The necessary dedication behind discipline

Our walk of faith is one of tireless self-evaluation and training in righteousness.

Our walk of faith is one of tireless self-evaluation and training in righteousness.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27: “Don’t you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run like that, that you may win. Every man who strives in the games exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. I therefore run like that, not aimlessly. I fight like that, not beating the air, but I beat my body and bring it into submission, lest by any means, after I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.”

This admonition of Paul to the Corinthian believers should be a motto placed on the wall of every congregation to this day. Paul would accept absolutely no compromise when it came to matters of obedience or disobedience to Yahweh. He was so intent on keeping his focus on the righteousness of God and he says he would beat his body into submission if his desires outweighed what was right.

The phrase he uses here means to strike under the eye, as if giving someone a black eye. This conjures up imagery of prizefighting, where fighters train their body is so hard so that they may endure the battle in the arena.

If that’s the level of discipline needed to be successful in worldly games with and earthly reward such as a crown or head-wreath of victory, how much more is at stake in our spiritual lives that we should exercise the same vigilance and determination in keeping ourselves pure?

Yeshua put it this way to his disciples:

Matthew 5:29-30: “If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna. If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off, and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna.”

The issue was not the physical chopping off of hands or gouging out of eyes, but having the same level of diligence in making sure our bodies are disciplined according to God’s word. This is the seriousness with which Yeshua commands his followers to be consistent in their walk of righteousness.

Paul carries this idea forward with the concept of putting our flesh to death. There is nothing more final than the concept of death. If the flesh is dead, it can’t continue to rise up in rebellion to the commands of God.

  • Colossians 3:5-6: “Put to death therefore your members which are on the earth: sexual immorality, uncleanness, depraved passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; for which things’ sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience.”
  • Romans 8:13: “For if you live after the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

It’s true, we must die to ourselves in order to live for Messiah. If we are not willing to make that level of commitment in our walk, then perhaps we need to rethink our understanding of just what it is Yeshua taught.

Matthew 10:38-39: “He who doesn’t take his cross and follow after me, isn’t worthy of me. He who seeks his life will lose it; and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. “


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

Maintaining integrity with God’s help

Psalm 141:4 – Incline not my heart to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity; and let me not eat of their delicacies!

Throughout this psalm, the Psalmist pleads with Yahweh to assist him in maintaining the right course of action in his heart and in what he says at all times. He does not want to be swept away by the actions of the wicked and counted among them; in fact, he prays that their own wickedness would find them out!

Psalm 141:8-9 – But my eyes are toward thee, O Yahweh God; in thee I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless! Keep me from the trap which they have laid for me, and from the snares of evildoers!

He pleads that he would not be defenseless against the lure of wickedness, or by any of the traps they may have set in his way. This hunger and passionate desire for integrity should be the heart cry of every believer.

The good news for believers today is that we do have a “defense system” against wickedness when we choose to abide in the Word of God: the holy Spirit of God himself.

1 John 2:26-27 – I write this to you about those who would deceive you; but the anointing which you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that any one should teach you; as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie, just as it has taught you, abide in him.

1 John 3:24 – All who keep his commandments abide in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he has given us.

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If you enjoy these daily articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.
Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.
Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com

The undeniable distinction of God’s people

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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 coreofthebible@gmail.com

Contrasts leading to forgiveness

The Biblical injunctions to avoid foolish and impetuous talk remain consistent over the centuries.

The Biblical injunctions to avoid foolish and impetuous talk remain consistent over the centuries.

Matthew 5:22 – “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be answerable to the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be answerable to the Council; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be liable to Gehenna fire.”

This saying of Yeshua appears extreme for such a seemingly petty offense. Anger and name-calling can have you dragged into court and ultimately into the judgment of God. What is even stranger is that it is pronounced in the larger context of murder, a crime which seems much more severe. Why the contrast? And is this a new teaching?

Well, to the first point, Yeshua almost always states things in contrast, as this provides the greatest clarity of the topic at hand. When two contrasts are presented, the truth then becomes self-evident.

Matthew 5:13 – “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by people.”

The salt is understood to be of no value if it loses the very thing that makes it unique among all other minerals or spices. This is a perfect analogy revealing the purpose of the believer is to not compromise their uniqueness as a child of God in a world of corruption.

Matthew 5:14-15 – “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

The absurdity of lighting a lamp only to cover it with a basket illustrates the same principle: a believer is meant to shine, not to be outwardly like everyone else; we must shine with the light God gives us.

And the teaching of Yeshua about calling someone a fool and being in danger of Gehenna fire was not a new teaching, either. For example, the psalmist warned of the dangers of anger and wrath, how it can only lead to further evildoing, and how evildoers would ultimately receive judgment of God.

Psalm 37:7-9: “Rest in Yahweh, and wait patiently for him. Don’t fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who makes wicked plots happen. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath. Don’t fret, it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for Yahweh shall inherit the land.”

A similar thought is conveyed in the Proverbs, as well.

Proverbs 18:6-7 – “A fool’s lips bring strife, And his mouth invites beatings. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, And his lips are the snare of his soul.”

In contrast to these judgments of ruin or snared souls, Yeshua encourages love and forgiveness. If we have called someone “empty-headed” or a fool, we are already headed on a path that can lead us down a path of potential escalation, ultimately resulting in a greater judgment. But if we forgive, we cut that path off and open the door to the avoidance of further strife and reconciliation.

