Vigilance in worship

It takes effort, consistency, and sacrifice to worship God in a way that he desires.

It takes effort, consistency, and sacrifice to worship God in a way that he desires.

Worship today has come to mean many different things to different people. For most, worship is what happens every Sunday at the local church building from 10:30 am to noon. The style of worship varies; some prefer traditional hymns in a quiet, classical style from the European Middle Ages; for others, it is a celebratory party-like atmosphere with flashy performances and contemporary, upbeat tunes. In yet other congregations, it is complete silence, waiting for God’s Spirit to move upon someone to speak and provide insights from God’s holy perspective.

In the Bible, we see that worship encompassed many of these different expressions. The priesthood of Israel had specific and intentional responsibilities within the service of the Temple that had grown and morphed over time. While their primary sacrificial duties were laid down by Moses, as the temple was established in the days of David and Solomon, we find that other duties relative to music and singing became established within the realm of the priestly worship.

1 Chronicles 23:1-5 – When David was old and full of days, he installed his son Solomon as king over Israel. Then he gathered all the leaders of Israel, the priests, and the Levites. The Levites thirty years old or more were counted; the total number of men was thirty-eight thousand by headcount. “Of these,” David said, “twenty-four thousand are to be in charge of the work on Yahweh’s temple, six thousand are to be officers and judges, four thousand are to be gatekeepers, and four thousand are to praise Yahweh with the instruments that I have made for worship.”

These traditions carried on throughout the years and became part of the Israelite priestly and liturgical environment. However, with the destruction of the second temple in 70 A.D., the earthly priesthood and the liturgy of the temple worship were abolished. There were no more proscribed rites or ceremonies for the people of God in relation to liturgical worship.

Now, don’t think that I am saying it is somehow wrong or misguided to continue to create songs or sing together to honor and praise God; that is not the point. In fact, believers in Messiah have been encouraged by Paul to do so.

Ephesians 5:18-20 – …be filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to Yahweh, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Yeshua Messiah…

Rather, I am describing something that goes beyond any type of liturgical and sometimes mechanical praise toward to God. Even though the second temple was still standing in Paul’s day, God had provided him insights into the future of his Kingdom and the coming age. Paul knew that God was working a spiritual work among his people that would far surpass any physical representation or temple service that God could provide.

When it came to describing the type of worship that was acceptable to God, Paul naturally grabbed hold of a principle taught by Yeshua about what true worship in the service of God looks like:

Romans 12:1 – Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.

The believers who were presenting themselves, body and spirit, to God were the ones who were honoring the true spirit of worship that God desires. Yeshua had taught this same principle.

John 4:23-24 – “But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him. “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.”

Living a life of sacrifice means diligently and consistently laying down our own desires at the feet of God and seeking to accomplish his purpose in our life. This is the path of believers in abiding in him, walking according to his commandments above the demands of the culture around them. To love Yahweh your God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, to truly do this, is to walk a sacrificial path of true worship that honors God and brings glory to his name. The new covenant is a martyr’s covenant; we must die to ourselves in order to live for him.

Matthew 16:24-25 – Then Yeshua said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it.

This is the heart of true worship: becoming a living sacrifice where every thought is captive to Messiah and every action is an action based on the love of God for all of his Creation. This is where true worship lies, not in the halls of music and self-performance, but in the quiet and determined attitude of self-sacrifice.


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

Worshiping the King through obedience to his Word

The ninety-ninth psalm is a majestic call to worship the God of the universe right here and now on this earth.

The ninety-ninth psalm is a majestic call to worship, a call to worship and serve the God who is exalted above all people.

Psalm 99:2 – Yahweh is great in Zion; he is exalted above all the peoples.

In the context of ancient Israel, this psalm illustrates where God allowed his Presence to dwell: within the sanctuary of the temple. The first verse says, “He is enthroned between the cherubim.” The cherubim were two massive, winged angelic beings that dominated the Holy of Holies, the perfectly cube-shaped room at the center of the temple into which the High Priest entered only once a year on the Day of Atonement.

