Archive for the ‘FAQs’ Category

Christian Tattoos

“He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. … On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords” (Revelation 19:12-13,16).

Recently, I was shocked to learn that some Christians believe Jesus is going to return on a white horse with a tattoo on his thigh.  Not only that, but he also has us tattooed on the palms of his hands. Is  that what the Scriptures really say?  Will Yeshua have a tattoo of  ‘the name that only he knows’ on his leg?  If so, couldn’t anyone tattoo their thigh with some random letters or words and claim they are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords deceiving the whole world?  I hope that the anti-christ doesn’t own a white horse, have a robe dipped in blood and carry a sword!

Why is it that many Christians believe such nonsense?  The only answer could be their interpretation of Scripture has become so skewed their doctrine of grace has no boundaries.   They have created a sinful savior who is incapable of delivering anyone so they remain in their rebellious carnality while proclaiming Jesus as their Lord.

Tattoos in Scriptures

“And do not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor put tattoo marks on you.  I am the LORD”(Leviticus 19:28). 

The Hebrew word for ‘tattoo’ is qaqu and means ‘to cut or imprint’ the skin.  In the verses surrounding tattoos, God makes clear that his covenanted people were not to worship the gods of the the nations around them like drinking blood, divining spirits, selling their daughters into religious prostitution or cutting their bodies for the dead.  Some say that the command is only for Israel, but don’t the words “I AM the LORD” have significance to Christians? It would seem not as 25%  of all tattoos per year are religious in nature. Just looking on line for ‘Christian tattoos,’ there are 102,000 tags.  

As with many commands of God, the tattoo has become a cultural phenomenon denying its root of worshipping other gods transforming it into something acceptable by everyone except a few remnant souls standing their ground.   Because tattoos are now called body art, the making of a mark, figure or writing by pricking and inserting pigment under the skin, is not considered the same thing as cutting the flesh for the dead.  Being tattooed with a number was not something to be desired in concentration camps during the Holocaust; however,  today believers tattoo birth dates, death dates and anniversary dates to their skin.  From much of the body art designs, it seems the ‘other god’ is the idolatry of self and flesh. Branding the human body with flowers, words and even Scripture verses takes away from the handiwork of the Creator who made each of us in His image. 

I have learned from talking to people who have tattoos that most, if not all, are done in memory of someone they loved who died or hurt them deeply.  These people, along with many believers,  justify their tattoo as a lasting memorial for the dead  to help them to get through the emotional pain.  Instead of going to the Creator and Yeshua to be set free from depression, sadness,  anger, bitterness, deep pain and suffering, they cut their bodies.

I know one young man who tattooed  yod-hey-vav-hey, the holy name of God, on his back.  He said it was to honor God.  From a death perspective I wondered, “Is Jesus still dead that we need to cut our flesh for him?” “Is a tattoo an honorable memorial to him?”  According to my Bible, Yeshua is alive and seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven (Luke 22:69, Ephesians 1:20, Colossians 3:1); therefore, a tattoo to honor him is blasphemy.  

The Engraved Hands of Messiah

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands …” (Isaiah 49:6). 

The word ‘engrave’ in Hebrew is patah and is only used in reference to engraving the names of the Tribes of Israel on stone.  This ‘engraving’ never refers to a tattoo or body art on the flesh when used in context of the Hebrew word.

The markings on Yeshua’s hands are the scars from the nails on the cross. “Then he said to Thomas,

‘Put your finger here; see my hands.  Reach out your hand and put it into my side.  Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27).

“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.  Their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight” (Luke 24:30-31).

Thomas was a doubter to Yeshua’s resurrection.  The scars that he touched were not  mere tattoos from some tattoo artist in Israel.  They were the crucifixion marks of a dead man come back to life!   The two men from Emmaus also recognized Yeshua by the scars on His palms when He broke bread.   His scars were real scars from a real event and not some drawings he received in a tattoo parlor.  It is those same scars from the nails in his hands and feet that when He returns, ‘all the people of the earth will look on the one they pierced and mourn’ (Zechariah 12:10, Revelation 1:7).

Faithful and True Witness of God’s Word

“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  With justice he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.  He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God” (Revelation 19:11-12). 

Riding on a white horse, Yeshua is called Faithful and True.  To what is Yeshua Faithful and True?  The name written on his thigh: the Word of God.

“Then they said to Jeremiah, ‘May the LORD be a ‘true and faithful’ witness against us if we do not act in accordance with everything the LORD your God sends you to tell us” (Jeremiah 42:5).

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘These are the words of the Amen, the ‘faithful and true’ witness, the ruler of God’s creation” (Revelation 3:14).

Yeshua was faithful and true to all of the God-breathed words that are the essence of his life.  He was sinless and never broke one of his Father’s commandments.  If he had even broken one commandment, for example Leviticus 19:28 regarding tattoos and had tattoos on his hands or thigh, he would have sinned against his Father and become an ‘unfaithful and a false witness’.   Moreover, he would have been a blemished ‘lamb’  unable to be a sin offering for us.

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Messiah, a lamb without blemish or defect [tattoo]” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Yeshua’s Tzizit or Tassels

“Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels (tzizit) on the corners of your garments with a blue cord on each tassel.  You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes” (Numbers 15:38-39, Deuteronomy 22:12).

The four corners of a garment with tzizit  are no mere trifle and speak  about the name of God, the power of God, the anointing of God, and the commands of God!   Putting tzizit on the hem of a garment showed the person wearing the garment was remembering the commands of Yahweh and not following after the lusts of their eyes and heart.  

When David and King Saul were at odds, David went into a cave and cut off the hem of Saul’s garment.  In doing so, he cut off his tzizit.  David was conscience-stricken and spoke these words, “The LORD forbid that I do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD” (1 Samuel 24:4-5).

Yeshua was born into Tribe of Judah which makes him Jewish.  As a Jewish man, he obeyed the command in Numbers and wore tzizit on the four corners of his garments.  The tzizit are made of strings and knots that have a numerical value for the tetragrammaton Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey or the memorial name of God.  It is highly probable that the name of God written on Messiah are his tzizit resting on his thigh as returns with his armies. 

“On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 19:16).

