Set apart remembrances

How the practices of God’s people continue to set them apart from the culture they live in.

How the practices of God’s people continue to set them apart from the culture they live in.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of God’s people is in recognizing a calendar set in place by him. Most Christians today don’t think much about special religious holidays other than Christmas and Easter. Saving an evaluation of those holidays for another post, I would like instead to focus on the days that do set God’s people apart from all other nations.

Since my focus on this site is the message of the Bible reduced to its simplest form in the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, it becomes clear that remembering the Sabbath, the fourth of those Ten Commandments, is one of those set apart times.

But beyond the weekly Sabbath, we find there are other Sabbaths mentioned which should also be remembered: specifically seven of them listed in Leviticus 23. They include the first and last days of Unleavened Bread, Shavuot (Pentecost), Yom Teruah (Day of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), the first day of Sukkot (Tabernacles), and Yom HaShemini (Eighth Day). These are listed as Sabbaths, days of rest from regular work, and days of special offerings.

Now, let me be upfront and say that in a liturgical sense, it is impossible to “keep” these days in a Scriptural fashion due to the fact that they involve sacrifices to be presented at the temple, which no longer exists since all of the temple activities have been fulfilled in Messiah. However, I believe there is benefit in observing them and recognizing their meanings for the lessons they can provide to believers even today. I believe that is the primary point as to why God established them in the first place: to teach his people about their history and place within his overall plan for all people.

Many people believe that God’s calendar is one of a prophetic timeline that outlines his plan for the ages in a linear fashion, and that if we just know where we are in the timeline, we will know what to expect is coming next in God’s plan. However, my opinion is that the calendar is not unfulfilled, but has been completed. It now speaks to an everlasting memorial of how God has worked to deliver a people to himself and establish the kingdom of God almost two thousand years ago. By “observing” this calendar today, we honor God by recounting his faithfulness with his own people, and demonstrating the fulfillment of all things in his Messiah, Yeshua.

The calendar is broken up into two main times: the Spring moedim or appointed times (Passover, Unleavened Bread and Pentecost) and the Fall moedim (Day of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Tabernacles). Each set of appointed times has a one-week festival exactly six months apart (Unleavened Bread in the Spring and Tabernacles in the Fall). The fact that they are spaced equidistantly throughout the year speaks not to a linear progression, but a cycle that is repeated but with a different emphasis. Just as Spring brings new beginnings, the Fall brings plentiful harvest.

For example, the week of Unleavened Bread recounts the miraculous departure from the slavery of Egypt. The week of Tabernacles recounts the wilderness journey where they lived in tents. The first is about deliverance, the second is about provision during their journeys. The first is about separation from worldliness (of Egypt), the second is about preparation for the Promised Land.

In like fashion, the holiday cycles memorialize not only the initiation of the nation of Israel, but its completion. How so? The Spring and Fall holidays also speak to the last days of the nation of ancient Israel.

In approximately AD 30, Yeshua was crucified at Passover, symbolically redeeming God’s “first born” nation. This began a “second Exodus” of the godly remnant coming out of unfaithful Israel in preparation for the Promised Land of God’s spiritual Kingdom. Forty years later, the temple was destroyed as Yeshua had predicted, ending the earthly priesthood once and for all, and ushering in the fullness of God’s Kingdom. The final celebration of Sukkot continues to this day, as more and more believers in each generation join the faithful remnant in the ongoing harvest for God’s Kingdom. The Yom Shemini (Eighth Day) marks the eternal dwelling of believers with God in his Kingdom.

Today I am focusing on one of those seven Sabbath days since the day I am writing this falls on its occurrence in 2022: today is Yom Teruah or the Day of Trumpets. This day memorializes the shouted announcement of the final judgment on that ancient nation.

  • Mark 1:14-15 – After John was arrested, Yeshua went to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news! “
  • Luke 21:20, 22 – “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that its desolation has come near. … “because these are days of vengeance to fulfill all the things that are written.”

