The righteousness that originates in the heart

Living by faith in Messiah produces the obedience that God desires.

Living by faith in Messiah produces the obedience that God desires.

In writing to the Roman congregation, the apostle Paul conveys his frustration over the refusal of the majority of his own people, the Jews, to believe in Yeshua as the promised Messiah. They were instead clinging desperately to rules and regulations, not to the law of God exclusively, but to a law they invented around the the law of God. The rules and regulations they came up with had to be followed exactingly or the individual was not considered to be righteous.

Romans 10:2-3 – I can testify about them that they have zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. Since they are ignorant of the righteousness of God and attempted to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness.

Paul brings his argument to its pinnacle by stating the centrality of faith in Yeshua is the ultimate goal of the true law of God, and if they were truly attempting to be obedient to God, they would have accepted the life and example of the Messiah.

Romans 10:4 – For Messiah is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

The Helps word study of the Discovery Bible clarifies the meaning of this Greek word translated as “end” in this verse.

“télos (a neuter noun) – properly, consummation (the end-goal, purpose), such as closure with all its results. [This root (tel-) means “reaching the end (aim).” It is well-illustrated with the old pirate’s telescope, unfolding (extending out) one stage at a time to function at full-strength (capacity effectiveness).]”

The perspective that Paul appears to be arguing for is that Messiah is not the end (or abolishing) of the law, for then he would be contradicting Yeshua directly.

Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”

No, Paul seems to be conveying that Messiah is the end-goal or consummating purpose of the law; Yeshua’s life, his teaching, and his self-sacrificial example are showing us what the fulfillment of the law is all about.

Romans 10:10 For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.

And when we believe the message of the Messiah with our hearts, we then are also living in fulfillment of the law and attain righteousness that God desires: a righteousness that is by faith because it is truly in our hearts and not just a list of rote commands that we follow because that is what we think we are supposed to do.

The law of God, summarized in the Ten Commandments, doesn’t need endless lists of human commands around them to help us keep them. No, when the heart desires to truly keep God’s commands, it causes us to be obedient regardless if we are told to by humans or not.

The Jewish practice of creating hundreds of laws around the law of God, while intended to create more obedience, actually only served to obfuscate the righteous commands of God, and ended up creating a greater burden for the people and they could never get out from underneath it, even to this day.

The clarity that Yeshua brought is that the true place of faith resides in the heart obedience to the truth of God’s revelation, not the outward show of following the endless rules of men. Paul built on this by saying that believing in the life, teaching, and sacrificial example of Messiah as Lord (the guiding principle in our lives) should lead us also to a life of heart-obedience to the plain law of God. This is where righteousness, the concept of acceptable conduct before God, originates: in the heart, not in showy actions that one is only following because they think they are supposed to. When Yeshua is Lord of our lives, we can truly live according to God’s Word from the heart. This is the end-goal and the consummation of the law of God.


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

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

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

The integrity of all who hunger and thirst for righteousness

Those who are righteous can’t help but show it in their actions.

Matthew 5:6 – “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Yeshua taught that those who diligently seek after righteousness, doing what is right in the sight of God, will have their desire fulfilled. Longing for righteousness appears to be a characteristic that defines the integrity of believers and helps them grow.

Righteousness, that is, the constant capacity to act in right ways, is the ultimate goal for all people. Doing the right thing is the very definition of integrity.

Peter also taught that these right actions are the expectation that God has for all nations. He came to this realization through an angelic revelation regarding the state of the non-Jewish nations. Cornelius, a commander in the Roman army, was stationed in Judea. Cornelius had sent to Peter to have Peter come to his house based on an angelic visitation in prayer.

Acts 10:22 – [The messengers of Cornelius] said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who has a good reputation with the whole Jewish nation, was divinely directed by a holy angel to call you [Peter] to his house and to hear a message from you.”

In response to a vision presented in Acts 10:9-16, Peter complied and went to the home of Cornelius.

Acts 10:29-31 – [Peter asked him] “So may I ask why you sent for me? ” Cornelius replied, “Four days ago at this hour, at three in the afternoon, I was praying in my house. Just then a man in dazzling clothing stood before me “and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms have been remembered in God’s sight.

The fact that Cornelius was praying at three in the afternoon illustrates his devotion to the Hebrew God, since that was typically the time of the afternoon prayer and the sacrifice of the second lamb of the day at the temple. That he was praying to the Hebrew God meant he was a God-fearer: a non-Jewish believer who was not a formal convert to the Jewish religion but believed in their God. The alms he had provided to the Jews in Judea were financial loans and gifts designed to help those in need. According to Peter, these gifts were demonstrations of the righteousness of Cornelius.

