What were the tithes for that the people of Israel were commanded to offer?

July 14, 2012

Kazik Kowalski asks the following questions about tithing – questions that you are unlikely to get answers to in many churches – as the conclusion would undermine their cherished theology. And we don’t want to allow the bible to get in the way of our theology, do we?

(1) Why were tithes instigated?
(2) Who had the right to accept the tithes, and under which conditions?
(3) Who had the duty to pay the tithes, and under which conditions?
(4) For what were tithes used?
(5) What effect, if any, does  tithing have on those covered by the New Covenant? Where in the NT does it explain how they should apply the practice of tithing, given that none of the answers to q1-4 can be directly applied to them.
(6) How do standard tithe teachings measure against the Word Standard?

I have not answered each of these directly in this post, but I believe that I answer them through the course of this teaching.

It is not my understanding that tithes were for the temple. They were

1. For the Levites, since they had no land, no income and no inheritance. Num 18:21-22 “To the Levites I have given every tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service that they do, their service in the tent of meeting

2. For a (possibly drunken) annual celebration where God explicitly gave permission to use the tithe to buy wine and strong drink. Dt 14:22-27.
3. Once every 3 years a tenth of that years produce to feed Levites plus the poor. Dt 14:28-29

So the modern teaching that the tithe should be given to the local church to support all the expense and work of the church has NO linkage to the purpose of the Jewish tithe system.

HOWEVER, there is an interesting warning from Samuel about what will happen if you choose to have a King (Appointed leadership in charge – even if appointed by God). That King will take the tenth of your grain and vineyards and of your flocks. So he will demand a tithe from your capital as well as income. And it will be used to fund his infrastructure and all the staff he appointed to run his Kingdom.
1 Sam 8:10-18

This does sound a little like how church leadership teaches its members today?

As an afterthought, the temple did not exist when tithes were begun. So by definition they could not be given to the temple. It only happened in Solomons day – and it was funded out of offerings not tithes.

On our main purpose

May 21, 2012

When anyone says that they are making X to do Y, then Y is the primary purpose of X. It may well be that X can be used for other things. It may also be that in time, Y is no longer the main use and Z takes over as primary purpose.

So, in this case X is mankind and Y is to rule over the earth. We can come back to whether there is a Z.

Gen 1:28 is where God gives man his first briefing. Any competent manager [yes I know God is more than a manager, but he is our Boss] will ensure that in the initial brief the main points are covered.

Here the instructions are:

1. Go forth and multiply, which as you say is necessary to the scale of the task. Humans have done this rather well. Christians in most parts of the world are rather poor though.

2. Replenish the earth and subdue it.

3. have dominion over all living things and the earth itself.

This is God’s explanation to man of his purpose. Y.

One of the things creeping on the earth was the serpent, the devil, so the rule / have dominion over the devil and, by implication, his works, is built into the primary purpose as stated by God.

Note that nowhere here does God mention worship. Which does not render worship as unnecessary, but does clearly not include it in Y.

Why did / does the earth need to be replenished and subdued? It was made good, and by the time man was made it was very good.

You only replenish things that have been depleted or used up and subdue things that are in rebellion or out of control.

So what is the outworking of point 2?

Farming would be one – watering the land where rain is lacking. But why is there lack of rain? Because of sin coming into the world and the devils actions.

But one of Jesus’ big priorities in his mission was healing (Luke 10:38 plus all the stories of healings). Much sickness is due to the body wearing out – disk problems, heart conditions, loss of eyesight/hearing. So replenishing those things on the earth means healing those sick.

What is in rebellion or out of control? Much. Why is it so? The overall teaching of the bible seems to say that the devil is behind most trouble on this earth, or people infested with his demons. John 10:10 and the demon possessed man in Luke 8:30 would be two examples to show this.

Therefore i conclude that attacking the devil and his works is at the heart of the initial command in Gen 1:26. I say that it is consistent with Luke 4:18-19 – the reason Jesus gives for the Spirit being on him. Who are the oppressed and captives and what oppresses and en-captures them? I suggest that this is clearly talking about sicknesses that oppress and trap people, plus devils that need casting out.

So this Luke 4:18-19 is totally consistent with Peter’s description of the life of Jesus in Acts 10:38.

Also it is consistent with the instructions Jesus gave to the 12 and 72. Go,heal the sick, raise the dead cleanse lepers cast out devils and preach good news to the poor. Freely you have received freely give.

Jesus did not say that he was given the Spirit to facilitate worship.

