Rapture, the way I see it – Part 3

However, before Christ’s return there will be tribulation here on earth and the church will still be here on earth while it happens. The beast and the false prophet will force people to accept the mark which is not at all a physical mark. They shall be quite subtle in their deceit and will seem quite genuine. One will have to be discerning to see through them.

 

The book of Revelation echoes 1 Thessalonians 4 in respect of the resurrection of the dead at Christ’s return with 1 Corinthians 15 describing the process

 

3 But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back. 24 After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power. 35 But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” 36 What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. 37 And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. 38 Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. 39 Similarly there are different kinds of flesh—one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies. 41 The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their glory. 42 It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

 

The book of Revelation tells us further that Satan shall be bound for a 100 years and all who were part of the first resurrection shall rule with Christ for that period.

 

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. 2 He seized the dragon—that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan—and bound him in chains for a thousand years. 3 The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterward he must be released for a little while. 4 Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 This is the first resurrection. (The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.) 6 Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years. Revelation 20

 

It also makes it clear that the church will be present through the ‘tribulation’ and some will lose their lives during it.

 

14 And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.” Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white. 15 “That is why they stand in front of God’s throne and serve him day and night in his Temple. And he who sits on the throne will give them shelter. 16 They will never again be hungry or thirsty; they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun. Revelation 7

 

Scripture is clear about the persecution of Christians for their faith and we’ve seen that in the bible as well as in history and this makes the doctrine of rapture out of sync with the bible. It preaches escapism.

Rapture, the way I see it – Part 2

History has it that this event occurred in AD66. Jerusalem was besieged by the Romans and the Christians remembered the words of Jesus. They fled as soon as the gates of the city were opened briefly and not one of them was hurt.

 

The siege Jerusalem was under got so bad that people began to starve to death and some women even killed and ate their babies. In AD70 when the Romans gain entry into the city, most of the Jews fled into the temple and a fire broke out that raised it to the ground and killing some Jews in the process. About a million Jews were slaughtered and only about 100,000 survived. If the siege had gone on any longer it would have likely wiped out all the Jews.

 

The rest of Jesus’ words covered His return and the end of the world. Jesus did mention that 2 people will be together and one of them shall be taken will the other left and this has been used to teach the rapture doctrine. However, what really does that word taken mean? The original Greek word from which it was translated actually means ‘to be associated with’. It implies recognition and acceptance and does not conjure any impression of being spirited away someplace.

 

1 Thessalonians 4 is also used in support of the doctrine because of the use of the words ‘caught up’

 

15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.

 

Caught up here is translated from the Greek word harpazo which means to ‘to carry off by force’. This same word was also used to describe how people gain entrance into the kingdom of heaven

 

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. Matthew 11: 12

 

It does not refer to a ‘rapture’ but to taking possession of something and making it yours. Jesus will descend to make the church His! When He descends at His second coming, those who have died in Him shall be resurrected as per 1 Corinthians 15 and those who are alive shall be transformed and together with the Old Testament ‘cloud’ of witnesses shall be with Him.

Rapture, the way I see it – Part 1

I had written something previously on the mark of the beast and have decided to follow that up by examining the doctrine of ‘rapture’ which is widely taught in Christian circles. Even though the word does not exist anywhere in the bile that has not stopped this teaching.

It is the favourite of scaremongers and dooms day prophets. It is usually used to scare people into giving their lives to Christ. Such tactics do not last unfortunately because people give their lives out of fear instead of knowledge and faith. I was taught that after Christ has raptured the church, the antichrist will be released and there will a great tribulation on the face of the earth. Those who were left behind will be forced to accept the ‘mark of the beast’ if they want to buy or sell anything and there will be great anguish.

Christ will finally return (again?), destroy the antichrist and punish those who accepted the mark as well as Satan. And those who did not make the rapture but did not accept the mark of the beast will pay for their salvation with their own blood. That is it in a nutshell.

There were so many inconsistencies with this teaching and the more I searched the scriptures, the more confused I became. Now I know the reason for this confusion was because I was still trying to interpret these scriptures in the light of what I had been taught.