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

What is the example Peter is basing this on? What standard is Peter using as the basis for those who fear God and do what is right are acceptable to him? Well, it is the example of the holy Spirit being poured out on the non-Jewish believers in that household.

Acts 10:44-45 – “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came down on all those who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on those of other nations.”

Cornelius was a man who a) feared God, and b) did what was right; that is, continually provided righteous sacrificial gifts of giving from the heart. Cornelius hungered and thirsted for righteousness, but he was not circumcised; he was not a Jewish convert. But Peter had learned that if someone fears God and does what is right, they are righteous in God’s sight, and God demonstrated this by an outward display of them being filled with his holy Spirit. By Yeshua’s definition, those individuals who hunger and thirst for righteousness would be filled, their thirst satisfied by God.

This corroborates with the apostle John who likewise stated with plain language the heart condition of true believers over those who only professed to be so.

1 John 3:6-10 – “Everyone who remains in him does not keep on sinning; everyone who sins has not seen him or known him. Children, let no one deceive you. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who practices sin is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the devil’s works. Everyone who has been born of God does not practice sin, because his seed remains in him; he is not able to keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 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.”

The message of the Bible is to live with integrity by fearing God and doing the right thing according to his Word. This is how we know we are truly God’s children, when we hunger and thirst for righteousness, because that is who we are. And Yeshua promises that if our hunger and thirst are real, we shall be satisfied.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Revere God and protect and keep his commandments: for this is everything expected of mankind.


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

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

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

The balance of true generosity

God reassures the faithful who truly help others.

Proverbs 11:25 – “The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.”

This verse highlights the biblical principle of reciprocity. To the ancient Jewish way of thinking, there is balance in the universe and God is just; therefore, righteous actions will be balanced with righteous rewards in this life. If we are compassionate and generous with others in need, we will be dealt with compassionately and with generosity in return.

Yeshua also taught this principle in several different ways and through various parables.

Matthew 13:23 – “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
Matthew 19:29 – “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields because of my name will receive a hundred times more and will inherit eternal life.”
Luke 6:38 – “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

The modern danger presented by this type of teaching is at the root of the prosperity gospel, where people are encouraged to give in order to get. If you want to get rich, give generously (to that specific ministry, of course) and God will abundantly bless you. This is a primary method in how false teachers rake in millions of dollars through their “ministries.” They prey on the covetousness of human nature, and through twisting of these passages they bilk innocent people of life savings and necessary subsistence, all in the name of God.

God hasn’t set this principle in place as a way of believers getting rich, but as a way of rewarding the righteous who faithfully provide for the needs of others. Those who look at this as some sort of God-ordained get-rich-quick scheme are simply lining the pockets of these purveyors of snake-oil.

Peter spares no words in denouncing these false teachers who were present even among the early believers:

2 Peter 2:1, 14, 18-19 – “…there will be false teachers among you. They will bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves. … They have eyes full of adultery that never stop looking for sin. They seduce unstable people and have hearts trained in greed. Children under a curse! … For by uttering boastful, empty words, they seduce, with fleshly desires and debauchery, people who have barely escaped from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them.”

Even though these people exist even to this day, we should not be dissuaded from following the true principle of reciprocity by faithfully helping those in need. It is not just the giving that is important, but who and what the giving is for. God wants to reassure us that when we take the time, energy, and resources to help others who are truly in need, something we are commanded to do all through his word, we will be abundantly blessed in return. This should allow us to give joyfully when we know that we are playing a vital part in helping out others who will deeply and meaningfully benefit from our generosity.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 – “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”


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.

Vigilance in remaining pure

After coming to the truth, we need to continue in the truth.

2 Peter 3:13-15 – But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation…

This admonition of Peter to “those who have received a like faith as ours,” (2 Peter 1:1) is to remain vigilant in pursuing a spotless and blameless life, and by remaining on guard to not be carried away by rebellious men.

The spotlessness he speaks of hearkens back to the idea of the perfection of the sacrificial animal who was to be entirely clean and whole, or without defect.

Numbers 6:14 – “‘He shall present his offering to Yahweh: one male lamb a year old without defect for a burnt offering and one ewe-lamb a year old without defect for a sin offering and one ram without defect for a peace offering…”

This motif sets the principle in place that the believers were to view themselves as set apart like the sacrifices of the old covenant, remaining acceptable to God because of their wholeness in purity.

Other examples of this type of purity were encouraged by Paul to Timothy, along with the apostle James.