The psalmist urges the hearers to “worship at his footstool” or at the place of his feet. In the symbolism of the temple, if Yahweh was enthroned between the wings of the cherubim, then his feet would have rested at the Ark of the Covenant, the place of the Ten Commandments.

Psalm 99:4 – The mighty King loves justice. You have established fairness; you have administered justice and righteousness in Jacob.

Within this cascading symbolism, prostrating oneself at the footstool of God is a recognition of the justice of God through his commands. To bow at his footstool is to submit oneself to the administration of his justice through the observance of his commands.

As Yahweh is the King, it stands to reason that the foundation of his kingdom is based on righteousness, fairness, and justice. These, the psalm says, have been administered “in Jacob.” The whole history of Jacob or Israel is an example for the rest of the world to see how fairly God has dealt with his people. In viewing this example, we can understand how God desires to interact with his people.

Isaiah 55:3-4 – “Pay attention and come to me; listen, so that you will live. I will make a permanent covenant with you on the basis of the faithful kindnesses of David. Since I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples…”

In other places, the heavens are considered the throne of God and the entire earth is considered the footstool of Yahweh. This is referenced by Isaiah who is quoted even by Yeshua himself.

  • Isaiah 66:1 – This is what Yahweh says: Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool. Where could you possibly build a house for me? And where would my resting place be?
  • Matthew 5:34-35 – But I tell you, don’t take an oath at all: either by heaven, because it is God’s throne; or by the earth, because it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King.

Ultimately, Yahweh says, as the Creator of all, there is no one place that could contain his Presence, but as the King of all he will honor the individual who humbly submits to his word.

Isaiah 66:2 – “My hand made all these things, and so they all came into being. This is Yahweh’s declaration. I will look favorably on this kind of person: one who is humble, submissive in spirit, and trembles at my word.”

All of this imagery combines to demonstrate the majestic holiness of the God of the universe. He cannot be contained within a temple, or even the earth itself, since it can only represent his footstool. His majesty is so great that it fills the universe, and yet he reveals to us, through his dealings with “Jacob” and with “David” that he respects those who honor his word. His word is the foundation of all justice and fairness that was symbolically kept within the footstool of his Presence in the temple, within the Ark of the Covenant.

If we are to worship at his footstool, and the entire earth is his footstool as both Isaiah and Yeshua reference, then it behooves all people to worship him on this earth by submitting to his timeless word represented by his commands. This is how we worship the God of the universe; not only by lifting holy hands in prayer or song, but by living out his commands in all we think, do and say.

Colossians 1:9-10 – “… we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge 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.

A kingdom of sincere obedience

God does not desire forced subjection, but willing faithfulness.

God does not desire forced subjection, but willing faithfulness.

1 Chronicles 28:5, 7, 9 – “And out of all my sons ​– ​for Yahweh has given me many sons ​– ​he has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of Yahweh’s kingdom over Israel. … “I will establish his kingdom forever if he perseveres in keeping my commands and my ordinances as he is doing today.’ … “As for you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father, and serve him wholeheartedly and with a willing mind, for Yahweh searches every heart and understands the intention of every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you abandon him, he will reject you forever.

As David was bringing to conclusion his life’s activities, one of his greatest desires was to build a magnificent temple for Yahweh as a permanent replacement for the Mishkan or tent of the Tabernacle. However, Yahweh had refused him this privilege due to his warrior background, but would allow David’s son Solomon to continue and finish the task. In this grand speech recorded for us at the close of 1 Chronicles, David transfers the kingdom and authority to Solomon, along with tasking him with the building of the temple.

More importantly, he charges Solomon with the keeping of the commandments of God, since a grand temple means nothing without sincere hearts of the faithful. In this instruction, we find that the real foundation of the temple was not all of the stone and gold and silver that David had set aside for the task; no, the real foundation was to be based on the sincere faithfulness of Solomon and all of the people.