No earthly king bears his thigh to the world, so why would the eternal and holy King of Kings and Lord of Lords bear his?  Kings wear robes and Yeshua will be no different.  His robe, however, will have the testimony of God’s name on it.    The only reason Yeshua knows the name of his Father is because the actual rendering for the yod-hey-vav-hey has been lost over the centuries.  Yeshua, the Faithful and True witness, will finally restore the name of his Father when He returns.  There will be no confusion as to who he is as His “thigh will bear the Name.”

Imprinting the Word of God

“Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.  Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart” (Proverbs 7:3-4).

The Israelites were given a unique way to remember the commands of God and it wasn’t with a tattoo on their body.  Specifically,  they were to tie the commands as symbols on their hands and bind them on their foreheads.  They were not to literally write them on their hands or foreheads as that would have been disobeying God’s command about tattooing their bodies.

These are the commands, decrees and teachings the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe …. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the door frames of your houses and your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:1, 8-9).

According to the new covenant, the Word of God is supposed to be inside of us, written on our hearts by the Spirit of God. I’ve seen people tattoo the fruits of the Spirit on their arms or the love chapter from 1 Corinthians 11 when the only flesh on which God’s teachings are to be written is the transformed heart. This type of ‘remembering’ the Word of God is an abominable sin in the eyes of God who made our bodies to be Temples of His Spirit – not billboards of body art.

“But the mercy and loving-kindness of the Lord are from everlasting to everlasting upon those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him, and His righteousness is to children’s children— To such as keep His covenant [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying it] and to those who [earnestly] remember His commandments to do them [imprinting them on their hearts]” (Psalm 103:17-18 Amplified Bible).

I love the way the Amplified Bible describes the new covenant relationship with God. The commandments are ‘imprinted on our hearts’. If we could just tattoo Scriptures on our bodies and be at peace with God, then the purpose of the new covenant would be unnecessary.  Everyone must make a choice to either love God and His Word as it is written or willfully rebel against Him by justifying sin in the name of freedom and grace.  

Our King Yeshua will be returning on a white horse. His witness to his Father will be faithful and true.  His Kingdom will be ruled by justice and an iron scepter for those who refuse to obey his Father’s commandments.   Following the Commander of Yahweh’s armies, dressed in white are those who will rule and reign with him because the Spirit of God imprinted the commands of God on their hearts and not their precious bodies.

Tattoos on Yeshua. Not ever. 

Christian tattoos, nope.

©2012 Tentstake Ministries Publishing

What’s Wrong in Galatia?

“They stirred up the people, as well as the elders and the Torah-teachers; so they came and arrested him and led him before the Sanhedrin.  There they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never stops speaking against this holy place and against the Torah…” (Acts 6:12-14).

Whenever we share our faith with non-Jewish believers that we keep the Biblical Sabbath, celebrate the Feasts of the Lord and eat according to Leviticus, we are always referred to the book of Galatians and warned of legalism and Judaizing.  What is it about Judaizing, legalism and the so-called ‘Galatian error’ that incites people to react so defensively toward a non-Jewish believer who desires to obey God’s commands out of a heart of love, commitment and devotion?

The Word is “Compel”

“Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised.  They only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Messiah…. They want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh” (Galatians 6:12-14).

According to this verse, new gentile believers were being compelled to undergo outward flesh circumcision as a requirement to live out their faith in Yeshua of Nazareth.  This happened because some Messianic Jews were fearful of being persecuted by non-believing Jews for their faith in Yeshua.

The Galatian error had nothing to do with faith obedience to the commands of God or Torah, it had nothing to do with the Sabbath, the Festivals or dietary regulations. The Galatian error was about a ‘written code’ that was inhibiting the non-Jew’s freedom to live in obedience to God’s commands and enjoy the blessings, promises and covenants that they now had access to as part of the commonwealth of Israel through faith in Messiah.

Circumcision

“Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts” (1 Corinthians 7:19).   

When studying Galatians and Paul’s teachings, it is important to understand the terminology he used when referring to the Body of Messiah, Jews and non-Jews.  Many times circumcision verses are taught with an anti-circumcision viewpoint along with the idea that  to become circumcised means ‘forcing someone to obey God’s commands.’  This is not how Paul used the terms ‘circumcision’ and ‘uncircumcision;’ this is not what circumcision means.

First Corinthians has nothing to do with the act of circumcising the flesh.  It compares the flesh condition of two different groups of people: the Jews who were known as ‘the circumcision’ and the gentiles who were known as ‘the uncircumcision.’  Putting the verse in the proper terminology, Paul is saying that it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a non-Jew, what matters is keeping God’s commandments.  It can be reasoned from this verse that Paul never taught a gospel that encouraged disobedience to Torah,  but states that both Jew and gentile have the responsibility to keep God’s commandments which include Sabbath, Festivals, and dietary regulations.

Paul uses the same terminology in Galatians 6:16:

“Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.” 

Paul is again not speaking about the act of circumcision.  He is saying “Being Jewish or non-Jewish means nothing; what counts is being a new creation [in Messiah].”  He wants all the Galatians (and those who read Galatians) to understand that our flesh condition, our DNA, has nothing to do with our justification before God. All of us, Jew and non-Jew,  need to be born again into the Kingdom of God; everyone,  Jew and non-Jew, needs to be new creations in Messiah (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Redemption from the Law

“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive full rights of sons” (Galatians 4:4).

Yeshua, who was fully God, humbled Himself and came down to earth as a human being.  He  was born into a world of sin and death just like every other human born of a woman.   He lived under the laws of human nature with the temptation of sin, but remained sinless because his Father was not Adam, but Yahweh.  He never broke one of His Father’s commands as written in Torah.  He lived them perfectly and taught them to his followers correctly.  Because he was completely righteous and without sin, his death was sufficient payment to free all mankind, Jew and non-Jew, from the law of sin and death and give them life now and forever as sons of God.

“You are all sons of God through faith in Messiah Yeshua, for all of you who were immersed into Messiah have clothed yourself with Messiah.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.  If you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 5:26-29).

We all live under the ‘law of sin and death’ until we are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and become sons of God.    No one in Galatia or anywhere else at any other time was ever justified by laws – man’s or God’s.   As redeemed sons of God in Messiah, there is no spiritual differentiation between Jew and non-Jew, male or female, slave or free.   When each of us comes to faith in Messiah, we become Abraham’s seed and evidence of the promise God made to Abraham that all nations would be blessed through him.