1 Timothy 6:12-14 – “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Messiah Yeshua, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Yeshua Messiah…”

James 1:27 – “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

1 Peter 1:18-19 – “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Messiah.”

So Peter says the believers were to be found spotless, without any spot, stain, or blemish and also to be blameless. This can also be translated as unblameable, in the sense that their lives should be so exemplary that they could not be truly accused of defilement at any time. They were to be diligently pursuing this spotlessness and unblameable-ness so that they might be living in peace or tranquil assurance of their position before God.

Can that be said of believers today? Are we in vigilant pursuit of keeping ourselves from being stained by this world as James admonishes? If we were to be a sacrificial animal in ancient Israel, could we be selected as a substitutionary sacrifice because of our wholeness and purity?

Some might say, “I am in Messiah, therefore I am holy and blameless in him.” That may indeed be the case; however, that reality for believers today is not without responsibility to also continue to diligently walk in paths of undefilement and to remain in that state since we have come to know him and believe in him.

2 Peter 3:17-18 – “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand [i.e., that the patience of the Yahweh is salvation], be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of rebellious men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Yeshua Messiah..”

Too many people today claim to know him and yet don’t walk after him, believing that his cleansing of our sin is all they need and they can continue to live as they choose, or they excuse their licentiousness with false grace. These are those who have been “carried away by the error of rebellious men” as Peter concludes, and no longer walk according to the whole truth, only the part they want to, because it suits their preferences.

To those who have dropped their guard and fallen from steadfastness, who believe they are justified even in their continued waywardness and lack of discipline, I can only present the words of Yeshua:

Matthew 7:21-23 – “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.”


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.

Humility before God is where the path begins

Recognizing our inability to be righteous on our own.

Isaiah 66:1-2 – “Yahweh says, ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build to me? Where will I rest? For my hand has made all these things, and so all these things came to be,’ says Yahweh: ‘but I will look to this man, even to he who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my word.'”

Everything in the life of a believer begins with humility of reference: the one who is of a contrite spirit. The Hebrew word Isaiah uses here for “contrite” means “stricken,” and is also translated in other passages as “crippled or lame; not having the ability to walk on one’s own.” To my way of thinking, that is a powerful metaphor for the believing life.

These are two of the biggest hurdles for those who do not believe; to recognize that God is the all-powerful Creator and that his Word is supreme. There is a pride that will not yield to God’s authority, as one prefers to chart their own way through this life.

One of my favorite sayings of the ancients that is attributed to Solomon comes from the Septuagint version of the Bible where it reads, “Unwearied endurance in seeking Yahweh is better than a masterless charioteer of one’s own life,” (Sirach 20:32). The masterless charioteer may have the freedom to choose their own way, but in doing so they must recognize that their way is fraught with unnecessary strife and adversity.

A few examples from the other writings of Solomon in the book of Proverbs can illustrate this:

Proverbs 11:5 – The righteousness of the blameless will direct his way, but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.
Proverbs 12:15 – The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who is wise listens to counsel.
Proverbs 19:3 – The foolishness of man subverts his way; his heart rages against Yahweh.
Proverbs 21:2 – Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but Yahweh weighs the hearts.

By contrast, one needs only to look at how Solomon also depicted the path of the righteous:

Proverbs 3:33 – Yahweh’s curse is in the house of the wicked, but he blesses the habitation of the righteous.
Proverbs 10:2 – Treasures of wickedness profit nothing, but righteousness delivers from death.
Proverbs 11:6 – The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them, but the unfaithful will be trapped by evil desires.

There are over 80 references to the positive attributes of the righteous in the Proverbs alone; this is no small indication of God’s desire for all people. Solomon’s conclusion even at the end of Ecclesiastes is also a famous verse, noted for its simplicity and universality for all people:

Ecclesiastes 12:13 “This is the end of the matter. All has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.”

Yeshua begins the most significant teaching in the New Testament writings, the Sermon on the Mount, with the assertion that every principle he was about to teach on begins with simple humility before God.

Matthew 5:3 – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

There is no need to go further into the Sermon on the Mount if one has not begun with the humility of heart that Yeshua honors. Recognizing that one is not able to walk the path of this life on one’s own is a true demonstration of the contrite spirit, and one that Isaiah assures believers will provide an ongoing rejuvenating experience.

Isaiah 57:15 – “For the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy, says: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.'”


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.

Biblical faith is never blind faith

Biblical faith is obedient action based on confident assurance and conviction.

Core of the Bible podcast #55 – Biblical faith is never blind faith

Today we will be looking at the topic of trust or faith, and how biblical faith is never expected to be a blind faith. Believers have chosen a worldview that is consistent with God’s revelation of himself in his word, and he has demonstrated that he is worthy of our trust.