David charged Solomon with the lofty ideals of a true heart that seeks out an obedient lifestyle in the presence of God: “know the God of your father, and serve him wholeheartedly and with a willing mind, for Yahweh searches every heart and understands the intention of every thought.”

A thousand years later, the writer to the Hebrews would convey the same convicting sense of God’s immanence to his readers.

Hebrews 4:12-13 – For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. No creature is hidden from him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.

It is upon this recognition of God’s individual attention to every person that the kingdom of God is built. To become part of his kingdom, the individual opens his or her heart to the ultimate scrutiny of an all-knowing Creator. There is nothing outside of God’s gaze in his kingdom; not even what we would consider the hidden recesses of our individual hearts.

The permanent dynasty that David was seeking to establish for God’s glory was based on heart obedience. The message of the kingdom did not change over a thousand years. Even today, a further two thousand years removed from the writing to the Hebrew congregation, God’s kingdom is still based on heart obedience.

And to ensure that we have the ability to remain faithful, he still desires believers to hold each other accountable to the truth of his word so that all may be able to overcome the deceptive nature of sin.

Hebrews 3:12-13 – Watch out, brothers and sisters, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.


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 regathering of the tribes resulting in a unified faith

Vigilance and resoluteness of purpose defined the early congregations.

Vigilance and resoluteness of purpose defined the early congregations.

During the first century, the dynamic of the gospel of the kingdom being spread across the known world was one of irregular, but steady growth. One of those stages which took this growth to the next level is when the message began being shared even with those outside the accepted Jewish faith. This group of outsiders consisted of Hellenists.

Acts 11:19-21: “Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Messiah. The hand of Yahweh was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to Yahweh.”

Scholars have several opinions about who these Hellenists were. As they are mentioned in the Bible, many times the context determines who is being discussed. Were they former Jews who had assimilated into the surrounding Greek culture, or were they just the pagan Greeks who had never known the Bible, commonly referred to as Gentiles?

The weight of history, at least the history of Christianity, has fallen on the side of these people being Gentiles, explaining why so many non-Jewish believers have populated the “Church” over the millennia. However, a strong case exists for these Hellenists being descendants of the Jews who had been scattered during the Diaspora (the captivities of Assyria and Babylon) and who had over time assimilated into the regional cultures. This makes sense of passages which speak of God bringing all of the former tribes back together into his everlasting kingdom.

One of the most famous and descriptive of these passages is the prophecy of “two sticks” in Ezekiel 37.

Ezekiel 37:19-27 – “tell them, ‘This is what Yahweh GOD says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel associated with him, and put them together with the stick of Judah. I will make them into a single stick so that they become one in my hand.’ “When the sticks you have written on are in your hand and in full view of the people, “tell them, ‘This is what Yahweh GOD says: I am going to take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them into their own land. “I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel, and one king will rule over all of them. They will no longer be two nations and will no longer be divided into two kingdoms. “They will not defile themselves anymore with their idols, their abhorrent things, and all their transgressions. I will save them from all their apostasies by which they sinned, and I will cleanse them. Then they will be my people, and I will be their God. “My servant David will be king over them, and there will be one shepherd for all of them. They will follow my ordinances, and keep my statutes and obey them. ” ‘They will live in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They will live in it forever with their children and grandchildren, and my servant David will be their prince forever. “I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be a permanent covenant with them. I will establish and multiply them and will set my sanctuary among them forever. “My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

The apostle Paul even quotes this passage directly when speaking of believers as the temple of God:

2 Corinthians 6:16 – 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.

This also explains why the “missionary” emphasis was so strong during the first century, since it was imperative the message of the kingdom was spread as far as possible to include all of the former tribes.

Regardless of the specific spiritual intent of these missionary journeys, the ultimate goal was that everyone, Jew, Hellenistic former Jews, and Gentiles would come to Messiah. Once involved in a local congregation, they were all encouraged to respect their differences but to maintain a vigilant unity in Messiah.

Acts 11:22-24: “News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to Yahweh.”