Zealous for ‘the law’

“For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.  I was advancing Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers” (Galatians 1:13-14).

In his own words, Paul admits that before he met Yeshua, he persecuted new Jewish believers regarding Judaism and the traditions of the fathers that he called ‘the law.’  If anyone lived contrary to the ‘traditions of Judaism,’  they were persecuted and even put to death by his authority. Until his Road to Damascus experience,  Paul was the greatest persecutor of Messianic Jewish followers of Yeshua who he thought could no longer adhere to traditional Judaism and the religious system that it included.  Acts 7:54-60 records him front and center at the stoning of Stephen receiving the coats of the witnesses at his feet.

Conversion through Circumcision

Before Yeshua’s death and resurrection,  the only way for a gentile  God-fearer to  join the ‘commonwealth of Israel’ was to convert to Judaism.  This was done through a ritual conversion that included circumcision of the flesh.   Though circumcision was initially given as a covenant sign of faith to Abraham, over the centuries circumcision had become an outward symbol of following Judaism which included following all of the manmade traditions, yokes, and burdens that went with it.

In the Temple, a ’wall of partition’ separated the people of Israel from the gentiles.  Though a God-fearer from the nations could come to Solomon’s Colonnade to pray, they could never enter the Temple  area unless they had legally converted to Judaism through ritual circumcision.  It was this ‘wall of partition,’ the traditional ‘law’ to become legally Jewish that Yeshua destroyed in his flesh.

The problem in Galatia was not that Messianic believers from the nations were being forced to obey the commandments of God, but that non-Messianic Jews wanted gentile believers to convert to Judaism.   Paul made it very clear that gentile believers did not have to  convert to Judaism to live out their faith in Yeshua. 

In fact, Paul taught that all believers in Yeshua of Nazareth needed to remain in the flesh condition they were in when they were saved.  If they were ‘uncircumcised,’ they were to remain as gentiles.  If they were ‘circumcised,’  they were to remain as Jews.  It is the witness of Jew and gentile worshipping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob together in a Biblical way that is the testimony of Messiah. 

“Circumcision has value if you observe the law [of Judaism], but if you break the law [of Judaism], you have become as though you had not been circumcised” (Romans 2:25).

Paul says that circumcision to become lawfully Jewish has no value because it is completely dependent on observing Judaism and its traditions.  A ritual circumcision has no foundation in faith, but in the traditions of the fathers; the traditions of men.  These traditions or laws are easily broken and then it is as if the person is no longer a convert to Judaism.

Paul understands this thought process more than anyone because he was a ‘Judaizer’ himself.    Moreover, he has learned through personal experience that being legally Jewish, of which he was as a descendant of Benjamin, is not as valuable as faith in Messiah Yeshua.   It is faith in Yeshua that gives all believers – circumcised or uncircumcised – not only freedom from the law of sin that leads to death, but also the burdens of Judaism.

Titus and Timothy

Enter Titus.  Titus was a Greek believer (non-Jew).  He did not feel compelled to be circumcised.  He was quite content to remain in his non-Jewish condition, but it created some problems within the  Jewish congregation that needed to be dealt with.

“This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Messiah Yeshua and to make us slaves” (Galatians 2:4). 

Notice that  Paul doesn’t say Jewish believers in Messiah are creating the problems, but rather ‘false brothers’ who had ‘infiltrated’ the body of believers in Jerusalem.  In Jerusalem ‘false brothers’ would most likely be Jews who had rejected the Messiah and were Judaizing or ‘false brothers’ could imply that these men ‘pretended, bore false witness’ to the Messiah. The purpose of these ‘false brothers’ was to ‘infiltrate’ the Body of Messiah and compel the gentile believers to convert to Judaism through circumcision.

Titus was a test case.   Though he personally did not feel the need to be circumcised, he was still being pressured to become legally Jewish.  If Paul allowed him to be circumcised and become legally Jewish, then the whole message of salvation by faith for the nations would have been nullified.   It would have changed justification by faith in Yeshua to works of the flesh – heritage or conversion.  The gospel to the nations with which God entrusted Paul would have ended abruptly.

But what about Timothy?   He was circumcised.

Timothy had a Greek father and a Jewish mother.   His mother and grandmother  raised him with the Hebrew Scriptures and he knew of his Jewish heritage.   For him to be circumcised was not an issue of conversion from a gentile status to a legal Jewish one because he was already ‘legally Jewish’ through his birth mother.   Furthermore,  Paul was going to take Timothy with him on his missionary journeys to places where there were unbelieving Jews. Being an uncircumcised Jew would have been a huge a stumbling block for the Jewish people to hear and receive the message of salvation in  their own Jewish Messiah.

Foolish and Bewitched

“You foolish Galatians!  Who has betwitched you?” (Galatians 3:1).

I cannot count how many times this verse has been quoted out of context to ‘correct us’ when we share with people that we are obeying God’s commands.    It is almost funny, if it wasn’t so sad.  We have met and known real people who sincerely  believe that obedience to God’s Torah is foolish and we are somehow being led astray by a ‘bewitching spirit’ and have ‘fallen from grace.’

Justification for sin comes through Messiah Yeshua’s atonement on the cross and by faith in Him alone.   There is no argument there.  To compel someone to become Jewish according to a written code involving circumcision of the flesh is most definitely a foolish error when it comes to the message of justification.  However, when someone is sharing that they love the Lord God of Israel and desire to obey His commands out of that love, they are not bewitched or foolish and trying to compel their friends to legally convert to Judaism.  In fact, it is quite the opposite when Yeshua Himself said, “If you love me, you will obey my commands” (John 14:15).

Zealousness and History

“Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good.  What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them” (Galatians 5:17). 

The unbelieving Jews only wanted gentile believers to ‘mutilate their flesh’ so they could boast about them.   They liked the idea of multitudes following them and their rules.  It boosted their egos and made them feel important and in control of this new movement of God.   They wanted to be able to say, “Look how many gentiles are converting to Judaism!”  Simply put, this was the Galatian error in Paul’s day: forced gentile conversion to Judaism.

