True holiness is God’s presence through his Word in our hearts

Those who live and abide by God’s precepts are doing so because it makes up the very essence of who they are.

Core of the Bible podcast #75 – True holiness is God’s presence through his Word in our hearts

Today we will be looking at the topic of holiness, and how those who live and abide by God’s precepts are doing so because it makes up the very essence of who they are. These ongoing actions of obedience cause believers to be holy and set apart from all others.

We begin in Jeremiah 46:28 – Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant, for I am with you,” says Yahweh.

The one thing that set ancient Israel apart from their neighboring tribes and countries was that their God was present with them. While other kingdoms and countries had their gods, their idols, and their temples, Israel actually had the very presence of the God of the universe with them. God allowed himself to be physically present somehow within their Mishkan, the tabernacle, or the portable sanctuary that traveled with them. His presence resided in that Most Holy Place, by all accounts hovering above and within the ark of the covenant which contained the tablets of the Ten Words, or what we call the Ten Commandments.

This covenant, these Ten Words, are what separated Israel from their neighbors. This is what made them holy. They had been instructed to abide by the actual commands of God, written with his own finger, etched eternally into stone.

A Jewish site called Chabad which explains various aspects of the Hasidic Jewish traditions, conveys what happened at Matan Torah, the Giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai.

“Of the 613 biblical commandments, G‑d selected these ten commandments for special attention. He directly communicated them to the Jews without using Moses as an intermediary, and inscribed them on the tablets which were placed in the Holy Ark within the Holy of Holies. It is evident that although all the mitzvot [commands] are vital, the five carved into the first tablet were chosen because they form the basis of our relationship with the Creator, while the latter five serve as the foundation of our relationship with fellow people.” What happened at Matan Torah?

Even according to their own teachings, to Jews the Ten Commandments form the basis of all of the rest of the instruction of God. This ironically echoes the teaching of Messiah where he also relates the importance of the most important commandments:

Matthew 22:35-40 – And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test him: “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest? ” He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. “This is the greatest and most important command. “The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. “All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

Since the first five of the Ten Commandments apply to the Creator, and the second five apply to our fellow people, we see how the teaching of Yeshua validates obedience to the Ten Commandments.

Now, the giving of the Ten Commandments at Sinai was not a private event that would simply be related thousands of years after the fact. There was no fanciful prophetic vision or private revelation; these words had been conveyed to the entire assembly of Israel at once as God himself spoke these words from Sinai. Everyone heard his voice, everyone felt the weight of his presence and struggled with the fear, real fear, at hearing the resounding and penetrating voice of God. Scripture tells us:

Exodus 19:16 – On the morning of the third day, thunder roared and lightning flashed, and a dense cloud came down on the mountain. There was a long, loud blast from a ram’s horn, and all the people trembled.

Hebrews 12:19-21 – For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking. They staggered back under God’s command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, “I am terrified and trembling.”

Even to this day, Jews recount the awful dread at the unique event that had overtaken that vast community of wilderness dwellers. From the Jewish News of Northern California, an article discusses what happened when God spoke at Sinai:

“For example, the rabbis have said that each of the commandments was said simultaneously in 70 languages and that the Torah was written with black fire on white fire. Another midrash [traditional legend] suggests that each individual heard revelation differently, according to their capacity, just as the manna tasted different to different people.” When God spoke at Sinai

Sefaria, a Jewish site that presents and evaluates the Hebrew text of the Tanakh conveys the following in an article titled “What really happened at Sinai?”:

“What did they see? The Torah was given through seven voices. And the people saw the Master of the Universe revealed in every one of these voices. That’s the meaning of the verse ‘All the people saw the the voices.’ (Exodus 20:15) These voices were accompanied by sparks of fire and flashes of lightening that were in the shape of the letters of the ten commandments. They saw the fiery word pouring out from the mouth of the Almighty and watched as they were inscribed on the stone tablets, as it says, ‘The voice of God inscribes flames of fire’ (Ps 29:4). And when the people actually saw The-One-Who-Speaks-the-World-into-Being, they fainted away. Some say that their spirits left their bodies, while others say that they entered a prophetic trance. These visions brought them to trembling and shaking and a blackout of the senses.” (Midrash Exodus Rabbah) What really happened at Sinai?

Once again going back to the previous Chabad article on the Matan Torah:

“This was no simple handing over of a book of lore; G‑d gave us His Divine laws for us to study and follow. This was a transitional moment in our history—a moment known as Matan Torah (the Giving of the Torah.) No longer were we merely the descendants of a great man named Abraham, or simply a Middle-Eastern people known as the Israelites. We had now become G‑d’s people, chosen to learn His Torah and keep its laws. It’s a moment we celebrate every year on the festival of Shavuot.”