The life of a believer is just that: a life of faith. But to understand more about faith, we may need to lay down some definitions. Now a quick internet search on the definition of faith yields the following results:

complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion
a strongly held belief or theory

From Wikipedia, their definition of faith begins with the following:

Faith, derived from Latin fides and Old French feid, is confidence or trust in a person, thing, or concept. In the context of religion, one can define faith as “belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion”. Religious people often think of faith as confidence based on a perceived degree of warrant, while others who are more skeptical of religion tend to think of faith as simply belief without evidence.

That is the contrast that I want to highlight: faith based on evidence (what Wikipedia calls “a perceived degree of warrant), and blind faith, or faith with no evidence at all.

To believe in God is to be confident that God exists. While many people may say that is all there is to faith, in truth, most people have confidence in God because of some other reassurance they have received that he indeed exists, whether this reassurance was public or private. Perhaps it was a “miraculous” healing or rescue from a harmful situation (like a car accident), or a near-death experience with a spiritual vision of some kind. Perhaps it was some inspired preaching other type of learning experience.

For myself, I can say that I have faith in God because I believe that God has revealed himself in history through the Bible and the historical example of Israel. For me, this historical reassurance provides a foundation upon which a living faith can emerge. This living faith is a demonstration of knowledge and practices that are rooted in principles of the Bible. This is not just an expression of personal beliefs with no basis, but an expression of a specific worldview that springs from a repository of knowledge and spiritual understanding handed down through the ages.

All people operate within a specific worldview; that’s just how we are wired. The specifics of that worldview are shaped by how one interprets knowledge and understanding that one has been exposed to. For believers, these various interpretations of biblical knowledge and understanding are why we have different religious traditions all saying they are based on the Bible. Each of the various traditions emphasizes different aspects of that body of information. Some traditions focus on liturgy; others focus on social justice, while yet others focus on separation from society. Those of us who claim to believe in God have all made and are making choices about the expression of our faith that are influenced by culture, tradition, and familial upbringing.

While all of this may just sound like just a big hot mess of philosophical opinion, allow me to demonstrate from the Bible how a biblical faith is not a blind faith, but a worldview that is based on evidential experience and knowledge. To do so, we need to look no further than the examples of Gideon and Abraham. Let’s start by looking at Gideon, who is recognized as one of the great examples of faith who is memorialized for us in the eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews.


Hebrews 11:6, 32-34 – “Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.  … And what more can I say? Time is too short for me to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the raging of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength in weakness, became mighty in battle, and put foreign armies to flight.”

Now, if we review some of the accomplishments of Gideon, we may find there is more to them than simply trusting without question what God was asking of him. Gideon’s trust that God would do what he said was based on evidential reassurances that God had provided him. This was demonstrated all along in his journey to becoming a savior of Israel from the oppression of the Midianites.

Judges 6:11-12 – The angel of Yahweh came, and he sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash, the Abiezrite. His son Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress in order to hide it from the Midianites. Then the angel of Yahweh appeared to him and said: “Yahweh is with you, valiant warrior.”

When Gideon was first called by God through an angel, Gideon asked for a sign to confirm this was truly God’s plan.

Judges 6:17, 20-23 – Then he [Gideon] said to him, “If I have found favor with you, give me a sign that you are speaking with me. … The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat with the unleavened bread, put it on this stone, and pour the broth on it.” So he did that. The angel of Yahweh extended the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread. Fire came up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the angel of Yahweh vanished from his sight. When Gideon realized that he was the angel of Yahweh, he said, “Oh no, Lord Yahweh! I have seen the angel of Yahweh face to face! ” But Yahweh said to him, “Peace to you. Don’t be afraid, for you will not die.”

So Gideon’s first evidential sign was demonstrated by a dramatic acceptance of his sacrificial offering. Immediately after this, God instructed him to tear down his father’s idolatrous altar.

Judges 6:25 – “On that very night Yahweh said to him, “Take your father’s young bull and a second bull seven years old. Then tear down the altar of Baal that belongs to your father and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”

Gideon acted in faith, but it was faith based on the evidential sign he had previously received.

Soon after, when he was instructed by God to attack the Midianite armies, Gideon asked God for a sign by placing a fleece of wool on the ground overnight. If the fleece demonstrated wetness or dryness opposite to the normal dew patterns, he would know that it was really God who was asking this of him.

Judges 6:36-40 – “Then Gideon said to God, “If you will deliver Israel by my hand, as you said, “I will put a wool fleece here on the threshing floor. If dew is only on the fleece, and all the ground is dry, I will know that you will deliver Israel by my strength, as you said.” And that is what happened. When he got up early in the morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung dew out of it, filling a bowl with water. Gideon then said to God, “Don’t be angry with me; let me speak one more time. Please allow me to make one more test with the fleece. Let it remain dry, and the dew be all over the ground.” That night God did as Gideon requested: only the fleece was dry, and dew was all over the ground.”

