The Earth belongs to HaShem
"The Earth belongs to HaShem and the Fullness Thereof."

By Ben Ruach ha Kodesh (John of AllFaith) 2.25.08

Tithing and Atonement

My blog friend Chasmarv and I have entered into a bit of discussion on the question of tithing (on my Multiply Site). Previously (here) I shared my views on this topic. The initial post in included at the bottom of this page, but you might want to go there and read the interesting comments of some of my readers (here).

Chasmarv agrees with my view that the followers of Master Y'shua don't need to tithe, but differs with me on who does. Below are the posts to date. Future posts from this thread will not be added here unless they are particularly insightful. For this continuing discussion and to add your thoughts please visit this thread.

chasmarv wrote on Feb 23

    John- You are correct that the new covenant church should not tithe. You are wrong about who must tithe in the old covenant and it was only farmers and heardsmen. Dr Russell Kelly the author of the book SHOULD THE CHURCH TEACH TITHING A TABOO DOCTRINE AND his web page shouldthechurchteachtithing and CHASMARV@MULTIPLE.COM will be featured on CBS march 2 from 9:00 until 10:30 against the false doctrine of tithing. Tune in.

johnofallfaith wrote on Feb 23

    You would need to present some scriptural support for this point Chasmarv. I invite you to do so on that blog entry.

    II Chron. 31:5,6 tells us for instance, "And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly.

    And concerning the children of Israel and Judah, that dwelt in the cities of Judah, they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of holy things which were consecrated unto the LORD their God, and laid them by heaps.

    These people were neither farmers not heardsmen. They purchased the animals and fruit of the fields to offer at the temple as their tithes. They also offered their gold and silver etc. to be used (melted down etc.) in the temple. IE "the tithe of holy things which were consecrated unto the LORD their God, and laid them by heaps." One doesn't lay sheep down in heaps.

    The early Hebrews were people of the land. Animal and grain sacrifices were required of them all, regardless of their occupation.

    This is part of what so angered Master Y'shua when he came to the Temple and saw the money changers. The people were going to the Temple to worship HaShem and were being overcharged for their sacrificial (ie tithe-based) animal purchases. By doing this, "the money changers" were directly stealing from the Holy Temple and the Levites who depended on these sacrifices. It was a serious charge he made and he was furious to think that in the name of religious observance these people would do such a thing.

    Matt 21:10: And when he [Master Y'shua] was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?
    11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
    12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
    13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

    There are a great many such verses that disagree with your point. It sounds to me as though all things the Jews "bring in" they are to tithe on.

    Also, I wouldn't call tithing taboo, it is simply inapplicable for Noahides as I explain in this piece.

    Thanks for sharing your views and again I invite you to do so again in that blog entry: http://johnofallfaith.multiply.com/journal/item/688/A_Question_About_Tithing

    I'll include this discussion there as well should you like to discuss this further.

    Thanks for sharing your views!

      Maranatha!

chasmarv wrote on Feb 24

    JOHN-I am ready to go to church but I would like to give you bible from the torah on what the first fruits were.

    I will show you what the old covenant says about first fruits but it will be later today.

chasmarv wrote on Feb 24

    JOHNOFALLFAITH- I respectifully disagree with your position on firstfruits.

johnofallfaith wrote on Feb 24

    Hi Chasmarv,
    That's cool. I've never claimed to have all the answers, I'm still learning too. Show me in the Bible where I am mistaken and I will happily accept your teaching on this. As you didn't return from church with any evidence may I assume you spoke with your pastor and discovered your mistake?

    I did a bit more research on this topic after reading your reply and found the following Q&A with a knowledgeable rabbi. His decision:

    "It is a mitzvah (commandment) from the Torah for every Jew -- whether impoverished or wealthy -- to give ten percent of his income to charity...."

    Here's the full Q & A:

      When a Pastor Demands Charity

      Question:

      Dear Rabbi,

      I was watching a television evangelist one Sunday, and something he said really struck me. According to him, unless people pay tithes they will suffer. Actually his words were that they would "get their butts kicked by life." I was horrified, Rabbi. Would you tell me what Judaism teaches about tithing and its purpose.

      Thank you.

      Answer:

      It is a mitzvah (commandment) from the Torah for every Jew -- whether impoverished or wealthy -- to give ten percent of his income to charity. This act of giving alms to the poor is held in high esteem by the Jewish people. Moreover, the Bible teaches us that this mitzvah acts as an atonement for sin. This message is declared to Nebuchadnezzar in the Book of Daniel (4:24) and is the central theme of the opening message of the Book of Isaiah.

      In the beginning of the Book of Isaiah, the prophet declares how alms to the poor and downtrodden expiates man's iniquities. The first chapter of Isaiah begins with a harsh condemnation of the nation of Israel. Few chapters in the Bible are as brutally critical of the Jewish people as Isaiah is in the beginning of his first chapter. In the 16th verse, however, the prophet almost unexpectedly soothes his wayward nation by teaching them both the essence of atonement and the way to achieve it. He assures the nation of Israel that if they turn from their sinful ways and care for the downtrodden, their sins will be forgiven. Isaiah's message, like that of the other Jewish prophets, stands in stark contrast to the declaration in the Book of Hebrews that "without the shedding of blood there is no atonement."

      As an aside, I find this Christian pastor's message that those who fail to tithe will "suffer" to be rather puzzling. According to mainline Protestant theology, salvation cannot be achieved through any form of "works" or deeds. Tithing would certainly fall into this category of works. There is little doubt that this church leader is attempting to instill fear within the congregation in order to secure some rather plump offerings.

      Sincerely yours,
      Rabbi Tovia Singer (source: http://www.outreachjudaism.org/charity.html)

I agree with this rabbi.

