Bonding ourselves to God through compassionate generosity

When we help those in need, it is as if we are binding ourselves together with God himself.

It is well documented within the word that God desires that those who have ability should lend to those in need.

  • Psalm 37:25-26: “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his children begging for bread. All day long he deals graciously, and lends. His [the righteous one’s] offspring is blessed.”
  • Psalm 112:4-5: “Light dawns in the darkness for the upright, gracious, merciful, and righteous. It is well with the man who deals graciously and lends. He will maintain his cause in judgment.”

Notice that in both instances the encouragement is to lend, not to give away. The word comes from the Hebrew root lavah, which means to be joined or twisted together, implying an obligation of a borrower still being joined to the lender until the money is repaid. This idea stems from the Torah command to be committed to assisting those who have either fallen on hard times or who could just use some assistance.

Leviticus 25:35 – “If your brother becomes destitute and cannot sustain himself among you, you are to support him as an alien or temporary resident, so that he can continue to live among you.”

In the foregoing psalms, the concept of lending to those in need leads to blessings and positive outcomes for those who lend to others. In the proverbs, a fine example of this type of lending provides us further insight into why it is that these blessings and favorable outcomes occur.

Proverbs 19:17: “He who has pity on the poor lends to Yahweh; he will reward him.”

Once again, the word for lend here comes from the root lavah. The idea being conveyed with the intent of the original words seems to be that those who extend kindness to the poor are in actuality lending to, that is joining together with, Yahweh himself. Now, it is Yahweh who is then joined together with the lender, which ensures that the lender is “rewarded” (defined more accurately as “made whole.”) It’s as if God is guaranteeing the lender will be made whole in some way, even if the human recipient never repays the kindness bestowed. Based on this type of logic, when we are faithfully and sacrificially helping those in need, it is as if we are binding ourselves together with God himself in a sacred bond that remains in place until it is completed.

This should give a whole different meaning and emphasis to our generosity in helping others. When we provide help in this fashion, we are not only compassionately assisting our fellow human who may need some additional support, but we are working in harmony with the principles of the Creator of the universe who is intertwined in the transaction. He remains committed to ensuring we are made whole in some sense that can result in (according to the psalms) blessing, maintaining of our purpose, and light in the darkness. There is no “giving to get” something in return, but rather lending freely to others with a sense of communing in a relational way with God. Our generosity leads to others’ needs being met and we can then be blessed in ways that can only be understood as coming from the gracious hand of a loving God. When we provide for others from the heart, we are opening ourselves for an opportunity to be twisted together with God within his purpose. The outcome is up to him, but will always be something that we would qualify as a blessing or desirable outcome, even if it isn’t what we might expect. It shows up in ways that can only be defined as a life illuminated by the blessing of God. All of Psalm 112 defines what that looks like.

Psalm 112:1-10 – Praise Yahweh! How joyful are those who fear Yahweh and delight in obeying his commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever. Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous. Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly. Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust Yahweh to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly. They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor. The wicked will see this and be infuriated. They will grind their teeth in anger; they will slink away, their hopes thwarted.

Will the compassionate person of generosity experience all of these blessings? Perhaps, perhaps not; perhaps others not listed here. That’s not the point. The point is that when we are obedient to God’s word from the heart because we believe it is the right thing to do, he is faithful to honor that genuine obedience in any way he chooses; that’s his prerogative, because we have bound ourselves together with him.

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

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

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at

Loving from the heart

True compassion for others begins with an all-consuming love for God.

True compassion for others begins with an all-consuming love for God.

Many believers are familiar with the prophecy of Micah if for no other reason than this famous verse about acting with compassion:

Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O man, what is good. What does Yahweh require of you, but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

But Micah is only signifying what God had repeatedly told Israel over and over. Notice how Micah says, “He has shown you…” This is not something that God had done in a corner somewhere distant; no, God had repeatedly told them how he desired their hearts to be right and to demonstrate compassion with others in all things, providing this justice and mercy in tangible ways.

Through Isaiah, he warned them of the impending judgment for their failure to learn that lesson.

Isaiah 1:16-17: “Wash yourselves, make yourself clean. Put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes. Cease to do evil. Learn to do well. Seek justice. Relieve the oppressed. Judge the fatherless. Plead for the widow.””

Through Zechariah, he emphasized how there should be no evil in the heart, no falsity in the words out of the mouth in the carrying out of his commands.

  • Zechariah 7:9-10: ““Thus has Yahweh of Armies spoken, saying, Execute true judgment, and show kindness and compassion every man to his brother. Don’t oppress the widow, nor the fatherless, the foreigner, nor the poor; and let none of you devise evil against his brother in your heart.’”
  • Zechariah 8:16-17: “These are the things that you shall do: speak every man the truth with his neighbor. Execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates, and let none of you devise evil in your hearts against his neighbor, and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate,” says Yahweh.”

This repeated injunction of focusing on the heart is emphasized in the teaching of Yeshua and his disciples, as well.

Matthew 5:8 – “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Matthew 18:35 – “So also my heavenly Father will do to you unless every one of you forgives his brother or sister from your heart.”

Most importantly, Yeshua emphasized how the basis of the Kingdom of God, and the righteous actions of the heart, were rooted in a sincere, genuine, and complete love for Yahweh. This was the first and greatest commandment which would lead to the second most important commandment: to love others.

Matthew 22:37-39 – 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.”

The failure of the religious leaders to exemplify true and genuine compassion was also the condemnation Yeshua pronounced against them, using the same words of Isaiah:

Matthew 15:8 – “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”

These compassionate actions are at the very center of the message of the Bible, and the Yeshua’s words in the Sermon on the Mount simply clarify something that God had been saying all along: the goal of all of Torah, or God’s instruction, is loving one another genuinely from the heart, not out of religious obligation. This is the message he taught his disciples: that true love for God causes us to truly love others. This was the message that the disciples sought to distill to those under their care and direction, as well:

  • Romans 8:28 – “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God…”
  • 1 Corinthians 2:9 – “But as it is written, What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived — God has prepared these things for those who love him.”
  • 1 Corinthians 16:14 – “Do everything in love.”
  • 1 Timothy 1:5: “but the goal of this command is love, out of a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith…”

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

No longer common or unclean

What did Peter really learn from his vision in Acts 10?