Israel was born of revelation of God himself, a revelation of his expectations of conduct that were conveyed to an entire people at once. To Christians, the term “the Revelation” references the last book of the Bible, where the risen and glorified Yeshua reveals an outline of the outworking of the Day of the Lord, the culmination of the age. To Jews, the Revelation always references Sinai, where Yahweh revealed himself to the entire nation at once. It is THE watershed event in all of Jewish tradition and their sacred history, and rightly so. This revelation of God is what set them apart as holy and distinct from all other nations. The ten commandments born of this Revelation of Yahweh were placed into the heart of their most sacred place (the ark of the covenant) and they carried them within this central sanctuary throughout their wilderness journeys and into the land promised to them.

So, if this revelation of God is so central to the history of God’s people, it makes sense that it would also still be central to the ongoing history of God’s people today.


To this day, what sets God’s people apart is this same covenant, the Ten Words. There is no equal among the religious communities of the world.

The illustration for believers today comes through what is pictured in the wilderness journeys of Israel: just as God resided in that Most Holy Place within and above the ark of this covenant, God’s very presence resides within these Ten Words, the Ten Commandments. Just as the Ten Commandments were placed into the “heart” of the tabernacle within the ark of the covenant, God’s commands are placed in the heart of every believer through the renewal of the holy Spirit. As we seek to fulfill these commands placed in our heart, then we are truly following in the footsteps of our Lord, the Messiah Yeshua.

Matthew 5:17-19 – “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

According to Yeshua, the Kingdom of Heaven is populated by those who abide by the commandments of God. This is the everlasting covenant that remains forever. Most people don’t realize that the Ten Commandments ARE this everlasting covenant, therefore it can never go away.

Exodus 34:28 – Moses was there with Yahweh forty days and forty nights; he did not eat food or drink water. He wrote the Ten Commandments, the words of the covenant, on the tablets.

Deuteronomy 4:13 – “He declared his covenant to you. He commanded you to follow the Ten Commandments, which he wrote on two stone tablets.

This is why they were written in stone, by the very finger of God himself. In what other way could God ever illustrate the importance and everlasting nature of these commands?

By contrast, the “new” covenant ushered in through the ministry, life, and death of Yeshua is a martyr’s covenant. It is a covenant of dying to self so that the words of the everlasting covenant, the Ten Commandments, can actually be lived through us in this life.

The apostle Paul writes about it this way

Romans 6:6-7,11-12 – “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be rendered powerless so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, since a person who has died is freed from sin … So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Messiah Yeshua. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires.”

Through faith in Messiah, this everlasting covenant is placed in the hearts of those who would receive them, those who are called by his Name and who live and abide by its precepts because it makes up the very essence of who they are.

Jeremiah 31:33 – “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says Yahweh. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

Through faith in Yeshua, the holy Spirit of God resides within believers to cause them to abide by the universal principles of God’s commands. This is related by the apostle John:

1 John 3:7-9 – “Children, let no one deceive you. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who commits 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 sin, because his seed remains in him; he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God.”

This is a difficult passage for most Christians, because they are taught all people are sinners due to a fallen nature and they can never escape the clutches of sinfulness until after physical death. But the Bible doesn’t teach this. In fact, John says that “everyone who has been born of God does not sin.” This type of language causes Christians to stumble; however, it is not meant in the absolute sense, but in the practical sense. Why do believers not sin, according to John? Because, having died to themselves, the commands of God that have been placed in their hearts can be truly lived out. He describes it as “his seed [that is, God’s seed] remains in him.” As Proverbs tells us:

Proverbs 4:23 – Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.

The heart is the seat of all emotion and the wellspring of actions, so if the heart is good, the actions are good. If the seed is good, the tree is good. And as Yeshua said, if the tree is good, the fruit is good.

Matthew 12:33 – “Either make the tree good and its fruit will be good, or make the tree bad and its fruit will be bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.”

Therefore, as believers abide by the commands of God placed in their heart through the holy Spirit within them, they do not sin, because sin, by definition, is the breaking of God’s commands, or his law.

1 John 3:4 – “Everyone who commits sin practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.”

However, if, as God spoke through Jeremiah when he said, “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts,” then the passage in 1 John makes sense because it says, “whoever has been born of God does not sin, because his seed remains in him; he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God.”

God has not done away with this old covenant, the Ten Commandments. In fact, according to Jeremiah and Yeshua, the commandments of God are the very heart of the new covenant in Messiah.

Here’s something else to consider: Paul wrote that the faith of the early Messiah believers depended on the fact of the resurrection of Messiah.

1 Corinthians 15:17, 19 – And if Messiah has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. … If we have put our hope in Messiah for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.