It simultaneously marks the joyous celebration of the faithful at the arrival of the Kingdom which Yeshua mentioned in parables:

  • Matthew 21:42-43 – Yeshua said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is what the Lord has done and it is wonderful in our eyes? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you [chief priests and Pharisees] and given to a people producing its fruit [the faithful remnant and all who would join them].”
  • Matthew 25:34 – “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

All of this was announced forty years ahead of its coming to pass. God prepared a people for himself to be his own who would inherit the blessing of Abraham through faith in his seed, Messiah Yeshua. The zera Yisra’el (the seed of Israel), the name of God’s Kingdom, continues to this day. Through observance and recognition of these memorial holidays we can teach and celebrate all that God has faithfully provided for his own people, and how he continues to prepare believers for arrival into his heavenly abode when we each reach the Eighth Day, the day of our eternity.


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

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

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

The undeniable distinction of God’s people

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

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

Leviticus 20:26: “You shall be holy to me; for I, Yahweh, am holy, and have set you apart from the peoples, that you should be mine.”

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

How we can sanctify ourselves for God’s use in any situation

When we refine ourselves in God’s Word, we can continually prepare ourselves to be the most useful to him.

Today we will be looking at the topic of holiness or sanctification, and how our ongoing commitment to God’s word distinguishes us beyond just participating in God’s Kingdom in ways that are more beneficial for God’s overall purposes.

Paul wrote to Timothy:

2 Timothy 2:20-21 – “In a large house there are dishes and bowls of all kinds: some are made of silver and gold, others of wood and clay; some are for special occasions, others for ordinary use. Those who make themselves clean from these things will be used for special purposes, because they are dedicated and useful to their Master, ready to be used for every good deed.”

Holiness is about being sanctified or set apart for God’s specific purposes. In the example that Paul uses here with Timothy, there is also an ongoing refinement that is similar to recognizing the differences between ordinary plates for everyday use and fine china that would be used for special occasions. There is a cleansing or refining process that he mentions: “those who make themselves clean.”

So, let’s take a closer look at this process of sanctification or being set apart. Sanctification is clearly a process that God performs by calling people to himself but is also partly a process that we are responsible for, as well, as we walk in the way that he has called us to.

To help break this down a little further, I’d like to focus on these two aspects in separate sections; the first part of the equation is God’s calling and setting apart his own for himself. The second part is how we continue that process of sanctification as we live out our lives within the Kingdom.

I believe this first part can best be illustrated by reviewing a parable of Yeshua in which he outlines this process of God calling a people to himself. Now, the context of Yeshua’s parable appears to have been given in the house of one of the Pharisees, who had invited many individuals to a banquet at his home.

Luke 14:1 – “One Sabbath, when he went in to eat at the house of one of the leading Pharisees, they were watching him closely.”

When Yeshua then sees how those who were invited chose the best seats, he taught them with a parable on humility.

Luke 14:7 – “He told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they would choose the best places for themselves.”

This parable is summarized in the following verses:

Luke 14:10-11 – “But when you are invited, go and recline in the lowest place, so that when the one who invited you comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ You will then be honored in the presence of all the other guests. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

So this lesson in humility spurred on a further conversation, as he then received a question from one of those at the table:

Luke 14:15 – “When one of those who reclined at the table with him heard these things, he said to him, ‘Blessed is the one who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!'”

At this point, Yeshua spoke to the group in another parable, the parable of the wedding banquet. It appears to have been one of the central teachings of Yeshua as it is also recorded in a parallel passage in Matthew 22. Here is Matthew’s version regarding who is called.

Matthew 22:1-3 – “Once more Yeshua spoke to them in parables: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to summon [call] those invited to the banquet, but they didn’t want to come.'”

This parable, which as we shall see is also a prophecy, neatly outlines the institution of the Kingdom of God at Messiah’s coming. Those who were invited to the banquet were the Jews, and yet most of them refused to recognize him as their Messiah.

Matthew 22:4-6 – “Again, he sent out other servants and said, ‘Tell those who are invited: See, I’ve prepared my dinner; my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ “But they paid no attention and went away, one to his own farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, mistreated them, and killed them.”

This illustrates the period of persecution that was unleashed upon the believers in the first century. Yeshua had warned the religious leaders that they would do these horrendous things, and he also had prepared his followers that this will be done to them.

Matthew 23:34 – “This is why I am sending you [religious leaders] prophets, sages, and scribes. Some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.”