Matthew 24 has been used in support of this rapture doctrine. Jesus’ disciples had asked Jesus when the temple was going to be destroyed, when will be the sign of His coming and the end of the age. Anytime I heard this portion of scripture taught, the first question was always ignored; the destruction of the temple.

Jesus was very explicit to His disciples about what was going to happen to the temple. It was going to be completely destroyed! They will know this is about to happen when they see the abomination of desolation and those who were in the fields should not go back to Jerusalem. They were also supposed to pray that their flight did not happen on the Sabbath or during winter.

15 “The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about—the sacrilegious object that causes desecration[d] standing in the Holy Place.” (Reader, pay attention!) 16 “Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. 17 A person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. 18 A person out in the field must not return even to get a coat. 19 How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. 20 And pray that your flight will not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again. 22 In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones. Matthew 24

The importance of the Promised Land to the Old Testament Law

I chanced upon this piece on this blog and couldn’t help posting it here.

 

God’s covenant with the children of Israel was always tied to the land of promise. When God called Abraham, he was promised that his descendants would inherit a land that flowed with milk and honey. And as part of this promise God instructed that Abraham and all his descendants be circumcised. However, God did tell Abraham that his descendants were going to be in bondage of 400 years because the sins of the Amorites and co were not yet full.

At the appointed time, the children of Israel were set free from the land of Egypt and journeyed to the Promised Land. Whilst they journeyed God gave them the law as rules on how He expected them to live when they got to the land. Everyone living within the land was expected to observe these rules including the foreigners. Strictly obeying these rules would guarantee their continuance existence on the land and they faced being expelled like the previous occupants if they disobeyed these rules and followed the customs of the heathen nations around them.

God made them aware that the land was His and they were only tenants. They were not allowed to cultivate the land when they first arrived but were to first offer the firstfruits. They perpetually had to offer the firstfruits at every harvest of the land. There were even conditions on how they cultivated the land; they were not allowed to plant two types of crops on their farms, they were not allowed to harvest the fringes of their farm lands and they weren’t even allowed to pick harvested sheaves that fell as they transported the harvest. The land could only be cultivated for 6 years and left to rest in the 7th. No one was allowed to sell the land on a permanent basis and every land sold had to be returned to the owners at the year of Jubilee.

The land must never be sold on a permanent basis, for the land belongs to me. You are only foreigners and tenant farmers working for me. Leviticus 25: 23.

More importantly they were only to give a tithe from the produce of this land i.e. crops and livestock, nothing else was permitted to be tithed. This had nothing to do with the presence or absence of currency but was so that they continue to fear God. He gave the increase, He prospered the land and He owned the land.

One-tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain from the fields or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord and must be set apart to him as holy. Leviticus 27: 30.

All of the rules given to the children of Israel were intertwined, hence every single one had to be obeyed for it to count as obedience. Observing all but one was meaningless. You couldn’t observe the Passover without being circumcised, you couldn’t tithe without first offering your firstfruits, you had to observe the Sabbath. In short you wouldn’t be allowed to stay in the land if kept only some and not all of the law. The law was binding on anyone who lived on the land.

Further evidence of this seen when the children of Israel were exiled because of their continuous disobedience. They were taken captive to Assyria and the king of Assyria brought his subjects from other nations to live in the Promised Land. These nations had no knowledge of God’s law and their heathen custom was completely contrary to God’s law for the land that He sent lions to kill them.

24 The king of Assyria transported groups of people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim and resettled them in the towns of Samaria, replacing the people of Israel. They took possession of Samaria and lived in its towns. 25 But since these foreign settlers did not worship the Lord when they first arrived, the Lord sent lions among them, which killed some of them. 26 So a message was sent to the king of Assyria: “The people you have sent to live in the towns of Samaria do not know the religious customs of the God of the land. He has sent lions among them to destroy them because they have not worshiped him correctly.” 27 The king of Assyria then commanded, “Send one of the exiled priests back to Samaria. Let him live there and teach the new residents the religious customs of the God of the land.” 28 So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria returned to Bethel and taught the new residents how to worship the Lord. 2 Kings 17.