As Barnabas exhorted the believers in Antioch, he encouraged them all to remain faithful to Yahweh with “steadfast devotion.” This phrase speaks to the demonstrable nature of the early faith of the believing communities. The phrase in the original Greek can be translated as “resolute purpose” or “openness of heart.” It is a phrase that is also used in describing the “showbread,” the twelve loaves of bread that were continually placed before Yahweh in the temple. This bread was a reminder of how each of the twelve tribes of Israel was to recognize how they were to remain purposefully open and evident within the presence of God Almighty at all times.

To me, this is a poignant illustration of the work that God was doing among those first-century believers: calling all of the tribes, whether in scattered Jewish outposts or Hellenists, back to himself with the message of Messiah and the kingdom of God. Through their combined reunification, other “God-fearers” of the Gentiles would also be welcomed into the new movement that would grow to become a worldwide phenomenon, which continues to this day.


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 water of life flowing everywhere

It is now available for all who are thirsty.

John 4:13-14 – Yeshua said, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. “But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life.”

When Yeshua met with the woman at Jacob’s well in Samaria, he was revealing to this woman more than she understood. When offered living water, she instead thought of natural water that would not require her to come to the well every day to draw it out. However, Yeshua was not speaking to her of water to physically drink, but of a type of water that would bring spiritual life to those who partook of it.

Since the Samaritans did not accept the prophetic writings as Scripture but just the five books of Moses, it is likely she did not recognize that the reference Yeshua makes is to a passage in Ezekiel. This is where the spiritual temple that Ezekiel describes in great detail concludes with a description of a river which flows from the temple.

Ezekiel 47:1, 9 – Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple and there was water flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the temple faced east. The water was coming down from under the south side of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. … “Every kind of living creature that swarms will live wherever the river flows, and there will be a huge number of fish because this water goes there. Since the water will become fresh, there will be life everywhere the river goes.

The life-giving water in the prophecy of Ezekiel is described as growing in depth, from ankle-deep, to waist-deep, to a river that cannot be crossed as it flows. While this river may have at one point been confined to the temple and to the nation of Israel, the picture Ezekiel paints is one where the holiness or set-apartness of the life-giving water would be spread far beyond its banks.

Throughout the Bible, life is said to flow from the fear and respect of Yahweh, and from wisdom and understanding that come from him.

Psalm 111:10 – The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his instructions have good insight. His praise endures forever.
Proverbs 14:27 – The fear of Yahweh is a fountain of life, turning people away from the snares of death.
Proverbs 9:10 – “The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Proverbs 3:13, 18 – Happy is a man who finds wisdom and who acquires understanding, … She is a tree of life to those who embrace her, and those who hold on to her are happy.
2 Peter 1:3 – His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Ezekiel’s picture of the river of life concludes with trees along the banks of the river that bear continual fruit and the leaves of the trees being used for medicine.

Ezekiel 47:12 – “All kinds of trees providing food will grow along both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. Each month they will bear fresh fruit because the water comes from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be used for food and their leaves for medicine.”

This is a direct correlation with the consummation of the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation:

Revelation 22:1-2 – Then he showed me the river of the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the city’s main street. The tree of life was on each side of the river, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations…

The good news is that this water that was once set-apart and holy as only for one people is now flowing freely everywhere and is available to all who are thirsty. This is not a physical thirst, but a thirst for spiritual wisdom and understanding that only God can provide. This is the knowledge of him who fills all things and makes all things new. This is the medicine that is now for the healing of the nations.

Revelation 21:6 – Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will freely give to the thirsty from the spring of the water of life.
Revelation 22:17 – Both the Spirit and the bride say, “Come! ” Let anyone who hears, say, “Come! ” Let the one who is thirsty come. Let the one who desires take the water of life freely.


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.

Keeping God’s commands from the heart

This is the stated goal that God has for all people everywhere.

1 Kings 8:61 – “Therefore let your heart be whole and complete to Yahweh our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.”

