Contemplating the majesty of God sets believers apart

Be holy, because he is holy.

Core of the Bible podcast #61 – Contemplating the majesty of God sets believers apart

Today we will be looking at the topic of holiness, and how our holiness or being set apart is derived from our contemplation of the One who is uniquely holy and set apart.

In Psalm 29, David provides a poetic allegory of a thunderstorm in order to consider the holiness and majesty of God.

Psalm 29:2 – “Give to Yahweh the glory his name deserves. Worship Yahweh in his holy splendor.”

Within this psalm is a description of God’s awe-inspiring power displayed in the majestic outworking of a tempest. He is extolled in the demonstration of the power of a mighty storm. In this psalm, David uses a repeated phrase which is typically translated as “the voice of Yahweh.”

Psalm 29:4  – “the voice of Yahweh in power, the voice of Yahweh in splendor.”

However, the word that is brought out in English as voice (the Hebrew word qol) can mean sound or noise, as well. Here’s an example from Exodus:

Exodus 19:16 – On the third day, when morning came, there was thunder [qol] and lightning, a thick cloud on the mountain, and a very loud trumpet sound [qol], so that all the people in the camp shuddered.

Albert Barnes in his Notes on the Bible relates the following regarding the voice of Yahweh as used in this psalm:

“The voice of the Lord – The voice of Yahweh. There can be no doubt that the expression here, which is seven times repeated in the psalm, “the voice of Jehovah,” refers to thunder; and no one can fail to see the appropriateness of the expression. In heavy thunder it seems as if God spake. It comes from above. It fills us with awe. We know, indeed, that thunder as well as the other phenomena in the world, is produced by what are called “natural causes;” that there is no miracle in thunder; and that really God does not “speak” anymore in the thunder than he does in the sighing of the breeze or in the gurgling of the rivulet; but:

(a) He seems more impressively to speak to people in the thunder; and

(b) He may not improperly be regarded as speaking alike in the thunder, in the sighing of the breeze, and in the gurgling stream.

In each and all of these ways God is addressing men; in each and all there are lessons of great value conveyed, as if by His own voice, respecting His own existence and character.”

The idea that the voice of Yahweh described in this psalm is a thunderous sound has to do with its depiction throughout each of the various verses:

The voice of Yahweh breaks the cedars; Yahweh shatters the cedars of Lebanon.

The voice of Yahweh flashes flames of fire.

The voice of Yahweh shakes the wilderness; Yahweh shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of Yahweh makes the deer give birth and strips the woodlands bare.

All of these things can be said to be the result of a powerful thunder and lightning storm: shattering of trees; flashing light and fire; shaking of the wilderness; stripping the woodlands bare. Making the deer give birth can imply that the frightened deer goes into labor, but it also implies that the thunderous voice of God rumbles through the deserted wilderness places where deer prefer to separate themselves when giving birth.

If you’ve ever been through a close violent thunderstorm, I’m sure you can recall how terrifyingly loud and unnerving the noise and commotion of the wind and rain can be. If you were in an open and unprotected area when experiencing a large storm, I’m certain you can recall how vulnerable and frail you may have felt. The Psalmist here is using this type of imagery as a way of illustrating the power and majesty of God, and how incredibly small and unshielded we are from the elements of this world; how much more does that apply to us spiritually.

Barnes concludes:

“In each and all of these ways God is addressing men; in each and all there are lessons of great value conveyed, as if by His own voice, respecting His own existence and character. Those which are addressed to us particularly in thunder, pertain to His power, His majesty, His greatness; to our own weakness, feebleness, dependence; to the ease with which He could take us away, and to the importance of being prepared to stand before such a God.”

To wander into the realm of God is to be vulnerable and exposed to the power and majesty of the One who is beyond all comprehension. If the power of a single storm on earth can instill fear into the stoutest of hearts, how much more the all-powerful presence of the Almighty God?


