First Fruits of Tithing

Why We Tithe!

LAST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – SOLEMNITY: 

CHRIST THE KING

Ant. 1 “We will call him the peacemaker, and his throne shall stand firm forever.”

Concerning Laws & Vows

30 Any tithe of the land, whether seed of the land or fruit of the trees, belongs to the Lord. It is holy to the Lord.

Leviticus 27:30 Modern English Version (MEV)

Short Reflection on Jesus Christ – King of the Universe

Dear Brothers and Sisters, 

Today, the first Sunday after Thanksgiving and which the Catholic Church celebrates as the Solemnity, (or highest ranking celebration of the Roman Rite devoted to a specific mystery of faith or event in the life of Jesus Christ), in this instance Jesus being viewed as the true Lord and King of the Universe. Needless to say, this is a special celebration which is illuminated through the Church’s Mass readings that include Daniel 7:13-14, Psalm 93:1-5, Revelations 1:5-8, and The Gospel of John 18:33b-37.  The main point of these readings are rooted in the most famous of all the questions ever asked to Jesus and consequently the one question He had answered by example, by faith, and by His divine word; “Are you the King of the Jews?” (Matthew 27:11, Mark 15:2, Luke 23:3, and John 18:34) This question and its importance can not be understated because it goes directly to the most fundamental root serving as the bedrock for all of Christendom! “Was Jesus Christ the King of the Jews?”  In other words, “Was Jesus Christ the Son of God?”

Guiding Question: Jesus made many claims of who He was and openly preached about the purpose of His Ministry, that include many more verses in the Holy Bible than this small sampling, (John 4:25-26John 10:36Matthew 16:15-17, and Luke 22:70.) “Who do you say that He is?”   I think you all know my answer!


Jesus Christ King Of Kings
Original drawing by artist Armen-Abel Babayan. 
Not a copy or print, based on image of Shroud of Turin. 

So What is the True Purpose Behind Why We Tithe?

I know, I know… what do these two topics have to do with each other? Well, if you believe in God the Father who created the Universe, if can believe that He actually talked to Moses and others in the Bible, if you can imagine let alone believe in the Twelve Commandments being written in stone by the very hand of God, and or can even wrap your head around the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary or that God sent angels to protect people in the Bible, then my friends… guess what? Believing that God would not set some ground rules or commandments for us pesky, flawed, human beings, (literally translated in Hebrew as, Son of Adam), then I direct your attention to this question; “Do you set grounds rules for your children?”  I argue that it is natural if you want the best for your children to set ground rules. We do it in very subtle ways, usually by saying stuff like… “Don’t do that!”, “You can stay out until…”, “Call me when you get to…”, and my personal favorite, “Don’t talk to strangers, listen to your teachers, and don’t ever talk back to me!” The message our children get is – wait for it – comply, obey, submit, heed, and/or observe who is in control! Where did we get that from? So, before I answer that question I have to lay the foundation first.

The Ten Commandments

Foundations of Our Relationship with God!

God has always set forth value in what is said and how we are to act and treat others especially in how we are to react to Him. This is first illustrated in the commandments given to Adam, which we do not find out about until Eve is confronted in the garden by the serpent, aka… Satan!

Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God said, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit from the trees of the garden; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You will not eat of it, nor will you touch it, or else you will die.’ ”

Genesis 3:1-3 Modern English Version (MIV)

Then later we read that murder is punishable by being ostracized from your homeland through the story of Cain and Abel found in (Genesis 4:1-15). Oddly though this story we also find that indeed we are our brother’s keeper, (Genesis 4:9), and that all life is sacred to God, (Genesis 4:15-16). With each transgression grew more and more wickedness on the earth until God had to do something about it… enter the Noahic Covenant, (Genesis 9:1-17). In the three hundred or so years which came and went this law stood until the days of Abram who God then made a new covenant; 


I will make of you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless them who bless you and curse him who curses you, and in you all families of the earth will be blessed.” 

Genesis 12:2-3 MEV

Food for Thought: In all the timelines I researched that had been based upon the Bible it turns out that Noah and Abram could have known each other! Their lives overlapped by 58 years!

Adam to Joseph Timeline

This, my brothers and sisters, is the formation of God’s people. From here through many hardships God directed mankind in how to act, how to behave, how to worship, and how to live as His people until finally God grew the people into a nation and Moses is called by God to free the Hebrews in The Second Book of Moses, Called Exodus. It is in this book that man tested God and God answered with monumental curses and natural disasters and from this forging and molding of the Hebrews, they emerged as the Jewish Nation living under the Mosaic Law. In all that time there was one specific law that became a tradition which was observed for a very fundamental purpose. What was this tradition and what was its purpose you might ask? 

 Laws and Vows

So, I say to you my brothers and sisters, that with the first to the last covenant the theme according to God is that life is sacred. Life has value and I am not speaking of just human life but all life no matter how small it is, for everything is Holy unto the Lord. Because of this, we see in Leviticus a book written especially for Gods people on how to live and worship there are many laws and vows for how humanity is to act and treat each other, most specifically on the topic of sacrifice and offerings, (tithing). For example, 

Helping the Poor 
35 If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, then you shall support him as if he were a foreigner or a sojourner, so that he may live with you. 36 Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, so that your brother may live with you. 37 You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor lend him your food for profit. 38 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.

Leviticus 25:35-38 (MEV)
Mount Sinai

God intended for mankind to live and work and help each other. By this very definition Governments, Banks, and or Payday lenders and even credit cards are not fully in line with this sacred command. Lend but without interest, give freely food without asking for payment for your brother in need. But it is at long last where tithing is specifically addressed; 

30 Any tithe of the land, whether seed of the land or fruit of the trees, belongs to the Lord. It is holy to the Lord.

Leviticus 27:30 Modern English Version (MEV)

This ties in nicely with the next book of the Bible – Deuteronomy were in it specifically considering first fruits, which we have learned is viewed as being Holy to God. Consider this eating flesh from the heard is ok but never eat the blood because the blood is life!

