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Yah'shua (Jesus)




    The Treasury of Wealth
    Yahweh's Financial Law

    Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 13 December 2003

    Click here for more information

      "Now Yah'shua (Jesus) sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood'" (Mark 12:41-44, NKJV)

    A topic which sooner or later crops up in Christian discipleship is what our proper attitude to wealth ought to be, and since money is so important to both survive and prosper in our physical world, it really ought to be a theme we can examine honestly and without fear. Within Christianity there are so many different views of money: on the one hand, there are those who think it is dirty stuff, and on the other there are those in the 'Prosperity Movement' who think we ought to try and get as much of it as we can. Let us today examine the biblical teaching about money.

    In dealing with any subject in life we must always do two things: firstly, we must find out what Torah says about it; and secondly, we make sure that we first seek the Kingdom of Heaven, because wealth will not be added to us in the right way if Yahweh us not our primary focus (Mt.6:33). Yahweh never wants our heart fixed on things but on Himself. Life comes from Him and not from possessions, even if those possessions are lawful. In actual fact, the Bible says that there is nothing wrong in being the possessor of great riches, providing these are held in trust for Yahweh and that we see our rôle not as proprietors (owners) but as stewards (caretakers) of Yahweh's Treasury. When Christians become preoccupied with money it is not long before Yahweh steps in and allows trouble to upset things. When money becomes an end in itself it soon destroys us. When the icy spirit of materialism grips a life, it chills your spiritual life. I guarantee it. Then Yahweh and His Kingdom cease being that which we seek first and become processively pushed to one side until they are but tiny appendages of life.

    The making of money brings a thrill to people just as the quest for sex and power do. And the more it dominates the life of man, the more dissatisfying it eventually becomes. Thus the poet Edna St.Vincent Millay could write:

      I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
      I only know that summer sang in me
      A little while, and in me sings no more.

    Many a wealthy Christian has been stripped of his wealth by Yahweh to teach him this lesson. But out of the bewilderment and pain of the loss of wealth always comes a new vision of Yahweh-Elohim. Many a Christian who has had his heart focussed wrongly on money is levelled to poverty only to rise up and build a new and better business in which Yahweh is the principle shareholder.

    In our text today we recall how Yah'shua (Jesus) sat down opposite where the offerings of Yahweh's people were put, and watched. It is a solemn moment when we review our relationship to our money and material possessions with Him sitting beside us, watching the effect of money on us. The real question for us to ask, then, is this: Who owns my possessions: Yahweh or I? If we are honest with ourselves - whether we want to admit it or not - we don't really own anything. We are only in possession of our possessions for a brief period.

    A prominent minister was invited by a rich farmer to his house for dinner. The farmer took him to the top of a hill and waved his hand toward the beautiful, broad acres stretched out before them and said: "You mentioned in one of your sermons that no one really owns anything. It all belongs to God. If I don't own the acres, who does?" The minister thought for a moment and replied: "Ask me that question a hundred years from now."

    If we don't own our possessions then the obvious thing to do is to say to Yahweh: "I'm not the owner. I'm only the ower. Teach me how to work out that relationship." As it happens, we don't need to look very far for instruction on this issue because in the Bible Yahweh teaches us how to acknowledge His ownership - by giving Him our tithe. But, remember, when we give out tithe we are not really 'giving', we are only paying an obligation. When we give out of the remainder, only then are we giving. A proper attitude should be this: Yahweh has prospered me. Now I want to know how much of His money I can keep for my own needs.

    So what is the answer to that question? Well, you will be greatly surprised to learn what the Bible teaches when you compare the system of tithing made by the churches. I don't have time to go into detail on this - a complete Bible study will follow next year - but I do want to make a summary so that you know Yahweh's teaching on this matter.