Matthew 24:9 – “Then they will hand you [you followers of mine] over to be persecuted, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name.”

So this parable can be shown to be more than just an illustration of a spiritual truth, but of a coming outworking of God’s purposes, as well. In a declaration of finality, Yeshua then explains the response of the king to those who had refused his call.

Matthew 22:7 – “The king was enraged, and he sent out his troops, killed those murderers, and burned down their city.”

This was the same prophetic foresight that Yeshua predicted in another context.

Luke 21:20 – “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that its desolation has come near.”

This actually did occur within that generation, as the city of Jerusalem was burned down and the temple was destroyed, just as Yeshua had predicted.

Now the completion of the parable is summarized succinctly by Luke in his gospel:

Luke 14:21-24 – “…Then in anger, the master of the house told his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the city, and bring in here the poor, maimed, blind, and lame.’ ” ‘Master,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, and there’s still room.’ Then the master told the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges and make them come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, not one of those people who were invited will enjoy my banquet.’ “

This was an indication that the call of God had to be extended to the Jews first, but when they refused to come, the call or invitation then went out to whomsoever would come.

Peter had proclaimed this same message to the religious leaders in Jerusalem.

Acts 3:13, 15, 25-26 – “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his servant Yeshua, whom you handed over and denied before Pilate, though he had decided to release him. … You killed the source of life, whom God raised from the dead; we are witnesses of this. … You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors, saying to Abraham, And all the families of the earth will be blessed through your offspring. God raised up his servant and sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.”

Paul reiterated this principle that was also used on his missionary journeys prior to the destruction of Jerusalem. He would visit a city and first present the kingdom message to the Jews, and then to a wider audience, whoever would listen.

Acts 13:45-48 – “But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what Paul was saying, insulting him. Paul and Barnabas boldly replied, ‘It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first. Since you reject it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we are turning to the Gentiles. For this is what Yahweh has commanded us: “I have made you a light for the Gentiles to bring salvation to the end of the earth.”‘ When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and honored the word of Yahweh, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed.”

Paul also taught the universality of the gospel of the Kingdom message to the Roman congregation.

Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.

The call or invitation of God was to become universal once the Jews had had an opportunity to respond first; if they rejected it, God would reach out to whoever would listen and believe. In the grandest sense, this opportunity of the Jews to respond to God’s mercy was demonstrated to have been completed once the destruction of Jerusalem had occurred. From that point on, all who would then hear with “ears to hear” would then be invited and called into the Kingdom.

In a moment, we will look more closely at how this calling is worked out in the life of a believer once they have responded favorably to God’s invitation.


So with the completion of the call of God going out specifically to his people of that day and age, the Jews, God’s call then moves into a universal sphere of all who will listen to the good news of the gospel of the Kingdom. This is why Paul and the early believers were so anxious to ensure as many as people as possible could hear and understand the gospel message.

Romans 10:14-15 – “How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.”

Once a person has responded to the call of God, God then sets them apart, or sanctifies them by placing them within the body of believers who make up the Kingdom of God.

Ephesians 2:10 – “God has made us what we are. He has created us in Messiah Yeshua to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do.”

According to Paul, believers are “created in Messiah Yeshua.” This demonstrates how one becomes initially set apart by believing in Messiah; when that occurs, there is a “new creation” that takes place.

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 – “From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective. Even if we have known Messiah from a worldly perspective, yet now we no longer know him in this way. Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!”

One becomes born again or born from above, and a new life in a new environment begins. The old worldly perspective no longer applies; all things are made new for the believer.

Additionally, one cannot be a believer without being “in him.” One can say they believe in God and be attached to any religious expression in the world, but one cannot be a believer in the God of the Bible without believing in Yeshua as the Messiah, the one sent by God to free people from bondage to sin.

Okay, now, so far, I realize we have traveled a lot of Scriptural miles today and covered some far-ranging concepts in the process, but let’s return back to the starting point of Paul’s original illustration of dishes and bowls in the large house.

2 Timothy 2:20-21 – “In a large house there are dishes and bowls of all kinds: some are made of silver and gold, others of wood and clay; some are for special occasions, others for ordinary use. Those who make themselves clean from these things will be used for special purposes, because they are dedicated and useful to their Master, ready to be used for every good deed.”

