

Remember what the apostle John wrote to the early Messianic believers:

1 John 2:4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;

1 John 5:2-3 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

His commandments are his torah. If we are not abiding by the principles of torah, then that is evidence that we haven’t had our hearts truly changed. This is why believers should still exhibit that we are following the principles of God’s torah, even though we technically no longer need it as a tutor. It is being fulfilled in us as we live it out in sincerity and truth. 

It is true that torah can give us indications of the right actions to do that lead to life. But it is when we act with the spirit and intent of torah that we know life has actually come into being and changed us.

John 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.

Romans 8:1-2 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

Torah in the heart

The culmination of everything prophetically promised about the future of God’s people was that there would be a point where the people of God would no longer be a rebellious people, but that they would obey his torah from the heart.

Jeremiah 31:33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law [torah] within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

If God always intended to put his torah in the heart of his people, why would it be done away with?

This is what Paul was trying to show in relation to God’s torah; it hadn’t passed away, it simply served as an ongoing foundation for the believers heart-service to God based on their new life of faith in Messiah. Believers had been set free from the restrictive confines of the letter of the torah because they were now able to follow the intent of the rules (the spirit of it) from the heart at all times. This has only been possible through new life in Messiah.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, [he is] a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

As long as there are people who don’t know the God of the Bible, these written standards of God’s torah will continue to lead people to the truth of his Messiah. His torah is ultimately a tutor for all among the nations, so that people will continue to learn and practice his ways. As they come to believe in and follow his Messiah, the torah of God will reside in their heart and bear fruit among all men. This is how God’s kingdom is, and will continue to be, established on the earth.

Psalm 119:142, 144, 152 Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law [torah] is truth. … Your testimonies are righteous forever; Give me understanding that I may live. … Of old I have known from Your testimonies That You have founded them forever.

Micah 4:2 Many nations will come and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD And to the house of the God of Jacob, That He may teach us about His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For from Zion will go forth the law [torah], Even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Looked at in this light, we can see that Yeshua’s admonition to maintain God’s torah or his instruction, takes on a different shade of meaning. Rather than pass away, it becomes something that needs to be constantly fulfilled. In essence, Yeshua is saying: Do not relax even the smallest standards of Torah for yourself and others; do it and teach it. This is how the kingdom operates: it is based on God’s torah, his Word, being fulfilled in the hearts of individuals populating the kingdom.

If the kingdom began in the days of Yeshua and is a kingdom that would never end, then it makes sense that the instruction of God is also eternal and will not pass away unless it is fulfilled within every individual he intends.

Many are of the opinion that Torah has passed away with the death of Messiah. To the contrary, his death was exactly what Torah predicted would happen. Like a seed planted in the ground, the Torah principles taught by Yeshua are continuing to grow into a mighty tree of life as they are practiced by those who follow him.  Yes, it is true that Yeshua fulfilled many of the sacrificial aspects of torah, but that does not mean we no longer experience the effects of those sacrificial aspects in our spiritual journey today, otherwise no would would be forgiven today. Our forgiveness is based upon the very torah that many Christians are saying was done away with. These two things cannot be true at the same time. 

Yeshua said that it would be easier for the world to pass away than for Torah to pass away.

Luke 16:17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for a single stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.

What this implies is that Yeshua is saying that Torah, because it has been issued from an eternal God who exists beyond this earthly creation, is likewise eternal. It is not tied to this earthly realm. It lasts forever and will never pass away.

I freely admit torah has not been fully accomplished, as we still have murder, adultery, and any other number of commandments from God’s instruction which remain unfulfilled in the lives of people today.  However, since God has provided instruction for mankind in his word, we, as believers, should do all we can to be faithful in keeping it (i.e., obeying it) and sharing it with others who will listen. Only as it is fulfilled in our lives will it bear good fruit for the continued growth of God’s kingdom.

Well, once again, I hope I’ve been able to provide you some ideas and concepts to meditate on further. We need to keep in mind that the torah of God is the instruction of God. Anything God has commanded is torah, and we need to ensure that we do not add new aspects or take away existing aspects that are as of yet unfulfilled in us and in others around us.  Since his torah is eternal, we can know that it will never change and that what God has promised about his kingdom will come to pass.

Have questions about todays topic, or comments or insights you would like to share? Perhaps you have found this podcast helpful or encouraging. If so, I would love to hear from you and include listener comments in future episodes, so feel free to email me at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Thanks for your interest in listening today. As always, I hope to be invited back into your headphones in another episode to come. Take care!