Misunderstood Tithing – Let’s Have a Party! Deuteronomy 14

Tithing.  An oft talked about topic.  An extensive topic.  So much so that many preachers won’t talk about it, and even more people don’t want to hear any more about it.  It’s funny that most of the “Old Testament” law is ignored (as either having been done away with or ‘fulfilled’), but tithing receives a huge amount of attention.  So I ask, is tithing being done properly (Biblically)?

Well, yes and no.  God does want us to give.  But give to what and for what purpose?

“…you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.”  (ESV) Deut. 14:23

“And if the way is too long for you [the way to Jerusalem where the tithe was to be given], so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, … , then you shall turn it into money and … go to the place that the LORD your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire – oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves.  And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household.  And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns…”  (ESV) Deut. 14:24-27

“…you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce … And the Levite, …, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.” (ESV) Deut. 14:28-29.

There is more within those verses then just what I quoted, but I want to point out a couple interesting facts about the tithe.

First, part of it was to be used on one’s own little party.  And apologies to the teetotalers out there, but wine and strong drink were allowed!  (Note: I personally don’t drink for personal reasons, but using scripture to claim that one shouldn’t drink isn’t treating scripture correctly.)  Yep, a party before the LORD!

Granted that the ‘party’ was to take place at the “place of God’s choosing,” which became the Temple, but I still find it interesting that one’s own family was to share in the tithe.

Next, note the two reasons for tithing given in these passages: “that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always,” and, “that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”  To fear Him always and to enable blessing.  Two great reasons.

I also find it interesting that the tithe is not only for the Levites (for Christianity, this would probably be understood as pastors, priests, and teachers of ‘religion’), but also for those truly in need of sustenance – the foreigners, widows, orphans, and such!.

There is much more about tithing in scripture.  This post, however, is just to show that there is more to tithing then one learns in Sunday school (presumably).  It also shows a couple very good reasons to tithe.  And lastly, it shows that following God’s commands can be fun – even a party!  A party rejoicing for all that YHVH (the LORD) has given us!  So remember that the next time you are tithing.

Perhaps one of the reasons God asks us to ‘party’ before Him is in memory of one, in my opinion, of the oddest occurrences in scripture.  Moses, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and 70 of the elders went up to Mount Sinai (nearby), and “they beheld God, and ate and drank.” (ESV) Exodus 24:9-11.  They saw God, heard the thundering and saw the lightnings, and what did they then do?  Ate and drank!  To me, that seems an odd response to an astounding event.  So, perhaps, we are to remember that, and the giving of the Law, when partying at the Temple with some of the tithe money.

Shalom!

– Yosef

Priestly Robes

In the book of Exodus, chapters 28 and 29, there is a description of the robes that the priests were to wear, as well as a description of how to consecrate the priests to service to the LORD.  I’ve seen / read many people trying to give significance to this or that aspect of the clothing or of the ceremony.  I’m not going to do that here.  Rather I’m going to ask how one became a priest.

To be a priest in ancient (and modern) Israel, one had to be born to the clan of Aaron.  To be a Levite (think associate priest, though its a bad comparison), one had to be born to the clan of Levy.  By the way, Aaron was of the clan of Levy, so you can say that all Levites are “associate priests”, but only those that can trace their ancestry to Aaron are actual priests.

So, you had to be born into it.  There was no room for any self agrandizement, as what choice did you have?  You are either born into it or not.

There is a good reason for this.  We, as people, love to make ourselves more important then others.  If we have the choice, we would.  And we’d be proud of it.  But God made it clear that pride had no place in the Levites and priests.

In the book of Matthew, chapter 23 verses 5 through 11 (in the Apostolic writings, also known as the “New Testament”) the prophet Jesus made clear what God thinks of such action when we take it upon ourselves.  “…call no man your father…”, he called out.  In light of what God already said, it makes clear what Jesus was meaning.  Don’t set yourself up as a replacement priest.  Both God and Jesus said this to help us avoid the trap of pride.

Yet in many Christian churches and Jewish synagogues what do we see?  People dressed up in robes as if they are the new  priesthood, claiming that they have been chosen.  Is this right?

-YTL