Paul tells Timothy that “In a large house there are dishes and bowls of all kinds…” The “large house” can be viewed as the Kingdom of God. Paul is not here discussing the condition of the world at large, but the conditions that exist among God’s own people. At this point, God has sanctified and set apart those who have responded to his call, as we have seen, and the large house can be viewed as where all the activity of the Kingdom takes place.

But now, Paul begins to make a distinction between that which is everyday from that which is special, and he intimates it is a process initiated by the believer by saying, “those who make themselves clean from these things will be used for special purposes…”

Not to belabor the illustration, but there appear to be distinctions of sanctification among believers as well. This is not outside the bounds of Scriptural precedent, either.

For example, the Levites were all priests, but the sons of Aaron held specific duties within the overall priesthood. In another example, Yeshua had twelve disciples, but we find Peter, James, and John as a kind of “inner circle” of the disciples, whom Paul semi-sarcastically refers to as “pillars of the faith.”

Galatians 2:9 – “When James, Peter, and John ​– ​those recognized as pillars ​– ​acknowledged the grace that had been given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to me and Barnabas, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.”

So once we are made pure by the act of God sanctifying us, we have a need to remain pure because of our ongoing association with the world and its influences. The psalmist also ponders this idea of keeping one’s way pure.

Psalm 119:9 – “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.”

In an overall sense, God has set us apart by drawing us to faith in Messiah so that we may do the good things he has prepared for us to do, according to his word. But by continuing to sharpen our obedience to God’s word, we also distinguish ourselves from those in God’s household who are content to remain simply with their sanctification from the world.

In Paul’s example, these are the plates used for ordinary purposes, for the basics of eating and drinking, for the rough and tumble of everyday existence. These are the plates and bowls that have chips and cracks, that have rough edges, blemishes and marks from use. They are serviceable in the uses they are designed for, but they all carry evidence of that use, and are not as likely to be used for special occasions.

By contrast, the gold and silver plates and cups are those which would be used for specific events that are noteworthy: the holiday gatherings with friends and family, or the formal dinners with respected individuals and guests. Paul is implying that, apart from God’s sanctification from the rest of the world, believers can “cleanse themselves” further from rough, ordinary use into something that is more useful to God in special ways. But this has to be an intentional purpose on their part, something that is chosen to do by disciplining themselves in his word to create and maintain the luster and polish required of the fine china.

This is not to be a point of disagreement or schism within the body as if some are “more spiritual” than others, but only a distinction of growth, learning, and application. After all, an acorn is not yet an oak tree, but it contains within it every aspect of the mighty oak. Small seedlings may have sprouted, but they have not yet achieved the heights of the mature oak tree. In this sense, all of us “former acorns” are in various stages of our spiritual development within the Kingdom of God, and we need to support and encourage one another along the way, so that every believer grows to their fullest potential in the time given to us.

Ephesians 4:1-3 – “Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

The context of the passage with the dishes, plates, and cups helps us frame a reference for this concept of living worthy of the calling, as Paul had just mentioned it to Timothy a few verses earlier.

2 Timothy 2:15 – “Make every effort to present yourself approved to God, an unashamed workman who accurately handles the word of truth.”

This is the same principle that he goes into further detail with the believers in Ephesus, encouraging them to make intentional choices and effort in living the new life, as he puts it, in the “putting on of the new man” or the new self.

Ephesians 4:17-24 – “Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their thoughts. They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more. But that is not how you came to know Messiah, assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Yeshua, to take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.”

The making of the effort to present ourselves unashamedly to God demonstrates our willingness to manifest the great gifts that God has given us. Of course, God can use any vessel for his purpose, fine china or regular plates, but the fine china is designed for the most special of occasions to bear the finest foods. If this is the case, why shouldn’t we seek to improve the opportunities for God to use us by setting ourselves apart in ways that allow him to use us in any situation that he sees fit?

Let me hasten to add this is not in any way a justification for some who would try to intentionally set themselves above others just for the purpose of being considered better or more valuable to God than other believers. If this is the case, then Yeshua’s parable on humility has lost its footing. Instead, we should seek to continually sanctify ourselves not for our glory but for God’s. In this way, we can continually prepare ourselves to be the most useful to him and provide him the greatest amount of “special dishes” to use as he sets the banquet wide for any and all to come to him.