These things are not necessarily meant to say that God is purposefully causing these individual occurrences to happen; he certainly could if he chose to. But the emphasis in this psalm is that those wonders and powers of nature demonstrate how all-powerful God really is simply because he created them in the first place. Because of this, it is easy for people to get God mixed up with his Creation.

For example, pantheism says that God is in everything, and therefore everything is God. Wikipedia has a reasonable working definition of pantheism that states:

“Pantheism is the view that everything is part of an all-encompassing, immanent God. All forms of reality may then be considered either modes of that Being, or identical with it. Some hold that pantheism is a non-religious philosophical position. To them, pantheism is the view that the Universe (in the sense of the totality of all existence) and God are identical.”

A common popular trope today is to assign “the universe” as an all-present, all-knowing force that influences the lives of people. This is typically used in kind of an ironic rather than serious fashion. However, there are some who believe that speaking something into the universe will bring an echo of meaning or direction back into their lives. Others believe when some notable event occurs, that the universe has pointed them in a direction or made a choice for them. Most people today engage with this type of thinking not realizing that this is really a form of pantheism.

By contrast, in Hebrew thought, God is not equated with the Creation, but is evidenced in and through his Creation. He can do with it as he wills, using it to accomplish his purposes as he sees fit. For example, he can cause a flood or he can create a drought; he can make a storm appear out of nowhere or he can calm the storm.

But beyond just manipulating the natural order, the God of the Bible is not limited by his Creation; he can cause non-linear things (according to the parameters of our understanding of physics) to occur. He can cause the sun and moon to stand still for a whole day (Joshua 10), or the sun to appear to go backwards (2 Kings 20). He can create a dry path through the depths of a sea in one night (Exodus 14), or cause someone who has died to live again (1 Kings 17, Luke 7, John 11). These are things that go against the natural order of things, and therefore demonstrate that God’s nature is transcendent to this Creation; he is greater than just the sum totality of all of its parts.  Therefore the God of the Bible is greater and more powerful than whatever god is assigned to the pantheistic philosophy of the created universe.

To consider the vastness of God’s power and ability, one needs only to look beyond the created order of even this world. In some psalms attributed to David, he meditates on the expanse of the heavens and the heavenly bodies that are evident there. He explains how this universality of God’s handiwork is evident in all nations under the heavens.

Psalm 19:1-4 – “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse proclaims the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour out speech; night after night they communicate knowledge.  There is no speech; there are no words; their voice is not heard.  Their message has gone out to the whole earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”

Because this aspect of God’s nature is evident everywhere, David ponders man’s role in light of his transcendent nature.

Psalm 8:3-4 – “When I observe your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you set in place,  what is a human being that you remember him, a son of man that you look after him?”

David’s conclusion is that viewing the vastness of God’s creation should cause us to be humbled in view of our limited existence and scope of influence.

Our modern astronomical telescopes have transformed how we look at the universe outside of the environs of the earth. We now have space telescopes that can image the farthest reaches of the visible universe. I am fascinated with these types of pictures, and I even have a computer wallpaper that is an image of a spiral galaxy. When I look at such an image depicting a self-contained galaxy with its millions of stars and planets, and knowing that the earth is only one tiny speck in our own galaxy, my mind is immediately humbled to whatever my personal circumstances might be, as this perspective reminds me of how small and finite my view of reality typically is.

In a similar way, when I come to the Bible and explore its depths, I am likewise placed in a position of humility when I consider the magnitude of spiritual revelation that God has provided us in his Word. That God has revealed himself as a being greater than the universe itself is boggling to the mind, and yet necessary for him to demonstrate who he is. His being is so high above all that exists, he is set apart from his Creation; yet he has chosen to maintain a dynamic and ongoing relationship with those whom he has created within that order of Creation that we call the universe.

Our own holiness, or separation from the world, is derived from our perspective and meditation of God as the Creator of all. In our current generation, amidst a people who have no recognition of any god, or who are self-absorbed in the creations of their own making, believers stand apart in our honoring of the one true God of the universe. In so doing, we ourselves become set apart.