Core of the Bible podcast #81 – No longer common or unclean

What did Peter really learn from his vision in Acts 10?

Today we will be looking at the topic of vigilance, and how, when we receive instruction from God, we must be faithful in keeping it at all costs and without hesitation. Along the way, we will investigate the meaning of what was considered a common thing, and what was considered unclean. These designations were critical to the Hebraic understanding of how they were expected to interact with others in the world.

Acts 10:10-14 – [Peter] became hungry and wanted to eat, but while they were preparing something, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and an object that resembled a large sheet coming down, being lowered by its four corners to the earth. In it were all the four-footed animals and reptiles of the earth, and the birds of the sky. A voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” “No, Lord!” Peter said. “For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”

This story of Peter’s vision is typically used as a way of teaching that God was declaring all foods “clean” or acceptable to eat. However, looking more closely at the context and outcome, we can learn more about its true meaning, along with some aspects of vigilance in our walk with God.

During Peter’s vision, when he heard a voice commanding him to kill and eat any of the animals in the vision, Peter immediately responded with: “No, Lord!” Peter said. “For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”

The response from the voice was: “What God has cleansed, do not call common.” After three repeated occurrences, the sheet and the animals were taken back up into heaven.

Now, what’s interesting to note here is that in the original text, two different Greek words are used to describe the status of the animals. Peter says that he never had eaten anything common (koinou) nor had he eaten anything ritually unclean (akatharton). Now there is wisdom in understanding the difference between that which is common and that which is unclean, so let’s take a look at how these topics were covered throughout the Tanakh, or Old Testament.

Leviticus 10:10-11 – “You must distinguish between the holy and the common, and the clean and the unclean, and teach the Israelites all the statutes that Yahweh has given to them through Moses.”

Here we find the importance in distinguishing between four Hebrew words describing four different conditions: qodesh (holy), chol (common), tame (unclean), and tahor (clean or pure).

So is this designation of holy/common, clean/unclean just a repetition of the same two qualities or is it describing four different categories? Let’s look at some other example verses to see if we can gain clarity.

Before there were ever any official commandments at Sinai, we see that there was a recognition of clean (tahor) and unclean (tame) animals:

Genesis 7:1-2 – “Then Yahweh said to Noah, ‘Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate, and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate…'”

So the first mention of tahor/clean is in regard to animals, distinguishing those that are clean from those that are not tahor.

We next move to the wilderness after Israel came out of Egypt and learn the distinctions that were set down within the written Torah conveyed to them in the desert.

Leviticus 11:46-47 – This is the law about beast and bird and every living creature that moves through the waters and every creature that swarms on the ground, to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten.

So, clean/tahor and unclean/tame animals are here defined in God’s Torah.

Now as we look to define that which is holy versus that which is common, we can look at some passages from the writings of the Prophets, starting with Ezekiel. In Ezekiel’s vision of the temple and its surroundings, he conveys how some areas of the temple complex were distinguished from others.

Ezekiel 42:20 – He measured the temple complex on all four sides. It had a wall all around it … to separate the holy [qodesh] from the common [chol].

Here there is no mention of clean and unclean, just how a wall separated the holy and common areas. The one area of the temple complex was holy, restricted only to priests and God’s people, and the other area was common, available to anyone else. A similar example of this is brought out in the land allotments that Ezekiel conveyed from his vision.

Ezekiel 48:13-15 – And alongside the territory of the priests, the Levites shall have an allotment …They shall not sell or exchange any of it. They shall not alienate this choice portion of the land, for it is holy to Yahweh. “The remainder … shall be for common use for the city, for dwellings and for open country. In the midst of it shall be the city…

Here, part of the land is holy or qodesh for specific use by the priests, and the other part for use by the rest of the city is common or chol.

So from these passages, we can learn that the distinction between holy and common appears to be one of purpose: that which is holy is set apart for a specific use by priests or God’s people only and that which is common is for everyday use by anyone. By contrast, that which is clean or unclean appears to be inherent in the thing itself, for example, those animals which were approved for eating versus those which were not approved for eating, likely due to the risk of contracting illness or disease.

Now here is a really interesting contrast brought out in the book of Haggai when he was asking the priests to give a ruling in a matter of holiness versus uncleanness, a contrast spanning both groups:

Haggai 2:12-14 – “If a man is carrying consecrated [holy/qodesh] meat in the fold of his garment, and it touches bread, stew, wine, oil, or any other food, does [that food] become holy? ” The priests answered, “No.”  Then Haggai asked, “If someone unclean [tame] by contact with a corpse touches any of these, does it become defiled? ” The priests answered, “It becomes defiled.”  Then Haggai replied, “So is this people, and so is this nation before me — this is Yahweh’s declaration. And so is every work of their hands; even what they offer there is defiled.”

Haggai is here using this example to show the priests how they were not accomplishing their God-given purpose of being a light of holiness to the world; instead, they had become so corrupt they had become unclean and were defiling everything they touched.

So here we have a cross comparison of these two categories: holy-common and clean-unclean. When we sift through all of this information, we can begin to see how this description helps us understand the categories a little better. From Haggai’s example, it is determined that something that is holy can’t make something holy just by contacting it; like Ezekiel, he is confirming the holiness is in the purpose of the thing, not its physical qualities. By contrast, something that is unclean CAN defile something else; once the unclean thing touches something, it also becomes unclean.

So how does all this apply to Peter’s vision and our discussion at hand? Well, we need to remember through this discussion that common means “for common use, that which is not set apart as holy.” And in Peter’s vision, God claims to have cleansed that which is considered common (i.e., the non-Jews who seek after him).

In a moment, we will explore this cleansing process as it was understood by the traditional Jews of the day, and why it is so significant to this discussion.

