Torah Portion: B’chukkotai (By My Statutes) Leviticus/Vayikra 26:3-27:34
Haftorah Reading Jeremiah 16:19-34
Tonigh,t we will finish the book of Vayikra or Leviticus by looking at chapters 26 and 27. Chapter 26 covers G-d’s blessings and curses that will come upon Israel for either their faithfulness or their disobedience. I would ask you to look at these chapters in light of Romans 11:11-27. In Romans we see Shaul speaking to the believers in Rome, many of which were not Jewish. Shaul apparently was battling an idea that is still popular today, replacement theology.
So, with that as a background, let’s look at our portion together and see what it says to each of us tonight. In Matthew 5:17 we read the words of Yeshua. He said, “Don’t think I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete.” Here he uses some of the same words used in our portion.
My question of the week was more of a request, that you see how many verses in the Messianic scriptures you can find on tithing. You probably noticed there are not many. However, in the Hebrew scripture it is mentioned numerous times. So why do you think there were so few in the Messianic scripture? Yeshua was speaking almost entirely to Jewish people. What scripture did He use in His teaching? He used the Torah and these people were familiar with Torah. He had no reason to explain what they already knew.
What was the purpose of tithing or giving in the Torah? It was meant to support the work and running of the Temple or Tabernacle, much the same as how churches are supported today. Let’s look at one of the places in the Messianic scriptures where tithing is mentioned. In Luke 11:42 we read Yeshua’s rebuke to the Pharisees. He was not rebuking them because they were not tithing, but instead, they were overlooking the weightier things like love of G-d and justice. Matthew 23:23 is a parallel verse to this verse in Luke. Here Yeshua expressly states that tithing is a G-d ordained provision of Torah but also these other things were even heavier. He was saying faith required more than just dropping 10% in the plate. That is obvious in the last chapter of our Torah portion. Jews gave a portion of their first fruits, the first born of their livestock, and much more. Yeshua knew His audience would already have a good understanding of what Torah said. After all it had been around for 1,300 years by the time of His appearance on the world stage. The Jewish people knew what tithing meant and also the many other kinds of giving to the L-rd.
One of these other types of giving was making a vow. In Leviticus/Vayikra 27 we read a number of things that could be vowed. For example, a person could vow or consecrate his child. We have two stories in Torah about devoting a child to G-d, Samson and Samuel. A person could dedicate his house, a portion of his field or a work animal to G-d. Most of these could not really be used in the running of the Temple. The Temple operated on money, silver. In this chapter we can read a detailed order of how, if a person wanted to redeem what they had dedicated, it should be done. But in redeeming an item, animal or person, 120% of the value was paid.
When a man dedicates a portion of all areas of his life to G-d, he is more aware that all he has comes from the Father’s hand. It is harder to get that all-encompassing picture when you drop 10% in each month We might not stop to think of how many ways G-d has blessed us unless we are purposely giving back to G-d in all areas of our life.
I expect we all have made a vow to the L-rd. Usually those kinds of vows are made under pressure and are forgotten when the danger or crisis passes. However, vows are not to be taken lightly. From G-d’s viewpoint, words are important and should be taken seriously. In Temple times vows or dedications were made in public with people around hearing the words. I would imagine under those circumstances a person would be more inclined to carry out his vow or redeem that item. I have been in churches where cards are passed out asking people to give toward a building program or support a mission project. Sometimes, after an emotional plea, people will pledge or vow to support the project with a certain amount of money. But when they leave the building and go back to their busy lives they forget that pledge. G-d does not forget. Vows, pledges, promises to G-d are important.
My point in all this is that giving to the Temple far exceeded 10%. So, for believers today to think 10% will satisfy their obligation to G-d would be an error. This is not what scripture teaches us. For us to have a clear understanding of what G-d expects from His people we must read Torah, after all, it is what Yeshua taught from.