    Ma'aser (Tithe) 1st Year 2nd Year 3rd Year 4th Year 5th Year 6th Year 7th Year
    Levitical (Ma'aser rishon) 10% of 100% 10% of 100% 10% of 100% 10% of 100% 10% of 100% 10% of 100% None
    Festival (Ma'aser sheni) 10% of 90% 10% of 90% None

    10% of 90% 10% of 90% None


    Poor (Ma'aser ani) None


    10% of 90% None


    10% of 90% None

    Total Tithe %








    The Shemittah Cycle

    In the Torah, tithing is based on one's produce increase from the year and was done annually on a seven year cycle called the Shemittah Cycle. There are three separate tithes. The first is the Levitical or Priestly Tithe of 10% on the 100% of the produce for the first 6 years. This tithe belongs to Yahweh's ministers. The second tithe was the Festival Tithe of 10% on 90% remaining produce after Levitical Tithes. This tithe had to be eaten in the presence of Yahweh and was collected in the first, second, fourth and fifth years only. The third tithe was the Tithe of the Poor, a further 10% of the 90%, to be collected on the third and sixth years only. No tithe was collected on the seventh or Sabbatical Year. The farmers were to let the land rest in that year.

    The tithe was never money! It was always the produce of the land. And yet we know from today's passage that money was also collected. Since not everyone bartered food, there had to be a way to tithe the businessman whose medium of exchange was gold and silver. I shall speak more of this in a moment.

    The tithe is always regarded as Yahweh's property while it was still growing in the field. The farmer could, in fact, buy back his tithe from Yahweh by paying the priest 120% of its value in money. The priest in turn would give back the tithe (produce) to the farmer and take the money and buy a replacement tithe. Money was therefore used but never as a substitute for the tithe. The priests would never present money to Yahweh, since the tithe was holy to Him and money was not (Lev.27:30). The biblical definition of the tithe included what the tithe was composed of, which was produce only.

    So I repeat, tithes were to be consumed before Yahweh. They were to be given to the Levites and Priests because they were denied land ownership in Israel. The tithes had as their purpose to enable Yahweh's ministers and the poor to subsist. Yahweh essentially gave the tithe back to the people! thus demonstrating the virtue of sharing with others. The Levites and Priests were considered poor because of their lack of inheritance.

    The Law of Tithing - from Exodus to the Diaspora - belongs to the national life of the nation of Israel. Today we are not an agrarian theocratic society. New Covenant Israel does not exist as a nation within political borders, but is scattered across the globe. Furthermore, Torah has in some instances been modified, and in any case brought to completion by Christ. What, then, is the financial law for us who live in the dispensation of the Melchizedek Priesthood?

    To answer that question, we have to look both before and after Old Covenant Torah for our answers. In the New Covenant we are dealing not so much with money issues but with a life attitude. We are not just required to let go of our tithes but to let go of all our possessions and let Yahweh have them. Once that right attitude is in place, life takes on a sense of stewardship. We begin to handle something on behalf of Another. That attitude does something to the whole spiritual life - it puts sacredness into the secular and lifts the sordid into the sacred. Then the Word of Yahweh becomes flesh - and the flesh becomes the Word. Mammon then becomes either a master or a message. If unsurrendered to Yahweh, it is a master - and what a terrible master it is! "For the love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Tim.6:10) It drives the driven and lashes the tired.

    A doctor who treats a lot of businessmen in the south of England's stockbroker belt in Surrey refers to his patients not as having high blood pressure but "high blood-money pressure". The craving for money drives men mad - or to the mortuary. If surrendered to Yahweh, however, it can be a beautiful thing. Sanctification is not changing your work, but it is doing everything which you have done for yourself for the glory of the Almighty. Surrender of your possessions to Yahweh makes them sanctified and sanctifying. Our Christianity is not something on the merely invisible but is intensely material also. And this is the proper way in which we function in the material realm.

    Having all our worldly possessions at Yahweh's disposal is the heart of New Covenant financial stewardship. It is the basic principle. And it may surprise you to learn that the subject which Yah'shua (Jesus) spoke of the most was not prayer, faith, heaven, or even salvation! The subject that Yah'shua (Jesus) talked the most about was a man's relationship to his possessions. Half of His parables focus on the issue of money. In Matthew's Gospel alone Yah'shua (Jesus) talks about money close on a hundred times. Whereas in the New Testament there are about 500 references to prayer, there are over 1,000 references to a person's relationship to his possessions. This cannot be any accident. If Yah'shua (Jesus) and the apostles talk about money so much, then our relationship to money must be important.