In Yeshua’s and Peter’s day, something that may have been considered “common” was a term that had come into use within the lexicon of the Pharisees and their fastidious over-compensation in matters that were not clearly marked out in Torah.

For example, in Mark 7, some of these practices are described:

Mark 7:1-3 – The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around [Yeshua]. They observed that some of his disciples were eating bread with common — that is, unwashed — hands [right here we have the distinction clarified for us within the narrative: common=unwashed]. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, keeping the tradition of the elders [Note: this is not a Torah instruction, but a tradition of the elders].

So, with the koinos meaning of common defined as “unwashed” for us here in Mark, we can then see how this applies in the vision that Peter had in Acts 10.

Acts 10:15 – Again, a second time, the voice said to him, “What God has cleansed, do not call common.”

This shows that God had cleansed that which, through their tradition, was considered common or unwashed. In that time, non-Jews were looked upon as common, like dirty hands that needed to be washed. The traditional Jewish thinking was that they were to be avoided because through contact with their unwashed condition they thought they would become contaminated, as well. However, we know from the passage in Haggai that holiness has to do with purpose and has nothing whatsoever to do with physical contact. Besides, Peter’s vision said that God had cleansed those “dirty hands” when they came to him in faith, and they were therefore no longer to be considered separate from the believing congregation.

This is the exact meaning that Peter pulled from the vision when he met with Cornelius and his group.

Acts 10:28 – Peter said to them, “You know it’s forbidden for a Jewish man to associate with or visit a foreigner [again, this is based on tradition, not Torah], but God has shown me that I must not call any PERSON common or unclean.”

Peter had taken away from the vision, not that all FOODS were now clean, but that all MEN who earnestly were striving after God were to be considered on an even par with the Jewish believers.

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

Peter had taken the real meaning of the vision to mean that God was breaking down the barriers between men of different nations, and that the door of faith in Messiah would be opened to all who were willing to come. This was even confirmed to be the correct interpretation as the foreign men were visibly affected by receiving the Spirit of God (10:44-45).

It is impressive to see how Peter had maintained his ritual purity throughout his life. He claims to have strictly followed the dietary laws of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 without fail. In his day and age, there were many opportunities to eat the wrong foods, due to the foods that were sold in the common marketplaces. Peter demonstrates that he was always vigilant to ensure he never violated the commands of God by eating foods outside of the restrictions of Torah. This, in itself, should be an indication that the vision was not about clean and unclean foods, but about something else, something God was beginning to do among all nations.

Additionally, Peter intimated that he had not only kept the dietary commands of the Torah, but of the religious tradition, as well. This would imply he also did not associate with non-Jews, since they were considered koinos or common by Jewish tradition. We know this is the case because the apostle Paul had to confront Peter when he had held to this traditional Jewish thinking among the believers in Antioch.

Galatians 2:11-13 – “But when Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he stood condemned. For he regularly ate with the Gentiles before certain men came from James. However, when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, because he feared those from the circumcision party. Then the rest of the Jews joined his hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.”

While there are no time markers in the text, it would make sense that this argument between Paul and Peter occurred prior to Peter’s vision, and that after that vision, he was well-grounded in the in the understanding of the purpose of the Kingdom, and how God would not show favoritism to anyone but was accepting all who would come to him through faith in Messiah. But regardless of the timing of this event, as the growing Messianic movement spread, it was inevitable that non-Jews would be mixing with Jewish believers and there would need to be a recognition of equality among all people.

The apostle Paul confirms this also in several of his epistles, how God was growing the Kingdom with many different nationalities and statuses within the strata of society:

Romans 10:11-13 – “For the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on him will not be put to shame, since there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord of all richly blesses all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh will be saved.”

Galatians 3:28 – “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.”

Colossians 3:11 – “In Messiah there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Messiah is all and in all.”

Ultimately, vigilance in our walk before God comes in many forms, whether our own personal commitment to holiness, or our obedience to the things that God may reveal to us along the way. Peter exemplifies for us a measure of personal vigilance that we can learn from and follow in our own lives. He held tightly to the understanding of Judaism and maintained those traditions faithfully, believing that he was honoring God in doing so. Yet, when God revealed something radical within his current worldview, he was still willing to follow this new understanding wholeheartedly and unreservedly.

When we receive instruction from God, whether through his word or through personal insight, we also must be faithful in keeping it at all costs and without hesitation.

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

Out of the Kingdom

God removes from his Kingdom all that prohibits the light of truth and righteousness from shining.

God removes from his Kingdom all that prohibits the light of truth and righteousness from shining.

Yeshua had taught that the religious leaders of his day were so corrupt that God had no choice but to remove them. His Kingdom had suffered violence from those who tried to make their own traditions and rules equal to his Torah. Therefore, Yeshua warned them that they would lose the very thing they were trying so hard to hold on to by their own schemes.

Matthew 21:43, 45 – “‘Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruit.’ … When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew he was speaking about them.”

Yeshua spared no mercies in confronting the leaders with the reality of how this was to be accomplished.

Matthew 13:40 – “‘Therefore, just as the weeds are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.'”

The end of that corrupt age was upon them, and a new age was about to be inaugurated: an age of righteousness and peace that had been predicted for centuries. But first, those who were standing in the way had to be removed for this to take place.

Matthew 13:41 – “‘The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom all snares and those guilty of lawlessness.'”

Those things that were snares, traps, or hindrances (as many different versions translate the Greek word skandalon) were things that related to the concerns of men, not the concerns of God. These were things that distracted people from the true purpose of God, as Peter found out when he tried to insert his own agenda into the outworking of God’s plan with Messiah.

Matthew 16:21-23 – From then on Yeshua began to point out to his disciples that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “Oh no, Lord! This will never happen to you! ” Yeshua turned and told Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a snare [skandalon] to me because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns but human concerns.”

Additionally, those guilty of lawlessness were, ironically, the scribes and Pharisees themselves. This pronouncement came directly from Yeshua in a long list of offenses they had committed against the righteous standards of God.

Matthew 23:27-28 – “‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of the bones of the dead and every kind of impurity. In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.'”