As Solomon was dedicating the newly built First Temple, he offered a long and detailed prayer to God that it would be a beacon to Israel and the rest of the world of God’s faithfulness. He prays for righteous judgment and forgiveness for Israel, for overcoming drought and famine, for victory over Israel’s enemies, and even for the foreigners who prayed God to also have their prayers answered.

As he concludes his oration by blessing the assembly before him, he issues the admonition quoted above, that they would remain whole-heartedly faithful to God by keeping his commandments.

1 Kings 8:57-58 – “Yahweh our God be with us, as he was with our ancestors; may he not leave us or abandon us, but incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his ordinances, which he commanded our ancestors.”

Key within Solomon’s admonitions to the assembly are two things: following God’s commands, and doing so with whole-hearts that are inclined toward God. This is also the hope and prediction of the prophets throughout the rest of Israel’s history:

Psalm 119:10-11 – I have sought you with all my heart; don’t let me wander from your commands. I have treasured your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you.

Jeremiah 31:33 – “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days” ​– ​Yahweh’s declaration. “I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

Ezekiel 11:19-20 – “I will give them integrity of heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh, “so that they will follow my statutes, keep my ordinances, and practice them. They will be my people, and I will be their God.

The new covenant is all about keeping God’s commands from the heart. According to Yeshua, there are two commandments which are the summation of everything taught in the entire Law and Prophets, or the Tanakh, what we call the Old Testament.

Matthew 22:37-40 – “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. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.'”

If, as Solomon prayed, God’s people (even those who would have been considered foreigners to them) would simply keep God’s commands from the heart, they would be faithfully “walking in his ways.” This is the goal of all of the entirety of the Biblical narrative: that people walk in God’s ways sincerely and from the heart.

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

Ecclesiastes 12:13 – When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is the whole duty of humanity.

This is what integrity looks like: it is the fulfillment of all that Solomon prayed for, the promise that the prophets predicted, and the consummation of what Yeshua accomplished. Now it is up to us to go and live it out among our 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.

A spiritual house with spiritual service to others

The legacy of believers today is one of hard and necessary work on behalf of others.

1 Peter 2:4-5 – As you come to him, a living stone ​– ​rejected by people but chosen and honored by God ​– ​ you yourselves, as living stones, a spiritual house, are being built to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Yeshua Messiah.

As we have seen in previous writings, Peter is writing to groups of early Jewish believers who had been scattered throughout the Roman empire. This was the result of their diaspora, their scattering, due to their ancestral idolatry and rejection of the Torah of God. God had removed the northern ten tribes from the land of Israel with the Assyrian invasion of 740 BC, and they were distributed and exiled throughout the known world at that time.

1 Peter 1:1 – Peter, an apostle of Yeshua Messiah: To those chosen, living as exiles dispersed abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…

Now, over 700 years later, Peter is writing to their descendants and sharing the good news that God is restoring his lost sheep of those tribes into one flock and one fold through faith in Messiah. Peter is using the imagery of the temple as a way of illustrating their restored relationship to the true faith as the remnant of God, a remnant once again called out from among the overall religious majority of what was at the time orthodox Judaism.

Amidst this temple imagery, Peter illustrates how it is not the physical temple that matters; he knew it was about to be destroyed because Messiah had prophesied it decades earlier. Instead, Peter relates how the remnant people chosen by God were in the process of becoming something else, a spiritual priesthood that would have the privilege of offering spiritual sacrifices to God.

Biblically, the priesthood did not exist for its own purpose; the priesthood was a selected tribe within the larger community of Israel as a nation that was to be the mediators, the go-betweens. They had been chosen and set apart by God for the purpose of serving the others by presenting the sacrifices and offerings on behalf of the rest of the nation to God. Peter is conveying that these remnant believers scattered among the nations were not believing just for themselves, but that their role was to be a spiritually set-apart group that would be the example to others who would come after them, those who would believe because of their faithfulness. In so doing, they would effectively become a spiritual priesthood, the go-betweens who would bridge the divide between the natural priesthood which was about to be destroyed and the spiritual reality of the new temple in the New Jerusalem, the spiritual temple of the ongoing kingdom of God. They had become the “living stones” within the temple that Yeshua had prophesied he would build.