The resurrection of Yeshua was the validation of everything he taught and lived; that is why it has such priceless value to believers today. And, just as the Ten Commandments were revealed to a large group of people, the resurrected Messiah was also revealed to multiples of individuals, eyewitness who could be consulted by those living at that time, as Paul relates:

1 Corinthians 15:5-8 – … he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers and sisters at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one born at the wrong time, he also appeared to me.”

So, if the resurrection never happened, Paul reasons, then our faith is in vain. In like fashion I would add that if the Ten Commandments have been done away with, then all faith is worthless, because those words are the very heart of the eternal covenant. The Ten Commandments are the central foundation of the Kingdom of God that Yeshua ushered in, both in this life and beyond. To be set apart for the purpose of God is to be obedient to him and his ways, here on earth now and into eternity.

This is holiness, being set apart for the purposes of God. He is present within the words of his covenant, and as the covenanted words are in our heart, he is present within us. God is present: this sets us apart; this makes us whole. This holiness through obedience to his words in our heart is the very essence of his kingdom on the earth.


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

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

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

The Kingdom Sabbath is built into Creation itself

The Sabbath has always been intended by God to be a benefit, not a burden, to those in his kingdom.

Core of the Bible podcast #72 – The Kingdom Sabbath is built into Creation itself

Today we will be looking at the topic of the Kingdom, and how the Sabbath has always been intended by God to be a benefit, not a burden, to those in his kingdom.

When he was confronted by religious leaders as to his interpretation of appropriate Sabbath activities, Yeshua replied with the following:

Mark 2:27 – Then he told them, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.”

In this simple statement, Yeshua was corroborating several things at once. Firstly, he validated the Sabbath as a viable concept within the eternal counsel of God, not as a mere temporary requirement. Secondly, he defined the Sabbath as being for all men, not as a practice just for Jews. And thirdly, the Sabbath has always been designed for the benefit of man, not for anxiously maintaining a detailed list of rules and regulations. As we examine this topic today, we’ll look at each of these ideas in turn as we explore how the Sabbath is involved with the Kingdom of God.


The kingdom of God has been designed by God to be not just an ideal to strive for, but to be a practical outworking of his desire for human behavior. God’s will is established and conducted through his Kingdom people.

In one scathing denunciation of the Jewish religious establishment, Yeshua told a parable of the owner of a vineyard kicking out the tenants who were not proper caretakers for him.

Matthew 21:43 – I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit.

In this statement, we find that those within the Kingdom of God have a responsibility to produce fruit, that is, to act in accordance with the purpose and plan of the owner’s will for the vineyard.

In a similar confrontation on another occasion, Yeshua provides another indication that the Kingdom of God would be different than the Jews had been expecting.

Luke 13:28-29 – “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for you will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you will be thrown out. And people will come from all over the world–from east and west, north and south–to take their places in the Kingdom of God.”

The Kingdom was to be made up of all kinds of people from all over the world, not just Jews. And they would be individuals who were accomplishing God’s will which was to be exerted through his Kingdom.

Now in many places, I have stated that I believe the Ten Commandments provided to Israel at Sinai were the revelation of the “Kingdom Charter,” the principles that establish the baseline expectations that God has for all participants in his Kingdom. It was presented first to the nation of Israel (along with those who had chosen to leave Egypt with them), it became exemplified through the pinnacle of its outworking in the physical kingdom of David and Solomon, and then further fulfilled and brought to its ultimate fruition in the teaching of Messiah.

Israel’s faithfulness to the Kingdom principles would allow them to be the “light to the nations,” as prophesied by Isaiah.

Isaiah 42:6 – “I, Yahweh, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness. I will take you by the hand and guard you, and I will give you to my people, Israel, as a symbol of my covenant with them. And you will be a light to guide the nations.”

Isaiah 60:3 – “All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see your radiance.”

However, if they were unfaithful, their place and their lamp would be removed.

Ezekiel 5:5-7, 11, 14-15 – “This is what the Sovereign Yahweh says: This is an illustration of what will happen to Jerusalem. I placed her at the center of the nations, but she has rebelled against my regulations and decrees and has been even more wicked than the surrounding nations. She has refused to obey the regulations and decrees I gave her to follow. “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Yahweh says: You people have behaved worse than your neighbors and have refused to obey my decrees and regulations. You have not even lived up to the standards of the nations around you. … “As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Yahweh, I will cut you off completely. I will show you no pity at all because you have defiled my Temple with your vile images and detestable sins. … “So I will turn you into a ruin, a mockery in the eyes of the surrounding nations and to all who pass by. You will become an object of mockery and taunting and horror. You will be a warning to all the nations around you. They will see what happens when Yahweh punishes a nation in anger and rebukes it, says Yahweh.”

