Can you buy your redemption through charitable giving?

Exodus 30:15 and 16, To make atonement for your souls. Some will read these verses and conclude that one can buy their redemption through charitable giving and therefore circumvent the need to place one’s faith in Yeshua’s atoning death on the cross. Does this passage suggest a theology where man can save himself from his sins by acts of charity? Let’s dig a little deeper to see what these verses are really teaching us.

In this passage, YHVH instructed the Israelites to pay an annual half-shekel temple tax. This money went, in part, toward, the service (verse 16) and constructing of the Tabernacle of Moses (e.g. Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the OT, vol. 1, p. 459; Exod. 38:21–31), and later toward the purchase of the animals the priests sacrificed (The Temple and Its Service, by Alfred Edersheim, p. 48). In this way, the people were participating vicariously in the act of sacrificing an innocent animal as an offering or atonement for their sins. Again, the Scriptures reveal that this sacrificial system merely pointed prophetically toward the Greater Sacrifice that would come later in the Person of Yeshua, the Redeemer of Israel. (Read Isa 53.) On the point that the paying the half-shekel was a merely a temporary solution to the problem of man’s sin, Keil and Delitzsch say in their commentary on this passage,

As an expiation [atonement] for souls, it pointed to the unholiness of Israel’s nature, and reminded the people continually, that by nature it was alienated from God, and could only remain in covenant with the Lord and live in His kingdom on the ground of His grace, which covered its sin (ibid.)

Keil and Delitzsch’s point is further strengthened in Exodus 30:16, which says,

And you shall take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shall appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before YHVH, to make an atonement for your souls. (emphasis added; ibid.)

The giving of the half-shekel was a memorial to what? The Hebrew word for memorial is zikrown (Strong’s H2146) meaning “reminder, token, record.” According to The TWOT, a zikrown is an object or act which brings something else to mind or which represents something else. It reminded them of their sinfulness and pointed prophetically to a Redeemer—Yeshua the Messiah— who would come and take away their sins once and for all (Heb 10:10). For a more detailed study of this subject, please see our teaching article entitled, “The Atonement: Bloody or Bloodless? Understanding the Concept of Atonement in the Torah” located on the Hoshana Rabbah website at http://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/atone.pdf.

 

On Joyful and Grateful Giving

Deuteronomy 26:11, You shall rejoice.Bringing one’s tithes and offerings to YHVH is to be a joyful event since it is a reflection of our gratitude to him for abundantly blessing us. (Compare this verse with 2 Corinthians 9:6–11.) Giving to YHVH is a form of worship since it allows us to put our treasure where our heart is (Luke 12:34). Please join me in praying this prayer: 

Father, help us to give to you out of the abundance of our hearts joyfully and with gratitude for your blessings and bounty in our lives. Help me not to be a fair-weather giver only, but to give out of obedience, even sacrificially, that we may learn to have faith in your promises of provision and to obey you no matter the circumstances. Amein.

(For a brief study on tithing and giving, please see my teaching entitled, “Is Tithing for Us Today?” which is available on our ministry website at http://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/tithing.pdf.)

Hundreds of people read this blog every day. For the several of you who appreciate the spiritual food and fresh manna that we provide here free of charge and who express that gratitude by giving financially, we give you our heartfelt thanks.

As some of you know, the tithes and offerings that come into this ministry do not go into my personal pocket (unless the giver specifically specifies that their gift is for me personally, which happens rarely). Rather, they go to help pay for ministry expenses, which are substantial. Web sites cost money to own and maintain, and my wife and I appreciate those who recognize this and contribute toward this activity.

For those who follow the biblical command to give financially to those who are feeding you spiritually, we pray that YHVH will richly bless you for your gifts, and thank you for considering this ministry to be fruitful ground in which to sow your financial seed!

Deuteronomy 26:13–15, Prayer offered when giving. This is the prayer that the tithe-payer is to pray upon bringing his tithe to YHVH. Tithing leads to prosperity, but for whom? Just the individual? Notice in verse 15 the wording: “bless your people Israel…” The tithe-payer is praying for blessings not just upon himself, but upon the entire nation. What can we draw from this? Is there room for selfish prayers here? What happens when the whole community is tithing and everyone is praying for everyone else’s well-being and blessing?