Mark 14:58 – “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands, and in three days I will build another not made by hands.’ “

Are believers today the spiritual priesthood that Peter is writing to? No, we need to recognize that he was writing to a specific group of people at a specific point in time two thousand years ago. However, are there symbolic parallels between believers today and those of the scattered Israelite remnant who were being brought back into the fold? Indeed, believers today are a minority group of people called out from the masses of the overall population; we are to be examples of faithfulness to those among the rest of the community; and we are to be serving others with spiritual sacrifices on behalf of God. We are participants within the spiritual temple built by Yeshua who have the privilege of enjoying God’s presence.

We must always remember that we are standing on a legacy of faithful believers who have gone before us, but we are not here to enjoy the mercies of God for our own benefit. No, if we are to be true to our calling, we are here solely for the purpose of others. We must, like the early called-out remnant, perform our spiritual service to others with obedient and caring hearts, that others may also participate in the spiritual temple within the eternal kingdom of God: The New Jerusalem.


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 true heart to enter into God’s presence

This is the way believers can now approach God and experience his presence in their lives.

In the epistle to the Hebrews, the writer builds upon the imagery that all Hebraic worshipers of God would be familiar with: the high priesthood and the sanctuary. Throughout the epistle, there are references to Yeshua as being like a high priest who is serving in a heavenly sanctuary of which the earthly tabernacle and temple were only copies.

Within the tabernacle was the most holy place, the Holy of Holies, a compartmented area in which was stored the ark of the covenant, containing the ten commandments, the rod of Aaron that had budded, and a jar of manna. Next to the ark would also have been a copy of the complete covenantal agreement from Horeb. Most importantly, within this sacred area was the presence of God himself.

All of these representative descriptions carry great weight within the depths of the symbolism and practice of the Hebraic worship of Yahweh. The biblical instruction, though, was that the high priest could only enter that area once a year to offer the blood of the atoning sacrifice over the ark on the Day of Atonement.

At this crowning point of his epistle, the writer brings the reader to the culmination of his arguments in the preceding nine chapters: the believer in Messiah now has access to the sanctuary of God.

Hebrews 10:19-20 – Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Yeshua ​– ​ he has inaugurated for us a new and living way through the curtain (that is, through his flesh) ​– ​

This is likely an allusion to the event that occurred at the crucifixion of Yeshua, when the curtain in the temple was torn in two, revealing the way into the Holy of Holies within the temple.

Mark 15:37-38 – Yeshua let out a loud cry and breathed his last. Then the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

This all points to the meaning that the way to God was now opened for all, not just for the high priest once a year, but for everyone; that is, everyone who believes in Messiah.

Hebrews 10:21-23 – and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, since he who promised is faithful.

All that is required to be in God’s presence now is for the believer to draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith. Having hearts sprinkled clean is a reference to the practice of cleansing through the sprinkling of blood of the sacrifice, sanctifying the articles of the tabernacle and those who have been defiled through uncleanness.

Hebrews 9:13-14 – For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow, sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works so that we can serve the living God?

As the priest was to wash in clear, pure water, we, too, should be washed clean through the purifying word of God.

Ephesians 5:25-26 – Husbands, love your wives, just as Messiah loved the congregation and gave himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word.

With a true heart, a heart of integrity, we can have a clear conscience before God, being set apart through his living and eternal word. A heart that is true is a real, genuine heart before God, one that has no hidden agenda or ulterior motive. This is the way believers can now approach God and experience his presence in their lives. After all, this has always been God’s intent for his people.

Jeremiah 24:7 – “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am Yahweh. They will be my people, and I will be their God because they will return to me with all their heart.
Ezekiel 11:19-20 – “I will give them integrity of heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh, “so that they will follow my statutes, keep my ordinances, and practice them. They will be my people, and I will be their God.
Revelation 21:3 – Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God.


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