Of course, all of this came to pass as the physical nation of Israel fell first to the Assyrians, and then to the Babylonians. Then, hundreds of years later, as Yeshua is teaching about the good news or the gospel of the Kingdom that was at hand at that time, he flatly states that the Jews would also lose not only their physical kingdom, but the spiritual kingdom that God had intended for them all along.

Matthew 21:43 – “I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit.”

Yeshua came to teach them how to live out the principles of the Kingdom of God, and that those who received the truth of his message would inherit the Kingdom, and with it eternal life. This was corroborated by his disciples decades after Yeshua’s physical death and resurrection.

James 2:5 – “Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him?”

Additionally, those who would not inherit the Kingdom were also described, and warned.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people–none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.”

So the kingdom has always been designed to be the earthly representation of God’s people who are faithful to his commands. And, through the example of the nation of Israel, God has demonstrated that he expects his people to abide by his commands.


As the commandments of God are expected by God to be observed by those who love and obey him, there is a specific command within the Ten Commandments wherein lies an aspect of the kingdom that is largely neglected among Christians today. God’s people have been instructed to remember the Sabbath and keep it set apart. It is a gift from him, a sacred memorial honoring the Creator (Yahweh), his provision, and his eternal purpose.

So let’s return to those three aspects of the Sabbath that were upheld by Yeshua in his discussions and debates with the religious leaders of his day.

Firstly, Yeshua validated the Sabbath as a viable concept within the eternal counsel of God, not only as a mere temporary requirement. Most people assume the Sabbath was instituted for Israel at Sinai. However, we find that the seventh day was actually set apart at Creation, as God demonstrated a practice of rest from his work of creating on that day.

Genesis 2:2-3 – “On the seventh day God had completed his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it he rested from all his work of creation.”

From the very beginning of all things, God declared that this day was to be set apart as special. We also can see from the Torah record that God expected his people to observe the Sabbath even before the Ten Commandments were officially spoken from Sinai.

Exodus 16:23, 29 – He told them, “This is what Yahweh commanded: Tomorrow will be a day of complete rest, a holy Sabbath day set apart for Yahweh … They must realize that the Sabbath is Yahweh’s gift to you.”

Due to their captivity and slavery through their years in Egypt, the Israelites had lost the ability to do maintain their recognition of the seventh day as a day set apart to Yahweh. So this command was a reminder that the Israelites should have been keeping the Sabbath that had been set apart at Creation.

Secondly, in his debate with the religious leaders, Yeshua said “the Sabbath was made for man,” not just as an expected practice for Jews. This had to be the case, since God’s Kingdom was ultimately to include all men, not just Jews.

Isaiah 60:3 – “All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see your radiance.”

Luke 13:29 – “And people will come from all over the world–from east and west, north and south–to take their places in the Kingdom of God.”

If the commands that were to guide the Kingdom were just for the Jews, then none of the rest of the Ten Commandments should apply as still being universal today. However, almost all believing denominations today accept that the Ten Commandments (minus the Sabbath) should still be practiced today. We still should love God, not worship idols, not bear his name for no purpose, honor our mothers and fathers, avoid killing others, not commit adultery, not steal, not lie, and not covet what others have. Why then do believers skip over the fourth commandment to honor the Sabbath and keep it set apart?

The word Sabbath actually conveys more than just rest, but an intermission; the cycle of days is intentionally interrupted by something different, a unique day unlike the others. It is a day meant for Yahweh, but the rest we can experience is a gift from Yahweh to us. It is the unique day of mutual recognition; God observes it for our benefit and we observe it in his honor. As the Creator of everything that is, he instilled the desire for this day of mutual recognition right into our DNA and into the fabric of Creation itself when he personally exhibited its purpose at the very beginning of all things. If God participates in Sabbath, and if Yeshua and all of the early believers participated in the Sabbath, then it follows as Yeshua’s disciples and as those who are trying to learn from the early believers, we also should observe the Sabbath.

And finally, Yeshua identifies how the Sabbath has always been designed for the benefit of man, not for anxiously maintaining a detailed list of rules and regulations that might offend God. While an exhaustive list of restrictions can be produced by looking up all of the passages where the concept of the Sabbath is discussed in Scripture, out of context the individual things mentioned can total up to a guideline for legalism and judgment of others. This is what the day had become in the time of Yeshua, and he railed against the religious authorities for spending their time being the Sabbath police rather than enjoying the Sabbath for what it was intended to be: a day for the rejuvenation of every man, body and spirit combined.

