We have included this supporting article entitled ”Did Jesus change the law?” written by a guest contributor, as it is complimentary to our main theme.
Clear biblical passages such as Matthew 5: 17-18 “Think not that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” RSV, tend to clutter up some people’s beliefs on weather Jesus abolished the Law or not. This article shows, doing away with God’s Law was not part of Jesus’ mission on this earth, but His teachings show the opposite.
We have included this supporting article entitled ”Just which law has been done away?” written by a guest contributor, as it is complimentary to our main theme.
This article explains the issue that causes many to believe that the Law was done away with. A careful study of Galatians 3:19 and the history of the added Law dating back to when it was added and why, will show it’s purpose and why under the New Covenant it was abolished.
We have included this supporting article entitled ” Paul’s problem with the churches in Galatia” written by a guest contributor, as it is complimentary to our main theme.
The churches in Galatia could not understand how the New Covenant was not the Old Covenant just with Jesus added. They could not believe that the religion they grew up with had passed away and there was a new and freer religion in force, excluding the sacrifices and rituals of the Old Covenant.
See our charts which show a comparison of the Old and New Covenants here .
We have included this article, and the article ‘When was the Exodus?’, from a guest contributor, for extra information as they reveal the time the Israelites left Egypt as recorded in the BIBLE. This is important as doctrines are formed on the information presented.
An understanding of the meaning of ‘Boqer’ will change some perceptions we have of the time and day the Israelites left ie night of the 14th, not the night of the 15th, and also the ‘night of watching by the Lord’ in Exod 12:42 which many celebrate as the ‘Night to be Much Observed’. The night of the 15th is the first Holy night of the Days of Unleavened Bread and should be a special occasion but the night before, the 14th was the one the Lord told the Israelites to be kept. They had their bowls strapped to their backs, sandals on and their staff in hand, ready to leave at a moments notice after the death angel struck at midnight. They left at night (Deut 16:1). ‘Boqer’ has a ‘dark time’ period as described, and a morning component too.
BY GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
Did the Israelites leave Egypt on the fourteenth or the fifteenth?
The Bible tells us they were to eat the Passover on the night of the fourteenth and were to remain indoors till morning (“BOQER” in Hebrew.) But we are also told they went out “by night”. Which suggests they left on the fifteenth. That conclusion is based on “BOQER” meaning only the period after dawn, when it is light. But as we shall see, “BOQER” cannot be that easily defined, and there is no reason not to conclude they went out on the fourteenth.
The following examples show BOQER being used in ways that throw doubt on whether it always meant a period of light, following the dawn.
Gen 44:3 “As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away they and their asses". [if BOQER always meant a time of light after dawn, the phrase used here, “as soon as the morning was light” would not be necessary]
Exodus 14:24 “And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud and troubled the host of the Egyptians”. [ The pillar of fire was present only at night time, so the morning watch [BOQER watch] must have included a period of darkness.]
Judges 9:33 “And it shall be, as soon as the sun is up in the morning, that you shall rise early and rush upon the city. [BOQER (morning) is qualified by “as soon as the sun is up”. But if BOQER meant only the dawn, the qualification would not be necessary.
Judges 16:2 “When the Gazites were told “Samson has come here!” they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city. They were quiet all night, saying, “in the morning, when it is light, we will kill him.” [Same comment, BOQER must not be self-explanatory in the Hebrew, since it was necessary to add “when it is daylight” to give the exact meaning.]
Judges 19 :25-27 “But the men would not heed him. So, the man took his concubine and brought her out to them. And they knew her and abused her all night until morning; and when the day begin to break, they let her go.” Then the woman came as the day was dawning and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her master was, till it was light.” When her master arose in the morning and opened the doors of the house and went out to go his way, there was his concubine, fallen at the door of the house with her hands on the threshold.”
There are several steps in this story.
- They abused her till BOQER.
- When the day began to break, they let her go. This daybreak seems to be the first glimmer of light. It is translated sometimes as dayspring; and is also translated as dawn; but it is not the sunrise.