Once this evidential sign was confirmed, Gideon rallied his troops for battle.

Judges 7:1-2 – “Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the troops who were with him, got up early and camped beside the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them, below the hill of Moreh, in the valley. Yahweh said to Gideon, “You have too many troops for me to hand the Midianites over to them, or else Israel might elevate themselves over me and say, ‘My own strength saved me.'”

As a final act of trust, God asked him to reduce his forces to just 300 men. When he did so, he was still fearful that they would potentially be overwhelmed by the Midianite forces.

Judges 7:9-11 – That night Yahweh said to him, “Get up and attack the camp, for I have handed it over to you. “But if you are afraid to attack the camp, go down with Purah your servant. “Listen to what they say, and then you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” So he went down with Purah his servant to the outpost of the troops who were in the camp.”

God still provided him reassurance as he and his servant spied on the enemy camp and overheard their fear based on a dream that Gideon was going to overtake their army.

Judges 7:13-15 – “When Gideon arrived, there was a man telling his friend about a dream. He said, “Listen, I had a dream: a loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp, struck a tent, and it fell. The loaf turned the tent upside down so that it collapsed.” His friend answered: “This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has handed the entire Midianite camp over to him.” When Gideon heard the account of the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship. He returned to Israel’s camp and said, “Get up, for Yahweh has handed the Midianite camp over to you.”

Of course, the famous story is that Gideon and his 300 troops were able to put an “innumerable” host of Midianite aggressors to flight along with their allies.

Judges 7:20-22 – “The three companies blew their trumpets and shattered their pitchers. They held their torches in their left hands, their trumpets in their right hands, and shouted, “A sword for Yahweh and for Gideon! ” Each Israelite took his position around the camp, and the entire Midianite army began to run, and they cried out as they fled. When Gideon’s men blew their three hundred trumpets, Yahweh caused the men in the whole army to turn on each other with their swords. They fled to Acacia House in the direction of Zererah as far as the border of Abel-meholah near Tabbath.”

All of these examples in the life of Gideon point to an interesting facet of trusting God: if we are sincere in wanting to accomplish God’s will, God can provide reassurances when he asks for our trustful actions. In these examples, these were not outward signs to all of Israel, but were private and personal reassurances that gave Gideon the confirmation that God was communicating with him, and that he would come through for Gideon if Gideon would act in faith by trusting in what he asked of him.


Now, at one point in my journey of faith, when I came across this concept, I determined that I would seek God’s direction in my life in a similar fashion as Gideon, asking for verification of what I thought I was hearing by seeking specific signs and indications ahead of time. If the indication occurred, then that would serve as the confirmation needed to take action. Sounds good, right?

Well, if you thought that didn’t sound right, you would be correct. What ended up happening is I began crafting a whole process for ascertaining what I thought would be God’s will in any big life decision I was facing. I kept a journal for things I was praying about, and if the indication came to pass or not. Based on the indication I would take the appropriate action “in faith.” However, I began to ask for indications or signs on anything, not just what God may have been trying to communicate to me, and this is where I believe the whole thing went off the rails. I began to use this journal as a “magic 8-ball” of sorts to determine important things.

For those of you not familiar with the magic 8-ball, just Google it. It was a party game where you would ask a question of the 8-ball, shake it up, and then a generic “answer” to your question would show up in a liquid-filled window on the 8-ball. The answer might go beyond just yes or no to something like “not at this time,” or “outlook not good.” Essentially, I was conducting my faith-life like a party game on whether or not a junior-high crush liked me or not.

Needless to say, I did not continue with this method of determining God’s will, even after making some hefty life decisions with it which, fortunately, I believe God still worked out in spite of my own ignorance. But I will say, one of the positive aspects of this concept is that my awareness of God’s communication with me was heightened throughout the day. I was literally looking for these indications to occur, just like Gideon might have been looking to see if the fleece was wet or not. The problem was that I was not asking for confirmation of something I thought God was trying to communicate to me; instead, I was basically telling God to provide me an answer to a question of my own choosing. That is a radically different thing all together, expecting God to be the genie to magically answer any question that I might pose to him. Gideon did not do this; Gideon was simply seeking confirmation of something God had already revealed to him that he wanted to be sure was legitimately God speaking to him. I hope you can see the difference between those two things, because for a very long time, I did not.