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

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

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

The simple mindset that brings light

Believers have been set apart to witness to the truth of God in this world.

Believers have been set apart to witness to the truth of God in this world.

Luke 11:34-35: “The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore when your eye is good, your whole body is also full of light; but when it is evil, your body also is full of darkness. Therefore see whether the light that is in you isn’t darkness. “

One of the strengths of the Hebraic worldview is that it always paints things in the light of contrast: good and evil, light and dark, life and death. It’s this contrast that allows for the mind to distinguish between right and wrong, and that which is holy and that which is unclean or wicked.

In this passage speaking of light and darkness, Yeshua is carrying on a tradition of demonstrating how righteousness is light, and unrighteousness is darkness.

Proverbs 4:18-19: “But the path of the righteous is like the dawning light, that shines more and more until the perfect day. The way of the wicked is like darkness. They don’t know what they stumble over.”

In the Bible, light is associated with wisdom and understanding, and darkness is related to wickedness, pride, and selfishness.

  • Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path.”
  • Isaiah 5:20-21: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”

So, the imagery that Yeshua is using as he speaks of the lamp of the eye is not a new or novel concept to his hearers. This type of thinking is how the Hebrew world is codified. Yeshua is speaking to the singleness of purpose that should be the guiding principle of all believers: to love Yahweh our God with all our heart soul and strength.

Mark 12:29-30 – Yeshua answered, “The most important of all the commands is: Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

That single principle provides the basis and foundation of all that sets believers apart from the rest of the world. It is not only the underlying principle of personal belief, but it is the very cornerstone of the kingdom of God. This is what makes us holy: when we can operate from the strength of this simple mindset of loving God with all that we are. All else comes into focus and clarifies the muddy waters of compromise with this world system.

Luke 11:36: “If therefore your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly full of light, as when the lamp with its bright shining gives you light.”

More than providing light only for ourselves, this singleness of purpose will also allow our righteous actions to be a light to others, that they may see the light through us.

Luke 11:33: “No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, that those who come in may see the light.”


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.

Abiding in God’s presence produces holiness 

When we are outside of the commands of God, we cannot bear fruit for him.

When we are outside of the commands of God, we cannot bear fruit for him. 

A life of holiness is one in which the believer is purposefully and continually set apart from others. In the book of Haggai, the prophet confronts the priests with some of their practices and poses a question that illustrates how purity is something that must be maintained by the individual. 

Haggai 2:11-14 – “This is what Yahweh of Armies says: Ask the priests for a ruling. “If a man is carrying consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and it touches bread, stew, wine, oil, or any other food, does it become holy? ” The priests answered, “No.”  Then Haggai asked, “If someone defiled by contact with a corpse touches any of these, does it become defiled? ” The priests answered, “It becomes defiled.”  Then Haggai replied, “So is this people, and so is this nation before me — this is Yahweh’s declaration. And so is every work of their hands; even what they offer there is defiled. 

In this instance, God is confronting the nation with their impurities. They were going about reestablishing themselves in the land after their captivity, yet they were not giving the due respect and honor to the temple of Yahweh. They had assumed that because they were God’s people, that they were somehow automatically holy. But there is no such thing. 

In the example provided by Haggai, the meat that had been consecrated had only become consecrated because it was in the presence of Yahweh. It was meat that had become dedicated to the purpose of Yahweh by the offerer, however the meat itself did not contain the ability to make anything else holy. On the contrary, defilement easily spreads from object to object and place to place when something becomes corrupted. Through this example, Haggai shows how closely a believer needs to remain in the presence of Yahweh in order to remain sanctified and holy.  

This principle was carried over even into the teachings of Yeshua. He explained that the keeping of his commands and his teaching would allow believers to remain in God’s presence, which would be evidenced by the holy Spirit of God living within them.  

John 14:15-17 – “If you love me, you will keep my commands. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. “He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and will be in you. 