The destiny of those who were corrupting the remnant, the true believers, those who sided with Messiah, was to be burned.

Matthew 13:42 – “‘They will throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'”

This was the imagery Yeshua used to describe the destruction of Jerusalem; it was burned with fire and completely destroyed when it fell to the Roman army in 70 AD. Based on this historical reality, we can see how the prophecy of Yeshua came to pass within a generation, as he had predicted. All of those who were guilty of the snares of man-made concerns and lawlessness due to their hypocrisy were eliminated in the destruction of the beloved city.

It was only after that cleansing that the fullness of the Kingdom could be realized, as those who had believed in Messiah could fully live according to the righteous standards of Yahweh from the heart.

Matthew 13:43 – “‘Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Let anyone who has ears listen.'”

That was God’s plan all along, that the hearts of those who would seek him would be obedient to his Word, his Torah. When that happened, his enemies (those lawless who set snares of men) were removed from the Kingdom and then the remnant, the true believers who were pure of heart, could let their lights shine.

Matthew 5:14-16 – “‘You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.'”

The city on the hill is the New Jerusalem, Zion, the righteous Kingdom of God, and it cannot be hidden. To this day it shines with the brightness of all those who are obedient to Yahweh, serving him from the heart and no longer by just the letter of the law, but by the Spirit.

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

Practical compassion

God expects his people to act upon his words, not just believe them.

God expects his people to act upon his words, not just believe them.

Zechariah 7:8-11 – Then this message came to Zechariah from Yahweh: “This is what Yahweh of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other. Your ancestors refused to listen to this message. They stubbornly turned away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing.”

Judgment had been poured out on ancient Israel due to the fact that they had refused to listen to Yahweh. They had rejected the plain teaching of his Torah and instead had chosen to oppress and take advantage of those who could not defend themselves among their own people.

Yahweh had been very clear in his Torah about how they should have been treating the disadvantaged among their society:

  • Exodus 22:21-24 – “You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. You must not exploit a widow or an orphan. If you exploit them in any way and they cry out to me, then I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will blaze against you, and I will kill you with the sword. Then your wives will be widows and your children fatherless.”
  • Deuteronomy 24:14-15 – “Never take advantage of poor and destitute laborers, whether they are fellow Israelites or foreigners living in your towns. You must pay them their wages each day before sunset because they are poor and are counting on it. If you don’t, they might cry out to Yahweh against you, and it would be counted against you as sin.”

Their fathers had even taken an oath that they would act justly in all of these matters.

Deuteronomy 27:19 – “‘Cursed is anyone who denies justice to foreigners, orphans, or widows.’ And all the people will reply, ‘Amen.'”

Due to Israel’s unfaithfulness even to their own oath covenant, God systematically removed them from the land, first by the Assyrians and then the Babylonians. In effect, the Israelites had brought down wrath upon themselves by disobeying the Torah. If they would not follow the law from their hearts, then the curse of the law would fall upon them, and it did.

I’m not sure how much clearer God can make it that he expects his people to take care of those among them who cannot take care of themselves, those who are easily exploited and taken advantage of, those who may not be familiar with the culture. In effect, through these Torah commandments and the historical demonstration of consequence, Yahweh is illustrating how he expects his people to demonstrate compassion.

How can we express compassion with these people groups today? Rather than inventing some new program or agency to deal with these issues from afar, as we abide by the Torah of the heart, God desires we make these instructions personal to our experience and our lives. Who within your sphere of influence can benefit from this instruction: an aged woman who is a widow who can’t provide for herself, a child (or children) who have lost their parents, a foreigner who is struggling with the dominant culture and system?

Yeshua taught that practical compassion and mercy are the curative qualities that provide healing and preservation of righteousness.

Matthew 5:7, 13 – God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. … “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

This is how the eternal Torah of God continues to impact the lives of people today. When we not only believe the words that are written there, but we take them to heart and then personally act upon them in real ways, we open up the compassion of God to others, and the possibilities of expanding the Kingdom in the process.

James 1:22 – But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

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

The hard work of reconciliation and forgiveness

Are we commanded to forgive unconditionally?

Are we commanded to forgive unconditionally? Well, Yeshua’s admonition to forgive others is unmistakable:

Matthew 6:12, 14-15 – “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. … “For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. “But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your offenses.

Therefore, as believers, we should just forgive everyone no matter what, correct? Well, if we dive a little deeper into Yeshua’s concept of forgiveness, we find that he lays out some parameters that can help guide us through some of these interpersonal relationships, and it may seem a little different than you may expect.

Luke 17:3-4 – “Be on your guard. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. “And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

Firstly, we can see that we must be alert or “on our guard,” as he relates here. Forgiveness is not something that should just be offered to everyone regardless of circumstance. If we are preparing to be forgiving, then we must be alert and use some critical thinking, as well.

Yeshua says “if he repents” you must forgive him. That is the qualifier. Even if someone comes up to you after repeatedly offending you in some way but asks for forgiveness, you must not withhold it.

But what do we do in a situation where someone provides an offense against us but does not repent or ask forgiveness? Are we obligated to forgive them? Well, Yeshua lays out an instance where that also may come into play. It begins by confronting the individual who has wronged another.

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

In this case, an offense of some sort has been caused by a close friend or relative yet they have not asked for forgiveness. Interestingly, Yeshua lays the responsibility to restore the relationship on the one has been wronged. It would appear that one of Yeshua’s primary principles is restoration of relationships, not avoidance. This is also intimated in another teaching where he relates those relationships should be restored prior to worshiping God.

Matthew 5:22-24 – “But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Whoever insults his brother or sister, will be subject to the court. Whoever says, ‘You fool! ‘ will be subject to fire of Gehenna. So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.”

The reconciliation begins with us for those with whom we might be angry for some reason. If we go and speak with them about it and they recognize the error, then, as Yeshua says, “you have won your brother.” However, what do we do if they don’t repent or ask for forgiveness? This process is also lined out by Yeshua.