- Then the woman came when the day was dawning. The phrase in Hebrew is literally “at the turning of the morning” (BOQER)” Which possibly means sunrise, since that is a turning point.
- The woman fell at the door TILL it was light. “Light” in this sentence means bright, and thus indicates the sun was up by then. The master arose in the morning [BOQER]and found his concubine on his doorstep. So BOQER is used thrice in these verses to mean different times. The first seems to be a time before the first glimmer of light, the second seems to be sunrise, and the third seems to be daylight.
Ruth 3:14 “So she lay at his feet until morning, and she arose before one could recognize another. Then he said, “Do not let it be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” [BOQER in this verse seems to indicate at least semi darkness.]
1 Sam 14 :36 “Now Saul said, “” Let us go down after the Philistines by night and plunder them until morning light;” [ it is necessary to qualify BOQER in this verse with “light”. But if BOQER was always associated with light anyway, it would be redundant to in include the word “light”]
1 Sam 25:22 “May God do so and more also, to the enemies of David, if I leave one male of all who belong to him by morning light.” [Same comment]
1 Sam 25:10 “Now therefore, rise early in the morning with your master’s servants who have come with you. And as soon as you are up early in the morning and have light, depart. [There are two things to note in this verse. 1: BOQER is qualified by “early”, so BOQER must be an extended period of time; if it was a single point of time, such as “sunrise”, early wouldn’t be necessary. 2: They were up early in BOQER, but they still had to wait for the light before they departed. So BOQER can include a time before there was sufficient light to travel.
1 Kings 3 :21 “And when I rose in the morning to nurse my son, there he was, dead. But when I had examined him in the morning, indeed, he was not my son whom I had borne. [When the woman arose in the BOQER to feed her son it must have been dark because she didn’t know the child was not hers. When later in the BOQER she examined him, she saw the child was not hers. So BOQER can include a period of darkness.]
Micah 2:1 “Woe to those who devise iniquity and work out evil on their beds! At morning light, they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand. [Once again, BOQER is qualified by “light”, so BOQER must be able to mean a time when there is not light. Otherwise it wouldn’t be necessary to include the word “light”]
From the above examples we can conclude, at the very least, that BOQER is not confined to the narrow meaning which some give it. Probably, BOQER meant much the same to the Hebrews as our “morning” means to us. That is, an indefinite time following our sleep, up to the middle of the day. The Greek language seems to have the same, loose, meaning because we read of Jesus in Mark 1:35
“Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”
The important point to grasp is that the meaning of BOQER cannot be easily pinned down. Consequently, no doctrines can be hung upon it. A fundamental rule of Bible study is to use the clear Scriptures to throw light on the unclear; not attempt to use the unclear Scriptures to undermine the clear.
We have included this article, and the article ‘Defining ‘Boqer’ (Morning)’, from a guest contributor, for extra information as they reveal the time the Israelites left Egypt as recorded in the BIBLE. This is important as doctrines are formed on the information presented.
An understanding of the meaning of ‘Boqer’ will change some perceptions we have of the time and day the Israelites left i.e. night of the 14th, not the night of the 15th, and also the ‘night of watching by the Lord’ in Exod 12:42 which many celebrate as the ‘Night to be Much Observed’. The night of the 15th is the first Holy night of the Days of Unleavened Bread and should be a special occasion but the night before, the 14th was the one the Lord told the Israelites to be kept. They had their bowls strapped to their backs, sandals on and their staff in hand, ready to leave at a moments notice after the death angel struck at midnight. They left at night (Deut 16:1). ‘Boqer’ has a ‘dark time’ period as described, and a morning component too.
BY GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
When was the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt?
Most say it was on the fifteenth of Nisan, but was it?
The Bible does reveal when it occurred, as we shall see, but first we need to remember something that is easily overlooked. And that is, the time it took to complete the Exodus.
There were probably about three million people who left Egypt in the Exodus, together with about a million animals. We arrive at those figures from Exod 12:37-38 “Then the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children. A mixed multitude went up with them also, and flocks and herds—a great deal of livestock.”