It is very possible the Messianic Jews didn’t really know what to do with all the gentiles coming to faith in Yeshua.    Though the Council in Jerusalem outlined the responsibility of a gentile turning to God, there was no guarantee that the pagan ways of the nations wouldn’t infiltrate and destroy the Messianic faith that was just out of the womb.  Messianic Jews were well aware that Yeshua didn’t preach the kingdom of Judaism, but they also didn’t want to lose their Jewish identity, Biblical heritage.  In their defense, after 2000 years of gentile ‘infiltration,’  there was some merit to their concerns and struggles.

In the first century, there were more Jewish believers than gentile.  Gentiles who came to faith in Messiah grafted into the ‘commonwealth of Israel‘ and became part of the Olive Tree of Israel.    They met in synagogues on the Sabbath and were taught the Torah (Acts 15:21).   They took on a Biblically ‘Jewish’ identity while retaining their unique calling as gentiles.   As they tried to live out their new faith in a Biblical way with Biblical truths,  they felt the judgment of the Judaizers who wanted adherence to the ‘written code’  that a non-Jew needed to convert to Judaism.  Read in this context Colossians 2:16 takes on a whole new perspective and the freedom the gentile had received in the reality of Messiah:

“Therefore do not let anyone (Jew)  judge you (gentiles) by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Messiah.”

When the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70, the Jewish nation was scattered all over the world.  Jerusalem was no longer central to Judaism, the Jewish people and the Messianic faith. The Jewish congregation of believers led by James was no longer able to be an example of faith (1 Thessalonians 2:14).

As the centuries passed and the number of gentile believers increased,  there was a loss of identity with Israel and Rome took its place.  The Torah no longer came out of Zion nor the Word of the LORD from Jerusalem.   Anti-circumcision or anti-semitic doctrines crept into the church and edicts from various church councils, including Nicaea and Laodicea,   made it illegal for  believers in Yeshua to follow anything that appeared ‘Jewish’ including Sabbath, festivals, circumcision, and dietary regulations. 

Unfortunately for the growing Body of Messiah,  everything in the Bible looked ‘Jewish’ because God had  entrusted His Torah to the Jewish people to guard and protect.  Eventually Rome took the place of Jerusalem, the Hebrew Scriptures became written in Greek and Latin, and the Word of the LORD became the edicts of the Popes. Gentile believers easily fell into Roman catholicism against all warnings by Paul in his letter to the Romans (Chapters 9-14),  while Jewish believers either converted to Roman Christianity or died.  Then, of course, came the Crusades, the Inquisitions and the Holocaust.

The Modern Error in Galatia

Judaizing is a non-issue in today’s Christian church as Christians are no longer part of the Messianic Jewish community.   They do not attend synagogues for their teaching and instruction as did the first century believers.  They are not faced with ‘false brothers’ who compel them to convert to Judaism or be cast away from the God of Israel.  The Christian church no longer teaches Torah as an outline for living a life of obedience.     In fact, most if not all  Biblical truths that were illuminated by Yeshua and lived out by the Apostles and first gentile believers (including some Jewish traditions that Paul commended the gentile believers for keeping) have been eliminated to the point that neither Paul, the Apostles or Yeshua would recognize the Body of Messiah today.

The modern Galatian error is a now a ‘gentile code’ that compels Jews to follow the ways of the nations imbedded in the Christian church.   Jews who come to faith in Jesus Christ lose the vision of the eternal covenants and promises given to them.  They ‘legally convert’ to Christianity through baptism into some denomination.  Through the twisting of a misunderstood, first-century problem, the Body of Christ discourages anything Jewish and Jewish converts attend church services on Sunday and celebrate all manner of holidays that are foreign to them and prohibited by the God of Israel in the Hebrew Scriptures.  In these murky waters, they have lost their identity as Jews and their call to be a light to the gentiles has been snuffed out. 

Something definitely has ‘bewitched’ the church and it’s not a gentile desiring  to obey God’s commandments; it’s a distortion of truth that paralyzes gentiles from entering into the complete promise to Abraham, the fullness of the new covenant, and walking in the commandments of God.   Jew and gentile still remain separated and their testimony to the world of ‘one new man’ is impeded by a misrepresented error that no longer has its roots in Judaizing and compelling gentiles to become legally Jewish through ritual circumcision.  The modern ‘Galatian error’ has become the anti-semitic catch phrase for arrogance and pride over the first century Messianic Jews who dared to allow gentiles to enter the commonwealth of Israel through faith in the Jewish Messiah.

©2012 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, chapter from Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive on amazon.com

Sign of Jonah: Three Days and Three Nights

“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40).

Many people wonder about the three days and three nights of Yeshua’s death, burial and resurrection.  Let’s face it, Friday night to Sunday morning is NOT three days and three nights no matter how you interpret the days, the hours, the times, the kingships or even the Jewish and catholic traditions.  Yet, Yeshua’s own words prophesied that he would be in the grave three days and three nights, no less, no more. 

Creating a Timeline

Using Scripture along with the Feasts of the LORD is the perfect way to determine when Yeshua died, was buried and rose from the dead.  To create the timeline,  it may be more effective to work backwards from Yeshua’s Resurrection and the Sabbath day, to Unleavened Bread and to Passover in order to understand the timing of the events.  All ‘days’ go from evening to morning as established by God at Creation.  The sunset time of 6:00 p.m. is an arbitrary time that I chose to make my timeline and may not have been the actual time of sunset in the year that Yeshua died and rose from the dead.

The Resurrection – The Feast of Firstfruits

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Tell the people of Israel, ‘After you enter the land I am giving you and harvest its ripe crops, you are to bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.  He is to wave the sheaf before the LORD, so that you will be accepted; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath” (Leviticus 23:9-11).

Paul says that Yeshua is  ‘the firstfruits of those who have died’  using the same terminology as the Feast of Firstfruits found in Leviticus.  The Feast involved the waving of a sheaf of grain on the ‘day after the Sabbath’ or ‘the first day of the week’ (Sunday).  In agreement with the LORD’s ‘appointed times,’ the evidence in the gospels, and the explanation in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Yeshua rose from the dead as a firstfruits on the day after the Sabbath.

“But the fact is that Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have died” (1 Corinthians 15:20).

Day After the Sabbath

“After Sabbath, toward dawn the first day of the week, Miriyam of Magdala and the other Miryam went to see the grave” (Matthew 28:1).