Here is the prayer:

When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in the third year—the year of tithing—and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled, then you shall say before YHVH your Elohim: ‘I have removed the holy tithe from my house, and also have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten them. I have not eaten any of it when in mourning, nor have I removed any of it for an unclean use, nor given any of it for the dead. I have obeyed the voice of YHVH my Elohim, and have done according to all that You have commanded me.  Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel and the land which You have given us, just as You swore to our fathers, “a land flowing with milk and honey. (Deut 26:12–15)


 

The Bible Law of Reciprocity—You Reap What You Sow

Genesis 28:22, I will surely give the tenth. To whom would Jacob ultimately tithe? We don’t know, but Jacob may have been making a prophecy about his descendants bringing their tithes and offerings to the house of El or the temple that would eventually be built on that exact spot.

Jacob’s dream in Genesis 28 was his first, life-changing personal encounter with the Elohim of his fathers (Gen 28:10ff). What was his response? It was to serve YHVH and to worship him by giving him one-tenth (a tithe) of his increase (verse 22). What prompted this response on Jacob’s part? Why was such a response appropriate?

When did you have your first encounter with your Heavenly Father and Master? In following the example of Jacob, have you faithfully used the first fruits of your increase to honor, worship and express your gratitude to him ever since? If not, why not? Scripture calls not tithing “robbing Elohim” and that as a result a curse may be on your finances (see Mal 3:8–11). Proverbs 3:9 lays out a solid truth about how tithing is a form of worshipping the Creator. “Honour [glorify] YHVH with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase, so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”

The Scriptures reveal the importance of the spiritual law of reciprocity; namely, you reap what you sow (Gen 8:22; Gal 6:7–9). If you don’t sow you will not reap. If you sow evil or good you will reap the same. Jacob had to learn this law the hard way. In Job 4:8 we read, “Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.”

Jacob gained the birthright through posing as Esau (a deception) and Laban in turn deceives Jacob by putting Leah under the veil posing as Rachel in Jacob’s marriage bed. It is very easy to see the principle of reaping and sowing in others’ lives, but can we see it in our own life? This is very difficult to do! Aren’t we prone to concoct every excuse and argument imaginable to justify our sinful actions and then blame the results on others? Prayerfully take a long and hard look at your life, examine hardships and trials, and honestly ask yourself the question: Am I reaping what I have sown? It is never too late to repent and make a course correction—to bring your life into agreement with YHVH’s Word and will, so you can start reaping Elohim’s blessings.

Honesty, patience and submission to authority are fruits of righteousness. What did YHVH have to teach Jacob about these fruits of the Spirit? Jacob was impatient in submitting to YHVH’s will and waiting for the birthright to come to him in a righteous way. How did YHVH use Laban to correct these character flaws in Jacob? Jacob had to go into the Babylonian world for a season in order to be refined before being ready to be a patriarch worthy of honor and an example of righteousness as the father of the twelve tribes of Israel.

What is YHVH allowing you to go through to refine you of character flaws and defects to prepare you for the future mission he has for you? Are you submitting to his refining fires that are burning the wood, hay and stubble out of your life (1 Cor 3:12–15), or are you resisting him thereby forcing him to “turn up the heat” of his discipline to help you “to get the point” and learn your lesson? (Read Heb 12:5–15.)

Jacob was forced to go east (toward Babylon) as a form of exile and punishment for his sins. After serving as a bondservant to Laban for 20 years, he returned westward to Canaan, the land of promise. This eastward-westward movement was a pattern followed by Jacob’s descendants later on several occasions. Even Abraham left Babylon and went west to Canaan. What are the prophetic implications of this in the end times when YHVH is calling his people to “come out” of spiritual Babylon (Rev 18:4)?

Jacob builds a complete family in “exile” consisting of twelve tribal leaders. To return to the Promised Land of Canaan, he had to encounter Esau (or Edom) who is the father of many of the modern day Arab peoples. What is this a prophetic picture of? Did history repeat itself when the Jewish exilic remnant again encountered Esau’s descendants when they come back from Babylon under Ezra and Nehemiah? Isn’t this same thing happening again in our time as the exiled Jews return to Israel—their ancestral and Elohim-given homeland? Who currently is opposing their return and is openly vowing to annihilate them? Consider Edom’s opposition to Jacob past, present and future. What (or who) is really behind this opposition to Israel’s (Jacob’s) inheriting his birthright that includes a land inheritance whose borders are from Egypt to the Euphrates River in modern Iraq?