If each man had a wife, and each family had two children, add to them the ‘many other people’, and we easily get three million. Plus, their large herds and flocks. Moving a crowd that size would be a logistical nightmare, and obviously would take some considerable time.
This is an important point, because if the Exodus took some considerable time, (and the Bible indicates that it took about sixteen or seventeen hours), then there are two possible times to refer to it. We could refer to its beginning, or when it was completed. If we keep that in mind, we can understand scriptures that seem to contradict each other.
Now we can begin to put information together to find when the Exodus occurred: -
The starting point is the start of the Passover. We know this occurred on the evening of the fourteenth of Nisan, that is, the evening immediately following the end of the thirteenth.
On this night the Israelites were to eat a meal of roast lamb or kid goat, the blood of which was to be painted on the doorposts of their houses. At midnight, when the death angel went through the land, the houses with blood on them would be spared from having their firstborn slain. Exod 12:13 “Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt”
They were to stay in their houses till morning. Exod 12:22 “… And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning..”
They were to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Exod 12:11 “And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover.”
Now read the events of that night, which culminated in Pharaoh ordering them to get out of Egypt immediately: Exod 12:29-34 “ And it came to pass at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock. So Pharaoh rose in the night, he, all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead. Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, “Rise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the Lord as you have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone; and bless me also.”
And the Egyptians urged the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste. For they said, “We shall all be dead.” So the people took their dough before it was leavened, having their kneading bowls bound up in their clothes on their shoulders.”
The Egyptians’ urgency to get the Israelites out is very evident.
So, the Israelites began to leave. And when was this? As we have seen, sometime after midnight. It had to be before dawn, because Deuteronomy 16:1 tell us that God brought them out of Egypt ‘by night’.
But some find difficulty here. There are two points that must be clarified. The first is that the Israelites were not supposed to go out of their houses till morning. The second is that some say the Israelites had to have time to ‘plunder’ the Egyptians before they could leave.
Can morning include a period of darkness?
Some say that the word ‘morning’ always means dawn or after. But that is not correct. There are scriptures that clearly show the same Hebrew word being used to include the dark part of the morning. It probably can include the period following midnight, much the same as the English word ‘morning’. Notice these scriptures:
- Exod 14:24 “Now it came to pass, in the morning watch, that the Lord looked down upon the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud, and He troubled the army of the Egyptians,”
We learn from Exodus 13:1 and several other scriptures, that the ‘pillar of fire’ was only there at night. So, the ‘morning watch’ had to include a period of darkness.
- 1 Kings 3:21 “And when I rose in the morning to nurse my son, there he was, dead. But when I had examined him in the morning, indeed, he was not my son whom I had borne.”
The first mention of morning in this verse obviously must have been a time of darkness, because the mother didn’t know that it wasn’t her baby. A different translation has it “the next morning, I got to nurse my son – and he was dead! But when I looked at him closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t the son I had borne.” NIV
So, we see that ‘morning’ can indeed include a period of darkness. There is a reference in the New Testament also. Although the language is different, it shows the Jewish usage of ‘morning’ –
- Mark 1:35 “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”
When did the Israelites plunder the Egyptians?
Some say that this occurred on the day following the Passover, so therefore the Israelites couldn’t have left just after midnight. But the Bible is very clear that the plundering had taken place well before this time. It took place just after the plague of darkness, and probably about two weeks before the Passover. Read Exodus chapters one to twelve to see the progression and timing of the events, and notice these points:
- The plundering took place before God told Moses that there would be one more plague.
- It took place before God told Moses that it was the first month of the year, and that they were to do something on the tenth day of the month. So, it must have taken place at least before the tenth of the month, which was several days before they were to leave.
- Some make the point that the Egyptians wouldn’t have given the Israelites anything at all in the days before the Passover because the Egyptians had not yet been ‘softened up’ by the final plague. But they ignore the fact that God said He gave the Israelites favour in the sight of the Egyptians. (Exod 11:3)
So, on the night of the Passover, just before they began to leave, we read this: Exod 12:35-36 “Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.”