John 15:4-6, 8, 10 – “Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. “If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. … “My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.  … “If you keep my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 

The application of this principle becomes clearer when we recognize that we, as believers, do not have the ability to create holiness by our own efforts. We become holy only when we are imbued with that which is holy. The holy Spirit of God is most evident within us when we abide by the commands of God and teachings of Yeshua. In this way, we have the ability to bear fruit for God which honors him and grows the Kingdom 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.

Having a singular focus

One can only have clear vision, and then clear actions, when one has a singular focus on that which is most important

One can only have clear vision, and then clear actions, when one has a singular focus on that which is most important

Matthew 6:22-23: ““The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

An individual who is holy and is seeking God’s purpose will not be distracted by the things of this world. This admonition of Yeshua comes in the context of multiple illustrations of the same principle: one cannot have divided interests and still serve God effectively. In fact, Yeshua draws the distinction as sharply as light and darkness.

Notice the context of this teaching on the light of the eye. It is sandwiched between two other illustrations of duplicitous thinking and actions.

Matthew 6:19-20: ““Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

This admonition distinguishes between the focus on treasures of this world contrasted with the treasures of the heavenly realm which have eternal value. Then, Yeshua uses the illustration of the eye and the body. Immediately following this picture comes another admonition to avoid the lure of worldly wealth.

Matthew 6:24: ““No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

So the context of the eye being the lamp of the body is firmly entrenched in the midst of two teachings on avoiding divided interests. To confirm this further, the message of the eye is that it must be single, that is, not having a multi-layered outlook. When one has a multi-layered vision, only darkness is the end result. Therefore, one can only have clear vision, and then clear actions, when one has a singular focus on that which is most important.

These three illustrations taken together triangulate a powerful message on the principle of singular purpose within the kingdom of God. Yeshua is encouraging his disciples to be individuals of singular focus, putting God’s Kingdom first in all things, and thereby generating light for people lost in darkness; first for themselves, and then for others. This singular focus sets them apart, makes them holy, and prepared to do the work.

In like fashion, we must heed the Master’s advice within the scope of our relationships. When we have a singular focus on God’s Kingdom, we have light within ourselves and are ably equipped for his work in this generation.


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.

Becoming set apart in private fellowship with God

Personal holiness is a discipline that can provide deeper insights into the wisdom of God.

Personal holiness is a discipline that can provide deeper insights into the wisdom of God.

For many different reasons, believers in Messiah have a unique calling among religious traditions of the world. However, one of the most interesting facets of a life of faith and becoming set apart for God’s use is how many aspects are practiced privately, out of the glare of daily interactions.

For example, Yeshua taught the disciples to pray to God in private.

Matthew 6:6 – “But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

If they had a disagreement with a friend or relation, they were not to publicly call them out as a first reaction, but to meet with them privately to see if a solution could be reached.

Matthew 18:15 – “If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother.”

Most significantly, Yeshua produced disciples who were set apart by revealing deep truths and teaching them privately.

  • Mark 4:34 – He did not speak to them without a parable. Privately, however, he explained everything to his own disciples.
  • Mark 13:3-4 – While he was sitting on the Mount of Olives across from the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished? “

The process of becoming holy is one of being set apart as distinct for God’s use and for his glory. Perhaps one of the reasons this process is not as well-known is for the very reason that it typically occurs in private, out of the glare of public scrutiny, in quiet sessions of meditation or only between individuals who are submitting to God’s instruction.

In our American culture, it is not uncommon to see big, brash displays in congregations hoping to draw more people to God. However, the discipline of personal holiness that God desires typically comes to light only in the most intimate of settings. It is forged in the deepest recesses of personal reflection and private actions that spring from close communion with our Maker. The revelation that is sought in the public assembly is in actuality born and bred most regularly within the quiet corners of personal repentance and accountability.

But, as is the nature with all things of great value, the benefits that are received far outweigh any personal sacrifice that must be endured to achieve them.

Luke 10:23-24 – Then turning to his disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see the things you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see the things you see but didn’t see them; to hear the things you hear but didn’t hear 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.

Holiness based on fulfilled prophecy and promises

Believers today are participating in the ongoing Exodus of God’s people from the worldliness around them.

Believers today are participating in the ongoing Exodus of God’s people from the worldliness around them.