If I was to contemporize Gideon’s experience, it might go something like this: It starts with hearing something from God. Today, we have God’s word to inspire and encourage us to obedient actions. Perhaps it is an admonition from a sermon or bible study, or more typically, a spark of inspiration from personal meditation in God’s word. Then, we respond by reaching out to him in prayer to make sure we understand clearly what we think we heard. This can be done by verifying with other scripture passages to ensure we are being contextually faithful, or it can also be a recognition of some internal confirmation that still lines up with Scripture. If we are sincere and attentive, we will likely find God responding to us in a way that only we can know, a way that has his “fingerprints” all over it but may not be recognizable to others.

In our lives today, we may not have visions of angels or miraculous fleeces to provide us confirmation of God’s direction. However, if we are attentive and serious about understanding what we believe we have heard from God, we receive confirmations that are private and personal to us. Perhaps it may be a saying on a billboard which you pass on the freeway that resonates in answer to prayer, or a song that comes up in your playlist with encouraging lyrics that match what you believe God is conveying to you.

This is the relationship God wishes to have with us: an active, living relationship based on trust. And for trust to take place, there has to be back and forth communication between both parties to establish that trust on which our actions are based.


Even Abraham did not respond in blind faith to God when he famously accepted the understanding that God would make him the “father of many nations.” While it may have been presented to us that way when it says “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness,” the apostle Paul goes into greater detail on Abraham’s experience, and reveals a little closer look into the mechanics of Abraham’s faith.

Romans 4:3, 17-22 – “For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness.’ … As it is written: ‘I have made you the father of many nations.’ He is our father in God’s sight, in whom Abraham believed ​– ​the God who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist. He [Abraham] believed, hoping against hope, so that he became the father of many nations according to what had been spoken: ‘So will your descendants be.’

“He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body to be already dead (since he was about a hundred years old) and also the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, because he was fully convinced that what God had promised, he was also able to do. Therefore, it was credited to him for righteousness.”

Abraham could only demonstrate faith in God because he already believed in God. The text says he did not weaken or waver in the faith he already had, simply because his reason was telling him he and Sarah were both way too old to have a child. He continued to maintain his existing faith in God and merely accepted that what God said would come to pass somehow.

Hebrews 11:6 – “Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

If we accept this as a principle of faith, then we can understand Abraham already had a faith in God in order to even be hearing from him about being the father of many nations. While we don’t have specifics in Scripture, we can see a glimmer of the establishment of that faith in Genesis chapter 11.

Genesis 11:31-32 – “Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot (Haran’s son), and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they set out together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there. Terah lived 205 years and died in Haran.”

Why was Terah heading out to the land of Canaan? The text doesn’t say, but immediately following this passage in the first verses of chapter 12 we read the following:

Genesis 12:1, 4-5 – Yahweh said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. … So Abram went, as Yahweh had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated, and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan…”

Is it possible that Abraham’s father Terah had already heard from God about taking his family to Canaan and simply got waylaid in Haran on their way? Perhaps he became ill on the journey and they had to settle there hoping for his recovery, but then died. Then Abraham, hearing and recognizing the call of the God he already believed in, picked up where his father had left off to continue the family’s journey to Canaan as originally intended. If so, this could indicate that Abraham already had a familial understanding of Yahweh as the one true God, and he could then obey in faith based on an understanding of how God had already protected their family from Ur to Haran (which was a huge journey in and of itself).

While this may be speculative based on the lack of detail in the text, it is not entirely unfounded based on the pattern of faith in the Bible. The writer of Hebrews says that to have faith in God, one must believe he exists. To think that a God exists means one must have heard of him somehow, and must believe that account of God is reasonable. For anyone to be able to call on Yahweh in the first place, Paul writes:

Romans 10:14 – How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? …

Somehow Abraham had come to know Yahweh, whether in Ur or Haran, or perhaps through his father Terah, or by straight-up self-revelation of God directly to Abraham. However it occurred, I believe it is very likely that Abraham had reason to recognize that God was trustworthy in order to place his faith in him and to become the father of a multitude of nations.

What this means is that when Abraham believed God that he would be the father of many nations, he did not need to look for evidence of this, even though he knew that both he and Sarah were typically too old to have children. Abraham knew God was trustworthy and simply believed without trying to figure out how it could be accomplished, and that type of faith was what God honored and considered righteous.


So, to summarize all of the distance we have covered today, I believe it can be shown that faith is something that is based on a multitude of factors that we have been exposed to in our lives. Whether by tradition or society, the individual interpretation of that information will lead to a specific worldview. Within the biblical worldview, we can receive personal guidance if we sincerely seek God’s direction, which may be known to us but unseen by others, and this direction will be in harmony with God’s revealed will in his word.

Gideon acted in faith even though he had received confirmations or indications from Yahweh before he took action. This does not necessarily mean his faith is any less worthy or valid, as is demonstrated by the fact that he is included in the “Hall of Faith” of Hebrews 11. However, it does indicate to us that even though God may ask his people to do unusual things at times, it is still a demonstration of courageous faith to recognize a personal indication that may be received and then to act on that direction from God. Obeying direction from God is still obedience.