The details surrounding the tomb are recorded in Matthew 28 and Luke 24.   On the first day of the week, after the Sabbath, before dawn, some women found Yeshua’s tomb empty.  It wasn’t until AFTER the Sabbath that the women found the tomb empty because they rested according to the commandment regarding the Sabbath day (Exodus 20:8-11). Only the seventh-day Sabbath command comes before the ‘first day of the week.’

“On the Sabbath, the women rested, in obedience to the commandment; but on the first day of the week, while it was still very early, they took the spices they had prepared, went to the tomb, and found the stone rolled away from the tomb!” (Luke 24:1).

Sometime before the light of dawn on the first day of the week, Yeshua must have risen from the dead because he was not in the tomb.    In other words,  during the hours between Saturday’s sunset (ending of Sabbath) and Sunday’s sunrise, Yeshua rose from the dead.  There is no specific time given for his Resurrection so for sake of explanation, let’s say the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday) ended at a 6:00 p.m. sunset.  It is possible that at 6:01 p.m., the beginning of the first day of the week, Yeshua rose from the dead.  However, it is also possible that he rose at 5:59 p.m. which will become clear.

Sabbath: Big ‘S’ or little ’s’

In Leviticus 23, when the LORD gave His ‘’appointed times’ to the Israelites, the first festival commanded is the weekly Sabbath.  It is the only ‘appointed time’ that He called ‘Sabbath’ – all of the other ‘appointed times’ were given specific names: Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Firstfruits, Feast of Weeks, Feast of Trumpets and Feast of Tabernacles.  Though several of the commanded Feasts included ‘no regular work’ like the seventh-day Sabbath, the LORD did not call them Sabbath with a Capital S.    It is only when the  Jewish tradition designated the LORD’s ‘appointed times’ as ‘sabbaths’ that confusion with the holy days began. 

For example, Leviticus 23:15 outlines the timing of the Feast of Weeks or  Pentecost, “From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks.”

If this verse is read with the Sabbath being the seventh-day weekly Sabbath given only 12 verses earlier, then the counting of seven full weeks would begin on the ‘day after the Sabbath’ or Sunday.   Counting this way would allow for Feast of Firstfruits to consistently fall on a ‘first day of the week’ which has tremendous prophetic significance for the Resurrection.

However, when the first day of another festival like Unleavened Bread is referred to by traditional Judaism as a sabbath, confusion  begins.  Depending on which day of the week the Unleavened Bread ‘sabbath’ falls, counting from the ’day after that sabbath’ makes  the day of Firstfruits change yearly and there is no recognition to the Feast of Firstfruits Resurrection.  Also according to Jewish tradition,  some ‘sabbaths’ are considered ‘higher’ than others; some weekly Sabbaths more important when they fall during a festival week.  Though these delineations may not be departing from God’s commands to keep His ‘appointed times,’ it does cause disunity between the Jews and the Body of Messiah regarding the celebration of  the Resurrection of  Messiah.

Yeshua followed many Jewish traditions because he was Jewish and lived as a Jewish man.  However, when those traditions nullified the commands of God, he refuted them and taught the correct view.  It would follow that if a Jewish or even Christian tradition nullified the ‘’appointed time’’ of a feast, Yeshua would celebrate it correctly and so in regards to Firstfruits, Scripture should be used over Jewish tradition.

Unleavened Bread – Day 3, Day 2, Day 1

“In the first month … on the fifteenth day of the same month is the festival of matzah (Unleavened Bread); for seven days you are to eat matzah (unleavened bread).  On the first day you are to have a holy convocation; don’t do any kind of ordinary work.  Bring an offering made by fire to Adonai for seven days. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work” (Leviticus 23:6-8).

Counting backwards from the time of the Resurrection,  we need three nights and three days for grave time.

Once again, let’s use 6:00 p.m. as the beginning time for each day. 

Day 1 would be from 6:00 p.m. Saturday evening to 6:00 p.m. Friday evening.  This would be the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday), Day 3 of Unleavened Bread, Day three in the tomb.

Day 2 would be from 6:00 p.m. Friday evening to 6:00 p.m. Thursday evening.  This would be Friday,  Day 2 of Unleavened Bread, Day two in the tomb.

Day 3 would be from 6:00 p.m. Thursday evening to 6:00 p.m. Wednesday evening.  This would be Thursday,  Day 1 of Unleavened Bread, Day one in the tomb. 

Using this timeline,  Yeshua would have been put in the tomb sometime BEFORE 6:00 p.m. Wednesday evening which began the first of the prophesied three nights and days  in the tomb (Thursday,  Friday, Saturday).  As mentioned earlier, by being buried in the tomb before 6:00 p.m., three days and three nights would have him rise  sometime before the Sabbath day ended.  It was only after the Sabbath day and the command to rest that Mary and the others went to the tomb to find it empty. 

The first day of Feast of Unleavened Bread was and is considered by Jewish tradition ‘a sabbath day.’  In the year of Yeshua’s death,  this Unleavened Bread would begin, according to the three days outlined above, on Wednesday evening at 6:00 p.m.  Before it began at sunset, the daytime hours were known as Preparation Day.   It was on Preparation Day of Unleavened Bread that Yeshua’s body was removed from the cross.   He needed to be buried before the start of the Unleavened Bread, ‘a special sabbath’ which began at sunset, the 15 day of the first month.

Yeshua was placed in the tomb as the unleavened, sinless bread from heaven.  He was wrapped in linen and placed in the tomb of a rich man from Jerusalem. He was in the tomb for the first three nights and days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

“There was a man named Joseph, a member of the Sanhedrin.  He was a good man, a righteous man, and he had not been in agreement with either the Sanhedrin’s motivation or their action.  … This man approached Pilate and asked for Yeshua’s body.  He took it down, wrapped it in a linen sheet, and placed it in a tomb cut into the rock, that had never been used.  It was Preparation Day, and a Sabbath was about to begin” (Luke 23:50-54).

Passover

“In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, between sundown and complete darkness, comes the Lord’s Passover” (Leviticus 23:5).

According to the timeline, the LORD’s Passover on the ’14 day of the month’ would begin at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday evening and end at sunset,  6:00 p.m. Wednesday evening.  After sunset, between twilight on Tuesday evening and complete darkness, the Passover meal was celebrated. 