Matthew 18:16-17 “But if he won’t listen, take one or two others with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. If he doesn’t pay attention to them, tell the congregation. If he doesn’t pay attention even to the congregation, let him be like a Gentile and a tax collector to you.”

Only in the most bitterest of contentions must we remain separated from those who have wronged us. Yet, how many of us have actually cared enough to take the initiative in doing the hard work in restoring those failed relationships? Forgiveness may be real and lasting but it is not cheap. It comes at a price, and it has boundaries.

Yeshua then concludes this teaching with a phrase that has challenged commentators and believers over the years, but I believe is not as difficult to understand as it sounds.

Matthew 18:18 – Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven.

This binding and loosing principle can be understood in the light of what God has commanded. Whatever God (heaven) has bound, is bound or restricted. Whatever God (heaven) has loosed or allowed, is allowable. This is a basic understanding of all of God’s Torah or instruction, beginning with Adam and Eve in the Garden. This is also why we find Yeshua referring to the Torah principle of additional witnesses found in Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 19:15 – A lone witness is not sufficient to establish any wrongdoing or sin against a man, regardless of what offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

As believers, we are bound to what God’s Word or Torah says, but whatever it allows, we are also free or “loosed” to do. So when we follow the admonition of the Torah injunction in ensuring facts of a matter before we jump to conclusions about someone’s intent, we honor God and relationships can be restored.

In his teaching on forgiveness, Yeshua simply provides clarification on the fact that if someone repents, we are obligated to forgive them. However, if they are unrepentant and we have fully involved others to verify the injustice, then and only then are we justified in avoiding them.

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

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

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at

Yeshua and the Kingdom of the ten commandments

Did Yeshua teach the ongoing validity of all ten of the commandments?

Did Yeshua teach the ongoing validity of all ten of the commandments?

There are some passages where he enumerates five or six of the ten commandments all at once.

Matthew 19:16-19 – Just then someone came up and asked him, “Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life? ” “Why do you ask me about what is good? ” he said to him. “There is only one who is good. If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones? ” he asked him. Yeshua answered:

  • Do not murder;
  • do not commit adultery;
  • do not steal;
  • do not bear false witness;
  • honor your father and your mother;
    and love your neighbor as yourself.

So this passage covers commandments 5-9. Yeshua clearly taught these. What is a little more subtle in this passage is that Yeshua essentially affirmed all ten commandments by listing even just these five. This is a literary practice which we have come to call synechdode, in which a part stands for the whole. By telling the inquirer it was necessary to keep “the commandments,” and then listing five of them, it can be ascertained that all ten were implied.

Also, Yeshua had mentioned how he did not come to abolish the commandments, but to fulfill them by demonstrating their true meaning.

Matthew 5:17, 19 – “Don’t think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. … “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

He here cautions that breaking any of the commands would result in a diminished status, while doing and teaching them would be a sign of greatness within the kingdom.

Ok, but what about being a bit more specific on the remaining five commandments? We still need to see if he enumerates commandments 1-4 and 10.

The first commandment is “Do not have other gods besides me.”

Matthew 4:10 – Then Yeshua told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship Yahweh your God, and serve only him.”

This identifies the upholding of the first commandment.

Now, as to the second commandment about graven images, there is no direct instance of Yeshua condemning idolatry in the generally accepted sense. The only time the term for an idol, eikon, is mentioned by him, it is in reference to one of the coins of Caesar which had Caesar’s “image and inscription” on it. This was a tacit reference to idolatry, because many Jews would not carry coin for the fact that coin images were considered idolatry. The fact that the Jewish leaders could produce a coin when Yeshua requested it was also a condemnation of their own covetousness.

Luke 12:15 – He then told them, “Watch out and be on guard against all greed, because one’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions.”

The tenth commandment against covetousness which is covered here, is also a recognition of idolatry, as Yeshua’s disciple Paul would teach. Paul taught that covetousness is equivalent to idolatry, and Yeshua definitely taught against covetousness.

Colossians 3:5 – Therefore, put to death what belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry.

His disciples also taught against idolatry, which would convey that Yeshua did so also. Everything the apostles teach would have to be in accordance with Yeshua’s teaching.

As for the Sabbath, Yeshua made an outright declaration about it:

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

Yeshua not only practiced Sabbath worship and taught in the synagogues on a regular basis, but he blatantly referenced it in this passage. By this statement, he clarified that the Sabbath was not to be a ceremonial list of do’s and don’ts (which it had become in Jewish practice). Instead, his declaration focuses on the fact that the Sabbath was made for man, and not just for Jews, but for the specific purpose of benefitting any person who would partake of it.

Now the only remaining commandment is the third commandment about not taking the Lord’s name in vain. The answer to this representation in Yeshua’s teaching can be identified by defining what this commandment means in the first place. Many people think it means that one should not use God’s literal name as a swear word. But the commandment actually has a deeper meaning than that.

To not take the name of the Lord in vain really means to not become associated with him and everything that Yahweh’s character exemplifies (i.e., his name) to no purpose. If one is only joining with Yahweh because of upbringing or social pressure and not really living by his standards, then that person has taken Yahweh’s name “in vain,” that is, to no purpose. His torah, or instruction, has no value in that person’s life because they don’t really take it seriously.

If this is the definition we are using for the third commandment, then the whole Sermon on the Mount, a summary of Yeshua’s teaching, is all about not taking Yahweh’s name in vain or to no purpose. Yeshua was constantly teaching about sincerity in practice, not to be hypocritical in anything. He emphasized the heart motive behind every action, which points to a faith in Yahweh that is vibrant, not just something that is participated in only for religious reasons.

So, we can see that throughout his ministry, Yeshua constantly emphasized the importance of the kingdom, and repentance necessary to enter that kingdom. This was because the religious leaders of Judaism had co-opted the true worship of Yahweh into their own brand of man-made rules and traditions. Yeshua urged people to repent of these false and essentially idolatrous practices and to return to the true spirit of the torah, not just the letter of it. The kingdom of God is therefore established on God’s very words, his ten commandments, not in spite of them. Since Yeshua preached the kingdom of God, he clearly taught all of the ten commandments as the base of that kingdom, as well.