    There is no doubt in my mind that Yahweh calls some people to go into business as definitely as He calls some to go into ministry. They can use the powers of organisation and administration to make money for Yahweh. In this life, money is important and every dollar, kroner or pound we make counts. This does not, however, mean that we can enter into just any kind of business, and neither does it mean that we are called to enter into business for business' sake. The only justification for a Christian entering into business is to meet the basic needs of his family and to bless the Kingdom of Yahweh. We have to find Yahweh's plan for ourselves and work that plan. When we become aware that we are part of a vast design that is greater then ourselves and our own personal wants and desires, we begin to grow big in that vastness, and become a creator under the Creator. At all times, however, we must remember that "a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Lk.12:15) but in the abundance of a spiritual life. Material possessions are a function of life, not life itself. Once they drive you, you are dead.

    Make as much money as Yahweh wants you to make, remembering that every believer is also a servant of the Kingdom in other areas too. Every man is a husband, father and Deacon (Shammash). Using our time and resources - finding the right balance - is critical for the health and happiness of each income-generator. When a Deacon is called to be an Elder, he has less time for the generation of wealth. Pastors, Evangelists and Apostles may have little or no time at all for such matters, depending on the nature and extent of their call.

    The idea that all that is required of us is a fixed annual sum or tithe is an Old Covenant concept, but it is nevertheless where we start in our self-discipline. The threefold nature of the Old Covenant tithe - to the ministry, for the celebration of Yahweh's festivals, and for the poor - is an eternal principle. The principle of paying 10% towards the ministry six years out of every seven, 10% of the remaining 90% four out of seven years for the Festivals and three out of seven years for the poor - that's an annual tithe of 19% per year for six out of seven years, with no tithe in the seventh year - ought to be a principle we follow. And what do we do on the seventh year with the money we don't tithe? We rest! It's the Sabbath Year.

    The Law of Tithing is a schoolmaster to the higher Law of All Things in Common that was practised by the central Messianic Community (church) in Jerusalem (Ac.2:44). As far as we know, it was the only congregation that operated on this basis. What distinguished it from the other congregations was that the believers all lived together communally. The Law of All Things in Common is not for those who are scattered about. Gathering together into community life is a prerequisite to the Law of All Things in Common. It is not, however, easy to live this way, and is a principle open to abuse if administered by the ungodly and unspiritual. Hence we learn from the New Testament that this lifestyle was administered by the apostles directly who lived the same lifestyle.

    In the New Covenant Church of God (B'rit Chadashah Assembly of Yahweh) the Law of All Things in Common is only practised by those who live communally in firstborn colonies. Just as there was only one of these in the New Testament fellowships in Jerusalem - because there was only one Israelite tribe there, Judah - so there will be only twelve of these colonies in our time, each representing one of the end-time Twelve Tribes of Israel. Everyone else lives the schoolmaster law. Since the Law of All Things in Common is an entirely voluntary principle, it is not compelled on anyone. And yet only those who are pure enough to live it are ever invited by the apostolate to do so. Obviously it has its own unique blessings.

    For nearly all of us, then, the Law of Tithing is what principally interests us, provided we begin with the New Covenant premiss that everything belongs to Yahweh and we are held accountable how we respond to the use of all our wealth, and not just the obligatory 16.3% in an average septenary year, part of which is to feed ourselves during the festivals.

    So many believers are undoubtedly called to be businessmen. Someone asked Jane Addams, the founder of many homes for waifs and strays, what is it was that made her go into this kind of work. She replied: "I looked into the faces of the ruffian kids and then I looked into the face of Christ, and I gave my life to bring them together." I can imagine a Christian businessman saying: "I looked into the faces of the poor and needy in this world and then I looked into the face of Christ, and gave my life to business to help meet that need." A businessman whose life is dedicated to Yahweh's will go about their tasks with a lightness of step, a sureness of direction, and a sense of mission. They are making money for Yahweh. Were all businessmen to have such an attitude, then ledgers would be handled with the same sense of sacredness as the Bible itself!