“He [Yeshua] replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My ‘appointed time’ is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house’” (Matthew 8:29).

According to Luke 22:15, Yeshua had a great desire to celebrate this  Passover seder with his disciples.   This specific Passover was God’s ‘appointed time’ for Yeshua and he had to fulfill its purpose as the Lamb of God.    

The Passover celebrated by Yeshua was only a memorial to the Passover that occurred in Egypt.  No one put on sandals or carried staffs.  No one prepared for a great exodus from Egypt into the wilderness.  No one went outside their door to sacrifice a  lamb and put its blood on their doorposts.   Israel was no longer a people enslaved by Egypt and they celebrated their freedom with a traditional meal called a seder.

The Passover seder included four cups of wine and matzah or  unleavened bread.  During this unique seder, Yeshua would turn the focus from the past to the present and future.  He used one cup of wine to offer a renewed marriage covenant to his disciples.  As they shared the cup of wine together, they became his betrothed bride.   With the second cup of wine, he took the unleavened bread and explained the bride price would be his broken body and blood.   His death would be ‘the death of the firstborn’ and his blood would bring in the new covenant promised by the prophet Jeremiah. 

Matthew records that ‘when evening came Yeshua reclined with his disciples.’ He had a lot to tell his disciples and his words are recorded in Matthew 26, Mark 14 , Luke 22, and John 14-16.  After the Passover meal, they went to the Mount of Olives.  Yeshua prayed.   He asked that the final cup of Passover be removed, but submitted to the will of His Father.  While his disciples slept,  he prayed for all who would believe in him through the testimony of his followers.    Soldiers arrive in the darkness with the high priest.  They arrest him,  take him to the Sanhedrin and to Pilate.  Before sunrise, Peter denies Yeshua three times.  The crowds want him crucified.  Yeshua is beaten, bruised, mocked, and condemned to death.  He goes to Golgotha where he is nailed to the cross and dies quickly without having any of his bones broken.

The events of the 14th day of the first month, (Tuesday evening to Wednesday evening) were completed.  Yeshua gives up his spirit with the words “It is finished.”  The Passover’s final Cup of Completion, the death of the Lamb of God, was poured out at the exact same time the priests were offering the last Passover sacrifice at the Temple before sunset on Wednesday.

“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life” (Matthew 27:51-52).

Two Feasts with Matzah

“On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” (Matthew 26:17).

Though this verse suggests that Passover and Unleavened Bread start at the same time, Yeshua would have celebrated the actual dates of Passover and Unleavened Bread exclusive of Jewish tradition.  Even though unleavened bread was eaten at Passover, the two ‘’appointed times’ have different dates, memorials and purposes. 

The LORD’s Passover was the 14th day of the first month.  It began in the evening at twilight and lasted until the next evening.  Historically, the Israelites did not kill the Passover lamb and then suddenly leave Egypt.  They had to wait throughout the night for the ‘death of the firstborn’ until the next morning when they prepared to leave Egypt and plundered the Egyptians. On the fifteenth day of he first month,  Israel left Egypt.  For both festivals, unleavened bread was eaten. 

“Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.  From the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month until the evening of the twenty-first day, you are to eat matzah” (Exodus 12:17).

Some say that Yeshua could not celebrate Passover AND be the Passover lamb at the same time, however, one must understand the sacrificial system.  Every day, there were evening, morning and afternoon sacrifices. At the evening sacrifice, the beginning of Passover, Yeshua celebrated the seder with his disciples telling him that he would be broken and bleed for them.  By the morning sacrifice, he had been arrested, judged and condemned to death.   By the final afternoon sacrifice, he had walked to Golgotha, been nailed to the cross and died. He was buried quickly before the evening sacrifice that began the Feast of  Unleavened Bread.

Because our modern-day calendar differs from the Biblical one,  Passover will fall on a different day each year.  This means there needs to be unity when celebrating the most significant event of all time, the Resurrection of Messiah on the Feast of Firstfruits.  According to Scripture, the Feast of Firstfruits must come after Passover and it has to fall on a ‘first day of the week’ after the weekly Sabbath.  It’s that simple.  If Passover falls on any day of the week except Sabbath, the following Sunday will be the Feast of Firstfruits because there is a weekly Sabbath between the two.  If Passover falls on the Sabbath, then Firstfruits is the next day. 

The Biblical Three Days and Three Nights

In the year that Yeshua died, was buried and then resurrected,  he celebrated the Passover (14th day of the first month) with his disciples on a Tuesday evening.  Tuesday, during the night, he prayed for his disciples and those who would believe in him through their testimony.    He sweat drops of blood and submitted himself to death.  He was arrested before sunrise, beaten, hung on a cross and died late afternoon Wednesday at the exact time of the final Passover sacrifice.  The Temple curtain was torn in two; many who saw the events of the darkened sun and earthquake, knew he was the Son of God. He was taken from the cross, buried before the sun set while it was still Preparation Day for Unleavened Bread.

Wednesday evening to Saturday evening, the first ‘three nights and three days’ of Unleavened Bread,  his followers mourned.  A Roman centurion pondered why he felt the earth shake and knew at that moment that Yeshua was truly the Son of God.  Mockers who had seen the sign, “The King of the Jews”  were wondering why many who had died were walking around Jerusalem.    Peter and John and the rest of the disciples went into hiding for fear of their own lives.  The women who followed Yeshua went home grieving.  They prepared spices knowing they had to wait three days until after the Sabbath to prepare Yeshua’s body. The soldiers anxiously guarded the tomb hoping no one would steal the body.  All Israel rested on the seventh-day Sabbath day according to the command.  For the followers of Messiah, it was a long three days and nights.  It seemed like an eternity.

After resting on the Sabbath, before dawn on the first day of the week,  as the time for waving the sheaf in the Temple approached, several women went to the tomb.  They carried spices and walked through a garden wondering who would roll away the huge stone.  They could hear the whoooosssshhhhhhh of the sheaves being waved back and forth by the priests at the Temple nearby.  It was the Feast of Firstfruits.    After a long, confusing, heart-wrenching week of Passover, and then a seemingly endless Sabbath, could they endure another  ‘appointed’ of God?

“Yeshua said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? Whom are you looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you’re the one who carried him away, just tell me where you put him; and I’ll go and get him myself” (John 20:15).