 
16 … only you must not eat the blood. You shall pour it on the ground like water. 17 You may not eat within your gates the tithe of your grain, your wine, your oil, the firstborn of your herds or of your flock, any of your vows which you vow, your freewill offerings, or the offering of your hand.

Deuteronomy 12:16-17 MEV
Moses Reading the Law

During this period tithing was extremely important and the there where acceptable things you could use to tithe with such as grain, first born of the herds, or flock, free will offerings, and of course the burnt offerings all of which was a form of tithing. With that said, consider this; 

 

12-14 Every third year, the year of the tithe, give a tenth of your produce to the Levite, the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow so that they may eat their fill in your cities. And then, in the Presence of God, your God, say this:

I have brought the sacred share,
I’ve given it to the Levite, foreigner, orphan, and widow.
What you commanded, I’ve done.
I haven’t detoured around your commands,
I haven’t forgotten a single one.
I haven’t eaten from the sacred share while mourning,
I haven’t removed any of it while ritually unclean,
I haven’t used it in funeral feasts.
I have listened obediently to the Voice of God, my God,
I have lived the way you commanded me. 


15 Look down from your holy house in Heaven!
Bless your people Israel and the ground you gave us,
just as you promised our ancestors you would,
this land flowing with milk and honey
15 Look down from your holy house in Heaven!


16-17 This very day God, your God, commands you to follow these rules and regulations, to live them out with everything you have in you. You’ve renewed your vows today that God is your God, that you’ll live the way he shows you; do what he tells you in the rules, regulations, and commandments; and listen obediently to him.

Deuteronomy 26:12-17 The Message (MSG)

All of this is based upon the Book of Numbers most specifically, (18:1-32), which covers topics such as Duties of Priests and Levites, Offerings for Priests and Levites, Tithes for Supporting the Levites, and, The Tithes of the Levites. In other words, the Levites needed to be supported much like our Catholic Priests are today from the time they are ordained to there death, all the support for living comes from our tithing and because of this the Levites would be left with no inheritance as it relates to the promise land. Jesus himself even commented about serving and earning a rightful reward when commissioning the seventy to spread the word which harkens back to the Levites of Deuteronomy, Leviticus, and Numbers; 

Jesus sending out disciples two by two

Remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they give, for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Do not go from house to house.

Luke 10:7 MEV

According to the book of Nehemiah, the restoration of the House of God in Israel reestablishing the roles previously held before the invasion of Persia, that Levites received agricultural tithing to support themselves.  In turn, the Levites were to offer a tenth of the tithes to the House of God to build up the storehouses. This practical application of tithing was really an economy of sharing and making sure everyone was fed from the slave to the highest leaders of the land. Check out, (Nehemiah 10:38-39). Now in the times of prophet Malachi who was calling for the House of the Lord to be properly restored and delivered from the hands of corrupt priests and for the people to come back to God through repentance, (sort of a restoration of the 440-400 B.C.), He writes concerning the withholding of tithes; 

For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of Hosts.

But you say, “How shall we return?” 

Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me. But you say, “How have we robbed You?”
In tithes and offerings. 
You are cursed with a curse, your whole nation, for you are robbing Me. 10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this, says the Lord of Hosts if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing, that there will not be room enough to receive it. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes so that it will not destroy the fruit of your ground, and the vines in your field will not fail to bear fruit, says the Lord of Hosts.

Malachi 3:6-11  (MEV)

From this, I get the feeling that God is feeling like that abandoned parent whose children have rebelled because they didn’t want to work as hard as he wanted them too. Again, us pesky, flawed, human beings, testing God’s resolve and determination in His call for us to live justly and morally abiding in God’s word. Malachi is the last word we have as it relates to Old Testament history. So, we get from this journey from start to finish of the Old Testament that life is held sacred, therefore a value is placed upon it by God which is so far outside our ability to purchase it, and that tithing was the way mankind was to both show his appreciation for life but also for everything God has given to us collectively. This bond with God was so important to Him and the rift that became so great because of our lack of appreciation for God that our sins mounted up to the highest of heaven. Up to this point, there had been a set amount man was to give, but Jesus redefined the terms of our tithing with one simple observation; 

21 1-4 Just then he looked up and saw the rich people dropping offerings in the collection plate. Then he saw a poor widow put in two pennies. He said, “The plain truth is that this widow has given by far the largest offering today. All these others made offerings that they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all!”

Luke 21:1-4 The Message (MSG)
The window who gave all she had

In Conclusion

God wants us to tithe to help out our fellow man, but in truth, we are giving of ourselves just as God gave His all for us, His only son Jesus Christ. When we tithe we celebrate that truth, we build up the storehouse in heaven were things never rust or are eaten by moths. God wants us to live morally just lives because we are made in His image, and therefore are to abide in His ways. God has made everything for you and me, He as the creator of the Universe owns it all and He chose to give it all to us, His beloved children. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, what you give in Gods view is sacred, you are held sacred, your life is viewed as being sacred, and thus our reward when we give all that we have whether that be time, talent, or treasure is an eternity spent with God in heaven forever and ever, not to mention that intrinsic reward of knowing you have done something pretty special for another human being! Amen.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen!

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us. ~ Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

NOW GO SPREAD THE WORD!!

Brother Brian – Knight of Columbus

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark, M.S.Ed.

© 2009-2018

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