Five facts about “tithing”…and Jesus!

heap of coins close upEver wondered if Jesus ever spoke about the practice of tithing? Now tithing is – for better or for worse – a “very” sensitive topic (although it really should not be). So here, we will focus on some facts, just plain simple facts. For a subject claimed to be of such importance, some of these simple facts may surprise you. So let’s go right to them.

Fact number 1: In the “entire” bible, the noun/verb “tithe” (or tithing) whether in the singular or plural appears 40 times. For comparison, the noun/verb “love” (and it derivations) appear 555 times. This is a ratio of almost 14-to-1!

Fact number 2:  If we focus on the New Testament alone, “tithing” is cited 8 times, while “love” is cited 261 times. This is a ratio of almost 33-to-1! And Oh…“Christ” is cited 555 times (this is 70-to-1)!

Now, if the number of times a concept appears in the bible is “some” indicator of its importance, what do you suppose the scripture is trying to tell us? Well, may be we should not guess and let Jesus speaks Himself. Here are some additional facts.

Fact number 3: The 8 times “tithing” is cited specifically in the New Testament appear to be only 4 accounts. One (1) of the four (4) accounts is by the Apostle Paul in the book of Hebrews (Hebrews 7:5-9). Interestingly, the other three (3) accounts are from the mouth of Jesus-Christ himself. Let’s put it bluntly: God wants us to know that Jesus spoke of tithing in none but 3 times! And He wants us to know what He said! Now, do you think that perhaps those three times deserve some attention? The first account is recorded in Matthew 23:23, the second is in Luke 11:42, and the third account is recorded in Luke 18:12. We look at them a little deeper in a separate article, especially the first account and the second, which we believe have even been mistranslated.  But for now, let’s resume with the facts.

Fact number 4: In the three (3) unique accounts where Jesus makes specific reference to tithing, He is using it in a “negative” context! And before you try to guess, it is NOT because the people were not doing it! Read those accounts for yourselves.

Five Facts_1

Matthew 23:23 – Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Luke 18:9-14 – And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Fact number 5: The one account in the book of Hebrews is interesting for at least two reasons. 1) It is addressed to the Jews specifically, those people who were – and were supposed to be – “familiar” with the principle of tithing, and 2) it is referring to “past” events, events which belong to the era of the law!

These simple facts beg some questions:

One must ask: If tithing is as important as claimed by our church leaders today, why is there so little space dedicated to it in the “whole” bible, and even more stunningly, in the New Testament? If tithing is as important as claimed; how come there is not a “single” verse specifically addressed to the gentiles mentioning it? Gentiles were not familiar with this concept! So why did not God address it explicitly to introduce it to them, especially if it is so important? By the way, you may at this point be interested in our series entitled “A Very Inconvenient Truth”. If it is as important as claimed, how can one explain that the only reason Jesus-Christ ever spoke of it was to teach us that there are “far” more important things we should actually worry about?

If there is “one” subject in the Bible in which just about all churches and Christian denominations agree (of course, there must be a “few” exceptions) it is the subject of tithing: “We should give our tithes”, as they will gladly remind us as often as they deem necessary. But here is the non-trivial problem with this position: It is a fact that among these churches, some of them are run by demons, and some of them are led by false prophets and salvage wolves. Therefore, is this evidence, this undeniable fact suggesting that there is a truth in the scriptures that is SO TRUE that even false prophets and salvages wolves delight in it? Where in the scripture does God tell us that there is such a thing? Shouldn’t demons and false prophets delight instead in what is FALSE?! My brothers and sisters, there is too much at stake for us not to study the scriptures for ourselves. There is just too much at stake. Let’s do our own homework! The time to be mature is NOW. Praise, glory and dominion to the only true God and to His Lamb forever. Amen! 

Intercession: God Is Stunned! (Part 2 of 2)

file0001113742119We Should All be Like Epaphras

To develop an appreciation for just how God values those who intercede, consider Epaphras, mentioned three times in the scriptures.

Colossians 1:7 – As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ

God calls Epaphras a “faithful minister” of Christ. What an honor! And shortly after, we understand why.

Colossians 4:12 – Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly [Greek: agōnizomenos] for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.

“Laboring earnestly” is one Greek verb which means “struggling”. Epaphras was held in such high esteem by God because he had a “very intense” prayer life, not for himself but much more importantly, for his brethren. He is only mentioned 3 times in the scriptures, and this – his prayer life for others – is what he will always be remembered for. This is what God values. What do we want God to remember us for?Intercession_3

Interestingly, his request in his prayers seemed to be essentially the same request Jesus made for Peter: that his people will stay fully assured of their faith toward God. Clearly, there is no greater part of us that is at stake than our faith; the faith of our brothers and sisters, and the faith of those we do not even know. Our brethren often fall prey to the temptations of the devil, but our fervent prayers can do so much to prevent the devil from moving further with his plans.