    I very much like Howard Lowry's definition of religion. He says: "It conceives of all man does as a calling and all of life as a piece, a unity of richly component parts." That is very much the Hebrew concept of life, and it is entirely biblical and therefore valid. Livingstone coined a saying which ought to become the motto of every Christian: "I will place no value on anything that I have or possess except in relation to the Kingdom of Christ." If it furthers the Kingdom, it has value, and can stay. If it is useless to the Kingdom, it must go.

    When once the central issue of who owns our possessions is fixed - Yahweh and not ourselves - we are then free to cultivate generosity. We must decide that our outlook in everything and everybody should be to find the good, further the good and do good in every situation. It has been rightly said that if we do not give according to our resources then Yahweh will make our resources according to our giving. Does this make Yahweh a tyrant? Not if we understand things correctly, for the more we give to others, the more beautiful we become in ourselves. The giving are the living - in themselves! "If your eye is generous, the whole of your body will be illumined," Yah'shua (Jesus) said (Mt.6:22, Moffat). If our eye - or outlook on life, our whole way of looking at things and people - is generous, then our whole personality is illuminated. We become better by our giving.

    A rich Christian businessman who decided to donate some important medical equipment to a hospital in China, went to see the ship on which the equipment was being carried. At the dockside he met another Christian and as they talked, the businessman shared with him what the moment meant to him. "I, too, have a gift on board that ship," said the other Christian. "My only daughter is on board, going to China as a missionary." The businessman said: "My brother, my sacrifice is nothing compared to what you have given." But was that true? I must emphatically say, no, that was not true. Both were stewards of the entrustments of Yahweh. Both could say: "Such as I have, I give."

    And so, brethren and sister, our attitude should not be, "Am I paying my tithing to Yahweh?" but "Have I consecrated all my wealth and possessions to Him?" If you have, then tithing will be your first response, to ensure that the ministry can flourish, the Festivals can be celebrated by all, and the poor taken care of, according to the seven-year cycle called the Shemittah. When should you first start paying your tithe? As soon as you have started gaining an increase. Does that mean that everyone is on the same cycle? No, we will all be at different points, to ensure that there is always enough for the festivals and for the poor, each local assembly (church) maintaining a Ma'aser sheni (Festival Tithe) Fund and a Ma'aser ani (Poor Tithe) Fund. What of the ministerial tithe? The Ma'aser richon is for the use of the ministry.

    The right handling of money and wealth is essential for the spiritual prosperity of the Kingdom. Yah'shua said: "the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word" (Mt.13:22). In this parable He mentions two things that choke the growing wheat and made it unfruitful: "As for him who is sown 'among thorns', this is the man who listen to the Word, but the worry of the world and the delight of being rich choke the Word; so it proves unfruitful" (Moffat). Here "worry" and "the delight if being rich" are classed as the two outstanding enemies of growth. Now note that Yah'shua (Jesus) didn't say that 'riches' were the enemy of the soul but "the delight of being rich", that is, wealth as an end in itself. The "delight" was in the thing itself rather than in what it could do. It was undedicated wealth, unconsecrated wealth. Had the "delight" been in what could be done through the riches to help others, it would have saved it from decay. But wealth became an end in itself - hence mammon.

    Someone has rightly said: "You can serve Yahweh with mammon but you can't serve Yahweh and mammon". "Is not the life more than meat?" said Yah'shua (Jesus). "No," say many of the modern men and women of this generation. "Life is food," says the biochemist - "You are what you eat." "Life is emotion," says the sensualist - "You are what you experience in your emotions." "Life is possessions," says the materialist - "You are what you own." They're all wrong. But the Christian says: "Life is Christ. He is supreme. He controls the food, the emotions and the money." They are servants of a divine purpose, and are therefore purified and redeemed. Without that purpose, the purification turns in to putrefaction. "Whoever craves wealth for its own sake," says a Welsh proverb, "is like a man who drinks sea water; the more he drinks, the more he thirsts, and he ceases not to drink until he perishes."

    Let us therefore govern Yahweh's Treasury, which is our wealth, in the way that he has ordained. Amen.


    Selwyn Hughes, Every Day with Jesus, 'Summer Sang in Me' (CWR, Sept-Oct 1981)

    This page was created on 17 November 2003
    Last updated on 17 November 2003

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