The exhaustive list contains a host of practices like avoiding stocking firewood, laboriously building fires, and conducting sale and trade on the Sabbath. Yet, when viewed holistically, it becomes readily apparent that these things serve to illustrate how the Sabbath should interrupt our daily routines and remain unique. It is not a day for industry, or extensive cooking and food preparation, or for trade in the marketplace. Those all can take place on the remaining six days. Things on Sabbath are meant to be minimalistic in nature: simple foods prepared ahead of time, time spent with Yahweh in his Word and with like-minded individuals, bonding with immediate family and friends.

During each week as we look ahead to the seventh day, we should be considering what preparations may need to be made ahead of time to allow for a relaxing and focused Sabbath observance. This was and still is a common practice among Judaism to this day, with Fridays being considered “preparation day” before the Sabbath the next day. It is even mentioned in our New Testaments surrounding the events of the crucifixion of Yeshua, as preparation days were also practiced prior to the annual holy Sabbath days, like Passover, as well.

Mark 15:42 – “This all happened on the day of preparation, the day before the Sabbath.”

Luke 23:54 – “This was done late afternoon, the day of preparation, as the Sabbath was about to begin.”

John 19:14, 42 – “It was now about noon on the day of preparation for the Passover. And Pilate said to the people, “Look, here is your king!” … And so, because it was the day of preparation for the Jewish Passover and since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.”

These preparation days were designed as ways of ensuring the “set-apartness” of the Sabbath would be thoughtfully maintained, not just a careless day of not doing anything.

So in conclusion of what we have reviewed today, Yeshua was very pointed in ensuring that the Sabbath day was to be employed for its intended purpose within the Kingdom of God’s people, not hijacked for the strict traditions of religious extremists. Seeing that the Jewish authorities had corrupted the purpose of the day into a long list of requirements and restrictions, Yeshua stated simply that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for Sabbath. The day was originally and solely intended to be a benefit, not a burden. The New Living Translation brings this out in its rendering of this verse:

Mark 2:27 – NLT – “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.”

Taking the whole of the Bible into consideration, it becomes apparent that God intended for the Sabbath to be recognized and practiced by all people, especially exemplified by those representing his Kingdom. As humans come to recognize and honor their Creator and the Kingdom of God expands, the Sabbath cycle instituted at the creation of all things can then continue to grow in influence and benefit, intentionally interrupting our daily routine and becoming the living mode of reconnecting with the Source of our true life.


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 King who liberates from all worldliness

Understanding our King helps us live effectively in the kingdom.

Core of the Bible podcast #51 – The King who liberates from all worldliness

Today we will be exploring the topic of the kingdom. Sometimes, in our day, we become so enamored with trying to understand what the kingdom is all about that we lose sight of the King. If the primary motivation for all we do does not stem from a recognition of the power and authority of the King, then perhaps we need to reevaluate our participation in his kingdom. So, for us to have a better understanding of the importance of the kingdom, it can be helpful to review the rightful authority of the King.

Let’s start with revisiting the kingdom that God was establishing at Sinai. When God was forming an earthly kingdom for himself by bringing the Israelites out of Egypt, he set this redemptive action at the head of his commands for the newly formed nation.

Exodus 20:2 – I am the God who redeemed you out of slavery, therefore you shall have no other gods before me.

For Israel to become the kingdom of God on earth, they were admonished to always remember why God was worthy of their allegiance: he had redeemed them out of their bondage in Egypt. This is so central to the entire Bible narrative that it cannot be overstated. It is of such primary importance that it is memorialized for all time as the first of the Ten Commandments.

The Hebraic and Christian traditions differ on whether this statement of Yahweh is the first commandment, or if this statement is just an introduction, and the first commandment is the verse that follows: “You shall have no gods before me,” (Exodus 20:3).

Part of this misunderstanding arises from our use of the word “commandment” in this passage. In reality, the Hebrew text speaks of the Ten “Words” of God, not necessarily commandments. There are other Hebrew designations that designate specific aspects of commandments, statutes, and requirements. But here, what we call the commandments should really be considered the Ten Words, sayings, or statements of God.

Because verses 3 and 4 of Exodus 20 are linked together with speaking of other gods and their representations (idols), the Hebraic understanding of isolating the “introduction” in verse 2 as the first of these Words makes sense. This is consistent with the overarching view that there has been revealed to them only one God who deserves complete allegiance. This would be the primary focus of further Mosaic instruction.

Deuteronomy 6:5 – Love Yahweh your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind.

This was also the view of Yeshua, as he simply reiterated Moses’ instruction to those who were questioning him as to the greatest of the commandments.

Matthew 22:36-38 – “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest? ” He said to him, “Love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. “This is the greatest and most important command.”