1 Peter 1:15-16 – But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

We must recognize that our holiness is derived from his holiness and majesty. If we lose sight of who he is, we become less set apart. Conversely, as we honor him and ascribe to him the glory that his name deserves, then we are elevated into a position of strength and purpose that rises far above our mundane existence.


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.

Contextualizing the positive through the negative

Contrasts illustrate the truths of the Bible more clearly.

Core of the Bible podcast #59 – Contextualizing the positive through the negative

Today we will be looking at the topic of integrity, and how we can learn about God’s expectations for positive ethical behavior by looking at the results of bad ethical behavior.

Proverbs 11:3 – “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.”

The book of Proverbs provides a wealth of God’s wisdom in brief statements. The juxtaposition of positive and negative characteristics help to illustrate each other, causing them to stand out in bold relief to one another. When we understand the characteristics of the negative quality, we look to its opposite in order to understand the positive quality more fully. This is the beauty of the proverbs that contrast good and bad qualities.

In this verse, the integrity, the completeness or wholeness, of someone who is righteous or upright is contrasted with the twisted ways of those who are deceitful, or who act covertly in order to accomplish their own ways, even if it means overthrowing the actions of the righteous.

Many Bible versions will list this negative quality as “perverseness.” While this is not technically incorrect, the word “perverse” tends to have a different connotation in our modern vernacular. Relating the underlying Hebrew word as “crooked” brings out some of the meaning of the original: the idea of twisting or distortion of something by acting covertly in an intentional manner. This is an apt description of how someone who is treacherous would act in order to accomplish their own ends. In the end, it destroys them.

This brings out an interesting facet of what the Bible teaches: the consequences of one’s own actions. While we may come to the Bible to learn about eternal answers to questions we may have, I believe that many times we tend to skip over the simpler, obvious teaching because we are looking for deeper or more significant meaning in a passage. It may also be that we don’t have a complete recognition of the cultural underpinnings of these ancient writings, which is one of the reasons I find exploring this type of literature so fascinating.

For example, in Psalm 35, David implores God to come to his aid and defend him against his enemies.

Psalm 35:1-8 – Oppose my opponents, Yahweh; fight those who fight me.  Take your shields ​– ​large and small — and come to my aid.  Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers, and assure me: “I am your deliverance.”  Let those who intend to take my life be disgraced and humiliated; let those who plan to harm me be turned back and ashamed.  Let them be like chaff in the wind, with the angel of Yahweh driving them away.  Let their way be dark and slippery, with the angel of Yahweh pursuing them.  They hid their net for me without cause; they dug a pit for me without cause.  Let ruin come on him unexpectedly, and let the net that he hid ensnare him; let him fall into it ​– ​to his ruin.”

This is what is known as an “imprecatory” psalm, one in which the writer calls down curses or imprecations on their enemy. These writings have confounded Christians over the years because we in our modern days try to read back into these passages the teachings of doing good to enemies for their good, not calling down God’s wrath upon them. Therefore, this type of writing seems out of place with the overall purpose and plan of God in desiring us to overcome evil with good.

However, it is helpful to understand that what may appear to be a psalm or prayer of vindictiveness is more likely a statement of allowing the natural consequences of their enemies actions to fall upon them. This is very typical in the writings of that time.

In ancient Jewish thinking, since God is just, the Creation itself is imbued with a mechanism of justice. Sometimes the forces of nature are blended with concepts of angels or messengers of God. In this psalm we see David asking God to “take your shields…and come to my aid,” and asking that the “angel of Yahweh” pursue his enemies. To our Western way of thinking, these concepts appear to be spiritual forces that David is requesting God to provide to protect him and to rout his enemies. However, these are more likely literary expressions as to how it would appear to his enemies when the consequences of their actions were to fall upon themselves. David is simply asking God for those consequences to come to fruition.