It is my belief that the Bible knows nothing of a blind faith, only a trust and confidence in what may be unseen to others but known to be real to us.

Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the conviction of things not being seen.”

Biblical faith, then, is obedient action based on confident assurance and conviction. This confident assurance may simply be an individual recognition of specific direction that agrees with the revealed principles in the Bible.

Another way to say this is we can trust God today for what he has revealed to us yesterday. And we can trust God for tomorrow and beyond when we trust him for today. Acting on that unseen conviction is how we demonstrate our faith in God and fulfill his purposes 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 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.

Living out a legacy of integrity

The best hope for faithful future generations is the faithfulness of those living today.

Proverbs 20:7 “The righteous walk in integrity—blessed are the children after them!”

It is a wonderful thought to consider that a life of integrity can result in the happiness and blessedness of one’s children after them. Whether parents are sensitive to this principle or not, they have the responsibility to provide and care for their children. Most parents will demonstrate this through the physical provision for their children like the food they eat and clothes they wear, making sure they have a safe place to live and grow up, hopefully into productive adults.

However, parents also have a responsibility to be examples of integrity before their children; they must walk in their integrity, not just preach it. The Hebrew word for walk can mean to go or come, to travel or traverse, but it also means a manner of life or how one lives out their life.

Proverbs 14:26 “In the fear of Yahweh one has strong confidence, and one’s children will have a refuge.”
Psalm 112:1-2 – Praise Yah! Happy is the person who fears Yahweh, taking great delight in his commands. His descendants will be powerful in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.

Parents need to provide the opportunity not only for a physical refuge for their children, but a spiritual one. By demonstrating their faith in their everyday dealings, the children can tangibly understand what it means to truly fear Yahweh and to place one’s trust in him.

Now, these admonitions to live a life of integrity are not guarantees that one’s children will follow in the faithful footsteps of their parents. Unfortunately, there are many examples of great heroes of the faith whose children took a different, and sometimes opposite path.

Samuel was a great prophet of God, but his sons were wicked deceivers.

1 Samuel 8:1-3 – “When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges over Israel. His firstborn son’s name was Joel and his second was Abijah. They were judges in Beer-sheba. However, his sons did not walk in his ways ​– ​they turned toward dishonest profit, took bribes, and perverted justice.”

David is considered a man after God’s own heart, and yet his sons did not all follow in his righteous ways. Absalom attempted a popular coup to usurp David, his own father, as king.

2 Samuel 15:6, 10 – “So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. … Then Absalom sent agents throughout the tribes of Israel with this message: “When you hear the sound of the ram’s horn, you are to say, ‘Absalom has become king in Hebron! ‘ “

Jotham was a faithful king and did what was right, but his son Ahaz was so wicked as to even sacrifice his own son.

2 Kings 15:32, 34, 38; 16:2-3 – “In the second year of Israel’s King Pekah son of Remaliah, Jotham son of Uzziah became king of Judah. … He did what was right in Yahweh’s sight just as his father Uzziah had done. … Jotham rested with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of his ancestor David. His son Ahaz became king in his place. Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. He did not do what was right in the sight of Yahweh his God like his ancestor David but walked in the ways of the kings of Israel. He even sacrificed his son in the fire, imitating the detestable practices of the nations Yahweh had dispossessed before the Israelites.”

As disheartening as these examples may be, they stand to remind us that there are no guarantees that children will be faithful to the same spiritual standards that are laid out for them by their parents. However, that does not relieve parents of their obligation to live righteously and uphold those spiritual standards for their children.

Colossians 3:21 – “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they won’t become discouraged.”
Ephesians 6:4 – “Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Just as parents want to provide their children the best odds at being successful and productive in life, we must also provide them the best odds at becoming faithful and active within God’s kingdom. This can only be done when we also walk and live faithfully and actively with God in our exemplary lives before them.


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 faith of the righteous opposes all adversity

As people of integrity, we are obligated to stand firm for what’s right.

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

Most of the proverbs of Solomon are stand-alone nuggets of wisdom providing a snapshot of insight into a specific aspect of life. In chapter 11, however, there are several similar proverbs grouped together in the same passage that carry a consistent message. Here are some of those examples.

Proverbs 11:5 – 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 11:23 – The desire of the righteous turns out well, but the hope of the wicked leads to wrath.

All of these proverbs are centered around the actions of the righteous or upright, those exhibiting integrity. The integrity they have is represented as guiding them, clearing a path for them and rescuing them, with the end result being favorable for them.