Notice that they had already plundered the Egyptians.
So, we see that there are no objections in the scriptures to the conclusion that Israelites began leaving sometime after midnight on the fourteenth of Nisan.
But when was the Exodus completed? Read Exod: 12:17 “So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance.”
This verse is speaking of the Feast, which began on the fifteenth day of the month, and notice that it says that on that day, “God will have brought them out”, that is, the Exodus was completed by the fifteenth.
Now read Deuteronomy 16:6 “but at the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide, there you shall sacrifice the Passover at twilight, at the going down of the sun, at the time you came out of Egypt.”
This verse tells us that they finished all came out as the sun was going down. That is, the Exodus was completed at the time.
Now the first stage of their journey was from Rameses to Succoth, and it isn’t clear whether the references to the completion of the Exodus refer to leaving Rameses, or the arrival at Succoth. Most probably it was the arrival at Succoth, since that fits in better with the fifteenth being a rest day, and a celebration. But either way, the timing is not altered.
But there is one scripture that seems to contradict this conclusion. Notice Numbers 33:3 “They departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the day after the Passover the children of Israel went out with boldness in the sight of all the Egyptians”
This seems to say that they departed from Rameses on the fifteenth day of the month. But let’s examine it more carefully. The word “departed” can also mean “had departed” or “were departed”, that is, a completed action. It is translated thus in Exodus 19:2 “For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount.”
So, Numbers 33:3 can legitimately read: “They departed from Rameses on the fifteenth day of the first month…”
Now notice the rest of the verse. If we are not careful, we assume that the last part of the verse is talking about the same time as the beginning. But after the first idea is expressed – the time of the Exodus was completed, it switches to the time when the Exodus actually occurred – the day after the night of the Passover.
There are two thoughts being expressed, but it is more understandable when they are clearly separated: 1. They were all out by the fifteenth, 2. The day after the Passover, they went out in the sight of the Egyptians.
So, Numbers 33:3 is saying: “On the fifteenth day of the first month, they were departed from Rameses. They came boldly out on the morning (and day) after the Passover, in the sight of the Egyptians.”
This makes sense, because while they were going out, the Egyptians were burying the dead. Some say that the Egyptians wouldn’t be burying the dead so soon after the actual deaths, but even if they weren’t burying their children (and they most likely were), there were still all the animals to bury.
To summarize, the Israelites began leaving a short time after midnight on the fourteenth. They were coming out all during the daylight part of the fourteenth, and the last of them came out at sunset, as the fourteenth was ending, and the fifteenth was beginning.
This is the only conclusion that fits all the information that the Bible gives.
Why Read the Book of Deuteronomy at the Feast Every 7 Years?
How does the book of Deuteronomy apply to Christians in this New Testament era of the Church?
To find the answer we need to familiarise ourselves with the reason why God called out a nation, which he was going to use as an example to reveal His plan of salvation, which will be available to everyone.
God promised Abraham 400 years earlier that he would lead the descendants out of captivity and set them in a new land (The Promised Land) Gen 15:13-21. He also called them a kingdom of priests, a Holy Nation (Exod 19: 5-6) when He made the Covenant with them at Mt Sinai.
Of course, Israel was to obey the terms of the Covenant, to reap the benefits of the promises he laid with them. They said, “We will do” (Ex 19:8) Unfortunately, Israel did not keep their side of the bargain and disobeyed the laws and ordinances. The result was to wander in the wilderness for the next 40 years as a punishment, Ex 14:20, 30, 33-34. This was because of the mission of the spy’s incident.
At the end of the 40 years in the wilderness Moses called the people together on the Plains of Moab and (Deut 1: 1-5) gave them the second set of laws and ordinances which were given BESIDES the one at Sinai (Mt Horeb) Deut 29:1. Moses gave a second Covenant as they prepared to enter the Promised Land and it was different to the first one. Most Covenant article state that they were the same with only a few updates according to the time and travelling adjustments.