One of the last things Jesus spoke was John 20:21-22 As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

So we are sent exactly the same way as Jesus was sent. And given the same Spirit for the same purpose. Not for worship but for doing good to those who need God’s love and help.

I suggest that you cold summarise Luke 4:18-19, Mat 10:8 Luke 10:38 as replenishing people whose lives are depleted due to the devil’s work and subduing his attacks on people.

Thus these verses are totally consistent as outworkings of Gen 1:26,28 and the main purpose of Jesus’ three years was to do these things. Clearly, the ultimate main purpose of Jesus’ life was the cross – to defeat the devil, enable salvation by his death and healing of sickness at the whipping post (Is 53:6). And his main purpose, based on the information in the gospels, seems to have been to outwork this and preach the gospel of the kingdom.

If we are to be like him and sent like him, how can we be different.

Has our main purpose been changed to Z – Z being to worship God?

First, I know of no scripture to say it has.
Second, the rhetoric above, which I trust is much less weak that the original précis, demonstrates clearly that doing the works of the Kingdom and overcoming the devil was Jesus’ No 1 priority, and thus remains ours.

On a final note, if someone has totally fulfilled their primary purpose, but failed to address their secondary tasks, that is always excusable.

‘I am sorry I did not do thus and thus, but i was concentrating on my main job’.

So as long as we spend most of our waking life in worship and enjoying God’s presence, doing all the other things is relatively unimportant and living as a hermit would be a viable option.

Is tithing still for Christians.

May 4, 2012

We need to establish some ground rules before discussing this.

1. The Old Testament is written to Jews and is the Jewish scripture. It may still apply to Christians, but we have to ask whether the teaching of Jesus or Paul changed and whether the cross changed it.

2. If the bible teaches something, we have to take it precisely as taught. We cannot modify it to suit our tradition without scripture clearly changing it.

For example consider the Sabbath. That is defined as Friday evening to Saturday evening. If one wishes to observe the Sabbath, that is when it must be done. So when christians observe ‘their Sabbath’ on a Sunday, that cannot be legitimate without a scripture changing the day of Sabbath – and there is none.

So, if we are to teach tithing, it either needs to be that which was given to the Jews and done exactly as the Jews did it, or we need New Testament scripture to support a change.

What is the Old Testament rules on tithing?

1. 10% of your growth is given to support the Levites who have no inheritance, no property and no other source of income. The full time priests.

2. A second 10% is put aside throughout the year for a feast. Dt 14:22-28. This money is to be used to purchase whatever your heart ‘lusteth for’ KJV – including wire or strong drink. So God endorses and approves the drinking of strong alcohol in a religious feast to celebrate himself. Bit of a problem for the teetotal ‘christian’.

3. The tithe belongs to the Lord, all the balance belongs to the one who tithes.

So how do these stack up against New Testament teaching?

1. There is no mandate anywhere to give this tithe to anyone but the Jewish Levites. Nowhere does the NT say that this is to be transferred to a local church. Actually, in the NC we are all priests, so if anything, we could be the recipients of our own tithes.

BUT there is no basis to tithe to the Synagogue (church). Synagogue was always funded out of offerings.

Thus tithing to your local church has no NT mandate and is not obeying the Old Covenant.

2. For some reason this tithe is never taught by the church!

3. In the New Covenant we are bought with a price 1 Cor 6:20. None of who we are or what we have is ours any more. 100% already belongs to God. We have died with Christ in baptism Rom 6:4 and dead people don’t own anything. How can we give to God that which is already his, unless we take back ownership of the balance, thus denying the New Covenant.

Acts 2:44-46 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

This early believers attitude to their possessions goes far beyond mere tithing.

So there is no basis for christians to adopt and modify the Jewish practice of tithing, unless we can find some teaching in the NT.

In Acts 15 Paul has taken his gospel of grace to the leaders of the church. His message is that gentiles are required to have faith in Jesus, not to obey the law of Moses or and Jewish laws. They Council of Jerusalem makes the following declaration.

Acts 15:23-29
the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, 25 it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26  men who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29  that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

What is totally clear from this is that they did NOT decide to include tithing and something to impose on the gentiles. When Paul reports on this incident in Gal 2:10 he reports that ‘they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do’. Note that remembering the poor is NOT part of the tithe as commonly taught in christian churches.

But it is clear from these two scriptures that tithing to a church in NOT for gentiles. Giving to the poor is.

In other places Paul asks people to make gifts and says each should decide what to give, without compulsion and give willingly and cheerfully.