Jacob vowing to tithe to Elohim was his acknowledging his submission to Elohim and to his will—that Elohim was the Lord over his life. Complete submission to Elohim came hard for Jacob. The same is true for us, and when we tithe this is an act of worship of Elohim and acknowledgement that we have come to a higher place of surrender in our lives.


 

Tithing—An Act of Grateful and Prayerful Worship

Deuteronomy 26:4–11, You shall answer. This was the prayer that one was to make when one brought their tithe to YHVH. Bringing one’s tithe to YHVH was an act of gratefulness and worship and was brought with a joyful heart for the blessing the Almighty had bestowed upon the tithe-giver.

Deuteronomy 26:11, You shall rejoice. Bringing one’s tithes and offerings to YHVH is to be a joyful event since it is a reflection of our gratitude to him for abundantly blessing us. (Compare this verse with 2 Corinthians 9:6–11.) Giving to YHVH is a form of worship since it allows us to put our treasure where our heart is (Luke 12:34). Please join me in praying this prayer: 

Father, help us to give to you out of the abundance of our hearts joyfully and with gratitude for your blessings and bounty in our lives. Help me not to be a fair-weather giver only, but to give out of obedience, even sacrificially, that we may learn to have faith in your promises of provision and to obey you no matter the circumstances. Amein.

(For a brief study on tithing and giving, please see my teaching entitled, “Is Tithing for Us Today?” which is available on our ministry website at http://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/tithing.pdf.)


 

Have you paid your dues?

Leviticus 10:13, Because it is due. In the days before coinage, a man’s wages were weighed out in silver bullion or bartering occurred. In the case of the Levites (including the priests), they were given a portion of the offerings and sacrifices as their wages for serving the people. It is often the attitude of those in congregations that ministers should serve the people for free—without pay, and they are therefore negligent in giving. This is contrary to the Torah, which commands the Israelites to remunerate the Levites for their services (see Lev 27:30, 32). YHVH even calls the tithe to his ministers “their inheritance” (Num 18:21, 26).

Although the Testimony of Yeshua doesn’t overtly promote the concept of tithing per se, it does teach the Torah principle of giving to the ministry. For example, Paul instructed the believers in Philippi about giving. He addresses the issue of supporting his ministry and that by their faithfulness in giving to him it was in effect giving an offering (or a sacrifice) to YHVH, and that the Philippians would be blessed for this (Phil 4:16–19). He goes on to say that we are to give to those who spiritually feed us (1 Tim 5:17–18). Paul backs up this assertion by quoting a Torah principle here.

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, “You shalt not muzzle the ox that treads out the corn,” and, “The labourer is worthy of his reward.”

What’s more, the Scriptures tell us that great blessings from heaven accrue to those who tithe or give to YHVH’s spiritual work on earth (Mal 3:10–11).

To not give, according to the Scriptures is called “robbing Elohim” (Mal 3:8–9). Those who refuse to give financially bring a curse upon themselves (Mal 3:9). Paul rebukes the congregation in Corinth for not supporting him financially, and states that he has “robbed” other churches who did support him, thus forcing him to use their offerings to pay his ministry expenses in Corinth (2 Cor 11:8–9). Corinth was not the only stingy congregation in the first century. The problem seemed to be widespread then (Phil 4:15) as it is today.


 

Giving “three times a year”… the practical and deeper meaning

A widow’s mite or prutah.

Exodus 23:14–19, Three times you shall keep a feast. The Scriptures teach us that during the three biblical pilgrimage festivals of Passover/Unleavened Bread, Pentecost and Tabernacles all the individuals of the nation are to leave their place of individual isolation and are to rendezvous in the presence of the one Elohim of Israel. This was to occur in the festival circle (or chag) around the common sanctuary (where YHVH has chosen to place his name, Deut 16:2, 11, 15), thereby becoming conscious that each one is connected to all the other members of the nation, with YHVH Elohim, and with the Torah (The Pentateuch—Deuteronomy, p. 310, by S. R. Hirsch). In biblical times, the Israelites would gather wherever the tabernacle had been placed. When the temple was built in Jerusalem, this city became the destination point for the Israelite pilgrims during these three biblical feasts. For the saints who celebrate the biblical feasts now, there is no temple in Jerusalem to gather around. The saints are now the spiritual temple of the Spirit of Elohim (1 Cor 3:16). Moreover, Yeshua has promised to be in the midst of his people when they gather together (Matt 18:20). In light of these spiritual realities, YHVH’s people need to pray and seek his facer where he wants them to gather for his feasts, and then obey him in faith believing that he will be with them.