“Yeshua said to her, “Miryam!” Turning, she cried out to him in Hebrew, “Rabbani!” (that is, “Teacher!”)   “Stop holding onto me,” Yeshua said to her, “because I haven’t yet gone back to the Father. But go to my brothers, and tell them that I am going back to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:15-17).

The sorrow of the women turned to joy at seeing Yeshua risen and alive.  They were so excited they wanted to touch their Rabbi, but he needed to return to his Father.    The women obeyed his command and went to the disciples with the amazing news that ‘He is Risen.’  While the priests in the Temple waved the firstfruits grain offering, Yeshua went to his Father and offered himself as the Firstfruits of those who are raised from the dead.  The counting of the weeks began.

Yeshua’s Last Week Chart

©2010 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, excerpt from Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive on amazon.com

Tithe to Who?

“Then Melchizedek king of  Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High,  and he blessed Abram, saying,  ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.’  Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything” (Genesis 14:18-20).

Abram heard that five kings had taken his nephew captive along with all the possessions and food of Sodom and Gomorrah.  He gathered 318 of his trained men and went in pursuit of them.  They attacked and routed them.  They recovered everything and retrieved Lot and his possessions.  In the Valley of Shaveh, the King’s Valley, the King of Sodom met him and asked him to return the people and keep the goods for himself.  Abram, on oath to God, refused to give the King of Sodom anything.

The King of Salem, Melchizedek, also also met him.  Melchizedek, whose name in Hebrew means ‘King of Righteousness’,  brought out bread and wine, a shadow of the promised covenant that would come through Abram’s seed.  Together Abram and this priest of the ‘most high God’  fellowshipped.   Melchizedek blessed Abram by the Creator of heaven and earth who delivered his enemies into his hand.   In response, Abram gave this king a tenth of everything as dividing the spoils of war with rulers and religious leaders was commonplace. 

The voluntarily giving of one-tenth of a part of something to another is called a tithe. The custom is as ancient as this exchange between Abram and Melchizedek.   It is also a custom that became part of the Torah given to Israel by God.

“The Torah requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people – that is their fellow Israelites – even though they also are descended from Abraham.  This man (Melchizedek), however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abram and blessed him who had the promises” (Hebrews 7:4-6). 

Levitical Priesthood

From Abraham came Isaac and Jacob.  Levi was the third son of Jacob from his wife, Leah.  From Levi came the tribe of the Levites who, because of their faithfulness in the wilderness, became the priesthood of God.   The Levites were given duties within the Tent of Meeting along with responsibilities surrounding offerings and sacrifices. Their duties continued throughout their generations whenever there was a Temple and all Israel gathered together. 

The Levites, unlike the other tribes,  were not given a land inheritance and were dispersed throughout the land of Israel.  Because they owned no land, they had no way of growing their own food or raising their own livestock.  God commanded the tithe be given to them as their inheritance payment for doing His work among the people of Israel.     Tithes of grain and oil became their sustenance along with the meat of a firstborn offspring of a cow, sheep, or a goat.

“I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting. …They will receive no inheritance among the Israelites. Instead, I give to the Levites as their inheritance the tithes that the Israelites present as an offering to the LORD. That is why I said concerning them: ‘They will have no inheritance among the Israelites’” (Numbers 18:21, 23-24).

In turn, the Levite priests gave a tithe to the LORD.  From everything they received from the Israelites, they were to present the best portion to God.  In order that Aaron and his sons would have sustenance, God gave His portion to Aaron.  They were to consider it holy and all Aaron’s sons and daughters were to eat it as their share of the inheritance.

“The LORD said to Moses,  “Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the LORD’s offering. …From these tithes you must give the LORD’s portion to Aaron the priest.  You must present as the LORD’s portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you” (Numbers 18:25-29).

Tithes went to the Levitical priests because they were the overseers of God’s holy system.  There were different divisions with different responsibilities.  Some ministered at the Altar of Sacrifice with burnt offerings, fellowship offerings, sin offerings, guilt offerings and drink offerings while others led worship, supervised weights and scales, witnessed legal agreements, and made judicial decisions.  The ir greatest responsibility was reading the Torah of God to Israel in such a way that the people understood it and could obey it.   

“The Levites – Yeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Yamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Yozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah – instructed the people in the Torah while the people were standing there.  They read from the Book of Torah of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read” (Nehemiah 8:7-8).

“In keeping with the ordinance of his father, David, he appointed the divisions of the priests for their duties, and the Levites to lead the praise …”

(2 Chronicles 8:14).

“In Jerusalem also, Jehosaphat appointed some of the Levites, priests and heads of Israelite families to administer the Torah of the LORD and to settle disputes” (2 Chronicles 19:8).

“Hezekiah assigned the priests and Levites to divisions – each of them according to their duties as priests … to give thanks and to sing praises at the gates of the LORD’s dwelling” (2 Chronicles 31:2).

Unfortunately, the Levite priests did not always do what they were called to do.  They began to steal from the people and did violence to God’s Torah and profaned His holy things.

“They [the priests] do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach there is no difference between the unclean and clean; and they shut their eyes to the keeping of my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them”

(Ezekiel 22:25-26).

Since A.D. 70 and the Roman invasion of Jerusalem, there has been no Temple.  There is no Altar of Sacrifice or a Holy Place that requires a Levitical priesthood.  The priests have been scattered throughout the world waiting for the day when there is another Temple and God’s promise of an eternal priesthood to Aaron is restored (Numbers 18:8). 

Because of this misunderstanding that God is through with the Levitical priesthood,  many Christian leaders wrongly teach that their covenanted eternal priesthood has been replaced with another, an old divine order of worship has been replaced with a newer one.     They teach that all of God’s instructions are now an unnecessary bondage  because they are either too difficult to keep or can’t all be kept.  They further teach that Jesus’ death on the cross removed everything found in Torah from Sabbath to Feasts and dietary regulations … well, almost everything; they still teach the tithe. 

The Priesthood of Melchizedek

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (2 Peter 2:9).

As believers, we are called the royal priesthood. We get our royal status from Yeshua whose Kingly lineage comes through Judah and King David.  We get our priestly status from Yeshua who is our High Priest in the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 5:6,10; 6:20).  This is the same “King of Righteousness” to whom Abram tithed in Salem (Jerusalem) before his great-grandson, Levi, was born.  Because the tithe existed long before the Levitical priesthood,  the idea of the tithe still has value, but only in the realm of it’s ordained purpose for priests of the Most High God.