The answer is that the 2 covenants were for 2 different sets of people. We already know from the Bible and history that the first was for the people God called out, that is, Israel, whom He worked with until they went into captivity. The other covenant recorded in Deuteronomy was for a future people. This is revealed in scripture and we will address that claim now.
This where the question “Why read the Book of Deuteronomy at the Feast every 7 years” is answered!
Consider this: at Mt Sinai, the law was given in a dramatic event, there were dark clouds, trembling, smoke, lightening and a piercing sound of blowing like a trumpet, Ex 19:16-19. This experience would have stayed in the minds of those present for a long time. Add to that, Moses wrote it all down on tablets of stone – all very impressive! Conversely, Moses only spoke this second Covenant to the people who had survived the 40 years in the wilderness. These people hadn’t heard the Mt Sinai incident except Joshua & Caleb (who entered the Promised Land) (Num 14:30). The verbal commands Moses spoke could easily be lost.
Let’s look at more interesting details – the first Covenant was delivered and ratified with blood by the young men (Ex 24:5-8); the second was NOT…That’s interesting – maybe sometime in the future it will be – actually, it has been! We’ll keep on this point, Moses was commanded to put the testimony (first Covenant) IN the Ark of the Covenant 40 years earlier (Exod 40:3&20) and now on the Plains of Moab (40 years later), Moses tells the Levites to “take this book of the Law and put it BY THE SIDE of the Ark of the Covenant” – a vulnerable place to put God’s word unlike the first – safe in the Ark.
So, let’s recap:
- ratified with blood (Heb 9:18-22, Exod 24:6-8)
- nobody can add to or take away from it (Deut 4:2, Deut 12:32)
- Placed INSIDE the Ark
- Covenant set
- Not ratified with blood (not yet at that point)
- Not part of the Old Covenant
- Placed at the SIDE of the Ark (Deut 31:26)
- For others not there that day (Deut 29:10-15)
Before answering the question ‘Why read Deuteronomy every 7 years?’ lets add a few more scriptures: In Deuteronomy 29:10-15 we read that this Covenant being made on the Plains of Moab was for OTHERS who were not here today. Who are the others? God was not working with any other nation at that time, but not so in the future!
It would be appropriate to show the promise from God to those who fear Him, (Psalm 25:14) “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him and He will show them His Covenant” This scripture indicates that the Covenant is a secret and the Lord will reveal it to those who are diligently seeking it.
This sets the stage for the next topic, what does the Covenant in Deuteronomy contain? In the margins of some Bibles there are footnotes. It is fascinating to see that when reading about the teachings of Jesus, and the apostles, we see that they regularly refer back to Deuteronomy.
We know that Jesus’ death ushers in these things:
- Jesus’ death ushered in a new Covenant (Mat 26:28)
- It is a better Covenant (Heb 8:6)
- It abolished the Old Covenant for the New (Heb 10:9)
- Jesus Christ is the mediator of the New Covenant (Heb 9:15) (Heb 8,9 & 10)
Now if all the footnotes in the RSV are recorded and compared with the Deuteronomy Covenant laws and ordinances, we see there are approximately 44 matches. This is amazing, as it indicates that this second covenant reflects the teachings of Jesus! Remember Jesus himself said His parables were hidden to the people except the disciples (Matt 13:11), see the following examples: Matt 5:27 (adultery) and Deut 5:18, and Mat 16:15 (2 or more witnesses) and Deut 17:6.
Here is more evidence that the Deuteronomy Covenant was not recorded like the Exodus Covenant on tablets of stone with a smoking mountain, thunder and lightning.
Deut 5:1 – Moses was to summon all Israel and tell them the statutes and judgements (verse 1), he was then told to tell the people, in verse 30, ‘return to your tents again’, but Moses was told in verse 31 ‘But you, stand here by me, and I will tell you all the commandment and the statutes and the ordinances which you shall teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess.' So in affect God told Moses what to teach the people while he only was in the presence of God.