In all the the NT from Acts to Revelation you cannot find a single reference to tithing or given 10% of anything.

From all this it is clear that christians do not tithe and the church tradition is just that – an unbiblical tradition.

 

Some will say that whilst tithing was never imposed on believers, 10% is a minimum standard. However, there is not a single scripture that says this, so it has the status of unbiblical tradition.

Jesus did endorse tithing at least once in his ministry, but that was speaking to Jews who tithed and Jesus said then that the law remained in place ‘until all is accomplished’. We now know that he was referring by that to the cross when he said ‘it is finished’. So tithing was still in place for JEWS during the life of Jesus. But we’re not Jews and Jesus has died and risen..

Abraham tithed before the law. Yes, once and once only. You cannot use something done once to support a teaching to do the same thing throughout your life and again, you need scripture to prove that Abraham was our example. There is none.

Of course, if someone wants to be part of an institutional church with leaders and expenses, then like any other club, it’s fair for them to pay membership fees. It is morally wrong to take all the benefits of a church and not expect to pay your share. But that is not tithing and those institutions never existed in the early church.

 

 

 

 

On fasting – another blast at a sacred cow.

January 24, 2012

Where in the NT does it say that fasting is to boost your prayer life or actually that fasting is for anything.

All of this is a massive sacred cow that is yet to be properly destroyed.

In Mat 9.15 Jesus says that you cannot fast without mourning and you cannot mourn when he is with you. He will never leave us. Do the maths.

If you have an addiction to something, it may be necessary to abstain from it to break the addiction. For example chocolate or gluttony. If you wish to abstain from food to break a habit of over-eating, then that’s fine because Paul says that we do don’t allow anything to be our master.

But check Col 2:16-23. It demolishes fasting.

Col 2:21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”

and the kicker:

Col 2:23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

Note rules like fasting have an APPEARANCE of WISDOM.

But

They HAVE NO VALUE TO STOPPING….THE FLESH.

So teaching that we fast to overcome our flesh is against the NT! AND – there is not a single NT scripture that says it is.

In the Sermon on the mount – addressed to unbelievers – Jesus says what they should do when they fast – at a time when his disciples were not allowed to fast.

Twice in Acts it is recorded that fasting is done – but that’s a narrative, not a teaching. Maybe they got it wrong by fasting – other mistakes were made by them and the bible is never shy of recording mistakes.

CONCLUSION – If you can find me a single scripture that instructs a New Creation son of God to fast and explains how and why, I will start to think about it. If stop I hope we stop trying to give life to this dead tradition of men by inventing reasons to fast that are not in the bible.

On Fasting – or not fasting

January 16, 2012

Mark 2:19-20 As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.

Note CANNOT. That is an absolute word. The only get out clause allowing you to fast is if the bridegroom is not with you. But Mat 28:20 does not allow that option.

So why do teachers seem determined to find excuses to keep teaching us to fast? It is beyond me. There is not a single verse in the NT teaching anything about wither how or why to fast.

Matt 9:15 Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?

Here Jesus gives an absolute link between fasting and mourning.

It could be you’re fasting as a consequence of mourning and therefore don’t need to fast, because you will not mourn.

Or it could be that you cannot fast without mourning accompanying it.

If you want to reject Jesus teaching here – where else in the NT do you base your teachings?

“We fast to kill our carnal body” they teach – but never with any scripture to back it up!

Get your theology from the bible people. Please.

Does God share His glory with us?

November 14, 2011

God has said, “I will not give My glory to another.” This scripture is taken by many and twisted out of its context to make many other scriptures a lie.

I recently saw the following quote which prompted my writing of this blog:

“Now get this clear: the vessel never becomes the liquid, nor the liquid the vessel. I add this because we humans are so proud that there creeps into us the idea that we can be deified. That is blasphemy. There is no such thing as self-deification, except that of Satan, the pseudo-God, and what we share with him. The divine can dwell in the human, but forever the human is the human and the divine the divine. God has said, “I will not give My glory to another.” That is the vital importance of the vessel illustration: we are forever the container; He is that which we contain. That relationship never changes.+ Norman Grubb – The Key to Everything

Moses’ face shone so bright with the glory of God that he had to wear a veil [Ex 34:29-34]. God seems to be happy to share his glory with Moses. Then we have John 17:22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them. Jesus (God) giving His glory to us.

What is the verse quoted above? Is 48:11. But what is the context? From verse 1 God is talking about the things he did. Then he says in verse 5 I declared them to you from of old,
before they came to pass I announced them to you,
lest you should say, ‘My idol did them,
my carved image and my metal image commanded them.’