Because the Israelites viewed God’s revelation of himself in this manner provided a solid basis for every commandment that follows. The motivation for abiding by any or all of the commandments rested in the realization of why there was any reason to listen to God at all: because he had redeemed them from slavery. This was a miraculous and undeniable testimony as to why he was worthy of their worship over any of the gods that existed in the “superpower” nation of Egypt, or anywhere else, for that matter. Therefore, they were motivated to love him with all of the hearts, souls, and minds.

Why should anyone follow a king who has not liberated them? Or why should anyone obey a king’s commandment if they do not believe he is all-powerful?

The King of the kingdom that was being formed in that desert wilderness of Sinai deserved to be king because he had demonstrated himself faithful to the promises that had been made to the forefathers. He had exhibited real, demonstrable power in breaking them free from their yoke of slavery that had overcome them. There was no greater exhibition of power than that which had not only removed them from their oppressors, but destroyed those former masters completely so they could now worship and obey Yahweh in that freedom which he had obtained for them. This is one of the greatest themes of the entire Bible: believers are set free from slavery to sin and have the freedom to worship and obey Yahweh in truth.

A true king establishes and maintains the freedom of his people, and is therefore worthy of all allegiance. This is the motivation that should drive us to “seek first the kingdom,” because we, as believers in Messiah, also have been set free from slavery, slavery to sin.

John 8:31-36 – Then Yeshua said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you continue in my word, you really are my disciples. “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” “We are descendants of Abraham,” they answered him, “and we have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will become free’? ” Yeshua responded, “Truly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. “A slave does not remain in the household forever, but a son does remain forever. “So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.

In a similar metaphor of slavery, the apostle Paul, in writing to the congregation in Galatia, describes the man-made traditions of the Jews of that day as a yoke of slavery. Paul uses two women of Scripture, Hagar and Sarah, both wives of Abraham, as a metaphor for those who follow the letter of the law over the spirit of the law.

Galatians 4:24-26, 5:1 – These things are being taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai and bears children into slavery ​– ​this is Hagar. Now Hagar represents Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For freedom, Messiah set us free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.

So this is a different type of slavery that Messiah had set believers free from: the slavery of man-made tradition. Paul is cautioning believers that if they submit to circumcision as a means of being a member of traditional Judaism, they will be bound to all of the man-made laws and traditions that go along with it. This is the very thing Yeshua had scolded the religious leaders for.

Matthew 23:13, 15, 23-24 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you don’t go in, and you don’t allow those entering to go in. … “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to make one convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as fit for hell as you are! … “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, and yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law ​– ​justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These things should have been done without neglecting the others. “Blind guides! You strain out a gnat, but gulp down a camel!

So from these few passages, we can see that believers have been set free from slavery to man-made traditions, and from slavery to sin. The great theme of the Bible, redemption from slavery, continues to be fulfilled in the kingdom of God that Yeshua firmly established.

Now, I imagine some of you may be thinking, “Wait a second, isn’t Yeshua the king of the kingdom? Hasn’t all authority and power been granted to him?” Yes, this is true, but here is where believers in Messiah can get into a bit of sticky theology, so bear with me as I present some concepts that may be new to you, but that I believe provide a holistic understanding of kingdom rulership.

Isaiah 45:22-24 – “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is no other. “By myself I have sworn; truth has gone from my mouth, a word that will not be revoked: Every knee will bow to me, every tongue will swear allegiance. “It will be said about me, ‘Righteousness and strength are found only in Yahweh.’ ” All who are enraged against him will come to him and be put to shame.

Romans 14:10-12 – But you, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, As I live, says Yahweh, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will give praise to God. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Clearly, in both the Old and New Testaments, God the Father, Yahweh, is viewed as the ultimate authority before whom all are accountable. However, some of this same language is applied to the risen Yeshua, and is representative of his exalted state to which God has appointed him.

Philippians 2:8-11 – he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death — even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Yeshua every knee will bow — in heaven and on earth and under the earth — and every tongue will confess that Yeshua Messiah is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

So, will every knee bow before God the Father, or the risen and exalted Yeshua? The answer is yes to both. How can that be?

In the ancient Hebrew biblical worldview, a representative is equated with the one whom he represents. This is known as the law of “agency.” An agent, or representative, is considered the exact representation with the full authority of the one who sent him. Whatever is said to the representative is said to the sender. Whatever the agent represents in a situation is to be considered as if the sender himself said those exact words.

A weaker, but close equivalent in our day and age might be considered the legal power of attorney. A person allows an attorney, as their representative, to make all decisions regarding legal matters just as if they were the ones making those decisions.

This biblical idea of agency is what allows the risen Messiah to be granted all of the same honor that can be directed to the Father, Yahweh. Yahweh had granted him agency, the power of attorney, to act and speak with authority in all matters concerning himself and his kingdom. Yeshua mentioned this time and time again.