Some other instances where this type of literary design is seen include other representative psalms:

Psalm 104:1, 4 – “My soul, bless Yahweh! Yahweh my God, you are very great; you are clothed with majesty and splendor. … and making the winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants.”

Psalm 148:8 – “lightning and hail, snow and cloud, stormy wind that executes his command…”

In one of Elihu’s responses to Job, he also mentions the will of God being accomplished through the natural elements:

Job 37:11-13 – “He saturates clouds with moisture; he scatters his lightning through them. They swirl about, turning round and round at his direction, accomplishing everything he commands them over the surface of the inhabited world. He causes this to happen for punishment, for his land, or for his faithful love.”

These examples merely illustrate how that, to the ancient way of thinking in middle Eastern culture, the will and purpose of God blended seamlessly with the natural elements, and one served only to highlight and magnify the other.

Psalm 8:1, 3-4 – “Yahweh, our Lord, how magnificent is your name throughout the earth! You have covered the heavens with your majesty. … When I observe your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you set in place, what is a human being that you remember him, a son of man that you look after him?”

Additionally, besides the proverbs, there are other examples of how the wickedness of the wicked comes back to them in time. In one of Bildad’s responses to Job:

Job 18:5, 7-8, 21 – Yes, the light of the wicked is extinguished; the flame of his fire does not glow.  … His powerful stride is shortened, and his own schemes trip him up.  For his own feet lead him into a net, and he strays into its mesh.  … Indeed, such is the dwelling of the unjust man, and this is the place of the one who does not know God.

Here Bildad explains it as a common understanding that the wickedness of the wicked leads themselves to ruin.

Another example is this additional psalm of David:

Psalm 9:15-16 – The nations have fallen into the pit they made; their foot is caught in the net they have concealed.  Yahweh has made himself known; he has executed justice, snaring the wicked by the work of their hands.

So in this instance, is God causing this “snaring of the wicked” to happen directly or only indirectly as being the architect of consequential just recompense? We also see a hint in this passage that through this natural consequence of their own actions, Yahweh has “made himself known.”

In a psalm attributed to Asaph, we see a similar representation.

Psalm 73:11-12, 16-19 – The wicked say, “How can God know? Does the Most High know everything? ”  Look at them ​– ​the wicked! They are always at ease, and they increase their wealth.  … When I tried to understand all this, it seemed hopeless  until I entered God’s sanctuary. Then I understood their destiny.  Indeed, you put them in slippery places; you make them fall into ruin.  How suddenly they become a desolation! They come to an end, swept away by terrors.

According to Asaph, until he “entered God’s sanctuary,” or came to understand the spiritual reality behind the natural events, it appeared unfair that the wicked lived in relative ease while he, attempting to be righteous had the sense in v. 13 that he had “purified his heart and washed his hands in innocence for nothing,” being “punished every morning” and “afflicted all day long,” (v. 14). But once he took God’s perspective on the wicked, he realized the relative ease with which they were living was really a slippery path to destruction if they were not to repent from their ways.

The biblical idea that God has created the universe to act in a certain fashion, or to react to our actions in a certain fashion, is itself a slippery slope of sorts, as it can lead one to a form of fatalism or consequentialism. Fatalism is the belief that all events are predetermined or inevitable, therefore, people have no ability to influence the outcome of their lives. Consequentialism regards all actions as justifiable as long as the consequences are favorable; i.e., the ends justify the means.

However, what the Bible actually describes is a system of justice based on the consequences of actions also known as “reaping what you sow.” In this view, people still are influencing their circumstances, so it is not fatalism. People are also held accountable for the “rightness” of their actions, so it is not strict consequentialism. In the Bible, people do receive the consequences of their actions, but they also have the ability to change their actions from negative and hurtful to positive and ultimately self-sacrificial. If fatalism were true, there would be no calls to repentance, and if consequentialism were true, there would be no accountability for doing bad things as long as the immediate result was good. No, the Bible teaches that God desires people to do what is right simply because it is the right thing to do, even if the immediate consequences are unfavorable for us. But the Bible also warns us if we continue to do the wrong things, even with the best of intentions, the end result will be bad.

