Have You Ever STUDIED Tithing?
Tithing is probably the most preached subject by television ministers today. I would also say it is probably the least studied subject amongst the same ministers. Why do I say that? Just to be harsh? Not at all. I say that because each time you hear a minister on television mention tithes he never walks you through the verse he is dealing with exegetically (historically, grammatically). Usually it is just a loud, "You are robbing God by not paying tithes!" People blindly accept the words of the preacher, because - after all - he is supposed to be the "man of God."
I encourage you to study the subject out for yourself; you may be very surprised to find out what the Bible actually does teach concerning tithing. Much more could be said, but over to your right I've posted one sermon to get you started. I certainly do not cover all there is to say on this subject, but I do cover one passage of Scripture that is famous among preachers who say something about tithes - Malachi 3:7-12. My Grandfather once told me about a preacher he knew who tried his best to say that Malachi was the first book in the New Testament portion of the Bible. Why? He wanted to have tithes in the New Testament. I find this humorous and detrimental dispensationalism to start with. I digress... Just take the time to study this for yourself. It honors Yahweh when we seek to interpret His Scriptures properly.
At this time of the year my children see most people celebrating the holiday known as "Christmas." We, on the other hand, do not celebrate the holiday. I remember being in the grocery line one year in December and an elderly woman looking at one of my children and asking them "What is Santa brining you this year?" My little 5 year old looked up and responded, "We don't believe in Santa Clause." The woman looked puzzled and then looked at me, the Father. I gently told her, "Ma'am, we do not celebrate Christmas." You would have thought I was dropping each of my children off of a cliff. She looked at me in a way that would make any person feel uncomfortable. Those of you that do not celebrate this holiday know one of the most popular responses from parents that do celebrate, "You are depriving your children." I hear it just about every year.
This short blog entry is not meant to detail the main reason or sub-reasons I do not celebrate the holiday. The facts about the origins of the winter holiday are available to anyone who wants to do a little "digging." The simple point I want to bring up is this. While people today believe that Christmas is a major holiday for the Christian church, the church which claims the Bible as her guide, it is an undeniable fact that neither Yeshua or the apostles of Yeshua celebrated the holiday that people now believe honors the Messiah.
Scholars date Yeshua's birth to around 2 B.C. (give or take). The next year when his birth rolled around, no one who knew him, not even his closest family, celebrated his birth. The Hebrews never even celebrated birthdays with parties, cakes, candles, wishing, etc. During the life of Yeshua, still no celebrating his birth. After Yeshua left the earth, the apostles or earliest followers of Yeshua never celebrated his birth. If it's so honorable to celebrate Christmas why do we not see the people who knew him face to face doing so in the 1st century A.D.?
Many people believe my family is "weird" because we do not celebrate Christmas. We stick out like a sore thumb at this time of year. However, had we lived as Hebrews in the 1st century - followers of Yeshua the Messiah - we would have fit right in. The only people celebrating anything similar to the holiday now known as Christmas were the Romans who celebrated Saturnalia. A festival held around the winter solstice in honor of the god of agriculture, Saturn.
Usually, when I initially tell someone that I do not celebrate Christmas they immediately ask, "You mean you do not believe in the birth of Christ?" This is because they associate the modern holiday with the birth of Messiah. I gently explain to them that the birth of Messiah has nothing to do with this holiday called Christmas. The name Christmas didn't even actually come about until around the 11th century A.D. The holiday we know today is a blending of ancient heathen customs and truth. Yahweh is not honored when we take the truth about the birth of His sinless Son and attach numerous customs to it that were originally used to honor false gods.
I realize some people reading this may celebrate Christmas; this may be an entirely new concept to many. I want you to know that I have not written this in hatred, but in love. I would simply ask you to study the origin of the customs that go on this time of year. Why do people decorate homes with greenery, including placing a tree in their home? Why do people celebrate this holiday in the winter, around and on December 25? Where do these customs come from. After studying the origins a few Scriptures to begin with are Leviticus 18:1-5 and Deuteronomy 12:28-32. You might also read the account found in Exodus 32. Never forget this simple point though: the earliest followers of Yeshua did not celebrate Yeshua's birth in any way as a holiday. They could have; Yeshua was born and I'm sure those who accepted Him for who He was were very excited and thankful for His birth. But they never celebrated His birth, much less on December 25, with an evergreen tree in their homes. Seek Yahweh earnestly in prayer, asking him always to lead you along the the pathway of Scriptural truth.
Translating Nehemiah 13:19 Properly
Sometimes you have read and re-read a passage so much that you never even think about the possibility that the translation you are reading is inaccurate in conveying the original Hebrew or Greek. Such was the case for me with Nehemiah 13:19. I plan to write a more in depth article on this verse in the future, but for now let me explain briefly.
The KJV rendering of the first part of the verse is as follows:
"And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut..."
I have a KJV Bible in my study, but the translation I use mostly in reading and studying is the HCSB. Here is the same very in the HCSB:
"When shadows began to fall on the gates of Jerusalem just before the Sabbath, I gave orders that the gates be closed..."
The KJV sounds more like sunset took place and it was beginning to be dark, but the Sabbath had not begun. The HCSB sounds as though sunset had not taken place (the sun was casting a shadow) and the Sabbath would begin at sunset.
I believe the HCSB is correct in rendering the verse with the word shadows. Notice carefully that in both translations it is the GATES that are getting dark and not the DAY necessarily. The KJV talks about the gates beginning to be dark. Every tranlsation I know focuses in on the gates growing dark or becoming shadowed.
The Hebrew word here for "dark" or "shadows" is the word "tsalal," and is only used 1 other place in the entire Tanak - Ezekiel 31:3. Here is Ezekiel 31:3 in the HCSB:
"Think of Assyria, a cedar in Lebanon, with beautiful branches and shady foliage, and of lofty height."
Note the use of the word "shady" in the text, as it comes from the Hebrew word "tsalal." The use of the word here refers to shade that a tree gives. It is this meaning that is also applicable in Nehemiah 13:19 in reference the the gates becoming dark, i.e. having a shadow cast upon them before the Sabbath.
What was taking place in Nehemiah was this: before sunset the sun must have cast a shadow upon the gates of Jerusalem that made the gates darken. This was some sort of signal that the Sabbath day was close at hand (it would begin at sunset).
Do some further study on this yourself. There are alot of other translations that translate "tsalal" as "shadow" (or some variation) in Nehemiah 13:19.
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.