John 5:20-23 – “For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing, and he will show him greater works than these so that you will be amazed. “And just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son also gives life to whom he wants. “The Father, in fact, judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, “so that all people may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

John 8:28 – So Yeshua said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own. But just as the Father taught me, I say these things.

John 12:49 – “For I have not spoken on my own, but the Father himself who sent me has given me a command to say everything I have said.

In the same sense, Yahweh gave all power and authority to Yeshua as the representative king over the kingdom, even though he himself is the ultimate authority.

Matthew 28:18 – Yeshua came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.

Given to him by whom? Well, by God the Father, of course, the source of all power and authority, as even Paul testifies to Timothy.

1 Timothy 6:15-16 – God … is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see, to him be honor and eternal power. Amen.

Now some may say, Yeshua is also given the title king of kings and lord of lords in Revelation, doesn’t that mean that the kingdom is his?

Revelation 17:14 – “These will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings. Those with him are called, chosen, and faithful.”

Revelation 19:11-16 – Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True, and he judges and makes war with justice. His eyes were like a fiery flame, and many crowns were on his head. He had a name written that no one knows except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called the Word of God. The armies that were in heaven followed him on white horses, wearing pure white linen. A sharp sword came from his mouth, so that he might strike the nations with it. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty. And he has a name written on his robe and on his thigh: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

While some may conclude that Yeshua is the ultimate King from this terminology, what we have seen about the law of agency would say that Yeshua is granted the role of operating as the King of kings in the plan of Yahweh.

Many may not know that this king of kings title has also been granted to other earthly rulers as well, even attested to by Yahweh himself and his prophets.

Ezra 7:12 – Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, an expert in the law of the God of the heavens: Greetings.

Ezekiel 26:7 – For this is what Yahweh GOD says: “See, I am about to bring King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, king of kings, against Tyre from the north with horses, chariots, cavalry, and a huge assembly of troops.

Daniel 2:37-38 – “Your Majesty [Nebuchadnezzar], you are king of kings. The God of the heavens has given you sovereignty, power, strength, and glory. “Wherever people live ​– ​or wild animals, or birds of the sky ​– ​he has handed them over to you and made you ruler over them all. You are the head of gold.

Ultimately, we need to recognize that Yahweh God, the Father, is the ultimate source of all authority in heaven and earth, and he can provide any measure of that authority to whomever he chooses. He chose to have Artaxerxes and Nebuchadnezzar carry the title of king of kings for a temporary time in history to accomplish his purposes among the nations. In a similar way, he also designated his Son, Yeshua, to be that representative of his universal and spiritual kingdom until all his enemies are made his footstool; that is, until all of his enemies have been conquered.

1 Corinthians 15:22-26 – For just as in Adam all die, so also in Messiah all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Messiah, the firstfruits; afterward, at his coming, those who belong to Messiah. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he abolishes all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until he puts all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be abolished is death.

See, there is a point where Messiah hands over the kingdom authority back to God the Father, the true King of all, since Yahweh is “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.”

If we take to heart the great theme of the Bible of how God the Father, Yahweh, has revealed himself as the God who redeems out of slavery and worldliness, we can be reminded of why we have been drawn to follow him in the first place.

Just as Yahweh liberated ancient Israel from physical bondage and slavery in Egypt, so too he provided his Son Yeshua to liberate them from bondage and slavery to sin and the traditions of men. In so doing, he opened the door of faith to all people of all nations to come and worship him in spirit and in truth through Messiah Yeshua.

The principle of the first commandment, or the first of the Ten Words of God, can be paraphrased for believers today as: There is only one God, Yahweh, eternally existent, who liberates from worldliness, and separates a people for himself. No one and nothing else must rival or supersede God’s importance in life.

Through his Son, Messiah Yeshua, the God of the universe has provided us a way out of our blind and unthinking bondage to worldliness, whether traditions of men or of our own sinful and rebellious actions. In this new freedom, we have been liberated to worship him in spirit and truth and we are motivated and enabled to abide by his instruction.

This aspect of complete liberation is designed to make him central to all of our thoughts and actions each day. When we gratefully recognize our complete deliverance, we demonstrate we are his people, and that we are seeking his kingdom first by honoring him as he truly deserves to be, as our gracious, liberating, and all-powerful King.


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

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

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

The significance of the Ten Commandments in the kingdom

The everlasting memorial of God’s instruction.

The kingdom of God is based on the people of God following the Ten Commandments of Yahweh. This was dramatically demonstrated in Exodus 19-20 as God was preparing to reveal himself to the assembled congregation.

Exodus 19:4-6 – “‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. “Now if you will carefully listen to me and keep my covenant, you will be my own possession out of all the peoples, although the whole earth is mine, “and you will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.”