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

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

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at

Actively loving our neighbors

A compassionate heart cannot remain inactive when becoming aware of real needs.

A compassionate heart cannot remain inactive when becoming aware of real needs.

Romans 13:8-10 – “Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not covet; and any other commandment, are summed up by this commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.”

Paul writes this passage in the context of being faithful with the State authorities, paying taxes, and culminating in verse 14 by “putting on the Lord Yeshua.” It’s as if all of Paul’s logic in the daily life of the believer is wrapped up in “throwing off the deeds of darkness, and putting on the armor of light,” ( v. 12).

The key aspect of this armor of light is love; not the syrupy, undefined, wishy-washy love of our current pop culture, but a love that has a definite purpose and character. Paul defines this type of love as a love that does no wrong to a neighbor. It involves throwing off the deeds of darkness, which he defines as: “carousing and drunkenness…sexual impurity and promiscuity…quarreling and jealousy,” (v. 13). When we are acting in any of these ways with others, we are not acting in love. The armor of light can only be exposed when we “throw off” these “deeds.”

If we are to do no wrong to a neighbor, it implies that we should do right to our neighbor. In Hebraic thinking, there is no static condition in which we do neither good nor bad. If we are not doing good, then we are by default doing bad, and if we are not doing bad, then we are to be doing good. The text of Torah from which this principle of loving our neighbor is derived mentions we should not even hold any grudges against our neighbor.

Leviticus 19:18 – “Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am Yahweh.”

This specific command is dropped in the midst of all kinds of things we should not be doing to our neighbors (Leviticus 19:11-17):

  • do not steal from them
  • do not oppress them
  • do not rob from them
  • do not be unfair with them
  • do not spread slander about them
  • do not jeopardize their life
  • don’t harbor hatred toward them

According to Paul’s logic in Romans 13, these would all be included in “deeds of darkness.”

If these are the negative qualities, then the positive qualities contained within the armor of light must be the opposite:

  • give generously to them
  • cheer them up and support them
  • act with fairness
  • speak well of them
  • help to protect them
  • show practical love toward them

This practical outworking of a love that is defined in this manner shows what type of love the Bible is talking about when it comes to our neighbors. It is a love that acts in positive ways towards others. It doesn’t just think happy thoughts towards them, but it actively works to build them up and contribute to their well-being.

In what ways can you act in this manner toward your neighbors, friends, and family? All of these individuals come under the umbrella of “neighbors” in the biblical sense. How can you manifest the armor of light most practically and effectively? By looking at these brief examples, we can see it involves taking our focus off of ourselves (the deeds of darkness that serve our own pleasures and interests), and placing our focus instead on the needs of others for their benefit. This is how we can then begin to “put on Yeshua” by living out his command:

Matthew 7:12 – “Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

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

Honoring of parents respects God’s kingdom authority on earth

A believing father and mother, as God’s agents, can provide the best guidance and direction leading to well-being for the children who are obedient to their instruction.

Core of the Bible podcast #79 – Honoring of parents respects God’s kingdom authority on earth

Today we will be looking at the topic of the fifth commandment about honoring one’s father and mother, and how a believing father and mother, as God’s agents, can provide the best kingdom guidance and direction leading to well-being for the children who are obedient to their instruction.

Exodus 20:12 – Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which Yahweh your God gives you.

As God conveyed his Torah, or instruction to Moses, he made it clear that within the kingdom of God, there would be many roles requiring to be fulfilled. While most people today look to define and embrace roles like prophets, priests, teachers, helpers, there are no roles as basic and impactful as the roles within each family: husband and wife, mother and father.

In today’s culture this has become a controversial stance, but I firmly believe that the significance of man and woman in the kingdom is a basic building block upon which everything else is built. The male and female component is inherent within the DNA of the kingdom, right back to its origins in Genesis, in the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 1:27-28 – So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

The very first royal edict of the kingdom had to do with man and woman reigning and having dominion over God’s Creation. So, in Hebrew culture, the father and the mother are therefore figures representing divine authority over the family. They are the representatives of God’s authority because they have been made in his image, and to be respected as possessing and implementing the wisdom of God. In fact, the genealogies that take up roughly 5% of the Bible are based on a deference to authority in the sense of familial descent which is only possible through the recording of historical male-female heritage. This honoring of one’s parents or ancestry also spilled over into the ancient Hebraic view of the afterlife. Upon death, one was considered to be “gathered unto the fathers.”

Genesis 49:29 – Then [Jacob] commanded [his sons] and said to them, “I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite…

Judges 2:8, 10 – And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Yahweh, died at the age of 110 years. … And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers…

2 Kings 22:20 – Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace…

Within the conduct of individuals during this life, however, we can see how this understanding of paternal and maternal influence along with marital fidelity carried over into metaphors of God’s care for his people, as well.

Exodus 4:21-22 – And Yahweh told Moses, “When you arrive back in Egypt, go to Pharaoh and perform all the miracles I have empowered you to do. But I will harden his heart so he will refuse to let the people go. Then you will tell him, ‘This is what Yahweh says: Israel is my firstborn son.

Isaiah 43:3, 6 – For I am Yahweh, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place. … I will say to the north and south, ‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel from the distant corners of the earth.

Isaiah 46:3 – “Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born.

Jeremiah 3:20 – But you have been unfaithful to me, you people of Israel! You have been like a faithless wife who leaves her husband. I, Yahweh, have spoken.”

Individual references cannot convey the depth with which the entire narrative of the Bible is imbued with this type of familial imagery; it is interwoven throughout every page. That parents were to be respected is brought out in the biblical stories conveyed throughout the Tanakh or Old Testament, but is most prominently evident in the Proverbs.

Proverbs 1:8-9 – Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction, and do not forsake the teaching of your mother. For they are a garland of grace on your head and a pendant around your neck.

Proverbs 23:22 – Listen to your father, who gave you life, and don’t despise your mother when she is old.

Proverbs 15:20 – Sensible children bring joy to their father; foolish children despise their mother.