In review – What have we learned from the pages of God’s word:
- There are two different covenants – given 40 years apart
- Old Covenant in Exodus with approx. 70 Statutes and Ordinances, Deuteronomy Covenant has approx. 80, of which 8 are the same and 6 are similar.
- Deuteronomy Covenant made with ‘others not here’
- Old Covenant placed safely in the Ark of the Covenant; Deuteronomy Covenant placed beside the Ark
- Old Covenant ratified with blood (of animals), Deuteronomy Covenant not ratified until Jesus’ came and shed His blood (Matt 26:27)
- Jesus’ blood ushered in the New Covenant in his last Passover night
- Jesus’ teachings reflected in the Deuteronomy Covenant in the book of Deuteronomy
So, Why read the Book od Deuteronomy at the Feast every 7 years?
Deut 31:10-11 states that when God’s people meet at the Feast of Tabernacles, on the seventh year they were to read the Book of Deuteronomy ‘in their hearing’. This meant that they were receiving the teachings of Jesus, unknowingly, two thousand years before He arrived on the scene. It was a witness and something that the prophets longed to see. (Matt 13:17, Luke 10:23, 1 Pet 1:10)
So, the instruction God gave to Moses: that you read the Book of Deuteronomy every seventh year at the Feast of Tabernacles ‘in their hearing’ could very well apply to us as we, New Covenant Christians attend the Feast – where we celebrate the return of Jesus Christ when He will set-up the Kingdom of God here on earth to last for 1000 years.
What better way to learn about our Saviour and King than to have it expounded at the Feast of Tabernacles and how exciting to know that it has already been revealed in the Book of Deuteronomy years ago.
Let’s quote again Psalms 25:14
“The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them His Covenant.” KJV
What does the Bible say about tithing for Christians today?
How was the Temple in the Old Testament supported and
how is God's work supported today?
Every time I read 2 Cor 11:8 (“I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you”), I wonder why the apostle Paul had to resort to this way of financing his ministry when one would assume that the tithing system, as portrayed by so many churches today, would provide the money to cover preaching the gospel – and, we all want to follow what the Bible says!
When it comes to Church finances, I have observed the splendour and opulence of Church’s Headquarters, whether it be buildings, colleges, aircraft or vehicles, all purported to be for doing the ‘Work’ and supplied by God.
There is no doubt that worldwide ministries cost money and the members, or supporters, should support the ‘Work” financially. It is the method of financing a ministry that is in question. Some organisations require their members to pay tithes, citing different categories namely a ‘1st Tithe’ – for the ‘Work’, a ‘2nd Tithe’ for your Feast of Tabernacles expenses, and a ‘3rd Tithe’ for the widows and orphans, as well as others – namely a ‘Tithe of the Tithe’ at the Feast time to contribute to the expenses of running the Feast, and on it goes.
There are also other methods of raising money, from the ‘Building Fund’ or the new ‘Jet Aircraft Fund’ to special collections for other projects.
It is quite acceptable to require the membership to help finance operations, charities depend on donations for their work to provide for people in need.
In some churches, tithing (giving 10% of your income) to the church is practised. Tithing is described as allocating the first 10% of your income (whether gross or net) to the church for financing the work. Enormous sums of money are raised for the headquarters and sometimes used in a lavish manner.
Why do members give to an organisation, or more importantly what is the reason? To find out one has to discover the origin of this doctrine in God’s Word, the Bible. What better place to establish a doctrine than where it can be shown that this is the way God wants His Work to be financed and it becomes a ‘command to tithe’ which brings dedication to the Tither.
This dedication by members can in itself bring issues which affect families in various ways -especially if they are committed to supporting all of the organisations’ fundraising regimes. Now donating money to finance a ‘Work’ is a good thing, but, is there a problem with a doctrine that church hierarchy implore on their supporters in such a way that it is presented as a ‘commanded by God’ rule where people do it to obey God?
What is the authority churches give for this command?