It is from these ethical theories of men that God desires to free us. When we act at all times with integrity, we can avoid those twin traps of fatalism and consequentialism and we can stand assured before God that our actions are based on the truth of his Word and not just our assessment of our own circumstances.

Going back to our anchor verse for today:

Proverbs 11:3 – The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.

We can see here that the righteous or upright can be guided in the correct way to walk by recognizing the opposite of the crooked, twisting, covert ways of the treacherous. Here are some other similar examples from these contrasting proverbs:

Proverbs 11:5-6 – The righteousness of the blameless clears his path, but the wicked person will fall because of his wickedness. 

Proverbs 11:6 – The righteousness of the upright rescues them, but the treacherous are trapped by their own desires.

Proverbs 11:18 – The wicked person earns an empty wage, but the one who sows righteousness, a true reward.

Proverbs 13:6- Righteousness guards people of integrity, but wickedness undermines the sinner. 

Proverbs 13:20 -The one who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.

Rather than seeking to define our own ethical behavior, God has defined it for us. In these types of proverbs, the contrast between the right way and the wrong way is the method of highlighting the differences and end results that God desires us to recognize in these alternative paths. The righteous are guarded or protected by their righteousness; it clears a path for them when the way is unsure or blocked with obstacles. It rescues them and provides them an eternal reward. The wicked will lie and cheat, they are trapped by their own desires; they will be undermined by their own sinfulness which provides only an empty wage, and will ultimately cause their own downfall.

Which path seems more compelling to follow? When viewed in its larger context and cultural setting, I believe this becomes self-evident. This is why this type of contrasting teaching throughout the proverbs is such a powerful method of conveying truth.

Contrasted with the “crookedness” of the wicked, there is no covert or hidden agenda with a righteous person; what they say, they will do. They are known as a “straight shooter,” someone who can be trusted because they are faithful and loyal. Everything is open and above-board in dealing with a righteous person, and you will always know where you stand.

In Matthew 5:33-37, Yeshua encourages believers to exhibit these characteristics in all of their outward relations: “Be a person of your word, not requiring any oath to substantiate your actions. Simply say yes or no, and do what you say.” When we act in this way, we can honor God and magnify the positive characteristics and ethical characteristics that are displayed, and contrasted, in his Word.


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 rebellious way of righteousness

Living faithfully according to God’s instruction at all times.

Psalm 26:1-3 – Vindicate me, Yahweh, because I have lived with integrity and have trusted in Yahweh without wavering. Test me, Yahweh, and try me; examine my heart and mind. For your faithful love guides me, and I live by your truth.

This psalm is attributed to David, and when reading it, it seems as if David is almost lifting himself up in God’s eyes, saying, “look how good I am, Yahweh.”
In a sense, he is. He is conveying how his conscience is clear before God, and because this is the case, he is requesting that God vindicate him or judge righteously in his favor against those who would come against him.

Psalm 26:9-10 – Do not destroy me along with sinners, or my life along with men of bloodshed in whose hands are evil schemes and whose right hands are filled with bribes.

This is brought out more vividly in another psalm of David where he declares his innocence, and then pleas for God’s protection due to his own faithfulness and virtue.

Psalm 17:3, 8-14 – You have tested my heart; you have examined me at night. You have tried me and found nothing evil; I have determined that my mouth will not sin. … Protect me as the pupil of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who treat me violently, my deadly enemies who surround me. They are uncaring; their mouths speak
arrogantly. They advance against me; now they surround me. They are determined to throw me to the ground. They are like a lion eager to tear, like a young lion lurking in ambush. Rise up, Yahweh! Confront him; bring him down. With your sword, save me from the wicked. With your hand, Yahweh, save me from men, from men of the world whose portion is in this life…

While believers in Messiah are commanded by Yeshua to have pure hearts (Matthew 5:8) and walk in the light and not in the darkness of this world (John 8:12) these cherished qualities are by no means insulation from all wickedness in the world.