Spiritual Fight…Spiritual Weapon

In Ephesians 6, Paul reminds us that our fight is a spiritual fight, requiring spiritual weaponry. The last weapon he introduces is prayers, telling us that we should “always” pray for all saints.

Ephesians 6:18 – With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel

What a responsibility we have! While it is good to pray for ourselves, it is far better to pray for others; for it is impossible for God to deny our own needs when we are consumed with the well-being and the needs of our brethren. We know from 1 Peter 5:8 that Satan is roaming around, and we are told that “daily” he accuses us, seeking permission to sift us as wheat, to shred our lives. And indeed, looking around us, we can see that some of his requests are granted. Many of our brethren live a life of spiritual defeat, they are being robbed of everything, and their faith is shaken, and perhaps even, falling in the process. O that we would intercede! My brethren, let us intercede! Let us bring our prayer life to the next level, focusing less on ourselves and more on others. This is not just about being the “moral” thing to do. This is spiritual warfare, and we are in it! To the God of our Lord be all the praise, Glory without end!

Intercession: God Is Stunned! (Part 1 of 2)

praying_on_bible_redMy brothers and sisters in Christ, as I look at the scriptures, I believe I am beginning to realize just how much God wants us to intercede. It is one of our greatest responsibilities, and yet, we are failing so many times at carrying it. As described in Isaiah 59, when we do not intercede God is stunned!

Isaiah 59: 15,16 – Yes, truth is lacking; And he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey. Now the Lord saw, And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. 16 And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede;…

How graphic are God’s emotions in this passage. There was no justice and it was displeasing in God’s sight. And God was astonished, stunned, appalled that there was no man to intercede! Is our world today different than the one described in Isaiah 59?

Two Types of Intercessions:

From my limited understanding of the scriptures, there seems to be at least two types of intercessions. The first type can only be made by Jesus-Christ, who is currently seated at the right hand of God. Through this type of intercession, Jesus-Christ is able to save us, and make us children of God, as described in Hebrews 7.

Hebrews 7:24, 25 – But Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession.

The second type of intercession, which is the focus of this article, is altogether different. It can be performed not only by Jesus-Christ, but also by us, God’s children and servants. Contrary to the first type, this type of intercession has been around from well before the day of Pentecost. Here is an instance of Job interceding (i.e. praying) for his friend.

Job 42:10 – And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

The calamity of Job ended when he prayed – when he interceded – for his friends. We learn from verse 8 of the same chapter that God was so angry with Job’s friends that He could only accept the prayer of Job for them (an intercession). Job’s prayer effectively appeased God, causing Him “not” to deal with His friends according to their folly (Job 42:8). However and sadly, the book of Job records earlier that in his prior conversations with his friends, Job was himself crying because there was no one to intercede for him to God (which is probably why his deliverance came as described in Job 42:10).

Job 16:21 – O that a man might plead with God, As a man with his neighbor!

Satan versus Your IntercessionIntercession_part1 of 2

Fast forwarding to Jesus’ time on earth, Luke 22 records a stunning confession of Jesus-Christ to His disciple Peter.

Luke 22:30 – “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission [Greek: exētēsato] to sift you like wheat;

Looking at the Greek can help us appreciate the intensity of Jesus’ statement. The Greek verb “exētēsato” means to request a “full handing over”. And the word “hymas” is the plural form of “you”. Simply put, Jesus was informing Peter that Satan had requested to God that he (Peter) and the rest of the apostles be “completely” handed over to him! And the purpose of his request was clear: Satan wanted to sift them as wheat. Picture it as you may, but this is a very scary account! Think of Job and you will immediately get an idea of just how much pain Satan is willing to inflict.

Now consider this: How could Satan make such a bold request to God? The only reason Satan could make such request must have been because he knew that there was a chance his request could be granted! Think about it…Satan was making such a request because he knew he “could” get it. Otherwise, what would have been the point?

But thank God, Jesus was there to intercede.

Luke 22:31 – But I have prayed [Greek: edeēthēn] for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Jesus interceded for his disciple and friend Peter! And the verb edeēthēn translated “prayed” is the same verb used in Luke 8:28 to describe how the demon “begged” Jesus-Christ not to torment him. This was an “urgent appeal” that Jesus made for Peter. And apparently, Satan is still “very” active in making such requests for you and me!

Revelation 12:10 – Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.

Day and night my brothers and sisters! Day and night Satan accuses us before God. He is always roaming around, tempting us so we can fail, so that he can in turn accuse us, and make his requests to God to wreck our lives, our marriages, our faith, etc. even further. And he does so because he knows that unless someone intercedes (be it Jesus-Christ or some of us), he might just get what he asks for.

We have to pray for each other, for those we know as well as those we do not. The implications are far too serious for us to ignore that they are real. Can you imagine what would have happened if Jesus had not interceded and Satan had his request granted? Given the grave implications, no wonder our God is stunned, appalled when we do not intercede. Yes people, God is  stunned! In Part 2 we look at an example of an intercessor, with whom all of us should be able to identify.