There are a few basic scriptures that churches use to establish the law of tithing in the Bible. They are stated here and will be elaborated on later in this article.
- Gen 4:17-20 (Abraham)
- Gen 28: 20-22 (Jacob)
- Mal 3: 8-10 (Rob God, promise for tithe)
- Matt 23:23 (Scribes and pharisees tithed)
- Heb 7: 11-13 (Change in Law?)
These scriptures have been loosely relied on to command tithing. Lets leave them for a while as we explore the original intent of the law of tithing and who it applies to.
We have to go back to when God led His people out of captivity in Egypt when he created a “Nation of priests, God’s own possession” Exod 19: 5-6. The story of God making the Covenant with them is explained in verses 7-25 of chapter 19, starting with the 10 Commandments and then the Laws and ordinances of the Old Covenant.
This giving of the Covenant occurred in the third month after leaving Egypt (Ex 19:1). Whilst Moses was on Mt Sinai receiving the tablets of stone the people rebelled and created a Golden Calf for worship. (Exod 32: 1-6)
Now God had foreseen the disobedience of Israel (the People) so established one of the 12 tribes – Levi, to minister to the people as a priesthood, (Num 1:50). The High priests, however, had to be of the son’s of Aaron. (EX 28:1)
Having established a Tabernacle for worship in (Ex 36-40), the Priesthood (Sons of Aaron Exod 28:1) and the temple workers (Tribe of Levi Num 1:50) God now had a system for His chosen people to be a theocracy based on God’s Law with all the trappings of worship, sacrifices, offerings and Holy Day observance rituals.
Now, here’s where tithing comes in. The Levites and Aaron’s Sons (the priests) had no inheritance in the coming promised land, they were supported by the people as they had no way of earning a living by normal means.
The people were required to support those in the office of the Tabernacle with tithes of the increase of their agricultural gain. This was the way the people supported the temple system - in produce not money.
An exception to this, and little written about in the tithing literature produced by churches, is the method of support by the people for the running of the Tabernacle. In Exod 30:11-16, Atonement money was taken from the people.
Prior to the formation of the official Tabernacle, the system of financing the cost of building the Tabernacle was instigated on the people, which amounted to a half shekel per person (for those 20 years and over). This was not tithing, it was the Lord’s offering, a once off thing.
So, we have learned that the tabernacle system consisted of the Priesthood (Son’s of Aaron), the Tabernacle workers (the Tribe of Levi) and no others included, most importantly, they were the only ones eligible to receive the tithes under the legal system of the Old Covenant.
In Heb 7 verses 1-28, we see that the Law was changed to accommodate the Priesthood of Jesus Christ – as He was of the tribe of Judah – not the tribe of Levi. (We will leave this point and study it later as it applies to New Covenant church tithing.)
Going back to the Biblical examples that churches use as evidence to command tithing – let’s look at the first one, mentioned in Genesis 14: 17-20:
“17) After his return from the defeat of Ched-or-laomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley). 18) And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. 19) And he blessed him and said, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth; 20) and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!" And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” RSV
Here we see Abram giving Melchizedek one tenth of the spoils from the defeat of “King Ched-or-laomer and the kings who were with him”. Churches use this scripture as their proof for regular tithing, but it clearly says it was a once off gift to Melchizedek and it ‘was spoils’ of war not one’s increase from production of agriculture as required in Leviticus. There is no indication of a change in the source of the collection of tithes, so this lacks evidence for instigating tithing as a command.
The second example used to establish tithing as a command is found in Gen 28:10-22:
“10) Jacob left Beer-sheba, and went toward Haran. 11) And he came to a certain place, and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. 12) And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13) And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, "I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your descendants; 14) and your descendants shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and by you and your descendants shall all the families of the earth bless themselves. 15) Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done that of which I have spoken to you."
16) Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place; and I did not know it." 17) And he was afraid, and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." 18) So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone which he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19) He called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first. 20) Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21) so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God, 22) and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God's house; and of all that thou givest me I will give the tenth to thee." RSV
Jacob experienced a dream in which the promise of the extent of his descendants was revealed by God. Jacob was also amazed at the vision of the ascending and descending angels on the ladder that reached up to heaven, so much so that he acknowledged God’s presence and in verse 22 he vowed to give a tenth if God would be with him and supplied him with food and clothing. It seems like Jacob made a deal with God, this wasn’t a commanded tithe but more of an offering! We should not read anything into scripture that is not there.
A third passage in the Old Testament which is used to establish tithing as a command is in the book of Malachi. This book is directed to the Levitical Priesthood – this is evident when the complete book is studied.
See verses 6 of Malachi 1 & 2:1; 2:4,7 and 8. The Levites in their priestly duties were neglecting the duties God gave them regarding their use of the Nation’s tithes - this book was severely reprimanding them for their attitude to God (Mal 2:1) and God threatened them with a curse.
Their duties are recorded in Numbers 18: 1-32. In this example in Malachi, there is no passage showing a Law of Tithing for others except for the Levite Priests mishandling the Nation’s tithes which instigated when the nations of Israel came out of Egypt in the book of Leviticus.
These three references to tithing in the Old testament are used to establish a command to tithe, and applied to Christians in modern day churches, but there is no evidence of a law of tithing as stated by God.
New Testament Tithing
To continue to explore the reason why religious organisations impose tithing, a New Testament example is given, albeit a weak one – in Matt 23:23 Jesus berated the Scribes and Pharisees for neglecting the weightier matters of the Law but fastidiously tithing on mint, dill and cumin. This passage correctly says that the Scribes and Pharisees were tithing. It must be noted that they were under the Old Covenant and it was commanded that they should do this. Now Christ was teaching a new message which differed from the teachings of Moses. When Christ died the New Covenant was ushered in abolishing the sacrificial system that the Scribes and Pharisees operated under.
This is not a definitive statement that modern day Christians have to tithe.
Now this leads into the last example of tithing. Some leaders of modern-day churches maintain that there are scriptures which command tithing.
In Hebrews 7: 1-28 we find a chapter about tithing with examples referring to Abraham with regards to tithing. It mentions Levi tithing whilst in Abraham’s loins. Also, we see that as mentioned previously the Levitical Priesthood received the tithe from the people to administer the operations of the Tabernacle/Temple.
But we read in Hebrews that Jesus abolished the Old Covenant, making it obsolete and replacing it with a better, more excellent ministry with better promises. Heb 7, 8, 9 and 10.
Following on, we find that Jesus is from the tribe of Judah, a tribe not permitted to officiate at the Tabernacle. Verse 12 of chapter 7, says “For when there is a change in the priesthood …” (Levitical), to Jesus (of the tribe of Judah) ”…there is necessarily a change in the law as well.“ Or as the King James Version puts it “For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” The Law had to be changed so Jesus could be our High Priest.
This important point is made because some churches claim that the change in the Law gives them the authority to collect the tithes from the people as a modern-day priesthood, doing God’s work.
So, we ask again, why did Paul have to ‘rob’ other churches to pay for his ministry, and work for a living, why didn’t he take tithes, after all he was an apostle?
The tithing Law was instigated to provide a method to support the operations and functions of the priesthood who had no means to accumulate their daily needs.
So how should organisations raise the necessary funds to provide a ministry and have resources to preach the gospel?
When studying the New Testament, it can be shown that the principal emerges which reveals that providing for the preaching of the gospel is by faith and giving. Luke 6:38, 1 Cor 9:14. The ones who have received the gospel should support the gospel financially and generously.
In conclusion, it can be seen that a system used to finance a church should be provided by dedicated Christians willing to support financially and fulfill the job. If a person wants to allocate a tenth of their increase to the work of God, that is fine, and will be blessed for it.
Coercing members to tithe, either first, second or third tithes, creates an unscriptural burden on co-workers while leaders live in luxury. It is quite acceptable to give generously to a church and many do, but, you can’t use the Bible, God’s word, to command tithing as it is only applicable to the tribe of Levi and not to Churches today.