The Daniel verse he references says:

"Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by almsgiving, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if there may be a lengthening of thy prosperity.'(JPS)

Did you catch that? The prophet says: ...break off thy sins by almsgiving, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor.... According to Master Y'shua its not so much the giving of alms as it is the intention that lies behind it. Literally "sin" is to "miss the mark" of perfection, but practically, when we sin we harm others, we think more of ourselves than of our neighbors. By changing the focus of our intention outwards to others we bless them and as a result HaShem will bless us because God is the eternal well wisher of us all. This is essential Judaism and was essential to the teachings of Master Y'shua.

Prophet Micah is even more specific:

Michah [Micah]6:6 'Wherewith shall I come before HaShem, and bow myself before G-d on high? Shall I come before Him with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old?
7 Will HaShem be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?'
8 It hath been told thee, O man, what is good, and what HaShem doth require of thee: only to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy G-d.(JPS)

The rabbi accurately points to one of the main differences between Judaism and Christianity: human/divine sacrifice.

Not only does this teaching not exist in Judaism, it runs counter to the very heart of the Jewish faith. This verse in Micah almost prophetically asks: ...Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?'

We might add... as HaShem did?

No, the prophet declares under inspiration, "It hath been told thee, O man, what is good, and what HaShem doth require of thee: only to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy G-d."

This is the teaching of Judaism and this was the teaching of Master Y'shua:

Matt 21:35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Master Y'shua taught the exact same thing.

As the Apostle Paul tells us:

Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

HaShem has nothing to prove. He shows His grace to whomsoever He will. Upon whom does HaShem dine to show mercy? Master Y'shua is as clear as Prophet Micah above:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

It is the Will of HaShem to bestow His mercy on everyone. Those who accept this mercy receive it.

And how does one receive the mercy and grace of HaShem?

Michah [Micah]6:6 'Wherewith shall I come before HaShem, and bow myself before G-d on high? Shall I come before Him with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old?
7 Will HaShem be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?'
8 It hath been told thee, O man, what is good, and what HaShem doth require of thee: only to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy G-d.

Or as Master Y'shua tells John:

Rev. 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

What does it mean to repent?

We have this definition from the Wikipedia:

    In Biblical Hebrew the idea of repentance is represented by two verbs: שוב shuv (to return) and נחם nicham (to feel sorrow).

    In the New Testament, the word translated as 'repentance' is the Greek word μετάνοια (metanoia), "after/behind one's mind", which is a compound word of the preposition 'meta' (after, with), and the verb 'noeo' (to perceive, to think, the result of perceiving or observing). In this compound word the preposition combines the two meanings of time and change, which may be denoted by 'after' and 'different'; so that the whole compound means: 'to think differently after'. Metanoia is therefore primarily an after-thought, different from the former thought; a change of mind accompanied by regret and change of conduct, "change of mind and heart", or, "change of consciousness". One of the key descriptions of repentance in the New Testament is the parable of the prodigal son found in the Gospel of Luke 15 beginning at verse 11.

In other words, To receive the grace and mercy of HaShem one needs only to make a decision to change one's heart/intentions and act upon it. The need for that decision is what is taught by Judaism:

    Michah [Micah]6:6 'Wherewith shall I come before HaShem, and bow myself before G-d on high? Shall I come before Him with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old?
    7 Will HaShem be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?'
    8 It hath been told thee, O man, what is good, and what HaShem doth require of thee: only to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy G-d.

And again, Master Y'shua tells us clearly:

    Matt 21:35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
    36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
    37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
    38 This is the first and great commandment.
    39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
    40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.


Here is the original post:

David asks:

    Are we released from tithing under grace?

My reply.
What are your thoughts?

Hi David,

We are not only released from paying tithes, it was never required of us (assuming you are not Jewish).

Tithing was the Jewish income tax.

In ancient times religion and politics were often wed, as is still the case today with Islam where the "deen" or religion and "ummah" or nation are one. In the same way, although Judaism began as a Semitic ethnic group (it was never a race despite common beliefs) it was more accurately thought of as a nation in biblical times (the earthly kingdom of God in exile). Citizens of that kingdom were ordered to pay an income tax, a flat tax of 10% of all gross income (be it money, animals etc.).

As the early Jewish followers of Jesus debate Gentile conversion in the Book of Acts it is clear that they consider themselves a "religion" rather than a "nation" as they pointedly were 'waiting for a kingdom not made by human hands.' Jesus came to be viewed more as the spiritual savior of the world rather than as a reigning king (Meshiach or Messiah). As people attempting to follow Jesus we are to submit our whole selves unto God. Our tithe then is 100%, not just 10%. We are to consider ourselves stewards of all things granted us by our Master.

Once the Kingdom of God is established there will probably be a proclamation made that everyone must tithe 10%, time will tell, but during "the Church Age" tithing is still only in effect for Jews.

Jesus references the tithes of the Jews several times in the Gospels. Virtually every person he spoke with, with only a handful of exceptions, were Jews. Indeed Jesus said he only came to minister to Jews (Matt 15:24), but outside of that, only the Book of Hebrews mentions tithes and it does so in each case as a historical reference (ex. Heb 7:9).

As you probably know, not all Christians will agree with this answer however I am convinced it is correct. If one wishes to have a congregation and offer various programs one needs money, lots of it... believe me I know... and teaching the people they must tithe is an effective way to raise funds. The truth is however, this is not a biblical requirements for Christians. Christians should be taught that everything they possess is holy and belongs to God and that they should invest their possessions in the coming Kingdom by supporting their local congregations and various other efforts as they feel led of the Holy Spirit.

Hope this helps,

    ~Pastor John

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