According to God’s command, tithes were given to priests who ministered in the Temple, offered praises to God and taught His Torah.  Tithes were given to those who taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, who distinguished between the holy and the profane and who did not shut their eyes to God’s Sabbaths and other ‘’appointed times’.

On the scene arrives the royal priesthood, redeemed and sanctified by the blood of Yeshua of Nazareth.  The royal priesthood, under the authority of Yeshua the High Priest,  is commanded to equip the man of God through teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness with the God-breathed Scriptures, the Torah, Prophets and Writings (2 Timothy 2:16). 

It would seem from these responsibilities that the modern-day tithe should be given to those  ‘priests’ who teach the Torah, who correctly handle the Word of Truth.   However, it is very difficult to find such ‘priests’ today walking in faith as expected of the royal priesthood, a much higher calling than the Levitical priesthood.   Most church leaders do not use the full counsel of God’s Word from Genesis through Revelation.   They do not teach righteous living through obedience to God’s commandments.  They do not accept the Jewish part of the Kingdom nor the Biblical standard of righteousness.   

If they do, they pick and choose which commandments work for them and promote their personal and financial agenda.   They keep their followers walking in darkness by not lighting the lamp of the Word.  Worse yet, modern-day leaders do severe violence to God’s Torah by teaching lawlessness (1 Peter 4:17).  Consequently, God’s name is not only profaned throughout the world, but within the hearts and minds of the Temples of God’s Holy Spirit.  Should such leaders, pastors and teachers receive God’s tithes?  Was the command for the tithe to be given to them?

Modern-day Gifts and Offerings

Our family struggled with the tithe for years especially when it came  to giving to church institutions and pastors who have judged our walk of faith.  How can we give teachers who say the ‘law is done away with’ the tithes that are commanded in the Torah? How can we financially support leaders who do not distinguish between the holy and the profane,  teach there is no difference between the unclean and clean, and shut their eyes to the keeping of God’s holy days?

It was through prayer and the guidance of the Spirit that we searched the Scriptures and found Biblical alternatives for tithing the  present-day non-existent priesthood.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress … “ (James 1:27).

James says that believers should look after widows and the fatherless.  In an agricultural society, the corners of fields were left for the widow, the fatherless and the foreigner (Deuteronomy 24:19).  Though we may not have a field with corners that we can designate for the poor,  we do have the means to help them in the time of their distress.  We can watch their children, help with the housework, buy food, pay a bill, take them to the doctor, or just be a comfort in the days of their sorrow and struggle.   We have a huge responsibility to look after these unique people because we do not live in a culture that encourages supporting the widow and orphan; we leave it to the government.  We should never be found on the wrong side of the One who “defends the cause of he fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you giving them food and clothing…” (Deuteronomy 10:18). 

There is nothing wrong with giving to ministries that take care of orphans.  However, we have a personal standard that it must not only teach the children about Yeshua and salvation, it must also teach them about God’s commandments.   We do not support any humanistic, philanthropic outreach.  Though they are noble, they are not bringing glory to the Creator of the Universe.    Christian ministry outreaches like World Vision and Compassion International are wonderful as they reach children with the message of salvation.  Unfortunately, they don’t meet the standards our family has maintained for support as they refrain from teaching the commands of God and take some unBiblical doctrines of the western church to these children.   Whatever you choose to do, do it for God’s glory and be convinced in your own mind that way that is right to god. 

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality”

(Romans 12:12-14).

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing, people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).

These are two other ways to give to the Lord as part of the royal priesthood.  Sharing our material goods with those who are in need and practicing hospitality to strangers shows that we live the truth in our  lives as we help and encourage people who are homeless, jobless, and penniless (3 John 1:8).

Hospitality is nearly non-existent in today’s culture of busy-ness.  We have found that by guarding the Biblical Sabbath, we always have an evening/day available to invite people into our home for a meal.  Sharing a festival mean can be very challenging because there is no guarantee that it will be appreciated.  We have experienced criticism numerous times when we have been hospitable and treated others generously; however, because we know that God works everything for His glory, we continue to step out and bless, encourage and offering hospitality.

Paul suggests another way of tithing citing examples of what the gentile congregations in Asia Minor and Galatia did.  They gave their tithes to the believers in Jerusalem.    Originally, a tithe per year was to go to Jerusalem so Paul recommends that  gentiles who have come to faith in Messiah set aside money on the first day of the week (never collected on Sabbath) and give their collections to Messianic Jews in Jerusalem.  He reasons “the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings” (Romans 15:27).

“Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do.  On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.  Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem” (1 Corinthians 16:1-3).

“For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem.  They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them.  For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.  So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution…” (Romans 15:26-28).

“And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch.  Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world …. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea” (Acts 11:27-29).

Giving to ministries in Jerusalem is one that modern-day believers can actually do with the restoration of the state of Israel.  There are many ministries not just in Jerusalem, but in the Land of Israel that need support, especially those who are Messianic Jews trying to bring the message of Yeshua to their own people.  Poverty abounds in Israel especially with immigrants going ‘home.’  Some of the ministries in Israel that we have supported over the years include Dugit Messianic Outreach Center in Tel Aviv,  Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund for child victims of war and terrorism, the IDF soldiers, the Magen David Adom or the Israeli Red Cross, Vision for Israel run by Messianic Jews Barry and Batya Segal, Heart of G-d, a family of musicians who encourage Jewish people around the world to make ‘aliyah’, and Israel Vision or Jerusalem Vistas a media ministry who sent us a prayer map with a street in the Old City of Jerusalem that we prayed for many years until we visited the street when we visited.

Abram, our father shared a tenth of his goods with the King of Salem, Melchizedek, the priest of God who was eternal (Hebrews 7:3).    Like our father Abraham, we should tithe to those who are ‘kings of righteousness’ within the Kingdom of God who teach the Torah, the standard for righteous living.  Or, as Paul suggests, we should give to our Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters in Jerusalem because they have preserved and guarded the ways of God allowing us to know and receive the riches of His inheritance.

©2010 Tentstake Ministries, chapter from Journey with Jeremiah on amazon. com

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