2 Corinthians 7:1 – So then, dear friends, since we have these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

Speaking to the congregation in Corinth, Paul encourages them to maintain their holiness or their separation from all impurity of flesh and spirit. He does this by quoting from some promises that are mentioned in the previous chapter.

2 Corinthians 6:16-18 – And what agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, as God said: I will dwell and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says Yahweh; do not touch any unclean thing, and I will welcome you. And I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to me, says Yahweh Almighty.

Paul here appears to be quoting from a specific passage of Scripture, and yet when cross-referencing this passage with the rest of the Torah, we find it is actually a loose compilation of several promises that were provided to Israel at various stages of their history. However, when we view these passages together, an interesting picture begins to emerge.

  • Exodus 4:22 – “And you will say to Pharaoh: This is what Yahweh says: Israel is my firstborn son.
  • Exodus 29:45-46 – “I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. “And they will know that I am Yahweh their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, so that I might dwell among them. I am Yahweh their God.
  • Jeremiah 32:37-38 – “I will certainly gather them from all the lands where I have banished them in my anger, rage and intense wrath, and I will return them to this place and make them live in safety. “They will be my people, and I will be their God.
  • Isaiah 52:9-11 – Be joyful, rejoice together, you ruins of Jerusalem! For Yahweh has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem. Yahweh has displayed his holy arm in the sight of all the nations; all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God. Leave, leave, go out from there! Do not touch anything unclean; go out from her, purify yourselves, you who carry the vessels of Yahweh.
  • Isaiah 43:5-6 – “Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west. “I will say to the north, ‘Give them up! ‘ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back! ‘ Bring my sons from far away, and my daughters from the ends of the earth —

Each of these promises has to do with the deliverance of the nation and a regathering of God’s people. By quoting a variety of Torah passages, this seems to me to indicate that Paul was teaching that his missionary efforts throughout ancient Europe, Greece and Asia were designed to fulfill these promises: that God would bring his people together from wherever they had been scattered due to previous captivities among the nations. Because this great re-gathering was underway, they were to abstain from all unclean activities to remain pure and holy before God in the day of this great fulfillment of these prophecies.

The reason that this perspective gets overlooked is because where these types of promises are mentioned, believers have always been looking for a physical restoration to the physical land. By Paul using this collection of quotations rather than a single reference is an example of how the gathering of God’s people was to be a spiritual event based on these principles. Israel came out of Egypt into a land of their own. Israel was brought back to their land after a captivity in Babylon. These examples that they were familiar with indicate a principle of a collective of all who were willing to come to the God of the Bible in spirit and in truth out of the worldliness around them. As Paul applied these passages and principles, this was an indication of the great Second Exodus, a mixed multitude leaving the idolatry of their various cultures by becoming holy and set apart for God’s use in his kingdom.

Because this was a spiritual calling and gathering of God’s people, the emphasis for believers to remain holy and set apart is just as valid and relevant in our modern culture as it was in the days of the Second Exodus of the New Testament. We too, as believers in Messiah, can be considered among the sons and daughters of the Almighty. Because of these great and precious prophetic examples and promises, we too should take to heart the admonition of Paul to those early believers:

2 Corinthians 7:1 – So then, dear friends, since we have these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear 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 lamp of God

Being created in God’s image, it makes sense that his stamp is embossed within us.

Being created in God’s image, it makes sense that his stamp is embossed within us.

Proverbs 20:27 – The spirit of man is Yahweh’s lamp, searching all his innermost parts.

Different English renderings of this verse appear to be unsure of how exactly to render this unusual phrase.

  • New International Version: The human spirit is the lamp of the LORD that sheds light on one’s inmost being.
  • New Living Translation: The LORD’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive.
  • Amplified Bible: The spirit (conscience) of man is the lamp of the LORD, Searching and examining all the innermost parts of his being.
  • Contemporary English Version: Our inner thoughts are a lamp from the LORD, and they search our hearts.
  • Good News Translation: The LORD gave us mind and conscience; we cannot hide from ourselves.

Is Yahweh somehow invading our personal human spirit, or is it speaking of the human spirit in general? Is it speaking of our mind, conscience, or inner thoughts?