However, children who are disobedient to this most basic sense of authority are also shown the end that results from choosing their own way.

Proverbs 19:26 – Children who mistreat their father or chase away their mother are an embarrassment and a public disgrace.

Proverbs 20:20 – If you insult your father or mother, your light will be snuffed out in total darkness.

Proverbs 28:24 – Anyone who steals from his father and mother and says, “What’s wrong with that?” is no better than a murderer.

Proverbs 30:17 – The eye that mocks a father and despises a mother’s instructions will be plucked out by ravens of the valley and eaten by vultures.

In these passages this sense of structural authority within the family unit provides a powerful basis for wisdom and right actions. It is here that the roots of the kingdom are set deep into the soil so that each generation can continue to rise to the greatest heights in a demonstration of God’s power and glory over his Creation.

In a moment, we will see how this principle of parental authority is also built on by Yeshua and the apostles within the writings of the New Testament.

The God-given authority of the father and mother was an ongoing kingdom principle for the early Messiah believers, also. Before we look at the apostolic writings, though, we can see this principle exemplified most clearly by Messiah himself.

Luke 2:41-51 – Every year Yeshua’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. When Yeshua was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Yeshua stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.” “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they didn’t understand what he meant. Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart.

This wonderful passage gives us a rare glimpse into the childhood of Yeshua, and how he viewed his own role in relation to his parents. The typical evaluation of this passage explains how at such an early age, Yeshua understood the uniqueness of his role and how he recognized Yahweh God as his father. Yet, the nugget in the story for our purposes today is that final verse that says, “he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.” To me, this speaks volumes on Yeshua’s recognition of the established order of parental authority. Even though he was spiritually maturing at an accelerated pace, he chose to remain obedient to his parents in conformity with the overall plan of God’s kingdom. He honored his mother and his father.

He also taught this as an adult as he reiterated the validity of the Ten Commandments. When answering questions from an inquirer about eternal life, Yeshua responded with the necessity of recognizing the authority of the torah, or instruction of God.

Matthew 19:16-19 – Someone came to Yeshua with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” “Why ask me about what is good?” Yeshua replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question–if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” the man asked. And Yeshua replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Yeshua firmly taught the Ten Commandments as a basis for the kingdom, sometimes used as a synonymous phrase for the principle of eternal life.

Moving to the writings of Yeshua’s apostles, we can see how they continued to emphasize the role of parental authority within the early believing congregations.

Colossians 3:20 – Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases Yahweh.

One of the characteristics required of leaders within the congregation was to be exemplifying this authoritative structure within one’s own family.

1 Timothy 3:1, 4-5 – This is a trustworthy saying: “If someone aspires to be an elder, he desires an honorable position.” … He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s congregation?

In this passage, Paul encourages Timothy in a basic and underlying premise of the kingdom: authority rests within the parental structure. If that structure is not present in the family, Paul argues, then how can it be present within the congregation? Besides a recitation of the Ten Commandments, to my way of thinking this is one of the most precise indications of the necessity for parental authority for the success of the kingdom in the entire New Testament.

Additionally, just like in the writings of the prophets in the Tanakh, the metaphors for God’s parental authority are present within the apostolic writings, as well.

Hebrews 12:7-8 – As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.

1 Peter 1:14 – So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then.

1 John 2:29 – Since we know that Christ is righteous, we also know that all who do what is right are God’s children.

And finally, Paul writes to the Ephesian congregation about the promise of faithful obedience to parental authority.

Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents because you belong to Yahweh, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”

Paul writes here that this commandment to honor father and mother is the first command that is not only the right thing to do, but it carries within it a promise for well-being and long life. The idea is that a believing father and mother, as God’s agents, can provide the best guidance and direction that would lead to those things for the children who are obedient to their instruction.

In conclusion, we can see how the respect and honor of father and mother is therefore part of the eternal torah, or instruction, of God for all time. As the mother and father “rule” righteously over the kingdom of their family, they are fulfilling a role that is embedded within the Creation itself, a role that hearkens back through ancestral lines all the way to the original parents in the Garden. The Garden imagery of Paradise (the idealized kingdom) is therefore brought to life for each generation through every faithful father and mother. As believing parents recognize this awesome responsibility of the authority they carry, the Kingdom of God can continue to grow in righteousness, honoring the original parents whom God set over all Creation in the beginning.

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

Sincere compassion opens the way for God’s provision

A heart that truly cares for the needs of others has the ability to receive the resources necessary to meet those needs.

Core of the Bible podcast #78 – Sincere compassion opens the way for God’s provision

A heart that truly cares for the needs of others has the ability to receive the resources necessary to meet those needs.

Today we will be looking at the topic of compassion, and how God provides what others need when we act sincerely from the heart. Additionally, instructing others in the way of God is in itself an act of compassion toward those who are willing to hear.

These principles were demonstrated by Yeshua as his popularity had begun to grow in Israel, and large crowds had begun to follow him looking for miracles and instruction from Yahweh. They were hungry for physical healings and spiritual guidance.

Mark 6:34 – Yeshua came out, saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.

Yeshua’s compassion here is expressed through a recognition of the general population of Israel’s lack of correct doctrine, and their eagerness to learn. The context of this verse is set as Yeshua and his disciples have been tirelessly ministering and are now attempting to find a secluded place to be refreshed. Yet, hundreds of people find out where they are going across the lake of Galilee and end up waiting for them on the shore when they arrive. Seeing these crowds, Yeshua is moved with compassion, and decides to continue to provide instruction.

It is interesting here to note that whenever a text mentions Yeshua has compassion on someone, he immediately does something to help them. Here are some examples:

Matthew 14:14 – Yeshua saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Matthew 15:32 – Then Yeshua called his disciples and told them, “I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry, or they will faint along the way.”

Matthew 20:34 – Yeshua felt sorry for them and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see! Then they followed him.

Mark 1:41 – Moved with compassion, Yeshua reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!”