God was urging the people to listen to what he had to say and then to keep these commands as his covenant. If they did so, they would be his kingdom of priests and his holy, set apart nation.

Exodus 20:1 CSB – Then God spoke all these words: [the ten commandments]

Deuteronomy 4:13 – “He [Yahweh] declared his covenant to you. He commanded you to follow the Ten Commandments, which he wrote on two stone tablets.

The people only had to listen to God (the Words he had pronounced as the Ten Commandments) and then to keep them as his covenant in order to be his kingdom of set apart people.

The Ten Commandments had at least three distinguishing characteristics:

  1. They were spoken directly by God to millions of people at once. Everyone assembled at the foot of Sinai heard the voice of God for themselves. He spoke the commandments to them directly so there would be no mistaking what he intended to say. This group included not only Israelites but a “mixed multitude” that also came up with them from Egypt. This was not an exclusively Israelite covenant, but for everyone there who would listen and obey.
  2. They were written in stone as an everlasting memorial. The ten commandments were not written on parchment like the rest of the law of Moses, but were carved into stone to demonstrate the permanence of their nature. Even when Moses broke the first set, God had him make two more stone tablets which he then engraved a second time with his commandments.
  3. They were written by God himself. God’s own finger inscribed the tablets with the commandments; this was not the mere writings or philosophy of men.

I can think of no other way for God to ensure that he is making clear the permanent nature of some instruction: he spoke it himself to masses of individuals at once, and wrote it himself in stone.

This is why the Ten Commandments are so critical to the gospel of the kingdom. It remained only for Yeshua to emphasize the attitude of the heart in truly keeping the ten commandments. Not only was it wrong to kill, but no one should think evilly of another. Not only was it wrong to commit adultery, but no one should even consider lusting after others.

This is why the Sermon on the Mount and the Ten Commandments are tied together. God’s unchanging standards for his kingdom were brought to life by Yeshua demonstrating how the heart attitude should be toward keeping them. The good news of the kingdom was that the instruction of God was now able to be kept from the heart through the indwelling Spirit 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! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

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

God’s desire for his people to live obediently with renewed hearts

Obedience to the ways of God always provides the best outcome for the lives of believers and their descendants.

O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!

Deuteronomy 5:29

God’s desire toward his people is revealed in this verse. He desires a constancy in purpose and vigilance in seeking his ways in all things.

This is one of the few times that God is actually pleased with the response of Israel, at this most pivotal of events in their history. This is the scene at Sinai, when God has rallied his people to himself after delivering them from the oppression of Egypt and bringing them through the dangers of the desert wilderness. He has revealed himself to them in the awe-inspiring display of the thunderous, smoking mountain, speaking the Ten Commandments to the entire assembly. The people recoil in fear having heard the penetrating heavenly voice speak the words of the covenant directly to them. In response, the people urge Moses to be the one to go near to God and to intercede for them.

Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, then we shall die. For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? You go near, and hear all that the LORD our God shall say: and you speak unto us all that the LORD our God shall speak unto you; and we will hear, and do it.

Deuteronomy 5:25-27, 29

In the recognition of the majesty and power of the one true God, Israel can only respond with the famous agreement: “you speak unto us all that the LORD our God shall speak unto you; and we will hear, and do it.” This is the response that God desired; not for them to merely be fearful of him, but for them to respect who he is enough for them to be willing to hear and to do. As a parent who knows what’s best for their children, God desired his people to respond to him from the heart with obedient understanding for their own good. He even says that if they obeyed, it would go well with them and their children. Obedience to the ways of God would provide the best outcome for their lives and their descendants.

It is then that God reveals his deepest desire for them: if only they had hearts that would seek him always, it would go well with them. If they would remain vigilant to his ways in all things, they would be blessed. In this rare moment in time, he sees his people truly desiring to be obedient to himself. But he knows they will rebel, not because they don’t believe him, but because their hearts are hard. He longs for a time when they might have renewed hearts of faith that will cause them to walk in his ways in all things and at all times.

This is truly God’s desire for everyone: renewed hearts of obedience for those who have demonstrated sincere faith in his revelation of himself, just as he revealed himself at Sinai. When we come to recognize the majesty of the Father working through Yeshua, then like Israel of old we should come to Yeshua as they did to Moses, saying, “you speak unto us all that the LORD our God shall speak unto you; and we will hear, and do it.” When we place our faith in Yeshua as teaching us the truths of the Father, just as Israel did toward Moses in that ancient wilderness, we receive the ability to fulfill this longing of our Creator: to have hearts that fear him and vigilantly keep his commands always.

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

Ezekiel 36:26-27

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.