The New Testament is established on the blood of Jesus Christ and God’s promise is no longer bound to a physical land but a spiritual one. Hence observing the law is no longer required in the new dispensation as the rules have changed. Observing circumcision is no longer required as an outward sign of God’s covenant, we are no longer required to observe the Sabbath, giving of the tithe and firstfruit is no longer required and the list goes on.

The New dispensation is faith based; we are saved by it through grace. And the worship of God is no longer tied to any particular geographic location but true believers are to worship God in Spirit and truth.

Debunking Christian myths – Who is Satan?

Our current view of the history of Satan is actually a result of the amalgamation of 2 different portions of scripture; Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28: 12 – 19. Even though those being referred to are clearly mentioned, it hasn’t stopped the misapplication of these verses.

According to the vision God gave Daniel, several kingdoms will arise and rule the whole world. The first was Babylon which was overthrown by Media and Persia, who in turn was overthrown by the Greek Kingdom. And the Greek Kingdom was finally overthrown by the Roman kingdom. As part of Israel’s punishment for disobeying God, Jerusalem was destroyed and the children of Israel where taken into exile in Babylon. Isaiah 14 was God’s promise of deliverance for them and punishment for Babylon. No portion of this scripture makes any reference to Satan.

Since this was a taunt against Babylon, a lot of figurative text was used. And this has resulted in a lot of literal translations which seems to build a case for this being Satan.

Ezekiel 28 is also quite similar. The Tyre kingdom was also another great kingdom. It was a vital trading route and this contributed to its wealth as lot of merchant ships passed through. A lot of figurative text was used to describe its tremendous wealth and the beauty of this great city. This unfortunately has been translated literarily and also gave rise to this being a reference to Satan.

Both portions of scripture definitely could not refer to Satan as the general consensus is that Satan’s rebellion took place before man was created. If this was so why then were references made to other people within these verses?

Everyone there will stare at you and ask, “Can this be the one who shook the earth and the kingdoms of the world? 17 Can this be the one who destroyed the world and made it into a shambles, who demolished its greatest cities and had no mercy on his prisoners?” Isaiah 12: 16

All who know you are appalled at your fate; you are an example of horror; you are destroyed forever Ezekiel 28: 19

One other verse of scripture thrown into the mix is Revelation 12, the reference to the dragon sweeping a third of the stars and being hurled to earth. This is used as further confirmation that this showed Satan’s demotion from glory. However, one crucial bit of information is usually omitted; God had already told John that this event as well as all other events described after chapter 4 would happen in the future. Another thing overlooked is fact that Satan was already described as a dragon at the start of the chapter.

So then who is Satan and how did he come about? The answer is actually in Genesis 3. The serpent here could not have been a physical snake as Eve would have fled from a talking snake. Whatever it was, it was clear there was no animosity between it and man as Eve appeared comfortable talking with it. God made them enemies because of the Serpent’s deceit and man’s disobedience and this resulted in both parties being punished. The Serpent would bruise the heel of man by constantly accusing him before God and redemption would come when the seed of a woman (not of a man) was born and He will crush the head of the serpent.

Jesus is that seed as He was born of the Spirit to an earthly mother making Him 100% God and a 100% man. Jesus’ death and resurrection was a blow to the Serpent’s head as he could no longer accuse us before God because we now had someone interceding on our behalf before God. We overcome all of Satan’s accusations by blood of the lamb that speaks better things than the blood of Abel and by our testimony that Jesus is Lord.

Irrespective of the Devil’s origins, we still have victory over him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of our testimony that Jesus is Lord!

Debunking Christian myths – is Satan Lucifer?

I have been wanting to write something about this for a very long time and have been unable to until now. I was taught very early on in Christianity that Satan was one of God’s angels whose beauty got into his head and made him lead a revolt against God. As a result he was thrown out of heaven along with the angels that took part in the rebellion and they’ve been tormenting mankind ever since.