In the case of our subject passage in the sixth chapter of Mark, Yeshua’s compassionate response to the crowds who had rushed ahead of them to meet them is to continue to provide them instruction, even though he and his disciples had been worn out from the constant interactions with everyone at the previous location. They were simply trying to find a quiet place to rest and be refreshed, and could easily have said something like, “Please let us get some rest. If you come back tomorrow morning we can continue to provide some instruction and healings.”

Instead, the text says Yeshua saw that they were like sheep without a shepherd. A good shepherd won’t leave the sheep to wander on their own; they cannot provide for themselves. Left to their own devices, sheep tend to get injured or lost and cannot feed themselves because they don’t know where to find the pasture.

This was how Yeshua viewed the condition of the crowds. In a spiritual sense, they had been scattered and left behind by the religious leaders of the day who were more interested in upholding man-made traditions than providing the people the spiritual guidance they needed from the Torah. For the most part, the leaders were corrupt and sought only to serve themselves and their own purposes by trying to appear holier than everyone else, and they held everyone to impossible standards according to their traditions.

The leaders were fulfilling the prophetic picture that Yahweh, through his prophet Jeremiah, had lamented regarding the the status of their disarray:

Jeremiah 50:6 – My people were lost sheep; their shepherds led them astray, guiding them the wrong way in the mountains. They wandered from mountain to hill; they forgot their resting place.

Recognizing this, Yeshua railed against the leaders for their failure to live up to the true purpose of Torah and to properly serve the people the spiritual instruction they needed.

Matthew 23:13, 15 – “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!”

In the balance of the twenty-third chapter of Matthew, Yeshua goes into great detail regarding the specific failings of the ruling elite in Israel. They were essentially holding people to the letter of the law while they themselves circumvented it through loophole justifications. Their hypocrisy and corruption was known to all but rarely, if ever, challenged.

It was within this larger context that Yeshua sought to provide instruction, real instruction from the Torah, to the people. When they heard his words and saw they great works that validated his teaching, they were amazed and excited that a true teacher had arisen within Israel, and they didn’t want to miss any opportunity to hear him.

Matthew 15:29-31 – … Yeshua passed along the Sea of Galilee. He went up on a mountain and sat there, and large crowds came to him, including the lame, the blind, the crippled, those unable to speak, and many others. They put them at his feet, and he healed them. So the crowd was amazed when they saw those unable to speak talking, the crippled restored, the lame walking, and the blind seeing, and they gave glory to the God of Israel.

This was Yeshua’s mission: gathering together the lost sheep of Israel, those who had been wandering due to a lack of direction and guidance from the very Torah or instruction that God had provided them to keep them on the right path. He was to begin instructing his disciples in the same mission:

Matthew 10:6-7 – “… go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.'”

So when Yeshua saw the eagerness of the crowds that met them at the shore of the sea, and how they were anxious to learn and be healed, he couldn’t help but have compassion on them. He intentionally set aside continued time to instruct them in the truth and to provide physical restoration to those who diligently pursued him.

In a moment, we will see how the entire context of this scene actually serves as a metaphor for spiritual guidance and instruction, and how we can be inspired to provide the same level of compassionate guidance to others.

As we continue in the narrative of the sixth chapter of Mark, we find an object lesson is presented to the disciples that we also can be challenged by today.

Mark 6:35-37 – When it grew late, his disciples approached him and said, “This place is deserted, and it is already late. “Send them away so that they can go into the surrounding countryside and villages to buy themselves something to eat.” “You give them something to eat,” he responded…

I am a firm believer that nothing is presented within Scripture that lacks meaning, and certainly not within the carefully constructed narratives of the gospel accounts. We can see in the parallel passage in Matthew 14 that the same unfolding of events takes place: Yeshua and his disciples seek to find rest, crowds meet them when they come ashore; Yeshua continues to teach them, and they are then challenged to provide food for the people.

What follows in both accounts is the miraculous feeding of the five thousand people.

Mark 6:37-44 – … [The disciples] said to him, “Should we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” When they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he instructed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed and broke the loaves. He kept giving them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. Everyone ate and was satisfied. They picked up twelve baskets full of pieces of bread and fish. Now those who had eaten the loaves were five thousand men.

To me, besides being a bona fide miracle that provided the needs of this great crowd, this is more importantly an object lesson, a continuation of the same principle that Yeshua had just demonstrated to the disciples. In their exhaustion from a full day of ministering to the people, they had no energy left. Yet, the people still needed more. They were hungry for guidance, and they needed healing and help. So Yeshua, as exhausted as he was, continued to give. The compassion he demonstrated allowed for a miraculous provision for the people.

The miracle of the bread and fish simply illustrates the same principle: the people were hungry for spiritual truth, and were supplied by a miraculous provision from God. At the end of the day, the people were not merely physically fed; they were spiritually fed, with “food” left over.

This was the lesson Yeshua wanted the disciples to understand: those who rely on the provision of God will never lack to provide to those who are truly in need. God will always meet the needs that are present when believers step out in faith that he can do so. All that is required is the compassion to want to help others, and God will make the rest happen.

So, these lessons also hold true for us today. First, we can learn that instructing others in the way of God is an act of compassion toward those who are willing to hear. Next, we should also understand that the most willing disciples are those who are hungry to learn. And finally, instead of sending people away because of our own lack, we should learn to rely on God to provide what is needed to meet the needs of others. All we have to do is allow the compassion of God to work through us to reach them.

We should always be mindful that instructing others in the way of God should be motivated by compassion for others who are willing to hear. If we are trying to teach only for the sake of prestige, or wealth, or obligation (or worse yet, only to win arguments), it will rob that form of instruction of its power and purpose.

Although Yeshua and his disciples had limited resources, God provided enough food to satisfy everyone with more left over.

This metaphorically reinforced his act of compassion to begin with: instructing them in the way of God. The crowd’s hunger for truth was not only satisfied, but there was so much more left over; and it continues to bear fruit to this day!

In like fashion, we can be sure that when we act compassionately in faith, whatever our response, God will be faithful to fill that need through us. Instruction in the way of God, when it is coming from a heart of true compassion to meet the needs of others, will be blessed with multiplication and fulfillment.

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