Consider the plight of Job, a man who was considered righteous before God.

Job 1:1 – There was a man in the country of Uz named Job. He was a man of complete integrity, who feared God and turned away from evil.

And yet disaster upon disaster came upon him. One of his companions, Eliphaz, even related this confidence as Job’s hope within himself:

Job 4:6 – Isn’t your piety your confidence, and the integrity of your life your hope?

The issue is not how righteous a person is, whether imagined or in reality, but in how faithful they are in the face of all adversity. David had a clear conscience before God, and yet was persecuted by Saul and the nations surrounding Israel. Job was a man of complete integrity and yet suffered so much trouble that his very name has become synonymous with the concept of adversity.

Yeshua himself suffered the highest injustice of all, and maintained, to the death, his focus on the higher purpose of God. All of these men persevered in their integrity and faithfulness, never losing hope in the God who would ultimately vindicate them, and he did.

We are expected to walk in pureness of heart and in the light of God’s instruction, yet we should never assume that because we do that we are then somehow immune from adversity in this life. Granted, the way of the righteous is ultimate design for those who bear God’s image in this world. And yet due to the wayward passions of those around us, we can expect that this way of righteousness will be resisted and pushed back on.

2 Timothy 3:12 – In fact, all who want to live a godly life in Messiah Yeshua will be persecuted.

This reality should not dissuade the believer from doing what’s right at all times but should only establish and encourage this conduct in the face of it. We must rebel against the wickedness of this world by living faithfully according to God’s instruction at all times and in all situations. This behavior then becomes the rebellious way of righteousness.


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

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

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

How Yeshua illustrates the ultimate trust in God

His hope and trust can become our hope and trust.

Luke 23:46 – And Yeshua called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.” Saying this, he breathed his last.

We can draw great insight from the final words of Yeshua as he hung on the cross. Everything related to those final hours and moments of his earthly life were drenched thick with meaning.

It is a common understanding that when a Hebrew speaker is quoting a section of Scripture, the hearer would instantly understand the context of the quote and recognize that the entirety of the passage is in view. In the case of Yeshua’s final words, we are hyper-linked back to Psalm 31.

Psalm 31:5 – Into your hand I entrust my spirit; you have redeemed me, Yahweh, God of truth.

Yet this statement of hope is embedded in the midst of some of the most dire circumstances, as other stanzas within that psalm describe.

Psalm 31:9-11, 13 – Be gracious to me, Yahweh, because I am in distress; my eyes are worn out from frustration — my whole being as well. Indeed, my life is consumed with grief and my years with groaning; my strength has failed because of my affliction, and my bones waste away. I am ridiculed by all my adversaries and even by my neighbors. I am dreaded by my acquaintances; those who see me in the street run from me. … I have heard the gossip of many; terror is on every side. When they conspired against me, they plotted to take my life.

By placing the words and full context of this messianic psalm on the lips of Yeshua, the psalm comes to life and describes his thoughts as he was in the throes of the most hideous of circumstances. Nevertheless, we can draw great hope and inspiration from faith and trust that Yeshua places in Yahweh, even amidst the most painful suffering and humiliation a human could be exposed to.

Psalm 31:7, 14-16 – I will rejoice and be glad in your faithful love because you have seen my affliction. You know the troubles of my soul … But I trust in you, Yahweh; I say, “You are my God.” The course of my life is in your power; rescue me from the power of my enemies and from my persecutors. Make your face shine on your servant; save me by your faithful love.

Some of the most powerful statements of trust in God that can be uttered are, “into your hands I commit my spirit,” and “the course of my life is in your power.” If we really believed that the course of our life, our very existence, is within the power of God, I believe that we might live differently with a unique and much more powerful perspective. To commit our spirit into the hands of God is the ultimate act of de-throning our Self and allowing God to guide us in a way that seems best to him.