I was quite puzzled when I couldn’t find this account anywhere in scripture and the confusion deepen when I couldn’t find Lucifer anywhere in the NIV bible I had as a young Christian. Before we go into the person of Satan let us first of all explore the name Lucifer.

The reference to Lucifer can be found in Isaiah 14: 12 and quite curiously not every version mentions the name Lucifer like I pointed out earlier. And this really sparked my curiosity! If the name Lucifer was associated with Satan and this verse of scripture was about his demise surely every version of scripture should mention it.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! (KJV)

How art thou fallen from heaven, O day-star, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, that didst lay low the nations! (ASV)

How have you fallen from heaven, O light-bringer and daystar, son of the morning! How you have been cut down to the ground, you who weakened and laid low the nations [O blasphemous, satanic king of Babylon!] (AMP)

You were like the morning star, but you have fallen from the sky. In the past, all the nations on earth bowed down before you, but now you have been cut down. (ERV)

I was able to gain a better understanding after digging deep into scripture.

The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic while the New Testament was written in Greek. The original Hebrew text from which Isaiah 14: 12 was translated never contained the word or name Lucifer; instead the original Hebrew word was ‘heylel’ a derivative of the Hebrew word ‘Halal’ which means to shine. It was used to refer to the ‘bright morning star’ an exceptional bright star whose appearance in the sky heralds dawn. Then where did the name Lucifer come from?

The first ever translation of the bible from the original Hebrew/Aramaic & Greek text was the ‘Latin Vulgate’. And Lucifer was actually a very popular Latin name before this time and it also meant ‘bright and morning star’.  So the Latin-Vulgate reads thus:

quomodo cecidisti de caelo lucifer qui mane oriebaris corruisti in terram qui vulnerabas gentes

And the King James Version of the bible, about the only version with the name Lucifer, was translated from the Latin-Vulgate and compared with the original Hebrew-Greek text. The translators retained ‘Lucifer’ in its original Latin form instead of translating it into English along with the other text. This explains why most other versions of the bible do not have ‘Lucifer’ at all. Satan was definitely never called Lucifer at any point in time.

If Satan isn’t Lucifer then who is he?

Spiritual abuse in today’s church – Pt 2

Prophets too were raised by God and their words usually carried a lot of power. They were revered by the people as the very oracles of God and were in a different class to the rest of the children of Israel. Younger prophets always served older prophets; the Levites were servants to the priests while the rest of Israel was subject in a sense to the Levites, the priests and the prophets. All the Pentecostal churches I have been to adapt this model.

The head pastor and his wife were always in a different class to the rest of the church. They were followed by their assistants who were next in line and finally the rest of the congregation. Just as the Old Testament prophets had so much power amongst those of the Old Testament, so also these New Testament pastors believe that of themselves as well. Quite a lot of them believe they cannot be corrected when they are wrong. They believe they have so much authority that any pronouncements they make over people good or bad will definitely come to pass.

Just like the prophets did in the Old Testament, these pastors believe that anyone who wants to go out to start his own church has to first serve a pastor who had been in ministry longer than himself. The most popular scriptural example used to buttress this belief is the relationship between Elijah and Elisha and this has led to a lot of spiritual abuse. These pastors request unquestionable loyalty from their congregation as they believe God has bestowed upon them the highest authority ever known to man. ‘At their word’ things happen; the dead is raised, the blind see, those who have been blessed by them will truly be blessed while those who’ve been cursed by them will definitely be cursed.

This is undoubtedly very old wine in new wine skins and it will not hold for long!

The New Testament is definitely not like this. No one believer has authority over another believer and no man except Jesus is the go-between between man and God. His death and resurrection paved the way for us all to have unhindered access to God. The older and more mature believers are actually supposed to encourage the younger immature ones not lord over them. They are supposed to help the younger ones understand more about God and His word not take God’s place in their lives.

