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Sunday, July 17, 2011

2110--three tithes

One of the odd things about a blog is how everything is from newest to oldest, so I need to repeat some things I've previously written.  Back in December, 2010, I released scripts of 2 minute commentaries written for radio on subjects that some of us believers in Jesus would maintain have not been dealt with properly by the organizational church in our culture.  Currently, I have been making 1 minute and five minute versions of those, as, when I have the cash to run these on radio, those are time frames that fit stations I might deal with.
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            My name is Tom.  This is Simple Church Minute.  In the Old Covenant, the children of Israel were commanded to give two tithes for certain, and probably a third, every third year tithe.   The first tithe, spoken of in Leviticus 27 and Numbers 18, was for the support of the Levites, the tribe of Israel who was not given land so that they could be responsible for worship among the people.  The next tithe, the festival tithe, was for celebrating Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles, details of which appear in Deuteronomy chapters 12, 14, and 16.  Many, but apparently not all, who are familiar with these details understand there to also be a third, every third year tithe, for the poor and the Levites, which is based on Deuteronomy 14 verses 28 and 29.  When Israel was an ancient nation, the operating budget of the nation also appears to have come from the tithes, so this may not seem so excessive, although when it was subject to another nation, such as they were in the days of Jesus, when Rome collected their taxes additionally, it was certainly more onerous.  These tithes were part of the Old Covenant Law, or Torah, which we believers in Jesus understand to have been fulfilled by Jesus’ death on the cross.

          In Acts 15 verses 1 to 29, when the mainly non-ethnically Jewish believers asked the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, after being visited by persons who were teaching that the Old Testament law about circumcision was still to be obeyed, the apostles and elders, led by James, wrote them to abstain from food offered to idols, animals which were strangled, from drinking blood, and sexual immorality.  There was nothing there about paying tithes.  The New Covenant includes the virtue of being generous.  To this effect, for believers earning a superior income, 10%, 20%, maybe even 50%, may not be generous, and for those who are poor, anything is. First Timothy 6 verses 17 to 19 are appropriate.

          Further, First Timothy 3 verses 3 to 8 and chapter 6 verse 9 teach us that a qualification of elders, deacons, and teachers, which were not organizational appointments, but positions of experience and gifting, was that they were not to be greedy. We, in our culture, have an extremely distorted idea of wealth, as most of us have more material possessions and comforts than the extremely wealthy and royals of all previous generations and many current ones, although our culture’s expenses are greater, also.

          On the opposing side, nowhere in the New Testament have we been directed to spend money on buildings and support of local leadership.  The main example in the New Testament is Paul, who had a skill to support himself during the main part of his missionary journeys.  One liability of the church today in the west is occupational leaders whose only skill is theology, and avoid certain teachings of the Word in concern for their job and family.

          You can find out more about simple worship of Jesus locally at www.hrscn.org, and also at www.simplechurch.com. You can contact me at _______.  If you wish I could repeat what I said, a transcript of this with footnotes is at tevyebird.blogspot.com, dated July 17, 2011.



          I used the breakdown of the three tithes from www.biblestudy.org/belief/tithe-in-the-bible/three-tithes-of-israel.html.  As New Covenant believers are saved by faith in Jesus, not by obeying the Old Covenant Law/instructions, I used this as a simple explanation of the three tithes, and am in no way even wishing to quibble about whether a given Old Testament scripture refers to one tithe or the other; I brought this up as a matter of history, as it is irrelevant to following Jesus, except for it being a historical precursor, and that in the Middle Ages the term got dragged into faith in Jesus in error.  Frank Viola and George Barna’s Pagan Christianity, in chapter 8, p. 171-185, covers the historical detail on this subject with copious footnotes.

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