So here the contrast is between saying God did it or my idol did it.

Clearly the idol is the ‘another’ God will not give his glory to.

Then we have Is 42:8
I am the Lord; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to carved idols.

Again clearly talking about giving his glory to idols.

Now consider Is 60:2
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.

God’s glory will be seen upon us – maybe it’s just lent to us and not given?

Another scripture to consider is Rom 8:16-17 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be GLORIFIED with him.

Now let’s consider if we remain mere human. John 1:12 those who believe are given the right to become sons of God, NOT born of flesh but of Spirit. 2 Cor 5:17 we are a new species that had never existed before – so by definition not human since that is a species that HAS existed.

And not mere container separate from the content – 1 Cor 6:17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.

So we are in Christ – 2 Cor 5:17 again calls us IN Christ – so He is the container and we are the contained, yet Col 1:27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

So He is in us, we’re in Him and we’ve so joined with him that the two can never be separated.

And yet again, we have Christ in US our hope of glory – clearly the glory of God being given to us – unless we claim that the Christ in us has first been stripped of His glory!!!

 

2 Cor 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Here Paul is remembering Moses’ face shining with the glory of God. It comes from the Lord, so God is doing this – transforming us into the image of the glory of God in an increasing way.

I am NOT forever a container – I am forever a son of God.

Can there be ‘more’ of God present when Christians meet?

September 9, 2011

There is more of God present when lots of believers are gathered in a place. YES I do mean YES. It is New Covenant truth!

John 7:38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” And this he spoke of the Holy Spirit – who is God.

Where rivers flow, there is water. The more rivers flowing together, the more water there is in the place where they are flowing.

So, the more believers there are in a room or place, the more rivers are flowing and therefore, by definition, the more water is around.

We must not throw out truth just because there is a deception that appears similar.

Was Paul’s grace message a licence to sin?

September 8, 2011

Some think that Paul’s message resulted, or could result, in a licence to sin.

When Paul came across any who treated grace as a licence to sin, there was never any confusion. Paul laid into that error every bit as had as he laid into law keeping.

He said law keepers were severed from Christ and those who were in sexual sin and carried the name brother should be ostracised.

I don’t hear enough teaching from grace-camp people on Gal 5:19-21 or

1 Cor 5:1-2 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

[When did a grace teacher talk about immorality like Paul does?]

Or then there’s

1 Cor 4:21 What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?

A grace teacher threatening to bring a rod to beat them when he comes to preach? Without gentleness? That would be novel and it would be Paul.

1 Cor 5:11-13
But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

So we should judge those inside the church whose lifestyles are immoral.

We need to teach the whole of Paul’s grace message, not just the nice bits.

Zechariah was made dumb in Luke 1.

August 12, 2011

I was asked by someone, how can it always be God’s will to heal since he made Zechariah dumb in Luke 1. This was my answer.

 

God punished disobedience and sin prior to the cross. A better example for them to use would be Sodom and Gomorrah. Or Elijah killing the 50 soldiers coming to arrest him.

Clearly Luke 1 was before Jesus was even born.

Another better one would be Saul going blind for three days. Jesus appeared to Saul in a blinding light. Saul discovered that though he though he could see, really he was blind.  God needed to shut Saul up so he could get his attention and speak to him.

Now, if you want to use Saul as an example for yourself, you need to be persecuting the church, killing christians, and have a calling to pioneer the gospel of grace like Paul.

At the end of the day, God is God. Will we question him? The life of Jesus makes God’s normal dealings with men clear. If you think you are an exception, you’d better have good reason to think that God is treating you outside of the norm.

God is God. We cannot put Him in a box or make Him subject to our rules or theology.

I suggest you get your friend to read the life of Jesus and find a single instance of Jesus putting sickness or injury on someone.

Can we have ‘great faith’

July 25, 2011

Mat 8:5-13 and Mat 15:21-28

I’ve heard it taught that the faith was ‘great’ because they were not people of the Covenant.That we just have faith and whatever faith we have is enough. That there’s no such thing as ‘great’ faith for a Christian.

 

But – does this teaching stack up with the scripture that it comes from?

Mat 8:10 says:

Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.

Now, if the kind of faith Jesus refers to hear is predicated upon not being part of the people of Israel, then by definition none in Israel COULD have it. So, why does Jesus make this apparently meaningless comment – unless it is possible also for a member of the covenant to have great faith?

So, I suggest that this teaching is rather poorly thought through. Please think again people.