This gives rise to abuse of power and the prevalence of very faulty doctrines because of the mistaken belief that their authority should never be questioned. I once read how a pastor made members of his congregation eat grass and a lot of them fell ill afterwards. Another made his congregation drink petrol. Others have been known to take advantage of ladies within their congregation sexually and the list goes on. Some are not as extreme as this as their methods are a bit more subtle. It is abuse nonetheless. Anyone bold enough to raise any objections is usually silenced with the ‘touch not the Lord’s anointed’ gag order, another misapplication of scripture. That verse of scripture was never used in favour of a class division; it was used in a completely different context by David to describe the entire children of Israel in his Psalm of praise when the ark of covenant was being brought into Jerusalem

20 And when they (the children of Israel) went from nation to nation, and from one kingdom to another people; 21 He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes, 22 Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm. 1 Chronicles 16 (The words in brackets are mine)

This is ‘touch not the Lord’s anointed’ in proper context.

Having gained this understanding, I no longer allow myself to be bullied into anything by any preacher who believes he is God’s representative. If I cannot find what he’s said in the bible, I completely disregard it. I am not in any way calling for disrespect or rebellion within our ranks but only pointing out how far some things that no longer belong in the New Testament have been taken.

90 day tithe challenge

A lot of churches seem to be jumping this tithe challenge bandwagon and to what end? Do you become a better Christian at the end? Does it help you know God better? Or is it simply to increase your material possessions?

Something about this stinks to the high heavens as it is clear that the motive behind these challenges is not pure. God appears to be treated like a minion that can be manipulate to get what one wants and that is certainly not Christianity but more like paganism.

It is quite possible to take aspects of Christianity and turn them into pagan rituals. And this usually happens when we take Christ out of the equation or appear to manipulate aspects of it to provide specific results we are after. This is no different to spiritualists and the like who have to chant specifics words to get a desired outcome.

These challenges are indeed quite ludicrous as it is clear that those who initiate it are not doing so as a result of a specific instruction from God. God is God regardless; His word never fails as it always accomplishes whatever He sends it to do. Unfortunately, in this case of the tithe challenge people are being encouraged to put God to ‘test’ or hold Him to ransom as it were and He’s being given 90 days to respond. What a pity!

The major thing lacking in all of this is a relationship! You wouldn’t want to do a thing like this if you truly had a relationship with God. God is not a tool you manipulate to get what you want and you do not call the shots, He does.

Malachi 3: 10 has been taken completely out of context and is being touted as the proof that God has asked that we put Him to test in the area of tithing. To get a proper understanding of this verse one has to look at the entire book as well as understand the historical fact behind it.

This event takes place during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah when the Jews returned to Jerusalem after their exile in Babylon. Aspects of the law were no longer being observed or were forgotten. The law gave specifics on how sacrifices were to be handled and chapter 1 tells us that the priests were actually slack in that regard. Instead of offering up animals without blemishes they were offering up diseased animals which was against the law of Moses.

The priests were not the only ones at fault; some of the Israelites had divorced their wives in favour of younger foreign ones and had also begun to withhold the tithes and offerings commanded under the law. So the call to test Him actually meant they should investigate so as to better understand Him. As clearly those who came out of Babylon had forgotten God and the law.

This so called tithe challenge has no scriptural basis and if it was aimed at improving your personal relationship with God or helping you know God better that wouldn’t have been so bad. But it seems this is aimed at getting some form of financial or material reward by manipulating God through tithing. It is not right.

Giving in the New Testament

The relationship between the Old Testament tithes and offerings and giving in the New Testament remains something that is very poorly taught in much of today’s church.

The potential for error starts with the way the tithes and offerings are viewed; they are both taken completely out of context in today’s church and given completely new meanings and purposes. I have looked at both the tithe and offerings in previous posts and have now decided to link both to giving in the New Testament.

There were numerous kinds of offerings required from those of the Old Testament. These offerings played a part in the redemption plans of God and were types and shadows of better things to come. The offerings were in no way inferior to the tithes and failure to bring both had consequences.

Looking at the offerings on their own and not as part of the law can lead to misleading conclusions as all aspects of the Old Testament law were intrinsically linked and had to be observed in their entirety. Hence Paul stressed that breaking one was akin to breaking all. One of the first offerings given by the Old Testament Jews was the offering of the first born while they were still in Egypt. No non-Jew was allowed to partake or observe this except they had been circumcised. Some offerings like atonement and the offering of the first born were compulsory whilst others were required based on circumstances; trespass offering, guilt offering are some examples.

