For my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4: 6)
I often do not like to use my Facebook to discuss religion. Mine is a private religion: one that works for me, even as it permits me to respect the religion of others, and recognize their rights to their own personal beliefs. One that makes me tolerant and opens my eyes, and is able to make me wise. Psalm 119: 99 says, “I have more insight than my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.” Christianity is not a religion for commercials. Christ said in Matthew 6: 3, “But when you do merciful deeds, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand does.” In fact, Jesus labeled people in the habit of praying in public and making a show of their religion for everyone to know, “hypocrites.” And he warned his followers not to be like them.
However, I chose to address a skit in my Facebook feed, which satirized tithing and the avariciousness of many modern pastors.
Many Christians and pastors like to quote Malachi 3: 10, which reads, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” It serves as an “inducement” for tithing. Pastors often claim the first instance of tithing is found in Genesis 14: 20, when Abraham gave a tenth to Melchizedek, the king of Salem (often cited as the prototype of Jesus Christ as Messiah-king) of the one-time bounty he had just won, after defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him. Abraham had conducted an expedition to rescue his nephew, Lot, who lived in Sodom, which had been captured by the four kings he just defeated.
But people often miss something significant that happened, soon after Abraham had made this one-time generous gift to the king of Salem: The king of Sodom offered Abraham goods—more bounty or reward—which Abraham rejected. Although Abraham had just freed the land of Sodom, he chose not to receive a reward or even keep the bounty he won. Abraham demonstrates the true selfless character, of one who serves the God of the bible. Abraham declared: “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the Lord God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I have made Abram rich.”
Abraham who had just paid the first recorded tithe (tenth), and had just helped the king of Sodom, by defeating his enemies, refused compensation or reward for his service. He did not play the opportunist in viewing the offer by the king of Sodom, as an automatic “answer” or return on his initial tithe to the king of Salem. If only modern pastors claiming to serve Christ would act as principled as our father, Abraham. Unfortunately, many modern pastors enrich themselves through bounty from their congregation.
Many also find support for tithing in Jacob’s vow to the Hebraic God in Genesis 28: 20. Jacob who was destitute at the time, made an agreement with his Maker, to provide for him and preserve his life. It was a contract, which Jacob entered freely with the God of the bible, while he was running for his life from the wrath of his twin brother Esau, who threatened to kill him. It was not a perpetual imperative for later Christians to tithe.
Tithing is an Old Testament thing, which the Hebraic God commanded, in the book of Leviticus, that Israelites should pay for the upkeep of the Levites, who were not to receive a portion of the land, like the other tribes of Israel. God would be their portion as they were to become full time priests, devoting themselves entirely to the service of God, and serving as intercessors for Israel; and the other tribes of Israel, were to pay a tenth of their income, for their upkeep, because of their full-time devotion to ministry.
In the New Testament, this arrangement ceased. Apostle Paul gave the clear reason why he asked for collections on Sundays, which is now a Church tradition: for the upkeep of the poor. It is in the bible: Galatians 2: 10, Acts 24: 17, Deuteronomy 15: 8, 1 Corinthians 16: 1, 2. These offerings were voluntary and not mandatory, as stated in 2 Corinthians 9: 7. The Hebraic God is not in a business venture, or money doubling scheme with Christians. But of course, many who are Christians, perhaps do not read the bible; or perhaps, they willfully ignore, what they read in the bible regarding the purpose of collections in the scriptures. Furthermore, Paul said he was to be an example for other church leaders to follow. He was poor. In 2 Corinthians 6: 10, Paul describes himself as, “poor, yet making many rich.” Not using the rich—and the poor—to make himself rich.
Apostle Paul wrote to his protégé Timothy, listing certain qualifications for Bishops and church leaders: one of them was that they not be lovers of money (1 Timothy 3: 3). In 1 Timothy 6: 10, Paul warns that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Surely, most observers can see that many modern pastors, display a love of money with their extravagant and jet set lifestyles: you may even find some of them gracing the pages of Forbes Magazine, where only the rich are gathered. Jesus weeps. They build massive auditoriums, calling them churches for God, but which really serve their vanity, and aid their “income” or revenue generation, as they collect more “tithes” and offerings. Does the income feed the poor, as Jesus Christ and Apostle Paul would have wanted, or is it income to the Pastor and his family? They are CEOs of business enterprises, not devoted to the God of the bible, as the Levites of the Old Testament were. Perhaps it is time to tax them as businesses or for-profit entities? If these business ventures are taxed, and their income or profit motive is minimized, perhaps we would be able to sift the wheat from the chaff, as the men and women of God remain to do God’s work—tax or no tax.
In Psalm 24: 1, God says, “the world is mine and everything in it.” What man would dare assume that he will build the Maker of the universe, a house to live in? In 2 Samuel 7: 5, we learn that the Hebraic God, does not live in houses built by men’s hands, for “God is spirit.” John 4: 24.
In Matthew 8: 20, in his response to a scribe, who wanted to follow him, Jesus said: “Foxes have dens, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” This is an indication, that the Jesus, whom pastors claim to follow and serve, was himself poor in his life on earth. But these pastors want to become millionaires, and even some billionaires, through their “ministry” or rather business enterprises?
Remember what the bible says about false prophets in 2 Corinthians 11: 14: “And no wonder, for even Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”