  • Matthew 5:44 – “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”
  • Ephesians 4:26-27 – “‘Be angry, and yet do not sin’; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.”
  • Ephesians 4:31-32 – “All bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving each other, just as God in Messiah also has forgiven you.”
  • Titus 3:2 – “…to slander no one, not to be contentious, to be gentle, showing every consideration for all people.”

Kindness and forgiveness are much more in line with the attitude that God expects of his children. Being understanding and showing consideration, even amidst disagreement, goes a long way toward representing God in a positive light to those who may not know him. A little salt and a little light provide opportunities for healing and understanding.


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

God’s faithfulness should inspire faith toward him within us

God has provided abundant evidence that he is faithful to his people.

God has provided abundant evidence that he is faithful to his people.

For the ancient Israelites in Yeshua’s day, trust in Yahweh was based on tangible traditions that were built into the fabric of their culture and society. As they participated in the annual feasts of the biblical calendar, they were reminded of all that God had done for them and how he was always willing to forgive and protect them.

For example, at Passover and Unleavened Bread, they would rehearse all of the wonderful things Yahweh did for them in setting them free from their former bondage to Egypt. At Shavuot, this early summer harvest festival became associated with the giving of the Torah at Sinai, and how God himself had pronounced the Ten Commandments from that fiery summit.

As autumn approached, the beginning of the festival season was announced with the blowing of the shofar or rams horn on Yom Teruah, or Day of Trumpets. As this led up to Yom Kippur or the the Day of Atonement, the first week and a half was a call to repentance and renewal that would be provided through the scapegoat ceremony at the temple on Yom Kippur. Afterwards, preparations were made for building shelters for the week-long festival of Sukkot or Tabernacles, representing the journey in the wilderness after leaving Egypt.

And finally, as the week of Sukkot came to its conclusion the seven-day festival was extended by one day celebrating Eighth Day which came to be known as Shemini Atzeret, or the Eighth Day of the Assembly. On this day, thanks were provided for the abundance of that fall harvest that had just been celebrated, along with a prayers for abundant rains and provision into the next year. This would also be the final day of the water ceremony, referencing abundant provision and the holy Spirit.

With all of this reference to the history of their people and the constant provision of God, not only for their physical needs, but for the provision of forgiveness of their wrongdoing, it is amazing to me that it had not just been normal for every Israelite to trust in Yahweh and in his provision for the faithful.

Yet we find Yeshua having to spell out the provision of God, and how they had no need to be anxious for any of their needs; God already knew what their needs were.

Matthew 6:25-26, 28, 30, 34 – “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? … And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. … If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you–you of little faith? … Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Using examples from God’s own Creation, Yeshua mentions God’s provision of food to all birds, and the beauty of flowers, even though they are transient in nature. If God could manage his Creation, how was it that they could not trust in him to manage their needs, as well?

The beauty of Yeshua’s instruction is that he takes the aspects of the mighty national God down to the level of the individual. If God was continually represented in the annual festivals which called to mind all of his oversight and protection for them as a nation, how could they not allow for his provision of their personal needs, as well?

In our modern expression of our faith, we may not observe all of the festivals of the Torah, although I believe there is much benefit in doing so, even if they are to be considered only object lessons to what I have represented here. However, as we review these aspects of God’s word and the outworking of his provision throughout the history of Israel, we are faced with a similar challenge: can we not trust him to meet our individual needs, since he has clearly demonstrated himself as abundantly faithful with his own people throughout all of history?


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

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

The Kingdom of humility

God has designed his Creation to operate in unison with his will.

God has designed his Creation to operate in unison with his will.

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

Yeshua taught the necessity of humility in the establishment of the Kingdom of God. In fact, his first recorded message to the people was one of repentance and humility before God.

  • Matthew 4:17 – “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
  • Mark 1:15 – “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

However, this was not a new message to the people of God. They had been urged all along through the Prophets and the Writings of the Tanakh to ensure that their hearts were never lifted up.

  • Psalm 34:18 – Yahweh is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.
  • Psalm 51:16-17 – You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; you are not pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.
  • 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.

This makes sense, since the establishment of the Kingdom of God on the earth has always been the purpose of God since the beginning of all things. The consistency of the message is staggering considering all that took place throughout the history of the people of Israel, and the many times they rejected this simple principle.

  • Deuteronomy 8:14 – “be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget Yahweh your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.”
  • 2 Chronicles 32:25 – However, because his heart was proud, Hezekiah didn’t respond according to the benefit that had come to him. So there was wrath on him, Judah, and Jerusalem.
  • Psalm 94:2 – “Rise up, Judge of the earth; repay the proud what they deserve.”

The Kingdom is not and will not be made up of those who are self-assured in their own purposes; this is the anti-Kingdom mentality. This is the worldview that seeks to leverage everything and everyone around them to their own advantage and design. Even (especially) among God’s own people, this frame of mind produces not the blessing of God, but the judgment of God. We must remember that we are made in his image; we are not him.

Yet, through all of this, the thread of humility before God is one that remains foundational to the establishment of the Kingdom. God still calls people to lay their own plans down before him and to pick up the cross of his purpose and will in the face of adversity and sometimes even ridicule. This is how the Kingdom grows: through each individual choosing to accomplish God’s will, not their own, with the gifts and resources he has provided each one of them.

James 4:10 – “Humble yourselves before Yahweh, and he will exalt you.”


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

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 coreofthebible@gmail.com

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 coreofthebible@gmail.com