But there is much more to this spiritual picture if we add Yeshua the Messiah of Israel into the picture, for each of the three feasts point directly to him. Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles all point to Yeshua, since the first two festal periods point to Yeshua’s first coming, while the last fall feast points to his second coming. Each of these feasts represent milestones in the spiritual journey of the redeemed believer from initial redemption to glorification and eternal life in the presence of YHVH Elohim.

The three feasts also spiritually represent the three sections in the Tabernacle of Moses (Heb. mishkan). These are the outer courtyard, the holy place and the holy of holies. These three sections of the tabernacle correspond with the three parts of man, which are his body, soul and spirit (1 Thess 5:23). The feasts of Passover (Heb. Pesach) and Unleavened Bread (Heb. Chag haMatzot) are the first two feasts the righteous believers are to celebrate in the spring and represent the first steps in a new believer’s spiritual walk. This corresponds with the outer courtyard and relates more to the spiritual cleansing of the outer parts or body of man. It is here that one begins their spiritual walk and relationship with Yeshua, who is the Word of Elohim. The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost (Heb. Shavuot) is the next step one takes in their spiritual walk as one goes into the tabernacle of Moses. The tabernacle’s holy place speaks of one bringing one’s soul (the mind, will and emotions) into submission to the will of YHVH as one advances in their spiritual walk and grows in the fruits and gifts of the Spirit of Elohim. This readies the redeemed Israelites to move into a place of worship and praise before the Almighty.

Finally, the holy of holies corresponds to the Feast of Tabernacles (Heb. Chag haSukkot) and the spirit part of man. This section of the tabernacle points to man’s ultimate spiritual relationship with Elohim. It is here that man relates to Elohim, who is a Spirit, on a deeper spirit to Spirit level (John 4:24; 1 Cor 2:10–13). This prophetically points to man’s ultimate destiny as glorified beings in the New Jerusalem as adopted members into the family of Elohim (John 1:12; Rom 8:14–15, 23; 9:4; 2 Cor 6:18; Gal 4:5–6; Eph 1:5; 1 John 3:1; Rev 21:7).

Exodus 23:17, Three times in the year. Three times a year at the three pilgrimage feasts—the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) and Feast of Tabernacles—Elohim commands that all men appear before him at the place where he has chosen to place his name (Deut 16:2, 6, 11, 15, 16). At these three times, Israelites would gather wherever the tabernacle or temple of Elohim was located to celebrate before Elohim with their fellow Israelites. The Torah repeats this command in Deuteronomy 16:6–17.

On these three occasions, YHVH commands that all males bring with them a feast offering—they were not to appear before YHVH empty-handed, but they were to bring an offering as they were able according to how YHVH had blessed them (Deut 16:16). This was not a tithe, but a freewill offering in addition to their regular tithes. Through Malachi the prophet, YHVH accuses backslid Israel of robbing him by not giving to him their tithes and offerings (or contributions). Because of this negligence, Elohim declares that Israel has been cursed with a curse,whereupon he promises to reverse the curse, rebuke the devourer that has destroyed their prosperity, to open the windows of heaven over them so that the will not be able to contain the prosperity of YHVH (Mal 3:8–12).

Some people may insist that this offering no longer applies to those who are “under the new covenant.” However, Yeshua declares that not one jot or tittle of the Torah has been annulled (Matt 5:18), and those who follow the Torah will be blessed (Matt 5:19). Although, we may not be able now to fulfill all aspects of YHVH feasts laws, YHVH expects us to love him and to keep all of his commandments the best we can (John 14:14; 1 John 2:3–6). To not obey his Torah-commands is sin (1 John 3:4), and on judgment day, Yeshua promises to reject those who were Torahless (workers of iniquity), despite their professed religiosity (Matt 7:21–23).

Giving financially to those who are doing the ministry of Yeshua is a spiritual principle that is immutable, universal and is part of the walk of the righteous redeemed (Prov 3:9–10; Phil 4:14–17; 1 Tim 5:17–18; 1 Cor 9:13–14; Gal 6:6).