The spirit of man is using the term “neshamah,” or life-breath, for man. This term is closely associated with the word “ruach” which also is typically translated as spirit. In Hebrew thinking, the life-breath is something from God that animates us as individuals. This is evidenced when God created Adam.

Genesis 2:7 – And Yahweh God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [neshamah]; and man became a living soul.

When the spirit departs, the body dies.

Ecclesiastes 12:7 – Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit [ruach] shall return unto God who gave it.

The term “adam” can be speaking of an individual or the entire human race. I think we can get some direction here from another familiar passage as well:

John 1:9 – The true light that enlightens everyone was coming into the world.

There is a light that enlightens every person (all people: adam); it is called the Word, or the Spirit of God. Because of it’s association with the first chapter of John, most people assume that the Word is Yeshua. In one sense, that is true, because he was called by John “the Word made flesh.” He was so completely filled with and obedient to the Spirit of God that they were indistinguishable.

But John says this same light enlightens everyone, and this passage in Proverbs, written a millennia prior to John, is saying the same thing: the lamp of Yahweh is somehow connected to the spirit of all people. We have stumbled in our English Bibles at trying to describe it as conscience or inner thoughts, but the fact is that since all mankind (adam) is created in God’s image, we all have a connection to the Creator of all.

The writer of Hebrews takes this even further by describing how the Word of God, his eternal Spirit, is active within us.

Hebrews 4:12-13 For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

I can’t think of a more precise explanation of how the lamp of Yahweh searches the innermost parts of our being. As believers, our call to holiness is heightened by recognizing that somehow God is active within the depths of every person. We are set apart by continually growing in obedience to his Word, his Spirit.

I recognize this is not commonly accepted theology, but it is what the Bible records describe when we understand them within their cultural context. I believe this is why believers gravitate to the Bible, what we also call the Word of God, because it was conveyed to mankind through that same Spirit of God. As we recognize the Voice speaking to us from its pages, we are drawn closer to understanding the God of the universe and his desire for all men to come to him, as well.


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 unique prayer life of God’s children

We have work to do, not stuff to get.

We have work to do, not stuff to get.

Matthew 6:9 “Pray then in this way:…”

People pray in many different ways to many different gods. Prayer is so ubiquitous that it appears to be a practice that is hard-wired into the human psyche.

What sets believers in Messiah apart from all others is not just that we pray, but that we should be praying to the one true God in a certain way with a certain focus and understanding that others do not have. When asked of his disciples for teaching on prayer, Yeshua’s answer provides a rich storehouse of wisdom in practice.

Yeshua understood that people of all nations pray but are typically using many empty words to no purpose, other than, I suppose, making themselves feel better. However, he encourages a specific way of praying that has purpose and direction. He provides a model prayer that demonstrates simplicity and humility.

First, where and how we pray are both important: our place of prayer should be a place of privacy apart from others to demonstrate sincerity in speaking only with God, and not for the sake of appearing over-righteous to others.

Prayer should be offered directly to God, addressing him as a loving Father, not as some vengeful deity who needs to be appeased. We need to recognize that even though God exists beyond this reality, he is still accessible and active here, as well. He is set apart from all other gods and his character illustrates his uniqueness.

Our primary focus in prayer should be for God’s reign to be recognized by all upon this earth, and in so doing, his will would come to pass in this reality in the same way it is accomplished in the heavenly realm. This is the unique nature of the prayer practice of those who would consider themselves Yeshua’s disciples. Everything in our lives should center around God’s kingdom, not ours.

Even when praying for our own needs that arise each day, Yeshua reminds us our focus should still be on others, forgiving those who have wronged us, just as we have committed wrongs against our heavenly Father. If we expect him to forgive us of our shortcomings, we need to have the same level of concern for others.

Our prayers for personal desires should be primarily intent on the avoidance of being led astray and succumbing to the desires of this world above the needs of the kingdom. Praying just for things we want is not always in the best interest of the kingdom.

When we pray in this way, our lives become set apart from others because we are not just praying for stuff and things, but for God’s glory and honor to be manifest in this place and time, and to recognize his will is more important than ours. When this becomes our guiding purpose, then his will can and will be accomplished on this earth through us.


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.