The importance of both the tithe and offerings was stressed in Malachi 3: 8. God reprimanded the Jews for defrauding Him by not bringing their tithes and offerings. He did not in any way place the tithe over the offering. However, their position in the New Testament was highlighted in the book of Hebrews:

Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. Hebrews 10:11

The Old Testament offerings could not take away the sins of those who observed them and had to be done year in year out to be of any value. According to the book of Hebrews this unfortunately brought a constant reminder of sin and the people could not attain perfection.

The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. Hebrews 10: 1 & 2

And it clearly highlights that the offerings served redemptive purposes. Thankfully, the sacrifice of Jesus spelt an end to all of them and giving offerings unto God is ‘no’ longer required under the new dispensation.

For the New Testament believer our giving is not looked at in terms of tithes or offerings but is considered in terms of what we have and can afford to give.

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

And giving to those in need is considered giving to God. Hence our giving in church should always be geared towards meeting the ‘needs’ of others and this Paul likened to the sweet smelling savour of an Old Testament offering.

‘Offering’ time in church should be relabelled ‘giving’ time and should be viewed as an opportunity to contribute towards meeting the needs of others and explained as such. Trying to explain it as the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament tithes and offerings paints an incorrect picture.

Alas! Here is something I really didn’t understand

I haven’t written anything in about 2 years now and had resolved not to write about the tithe again but a chance encounter made me go back on that.

I have come to realise that I did not have a full understanding of the tithe and my posts did not paint the full picture. Howbeit, I now have a much better understanding.

I had often heard it mentioned that there were 3 tithes required form the Old Testament Jew but I just couldn’t follow the trail in the bible. And I must admit the bible did seem to change the remit of the tithe whenever it was mentioned. But after a careful study, I now know that what I termed as different remits were actually different tithes which had different scopes.

There were 3 different tithes required from the children of Israel; the first, the second and the third tithes.

The first tithe was to be given to the Levites by the remaining 11 tribes after a heave offering had been offered. This was their means of sustenance because they were barred from doing any form of secular work. They in turn gave a tenth of what they received from the other 11 tribes to the priests. This appeared to be practised every year for 6 years within the seven year agricultural cycle (Numbers 18:21-30, Leviticus 27:30-33).

The Second tithe was collected on the first, second, fourth and fifth year of every 7 year agricultural cycle (Deuteronomy 12:11-18, 14:22-29, 26:12). This tithe was usually taken to be consumed at Jerusalem. Those who lived faraway and could not conveniently bring the agricultural produce where allowed to convert it into money. And the only caveat with this was they had to add 25% of its monetary value. They were encouraged to spend the money on anything they liked including wine and strong drink.

The third tithe or poor tithe was collected every 3 years. So in effect it was collected on the third and sixth year of every 7 year agricultural cycle (Deuteronomy 14:28, 26:12).

The seventh year was classed as the year of the Sabbath and no agricultural activity was allowed during this year. No tithes were paid either and people were free to eat everything that grew out of the ground by itself.

Ironically, those who preach and practise the tithe today do not do anything that closely resembles this. Which begs the question, ‘where did they get it from?’ They cannot claim they follow Abraham’s example because his was completely voluntary and was not required as part of God’s covenant with him. It couldn’t have made him wealthy because he was already wealthy. It wasn’t the reason God blessed him because we understand from scripture that God’s covenant with Abraham had nothing to do with him.

The book of Malachi speaks of tithe in the plural and this refers to the 3 different tithes required from the children of Israel. This clearly belonged to the law and is definitely not binding on the New Testament church.

The tithe was not solitary but was part and parcel of the Old Testament law. It had to be practised in conjunction with all the other laws for it to be accepted. Trying to impose tithing today revives the law and brings condemnation. And one then tends to repeat the same mistake of the Galatian church, starting off in the spirit and then trying to achieve perfection by observing part of the law.

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