Is this what Yeshua would want for us, to love Yahweh enough to fully commit our whole being to him? Well, if we consider the psalm as being in his mind and on his lips as he hung on the cross, he tells us so himself within its final verses:

Psalm 31:23-24 – Love Yahweh, all his faithful ones. Yahweh protects the loyal, but fully repays the arrogant. Be strong, and let your heart be courageous, all you who put your hope in Yahweh.

When we accept Yeshua’s admonition to faithfully love Yahweh, his hope and trust become our hope in trust, no matter how insurmountable our own circumstances may appear.


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

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

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

What type of lamp is within you?

Illuminating aspects of biblical obedience and sinfulness.

Luke 11:34-36 – Your eye is the lamp of the body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is also full of light. But when it is bad, your body is also full of darkness. Take care, then, that the light in you is not darkness. If, therefore, your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be entirely illuminated, as when a lamp shines its light on you.

Yeshua appears to be drawing this imagery of lamps and light from the rich veins of the Psalms and Proverbs. All throughout this literature are references to lamps as representing the inspiration and guidance of God and purposeful actions. Most famously are some passages referencing the guiding influence of God and his Word.

Psalm 18:28 – Yahweh, you light my lamp; my God illuminates my darkness.
Psalm 119:105 – Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.
Proverbs 6:23 – For a command is a lamp, teaching is a light, and corrective discipline is the way to life.

If, according to Yeshua, “the eye is the lamp of the body,” then from this background of language it is not difficult to connect our view of God’s Word, what we focus on, as being directive in our manner of living.

Contrasted with the illumination that comes from God and his Word is the “guiding lamp” of those who choose not to obey God.

Proverbs 21:4 – The lamp that guides the wicked — haughty eyes and an arrogant heart ​– ​is sin.

To Solomon, the path of the wicked is illuminated only by the sinfulness of pride and arrogance. In Matthew’s narrative on this same teaching, Yeshua is quoted as confirming the depths of darkness attached to sin:

Matthew 6:23 – “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness [i.e., the light that guides the wicked], how deep is that darkness!

To this condition, Solomon spares no flowery language and gets right to the end result of this manner of life.

Proverbs 24:20 – For the evil have no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.
Proverbs 13:9 – The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is put out.

On the positive aspects of the righteous, Yeshua, like Solomon, draws out the illuminating aspects of the righteous having a single focus on God’s Word and his commands.

Luke 11:36 – “If, therefore, your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be entirely illuminated, as when a lamp shines its light on you.”

The end result of this type of obedient life to God’s Word is that it can become set apart as a positive influence on the lives of others, and will not only be illuminated within, but shine brightly for others to see.

Matthew 5:15-16 – “No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.


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

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

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

The limitless resource of strength and life

God’s Word and his Spirit is the foundation of a believer’s integrity.

Psalm 1:1-3 – How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers! Instead, his delight is in Yahweh’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams that bears its fruit in its season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

At the opening of the book of Psalms is a description of the person of integrity, one who is not captivated and led astray by the sins of those around them. Notice: he does not abide by wicked advice or counsel, he does not take a stand in the way of sinners or dwell with those who arrogantly scorn others.

I have heard sermons illustrating the arc of being led astray by sin in this fashion: it begins by walking in bad advice, then standing with sinners, and finally sitting with those who mock others. Being led astray begins by walking, slows to standing, and ends with sitting among sinners. While it makes a good sermon and is not unhelpful, the underlying Hebrew is not quite that specific. The main focus is not to associate in casual ways with those who are rebellious against the things of God, or one will become like them and dwell among them.

By contrast, the person of integrity will avoid this downward spiral by a very simple and time-honored strategy: to delight in Yahweh’s torah or instruction and to constantly refer to and rely on the principles of God. To the person of integrity, God’s word is delightful, pleasant, and worthy of time and thoughtful study. The word in English is typically translated as meditate, but it also conveys ideas of musing, imagining, speaking and uttering God’s torah. This process is continual, day and night, thinking on, rehearsing and speaking about God’s instruction. This is the foundation of a believer’s integrity.