By the way, to the several of you that are fed spiritually by this ministry and who thus show your appreciation by giving financially to it, we offer a heartfelt thank you! May YHVH bless you mightily and supply all your needs according to his abundant riches in Yeshua the Messiah!


 

Jacob—Learning to Submit to Elohim the Hard Way

Genesis 28:22, I will surely give the tenth. To whom would Jacob ultimately tithe? We don’t know, but Jacob may have been making a prophecy about his descendants bringing their tithes and offerings to the house of El or the temple that would eventually be built on that exact spot.

Jacob’s dream in Genesis 28 was his first, life-changing personal encounter with the Elohim of his fathers (Gen 28:10ff). What was his response? It was to serve YHVH and to worship him by giving him one-tenth (a tithe) of his increase (verse 22). What prompted this response on Jacob’s part? Why was such a response appropriate? When did you have your first encounter with your Heavenly Father and Master? In following the example of Jacob, have you faithfully used the first fruits of your increase to honor, worship and express your gratitude to him ever since? If not, why not? Scripture calls not tithing “robbing Elohim” and that as a result a curse may be on your finances (see Mal 3:8–11). Proverbs 3:9 lays out a solid truth about how tithing is a form of worshipping the Creator. “Honour [glorify] YHVH with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase, so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”

The Scriptures reveal the importance of the spiritual law of reciprocity: You reap what you sow (Gen 8:22; Gal 6:7–9). If you don’t sow you will not reap. If you sow evil or good you will reap the same. Jacob had to learn this law the hard way. In Job 4:8 we read, “Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.” Jacob gained the birthright through posing as Esau (a deception) and Laban in turn deceives Jacob by putting Leah under the veil posing as Rachel in Jacob’s marriage bed. It is very easy to see the principle of reaping and sowing in others’ lives, but can we see it in our own life? This is very difficult to do! Aren’t we prone to concoct every excuse and argument imaginable to justify our sinful actions and then blame the results on others? Prayerfully take a long and hard look at your life, examine hardships and trials, and honestly ask yourself the question: Am I reaping what I have sown? It is never too late to repent and make a course correction—to bring your life into agreement with YHVH’s Word and will, so you can start reaping Elohim’s blessings.

Honesty, patience and submission to authority are fruits of righteousness. What did YHVH have to teach Jacob about these fruits of the Spirit? Jacob was impatient in submitting to YHVH’s will and waiting for the birthright to come to him in a righteous way. How did YHVH use Laban to correct these character flaws in Jacob? Jacob had to go into the Babylonian world for a season in order to be refined before being ready to be a patriarch worthy of honor and an example of righteousness as the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. What is YHVH allowing you to go through to refine you of character flaws and defects to prepare you for the future mission he has for you? Are you submitting to his refining fires that are burning the wood, hay and stubble out of your life (1 Cor 3:12–15), or are you resisting him thereby forcing him to “turn up the heat” of his discipline to help you “to get the point” and learn your lesson? (Read Heb 12:5–15.)

Jacob was forced to go east (toward Babylon) as a form of exile and punishment for his sins. After serving as a bondservant to Laban for 20 years, he returned westward to Canaan, the land of promise. This eastward-westward movement was a pattern followed by Jacob’s descendants later on several occasions. Even Abraham left Babylon and went west to Canaan. What are the prophetic implications of this in the end times when YHVH is calling his people to “come out” of spiritual Babylon (Rev 18:4)?

Jacob builds a complete family in “exile” consisting of twelve tribal leaders. To return to the Promised Land of Canaan, he had to encounter Esau (or Edom) who is the father of many of the modern day Arab peoples. What is this a prophetic picture of? Did the Jewish exilic remnant encounter Esau’s descendants when they come back from Babylon under Ezra and Nehemiah? Is it happening again in our time as the exiled Jews return to Israel—their homeland? Who currently is opposing their return and is openly vowing to annihilate them? Consider Edom’s opposition to Jacob past, present and future. What (or who) is really behind this opposition to Israel’s (Jacob’s) inheriting his birthright that includes a land inheritance whose borders are from Egypt to the Euphrates River in modern Iraq?

Jacob vowing to tithe to Elohim was his acknowledging his submission to Elohim and to his will—that Elohim was the Lord over his life. Complete submission to Elohim came hard for Jacob. The same is true for us, and when we tithe this is an act of worship of Elohim and acknowledgement that we have come to a higher place of surrender in our lives.