The same Hebrew word used for integrity is the same word found in only one other book of the Bible: Job. Job was consistent in maintaining his integrity or innocence before God.

Job 2:3, 9-10 – Then Yahweh said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil. He still retains his integrity, even though you incited me against him, to destroy him for no good reason.” … His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die! ” “You speak as a foolish woman speaks,” he told her. “Should we accept only good from God and not adversity? ” Throughout all this Job did not sin in what he said.

Job 27:3-6 – as long as my breath is still in me and the breath from God remains in my nostrils, my lips will not speak unjustly, and my tongue will not utter deceit. I will never affirm that you are right. I will maintain my integrity until I die. I will cling to my righteousness and never let it go. My conscience will not accuse me as long as I live!

Job 31:5-6 – If I have walked in falsehood or my foot has rushed to deceit, let God weigh me on accurate scales, and he will recognize my integrity.

True to the wisdom of the proverbs, Job was ultimately rewarded for his faithfulness. By holding on to his integrity through the worst of circumstances, he was guided on a cleared path through his adversity and rescued out of his troubles. In the end he was blessed more abundantly than before his troubles had begun.

I recognize that most people typically view Job as an example of questioning God when bad things happen to good people. However, I think there is an opportunity to see just how courageous someone has to be to maintain their integrity and blamelessness amidst the harshest of physical circumstances while having extended dialogues with those of contrary opinion.

As believers in Messiah, we should be challenged by Job’s example as to how far we are willing to go to stand for the principles of integrity. Paul wrote to the Romans to remind them of their status before God because of their faith in Messiah:

Romans 5:1 – Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Yeshua Messiah.

Paul also wrote to Titus to encourage his congregation to maintain a righteous and godly life:

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

We live daily amidst cultural influences which constantly assault our belief in right beliefs and right actions. May we be emboldened to say with Job: “as long as my breath is still in me and the breath from God remains in my nostrils, my lips will not speak unjustly, and my tongue will not utter deceit,” and “I will cling to my righteousness and never let it go. My conscience will not accuse me as long as I live!” If we do so, then according to the wisdom of Solomon, the righteousness and integrity we have by faith will guide us, clear a path for us, and rescue us, allowing God to favor us as he sees fit in this life and into eternity.


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

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

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

Thirsty in a waterless land

The deep thirst of the soul is satisfied only in the holiness and majesty of God.

Psalm 63:1 – “A Psalm by David, when he was in the desert of Judah.
God, you are my God. I will earnestly seek you. My soul thirsts for you.
My flesh longs for you, in a dry and weary land, where there is no water.”

This title attributed to this psalm says it was written by David while he was in the wilderness or desert of Judah. The metaphor of thirsting after God in a dry land where there is no water becomes a powerful reality in the context of actually experiencing a parched desert experience.

Alexander MacLaren expands on this idea:

“…there is no more appalling desert than that in which he wandered as an exile. It is a land of arid mountains without a blade of verdure, blazing in their ghastly whiteness under the fierce sunshine, and with gaunt ravines in which there are no pools or streams, and therefore no sweet sound of running waters, no shadow, no songs of birds, but all is hot, dusty, glaring, pitiless; and men and beasts faint, and loll out their tongues, and die for want of water. And, says the Psalmist, such is life, if due regard be had to the deepest wants of a soul, notwithstanding all the abundant supplies which are spread in such rich and loving luxuriance around us-we are thirsty men in a waterless land.”

As I live in the American culture today, I can attest that what is available for our consumption indeed points to this as a waterless land. All that which seeks to influence us is nothing but briers and thorns, brambles of contention and doubt. And yet we thirst; we crave for that which David describes as the sanctuary or the holiness of God.

Psalm 63:2-5 – So I gaze on you in the sanctuary to see your strength and your glory. My lips will glorify you because your faithful love is better than life. So I will bless you as long as I live; at your name, I will lift up my hands. You satisfy me as with rich food; my mouth will praise you with joyful lips.

Regardless of his physical condition and circumstances, David relates that contemplating the faithful love of God is like rich food, and this provision causes spontaneous praise.

This is the place where believers demonstrate their integrity and love for God. When all around seems lifeless and barren, we are sustained by our hope in the God who provides for all of our needs. Yeshua constructed his famous beatitude upon this very principle:

Matthew 5:6 – ” Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

The life of integrity is one that craves for God’s will to become evident. It seeks to exhibit thanksgiving when there seems to be nothing to be thankful for, and in so doing, the blessing of the soul’s provision arrives. That which is truly nourishing is lavished upon those who strive for God’s honor. The example of David and the encouragement of Yeshua can give us strength for each day as we seek to exemplify God’s righteousness in our lives.


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