When one honor’s God’s instruction in this way, the psalmist likens them to a tree that is always vibrant, regardless of the harshness of the environment. If the weather is hot and dry, the tree continues to flourish and bear fruit just as if its roots were tapped into a nearby stream.

Yeshua also references this source of strength in similar terminology.

John 7:38-39 – The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” He said this about the Spirit…

The believer in Messiah who is immersed in the instruction of God will be provided a resource to counter any adverse condition they may encounter. The depths of this resource are limitless, as it is the very Spirit of God himself. Not only will one avoid the snares of the ungodly, but they can also bear fruit in the most inhospitable environments. This is the path of the righteous, the person of integrity.

Proverbs 4:18-19 – The way of the wicked is like the darkest gloom; they don’t know what makes them stumble. But he path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, shining brighter and brighter until midday.

Having the light of the dawn carries hope that the night is almost over, but the righteous person is continually increasing in brightness as they draw from the limitless resource within them. Just as the sun is an inexhaustible source of light and heat, the Spirit of God is an inexhaustible source of wisdom, strength and life. This is the resource available to all believers.


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.

Guarded by integrity

Doing the right thing is usually doing the simplest thing.

Psalm 25:21: “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.”

Proverbs 13:6: “Righteousness guards the way of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.”

Individual integrity is a theme that runs throughout scripture, and is a primary focus of the Wisdom literature of the Bible. A contemporary English definition of integrity is “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.” But it also conveys the wholeness of something, as in solidarity or unified strength, or soundness of construction.

The biblical definition has similar overtones of wholeness, but comes from a root word meaning “complete or finished.” In this sense, integrity is a characteristic that demonstrates maturity and simplicity, as something that is complete is not complex; it is a fully integrated wholeness, and therefore unified and simple.

As this term is explored in scripture, those who exhibit this characteristic of integrity are shielded from wrong paths. The integrity they have actually influences their ability to withstand the ebb and flow of ethical morality that swirls around them every day. In Psalm 25:21, the David wrote that integrity and uprightness preserves him. In Proverbs 13:6, Solomon writes that “righteousness guards the way of integrity.” Like father, like son. This principle can be seen being passed generationally in these great documents of the faith.

The same root word is used in these passages which has the meaning “to preserve, watch, guard, or keep.” Those who act with integrity are kept from wrong action; it’s as if their integrity actually shields them from wrong paths.

Proverbs 2:6-8: “For Yahweh gives wisdom. Out of his mouth comes knowledge and understanding. He lays up sound wisdom for the upright. He is a shield to those who walk in integrity; that he may guard the paths of justice, and preserve the way of his saints.”

The simplicity of this principle is often overlooked due to the many complex issues we face in our current era, and the multitude of ethical choices available to us at any given point in time. However, Yahweh himself maintains and watches over the way of those who demonstrate integrity. As we follow his knowledge and understanding, we mature. And as we grow in the completeness of our integrity, we find that the right thing to do is typically a very simple thing, and we will be guarded in the doing of it by the One who is glorified in 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 here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Striving after the passionate faithfulness of past generations

A life of integrity is forged in the constant pursuit of righteousness.

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.

Psalm 86:11

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

Psalm 143:10

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

The Psalms are well-known among believers because they are filled with this type of pleading to God for guidance, for pouring out praise to God and outwardly declaring a desire for righteousness in speech and in action.

As believers, we identify with the passionate expression of these principles, because we are ignited with the same Spirit. The kindred longings and desires of our hearts beat in unison with those faithful who have gone before and expressed their deepest secrets which are immortalized among the pages of Scripture. The integrity that lived and breathed in them inspires us to learn of their ways and mimic their faithfulness.

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

Hebrews 12:1